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When French inventor and criminally underappreciated beatboxer Nicéphore Niépce introduced the world to photography in the 1830s, his image-capturing process took up to several days. That’s right: 48-72 hours for a single picture. And you know what? His pictures stunk. No, they weren’t smelly; they were just bad. Niépce was snappin’ pics of his afternoon acaí bowl and they were coming out like those ink blot images you look at in Psych 101 and/or during your semi-annual government-mandated psychiatric evaluation. Original stuff can be bad stuff, too.
Fortunately, technology – and, thus, photography – has come a long way in 200 years. Nowadays, you and your prom date can take 1,200 pictures before your dad has time to say “Son, let’s talk about the human body.”
With technology changes come industry changes. Thanks to social media, anybody with a smartphone and at least one hand can be a photographer. Of course, there are certain occasions for which we will always demand professionals: weddings, concerts, miscellaneous gatherings pertaining to the occult, et cetera. Still, there is no denying that the division between consumer and producer continues to grow blurrier in the digital age.
This blurriness means several things for the industry. For one, the barriers to entry for prospective photographers have crumbled. In addition to the proliferation of smartphones over the past decade, high-quality cameras and professional editing software have become largely affordable. Good: lower barriers to entry increase competition and push down market prices. Bad: the saturation of the internet with photographs across the quality spectrum makes it hard to distinguish the artists from the hobbyists.
Elsewhere, the upward trend of advertising budgets – especially for the allocation of funds towards photographic and videographic efforts – means more demand for people with artistic eyes. On the other hand, the slow death of print media translates to less security; a cheap, digital world is a freelancer’s world.
So, whether you’re selling cameras, marketing your photography business, or trying to find work on a part-time basis, a key challenge persists: how do you stand out?
Well, if you use paid search or if you’re looking to get started with it, you can bid on those keywords you see listed above. If you have room in your marketing budget, and you want a flexible tool that offers high ROI and transparent metrics reports, keep those bids high and watch the clicks pour in. Need a little bit more of a push? Allow me to refer you to the free keyword tool.
Maybe you’re an old soul and you want to drive traffic to your site using nothing but good ol’ fashioned elbow grease (not that those of you using AdWords are lazy). First things first: make sure your website is, uh, good. Good for search engines and people alike, that is. Make sure to structure your site in such a way that search engines can easily crawl it and index as much information as possible; for example, if your photography website is primarily images, use alternative text to help out the robots. Do your keyword research and build your strongest content around the relevant queries. That being said, you’re going to get buried if you appeal strictly to Google and Bing; you want to attract actual humans, after all. Give your content the edge and the personality that your site needs to grow more popular and move up the ranks.
Social media is invaluable when it comes to establishing and growing a brand. If photography is your game, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are your best friends. Not only do billions of eyeballs log on to these three platforms every day; those eyeballs are inside heads. Those heads are the heads of people. And those people want to buy things. In fact, the vast majority of Pinners use the platform to plan and execute purchases. Aim to cultivate cross-channel social media presences that attract users’ attention without seeming disruptive. In other words, act natural.
For more in-depth advice on paid search, SEO, and social media, read every single word on the WordStream blog right now.