Instagram isn’t a new tool to the social media scene, having been around since 2012, but it is becoming one of the very most important ones! In many industries, Instagram is becoming the go-to for potential clients to find businesses!
In March 2017, for example, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, or messaged to learn about a business based solely on an Instagram ad! That’s crazy, right?
The majority of wedding and portrait photographers, of course, will already be on Instagram. If you’re already reading this post, I’m sure you’re on Instagram. So I’m not here to chat about all the benefits of marketing to potential photography clients on Instagram. But I am hoping to share ways you could be missing out on potential work by not using Instagram to its fullest capabilities!
This is a massive blog post, 3300 words in fact, so I’m going to break down everything we cover before we get started:
1. How to Write a Bio
2. Business vs. Personal Accounts?
3. What to Post on Instagram
4. How to Plan Your Feed
5. Marketing to Your Ideal Client
6. Using Instastories to Connect
Ready? Let’s do this.
How to Write Your Instagram Profile
Your instagram profile has a few elements: a photo, bio description and website link. For your photograph, you want to choose something where your face is easily recognized – a close headshot. Only include you in the photo, nothing else! Preferably, what you’re wearing in this headshot should be ‘on brand’ for you, and a professional image, of course.
Your bio description needs to draw the readers attention. You may have only a few seconds to convince someone to stick around – so be up front. Include your name, what you do, where you live, what makes your photography unique, something unique about you and a call to action. You have only 160 characters to fit in all this info, so take advantage of emojis, abbreviations and clever punctuation! For example, right now mine reads as:
JAMIE DELAINE WATSON Vancouver Photog+Educator. All about joy-filled images. 26. Green tea. JamieDelaineBlog.com 📷 @jamiedelainephoto-Link to my blog+freebies for photogs: linktr.ee/jamiedelaine
Every Instagram profile can include one clickable hyperlink for users. Use this very wisely! I recently discovered Linktree, which is an amazing and free tool. You can sign up for a custom link landing page, and then send your Instagram followers to various sites. Here’s an example of mine:
If you aren’t looking to link to multiple places, I would still recommend having a clear call to action to your website. If you want brides to book, say “Booking 2018 brides, contact here:” and have your link to a contact page. Or browse my portfolio, and link to my gallery page. Think about the one action you want visitors to take, and then clearly direct them towards it.
Business vs. Personal Instagram Accounts
Last year, Instagram rolled out a new option for businesses. If you choose, you can have your profile be registered as an official business account. There are both advantages and disadvantages to have a ‘business’ account on Instagram. Let’s start with the advantages.
Advantages of Business Instagram
- “Email” call to action button on your profile, making it easy for clients to send you an email from phone within seconds. (Instead of having to navigate to your website, find the contact form, etc.)
- Access to Analytics. Personal profiles do not have this option. On your analytics, you can see the impressions (how many times your posts were viewed,) how many times your profile was viewed and how many times your website was clicked. No doubt – helpful stats! You can see a clear breakdown of the demographics of followers too, by gender, age, and location.
- Create Ads/Promotions. This isn’t something I have ever experimented with (I prefer to spend my marketing dollars elsewhere!) but an option only available to business accounts.
Disadvantages of a Business Instagram
- Instagram is a business, set up to make money. Ultimately, social media sites make money from businesses – not from the average user. By opting into a ‘business’ profile, if Instagram changes the algorithm and decides to make it harder for business pages to be seen, your reach will decrease. Personal pages would not be affected.
- Now, I’ve been speaking in terms of Business. vs Personal Instagrams specifically as Instagram defines the profiles. But in order to make this the most comprehensive blog post possible, I want to talk about Personal vs. Portfolio accounts.
Personal Vs. Portfolio Accounts
The terminology could get confusing here, but when I say ‘Personal’ I mean my business brand page: @jamiedelaine. I don’t have children, I don’t have any desire to have a 100% personal Instagram page where I’m posting everything we do every weekend!
