You may not be the first, but you definitely won’t be the last to jump on the facebook bandwagon, joining countless others by creating a fan page for your photography business and it’s easy to see why this makes sense for the average photographer because chances are you already have a facebook account and the process of creating a facebook page is relatively easy compared to that of creating a website.
Plus, let’s not forget that facebook has over 1 billion users who can be accessed and marketed to through an intelligent advertising platform which makes connecting with your target audience no matter who they are extremely easy.
But the problem for photographers isn’t jumping on the bandwagon, instead it’s how they choose to use Facebook as a marketing channel for their business and therein lies the problem.
New photographers both young and old are focused solely on building their photography businesses on a facebook fan page which is just asking for trouble.
One can understand the physiological need to be liked which is predominantly the force behind why facebook page owners focus their attention and time on getting thousands or tens of thousands of “likes” to their facebook page in the hope that it will somehow affect their bottom-line.
But photographers aren’t focusing on what really counts and the only thing that counts at the end of the day is your return on your investment and if your investment is built on a house of cards, you’re playing with fire.
Most people think that using social media as an advertising channel for their business is free, but the reality is even social media has a cost and that is your time which evidently translates into money. So, if you’re not truly tracking your return on investment for your social media efforts then you’re probably in the negative when you evaluate time vs profit.
Why Is Your Photography Business At Risk Of Failure?
Well, facebook pages aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, let me explain…
It’s easy to get carried away with how straightforward it is to create and use a facebook fan page, but it’s simplicity that conceals the fact you don’t actually own your facebook fan page, because at the end of the day, if you don’t comply with all of facebook’s terms and conditions (which could change at anytime…) your facebook page and all of your likes could simply be deleted without question or argument.
There are hundreds and thousands of stories of facebook pages being deleted for one reason or another on the internet. Up until recently, if you were to run a facebook contest incorrectly you were at serious risk of having your fan page removed.
If you are interest in learning more about fan pages do’s and don’t, please visit facebook’s guidelines: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
The second disadvantage associated with using Facebook fan pages as the cornerstone of your photography business is limited “organic” exposure.
What I mean by the term “organic” is traffic that you do not paid for…
Facebook is built as a news feed and uses a specific algorithm called “EdgeRank” to help determine the importance and popularity of your posts, so even if you have tens of thousands of “likes” the average facebook page only reaches 16% of it’s audience every time a post is published.
16% isn’t great, especially when you consider the return on investment for the amount of time you spend on facebook which brings me to my third and final point. Because fan pages act like news feeds your content only has a short lifespan, meaning with each new post old content is glossed over, falling further off the news radar and eventually lost in a bottomless pit.
What’s The Solution For Your Photography Business?
Easy, build your very own website for your photography business and focus on using your website as a means to capture and grow an email list. Both your website and email list are assets that you own, control and are considered a business asset. These properties can’t be taken off you like an ordinary facebook fan page.
Once you have these assets in place, then use your facebook page as a means to draw your audience back to your website and get them on your email list, so that you can follow up with them over time.
These concepts aren’t new, but it does ensure that your business won’t disappear overnight because of someone else’s decision to delete your business’s fan page.
Plus, websites delivery long term value with some blog posts remaining relevant for years into the future, continuing to attract visitors to your website and business.
So, How Do You Build A Website And Capture Emails?
The process of creating a website isn’t as complex as one might first believe.
STEP 1 – Order Website Hosting
I recommend Bluehost for web hosting as they’re relatively inexpensive, have a great service record and include one click installs for content management systems like wordpress, drupal, joomla and the list goes on…
STEP 2 – Install WordPress
Inside of your web hosting account install wordpress and depending on your website hosting provider this may or may not be straightforward. Within Bluehost this process is extremely easy and can be completed within a couple of clicks.
STEP 3 – Download & Install A Custom WordPress Theme
“Themes” are wordpress’s way of describing the design of your website and can be changed simply by installing and activating an alternative free or premium wordpress theme.
Free themes can be downloaded via the wordpress theme directory, however they may not necessarily meet your needs or requirements as a photography or business owner.
If you’re just getting started free wordpress themes are wonderful for experimenting, but personally I find premium wordpress themes more polished and professional straight out of the box which saves time and money in the long run.
One company that specializes in premium wordpress themes is “Elegant Themes” who have over 80 unique wordpress designs to choose from, along with a built-in e-panel which will allow you to easily customize any theme directly from within the wordpress backend.
STEP 4 – Install Custom WordPress Plugins
Customize wordpress by installing plugins that provide additional features and functionality to your website. There are tens of thousands of plugins in the wordpress directory that are almost capable of performing any task and for those advanced users who require a little bit attention and support there are thousands of paid plugins available across the wordpress community.
STEP 5 – Setup Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free service that not only allows you to accurately track your website visitors, but also your lead and sales conversions which can give you a valuable insight into your business.
It takes only minutes to set up and can be installed by either adding a small snippet of code to the html code of your wordpress theme or installing a wordpress plugin that adds this functionality to the backend of wordpress.
STEP 6 – Add Email Optin Forms To Your Website
Using email as a communication channel for your business is a great way to follow up with your website visitors, prospects and customers, but before you can send email you must first build an email list which can be achieved by adding email optin/subscriber form to your website.
Email forms allow website visitors (who would like to hear from you again) to automatically subscribe to your email list to receive future communications.
I recommend you use the services of a professional email communcations company like Aweber.com to manage your email marketing as the average email program on your computer isn’t design to send out hundreds or thousands of emails at once without being labelled as spam.
Whereas on the other hand companies who specialize in email communication ensure scalability, safe delivery and tracking of your email marketing efforts.
But, What If I’m Not Technically Minded?
If you’ve managed to get this far congratulations, but if you’re not technically minded don’t stress as there are lot’s of wonderful resources online from which you can learn the basics of building a wordpress website and setting up an email marketing campaign to help get you started.
The above process is relatively inexpensive, so money shouldn’t be an excuse especially if you’re serious about growing your photography business.
In conclusion, focus more of your time building and working on assets you own and control which will in return will create a solid foundation from which your business can grow without the insecurity and risk associated with having all your vested interests in one basket.