November 12, 2013 —
Everyday it seems like a new product, app or social media service is being touted as “the next big thing.” But what is truly essential and what is irrelevant? When there’s a limited amount of time to spend on the parts of your business that don’t involve a camera, it helps to pay attention to tools that make a tangible difference. We compiled a selection of tools, apps and services that we think will have a real impact on your photography business. That means more exposure for your brand, more clients booked and more time spent doing what you love: Shooting pictures.
SORTING THE SOCIAL MEDIA NOISE
Hootsuite has been around since 2008, so it doesn’t exactly qualify as
“new.” That said, this is the tool that may make the biggest difference
in your business workflow.
Hootsuite is the industry standard in social media management and will make being your own marketer a whole lot easier. It’s a dashboard that allows photographers to manage all of their social media profiles in one place—including Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Wordpress, Tumblr and Flickr—with some of the best organizational tools you can ask for. The free version allows for five social media profiles and basic analytics, which may be enough to get you started. If you decide to upgrade to pro ($8.99 per month), you can expect advanced analytics, message scheduling, and the ability to manage up to 50 social media profiles.
When it comes to marketing, information is power. And when marketing on the Internet, that information is actually available to you. Bitly is a link shortener that takes your long, ugly
hyperlinks and shortens them into easy-to-share links—particularly useful when characters count on sites like Twitter.
However, the best reason to use a link shortener like Bitly is that it gives you detailed metrics on the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. When you put your links through the shortener, Bitly automatically tracks the number of clicks generated by your link, where the clicks are coming from geographically, who else is sharing the same content and on which social networks. It’s your own personal market research division. The best part: It’s free.
CONNECTING WITH COUPLES
During the past year, the app craze finally came to the wedding market. There are apps for brides to plan their weddings (Appy Couple), share information with their guests (Appily Wed) and a bunch of similar programs for sharing photos (Wedding Party, GuestShots, Wedsocial). However, we think the best of the dedicated wedding photo apps is Wedpics.
The app, which is available for iOS and Android, creates an album that guests can upload their own photos to using a provided access code, either in real time from their phone or from the web. It’s a great way to bring the guests’ perspective into your wedding albums and upload your images from the wedding in real time. Photos are hosted for free on Wedpics for a year and can be easily downloaded by the couple and pushed to social media.
Capsule is neither a wedding app nor a dedicated photo app, yet it excels at both. It is nominally a free “event planning and sharing” app, that allows you to create “capsules” or events to which you can then invite people.
It’s almost like a private Facebook feed—you can communicate with your client via the app or your email, send them content to share (pictures or video) and create private image galleries for the group to view. When it comes time for the wedding, you can create an album within your “capsule” that guests can upload their own photos to, either through the CapsuleCam app or a specialized Instagram hashtag. It’s an innovative way to create a private communication channel with your clients, so they feel taken care of from first consultation to the album unveiling.
Because mailing campaigns are becoming a thing of the past, Facebook might be your fastest way to attract new photo clients. Being an effective and popular Facebook personality is a lot of work. It requires a distinct voice, good content and knowledge of what works on the platform and what doesn’t. That’s why the free Post Planner is such an essential tool; it’s a Facebook management application that you access from within Facebook.
It helps you plan and schedule posts so that your feed is always running even when you are shooting. Those posts aren’t just for your status either; it allows you to schedule postings to pages and groups as well. There are detailed statistics so you can figure out what gets seen, what gets ignored and what doesn’t even make it into people’s newsfeeds. Add in Post Planner’s content engine, which helps you generate shareable content and statuses that are proven to get traction, and you’ll have a powerful Facebook presence in no time.
SHARING WHAT YOU CREATE
Since the rise of digital, it’s been an ongoing debate over whether or not to give couples digital copies of their images. Depending on where you fall in the debate, this trend can be a great liberalization for photographers. If you are in that camp, you’ll love PASS. It’s a web service that makes it easy to send images to your clients through an attractive, personalized album page. Clients can download high resolution images directly from the site, order prints (that are fulfilled through WHCC), and share easily to social media.
When images are shared on social media, PASS automatically includes a photo credit and a link to your website. Photographers have full control over which images are public and private, and albums are viewable on any device. That means your clients can show off your images, even if the album isn’t finished yet. The service allows event albums to be shared free for 30 days, with the option to upgrade the event for $29, giving clients the ability to share/download the album for one year, plus have access to the photos in cold storage for ten years.
For many photographers, giving away digital images is a hard pill to swallow, and prints and albums are where you make your bread and butter. Even so, most people do not have the money to build a complete storefront into their portfolio website. That’s where Instaproofs comes in, as a complete customizable gallery and checkout system.
It includes marketing and branding tools, security for your images (dynamic watermarking and password protection), and the ability to fulfill orders however you want. If you want to print your photos for clients, go ahead. You’ll never be locked into one lab for prints. You can export directly from Aperture and Lightroom and use Instaproof’s iPhone app to check on your orders. It’s free and easy to set up an account. There are no start up, monthly, bandwidth, hosting or transaction fees—just a 15 percent commission on your orders. An online storefront may not sound revolutionary, but when you make it this easy and do it this well, it’s nothing short of a revelation.