A portfolio account is an account strictly for your photography images. These kinds of accounts used to bore me, because my marketing is very entered around personalizing your business. If I logged onto a photographers’ instagram account and didn’t see a photo of them anywhere, that was hard for me to understand. Clients can’t connect with you! But for the last year, I decided to experiment with both.
About 50% highlights my recent photography and business work, and 50% highlights my daily life, writing, dreams, travels, as well as life with my husband and puppy. I keep my target audience in mind while writing and it’s still ‘on brand.’ (Meaning, I’m aware everything I share online must be respectful and add to a greater understanding of who I am as a person, and therefore, a photographer.)
My “business” instagram account is @jamiedelainephoto; and a better way of saying it would be my portfolio-only instagram. It took about six months of steady work growing this account’s portfolio. I schedule using a website called Grum. Grum allows me to post to Instagram without physically pressing ‘post’ on my iPhone! After a session, I schedule 3-9 images (to keep the grid look!) to my @jamiedelainephoto account, usually with snippets of the blog post I have already written.
I take advantage of this space to share lots of my work, with strategic location tags and hashtags. My favourite thing about a portfolio account is how clear the purpose is — your followers are there because they want to see 2-3x a day. Whereas on my ‘personal’ instagram, I would not be comfortable posting NINE images from one wedding day in the next week. My portfolio account is like a ‘smaller blog’ right in the Instagram platform.
After about six months of consistent posting, I have noticed a huge chance in my instagram inquiries! When brides fill out the contact form on my website, I always ask, “Who do I have to thank for the referral?” And Instagram has been popping up way more than it ever did pre-portfolio account.
One more clarifying point – my portfolio account is set up as an official business page, but I’ve chosen to keep my larger, main account (@jamiedelaine) a personal page.
What Should You Post on Instagram?
Instagram is a place for you to display your photography work – but even more so, to display your personality alongside your images. Brainstorm a list of potential images/captions so you always have a stockpile of ideas! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Your Latest Work
Any images you’ve recently photographed for clients, taking careful note to only share images you want to shoot again. If you didn’t love that specific pose or location, don’t share it! Share an image you absolutely love from that session.
Your Office Space
If you don’t have a traditional office space, no worries! Take images of whatever corner of the house you work in (simplified, make sure to clear the clutter) – or snap iPhone photos of whatever coffee shop you’re currently in. People love to visualize where you’re creating these beautiful posts.
It’s very, very important to regularly show your face on Instagram. I recommend not have users have to scroll anymore than about 21 images to see a photo of you.
This could be combined with the ‘yourself’ section of course, if you’re married, share an image of the two of you.
Regularly ask your clients for testimonials after sessions, and use snippets of their comments on Instagram. Either design a words-only square in Photoshop, with your brand colours, or share an image of the clients with the testimonial in the caption.
If you’re stuck for what to post, share an image from a vendor you love (florists, venue, planner, etc) and use the caption to talk about your work day. Make sure to end the caption giving a shout-out to their gorgeous work in the image!
Behind the Scenes
Same idea as the office space photos, prospective clients love to see you in action. Have your second shooter take images of you at work at weddings and share them!
Talk to Clients
Write posts specifically to clients, help them prepare for their engagement session, family session, wedding day, ordering albums, etc! These have to be short, but any information you can share positions yourself as an expert in the industry!
If you’re regularly submitting to blogs and magazines, take the time to share any successes on your Instagram! Even if it’s a small blog, it still looks wonderful to have your work featured publicly.
Post an introduction of yourself (#fridayintroductions) and ask your followers to introduce themselves every now and then! It’s so fun to hear who’s following you and this encourages engagement, too!
SLR or iPhone photos
The best camera is the one you have with you, so I have no problem mixing iPhone and Digital SLR images on my Instagram feed. The main thing to keep in mind is clean and classic editing of your iPhone images to match the SLR photos. I use VSCO app on my iPhone to brighten images to match my feed.
