Being an ‘influencer’ is a dead-end game. Be a photographer.
I used to take Instagram more seriously than I do now. It took me deleting my old profile and a little soul-searching, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Instagram isn’t worth any stress. We photographers need to relax; it’s only Instagram. Social media is supposed to serve us, not the other way around.
Let Instagram serve us
We should not be chasing followers. We should not be chasing likes. We should not be purchasing followers or likes. We shouldn’t be following others — hoping they’ll follow us back — and then unfollow them if they don’t follow us! We shouldn’t comment on images we don’t like in hopes we’ll get a follow or similar comment. Our interactions should be genuine at all times, right? We shouldn’t be expecting a quid-pro-quo, ever.
All of these things — I’ve done. And I killed that profile. Started over.
There are several other ‘we shouldn’ts’.
We shouldn’t get jealous of other photographers’ Instagram success. We shouldn’t plan on our posts going viral. We shouldn’t expect anyone anywhere to hand us the key to Instagram Stardom: it simply won’t happen. In several devious ways, Instagram has made certain of this.
Likewise, we need to get into the mindset of Instagram serving us, for a change. What does this mean?
Post your image, write your caption, and be done with it. Let Instagram serve us.
Follow only those photographers (well, apart from friends and associates we’re compelled to follow!) which inspire you. Let Instagram serve us.
Only comment when you truly are amazed or inspired. Only like when you truly are liking a post. Let Instagram serve us.
Let your Instagram be your calling card. Direct everyone from your other social media profiles and website to Instagram so you will get more of an organic following. Let your account sprout like an organic tomato, red and beautiful! Let Instagram serve us!
Instagram isn’t the only game in town
I don’t know about you, but most of my paid queries come from my website. Instagram isn’t my main source of exposure. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, so I’ve changed my mindset completely, not only about Instagram but social media in general: social media as a whole is but one distribution channel. There are other places we photographers should be considering in order to drum-up business.
Word of mouth.
I’m sure I’m leaving a few off the list. But I have sought clients or business opportunities through all of the above activities. Instagram, social media — but one approach in a sea of many.
Take pride in your intimate following, treat them like your own secret society
So what if you only have a couple hundred or even a couple dozen followers. Treat them all with respect. They’re your family, friends, colleagues, and followers, right? Don’t they each deserve a little individual attention? And if you’re strapped for time, at least let them know you’re paying attention by liking their work (again, if you actually like it).
I’m not going to advise you on hashtags, strategies, Instagram secrets to success, and the like. It’s been done to death and most of that shit doesn’t work anyway — yeah, I’ve tried it too.
It may sound like I’m a pessimist, but I’m really not. I’m a pragmatist, for sure, but I’m also looking to Instagram to share an authentic experience. What I’d recommend you doing is actually having DM conversations with your followers. Just drop in to say hello. Catch up with some of your models. Talk to your photographer friends about their work and upcoming projects. In short, treat them like you would any fellow secret society member, with respect, interest, and a desire to see your colleagues be successful too.
How’s your Number 2?
Okay, okay. I know what you’re probably thinking — nix it from your mind! I’m talking about your second most-popular or favorite social media profile, apart from Instagram. What are you doing there that’s different from Instagram? What are you doing similar? More importantly, what’s something you want to do which is more effective?
For example, on Facebook I’m connected to more family and friends than I am on Instagram. Let’s face it, not everyone has Instagram but nearly everyone on the planet is on Facebook. How can I be effective on Facebook — while attracting any stray Instagram followers who’ve been dwelling in my friends list?
Cross-following, I believe, is important. Because networking is not only about friends, it’s about friends of friends. How many of your friends’ friends are on Facebook? Well, all of them. How many of them are on Instagram? 10 percent? 20 percent? More? Those individuals should be following you too.
Make your number two social media platform — and let’s just assume Facebook or any other platform you actually prefer and have a substantial following on — the recruiting grounds for your Instagram account. Your mission should be to on-board all of these people. Why? Because you have friends in common. And you likely have interests in common. And perhaps, you’ll have some clients which you’ll have in common if you’re doing your homework.
Fucking enjoy it. What’s the point of all of this if you’re not getting a little joy out of it? What’s the point if you’re not loving the work you post, loving the work of those you follow, and loving photography? There would be no point at all, my friends.
So, follow me on Instagram here, if you like my work. And if I like yours, you know I’ll be following you back.
My website: www.CraigBoehman.com