Planning Your Feed
Although your images are shown one at a time in a follower’s feed, when a new user lands on your profile – they will see the first 9 squares of your Instagram grid. We are on Instagram to attract new customers to our business, so this impression really matters! There’s lots of information on the internet about planning your feed perfectly, and to be honest, it’s not my specialty, but I do have a few tips for you.
- Stick to a specific colour scheme. I don’t get crazy with this, but if your images tend towards colourful, light and bright, I wouldn’t share a random dark photo. I also wouldn’t share a client testimonial on a completely black background. It distracts from your feed! Just keep the overall visual look of your feed in mind and you’ll be fine.
- Vary the composition of photos. For example, share an image with lots of negative space next to an image where the subject fills the frame. It allows “breathing room” for the look of your feed. Photographers, you’ll want to share a detail shot next to a wide shot of a bride and groom, for example.
- Sneak In Your Colours. Design quotes in Photoshop about your promotions or a client testimonials and share in your feed for variety. If you have a main brand colour in your business, use that, to instantly add colour to your feed.
Scheduling Your Feed
For my @jamiedelaine account, I use Planoly to manage my Instagram. It has an absolutely amazing drag and drop feature on both your iPhone and your desktop computer. You can upload images to the calendar, schedule them immediately, or just build a media library of ‘unscheduled’ posts for the future.
Tip: When you see a pretty scene, take a photo, with whatever camera you have nearby. Edit the image and upload to your Planoly library. If you don’t know when or how you’re going to share the image, it doesn’t matter. It will be there, waiting for you, when you have something to share on Instagram but don’t have a photo to post.
For my @jamiedelainephoto account, I use Grum to manage my Instagram. There is limited capabilities compared to Planoly, for course, but the shining feature is the ability to schedule posts and not need to be near your phone. Say if you schedule a post to send at 2:00pm, most apps will send you a phone notification at 2:00pm and you’ll have to open the app and press ‘send.’ Grum does it automatically. My phone could be off, or in another country. It will still post. Which makes it perfect for my super-active portfolio account.
Best Time to Post
I don’t like to micro-manage my Instagram, because honestly, there’s just too much to do when you’re running your own business! However, you do want to be posting when you feel users will be on the app. I like to post mid-morning and just before the end of the work day. Evening is also a good time, after dinner.
How Often to Post
I recommend 1-3x a day. Consistency is key, so if you can’t keep it consistent, don’t share 3 images in one day and nothing for a week. If you have ideas for posts, great, schedule them in advance spread out!
Marketing to Your Ideal Photography Clients on Instagram
Before we can market to our ideal photography clients on Instagram, we need to know some information about them:
- What location do your clients live in?
- What other accounts are they likely to be following?
- What other local businesses would they be frequenting?
Answer these questions and follow related accounts to your ideal client’s interests. Be an active commenter on said accounts! Next, we’re going to talk about the right hashtags for your business.
Find Hashtags for Your Photography Business
Hashtags and location tags are the way to be found on Instagram by clients. Find hashtags on Instagram by opening up your app, going to the explore page, clicking on the search bar, navigating to ‘tags’ and starting to type in your location. Think of wedding related or photography tags for a specific city. Take note of how many posts are under each tag. I’m going to use Denver as an example.
#denver – 7 million posts
#denvercolorado – 300,000 posts
Hmmm, still too many posts for my liking! If a hashtag is too busy, your posts are going to get lost. Let’s look at the following:
#denverphotographer – 100,000 posts
#denverphotography – 33,000 posts
That’s better! You want a hashtag that’s big enough to be used frequently, but not so big and active your posts are going to disappear in the course of a day. 500 – 30,000 posts is the sweet spot. Keep going down the list and making a note on your iPhone of all your chosen hashtags.
#denverphotographer #denverphotography #denverphoto #denverphotographers #denverwedding #denverweddings #denverweddingphotography #denverweddingphotographers #denversmallbusiness #visitdenver
Look for location specific tags and industry specific tags. Also be sure to create your own hashtags specific to your business! I use #jamiedelainephotography and #jamiedelainetestimonials to keep track of similar groups of posts.
Create a Hashtag Keyboard Shortcut
Create a iPhone keyboard shortcut for super easy hash-tagging. On your phone, navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacements and hit the “+” button in the top right. Enter in your phrase (all of your hashtags) and your shortcut (what you’ll type to have the phrase inserted.)
Watch the video below for a step-by-step tutorial.
For example, you could save all of the above denver posts to automatically be placed in an Instagram comment when you type hashwed. Brilliant, right? Save new keyboard shortcuts for different types of posts – weddings, engagements, family sessions, etc.
Note: Try not to share hashtags in the main caption of your image, as it can get obnoxious to viewers. A better way is to share your hashtags in a “comment” on your photo rather than in the caption. Once you have a couple comments, your hashtag list will be hidden and less annoying.
Support Other Wedding Vendors on Instagram
The best way to get your name out there on Instagram? Supporting other vendors in your industry. Follow as many vendors as you can in your network and engage with their posts regularly. By commenting, you’re helping their posts get seen more (Instagram shows more of what is engaged with!) but you’re always putting your name out there. There’s a chance one of their followers could see your comment and click to your profile. Win-win.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Whenever you share a wedding image, include the vendors involved in the wedding day. Tag them in the caption of your image, as well as in the actual photo on Instagram. (This way, it will show up on their profile under ‘Photos of You.’)
Almost every image you share should have a location tag, you never know how a user may find you! (Be smart, don’t tag your home or office if you work alone.) But you can tag a photo simply with the name of your city, it doesn’t have to be where you are at that moment.
When you share an image you can tag the venues in the caption, the photo AND in the location tag. So many opportunities!
Speak Directly to Your Followers
My last marketing tip for Instagram is to speak directly to your followers. Remind people you are booking weddings and portraits (or whatever you are booking!) regularly. There’s a lot of noise on social media, sometimes people need to be reminded you’re actually looking for work!
- Ask for engagement from your followers, in a non-weird way. Ask them questions, respond, get a dialogue going in the comments. It will help your posts be seen by more followers and it’s fun.
- Follow your clients on Instagram. We can’t ask clients to follow our social media, if we aren’t willing to follow and learn about their lives as well, right?
Using Instastories in Your Photography Business
Although I never jumped on the Snapchat wagon, I have been enjoying how to use instastories to my business’ advantage. You can find instastories from users you follow on the home page of your Instagram app. At the top you’ll see little profile picture circles of users! Click on any of them and their recent stories will start playing. Stories only last for 24 hours, so they are temporary Instagrams!
Creative Ways for Photographers to Use Insta-Stories
Tips + Tricks for InstaStory
Upload Images from Your iPhone
It’s easy for photos taken within the last 24 hours, just open your instastory camera and swipe down. You’ll see your camera roll there! However, for photos taken more than 24 hours ago, you have a few options. You can use Planoly to plan your Instagram stories, which will create a ‘new’ copy of the image when you’re ready to post, regardless of the images time stamp. If you want to see a video about my super quick process for uploading and organizing custom Instastories, check out the video below.
Colour Fill a Page
Take a photo of anything, or select a photo from your camera roll, then select the pen tool. Choose a colour and tap and hold the screen for 2 seconds. The screen will fill with the chosen colour.
Hide Someone’s Stories
Not feeling a user’s stories? No problem, click their profile picture on the top of your home page (in the stories line-up) and hold. An option to ‘mute their story’ will appear.
Pause A Story
If there’s too much text on the screen for you to read, just hold your finger on the screen to pause the story. You can take as much time as you need to read. When you release your finger, the story will continue scrolling.