If you know anything about me, you know that automation is my jam. Anything I can automate in business gives me my life back and is worth the money spent. Even though I’m running four businesses, I’d still want to automate as much as possible with just one business so I could spend less time working and more time having freedom. That’s part of why we started businesses anyway, right? More freedom? More time?
To help you get back more of your life today I’m going to blog and share about how you can really schedule Instagram posts in advance. If you have ever tried to schedule Instagram posts in advance you’ll know that you can’t do it in the Instagram app, and you can’t do it when you log into Instagram from your desktop browser. One of the easiest solutions for business owners is Latergram. Here’s the problem with services like Latergram, while they allow you to schedule photos and captions in advance, all they really do is send a reminder to your phone at the time you wanted the post to go live and you still have to go in and actually make the post go live. It can definitely help you save time by not having to make decisions on the run with what you want to post, but wouldn’t it be better if the entire scheduling process was completely automated? Wouldn’t it be better if instead of having to still go in and make the post live, if something just did that for you?
Enter, Schedugram, my new favorite service. I’ve been with Schedugram since it was relatively new, so it’s actually not my new favorite thing, it’s been one of my favorite services for awhile. Schedugram allows you to log into a desktop internet browser, schedule your Instagram photos, captions and a first comment, and then completely automates the post going live from there, so you don’t have to drop what you’re doing at 3pm to make that post go live – they make it live for you.
Right now Schedugram is the only service of its kind and they do have a free 7-day trial if you want to try it out. I’m not writing this blog post because I get any kind of kickback from them. I, in fact, get nothing. I’m writing about Schedugram because it’s been such an incredible time saving tool for me in business, and because since using it seriously and taking advantage of all it has to offer, I’ve more than tripled my Instagram following.
Schedugram helps me be consistent with my presence on Instagram and consistency is one of the keys to booking more clients and connecting with new people. It also lets me manage social media and be more productive during my work hours because I don’t have to drop whatever I’m doing to think about, decide, and then post something on Instagram. I can create my plan of attack in advance, schedule it for however far in advance I’d like and voila my work is done.
To top it off, Schedugram has also provided a really good customer service experience for me. They’re very responsive when you email, and if their server is having issues they’re prompt at notifying you and making sure you are still happy and getting what you need out of the company. That kind of incident is incredibly rare though, but I appreciate their efforts to be great at communicating anything that may be going on that will affect my experience as a user.
So, if you want to take back some of your life in 2016, increase your presence on Instagram, and start having some consistency to your online presence – jump on the Schedugram wagon with me and hopefully it can be another tool in your arsenal that will help you take your business to new heights.
If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!
I’ve seen a lot of questions about marketing lately and almost all of them are about Facebook and why marketing isn’t working for this photography mini session, or this wedding deal, or this print sale coupon. I wanted to take the time to write a blog post, we can all refer to later and talk about why we all need to expand our marketing efforts beyond Facebook.
Facebook is a dying beast for small business owners. Yep, I said it. Unless you’re paying to promote your ads (and even then) you may not be actually reaching anyone. It’s not just you either, look at some of the bigger photographers who have larger followings, you might see that they have a similar amount of likes and interactions with each post, despite having a larger following. Since Facebook interactions are down and harder than ever to obtain, you definitely don’t want to be using Facebook as your only marketing tool. Cover all your bases. If you need to get your name out there, you need to be “findable” with a variety of different methods. Try adding to your social media arsenal. Start learning about Instagram, Pinterest and blogging and see what they can do to boost your reach overall. Focus on the big picture!
Consider who your idea clients are, and figure out where they’re at. It’s important to know your audience. If you’re marking to young high school seniors, you may find that they’ve moved to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat and spend more time there than Facebook. Take the time to really sit down and write out who your ideal clients are, and brainstorm places where they can be found – not just on the online world, but in the “real” world too. Where will you find people who have newborns who might be interested in newborn photography? Where will you find high school seniors in your town? Remember to reach outside of the virtual world and make in-person or tangible connections with brochures, fliers and other options people can see when they’re out and about in the world.
You’re only limiting yourself. That’s the last reason you don’t want to be on Facebook only. Facebook used to be huge and you could make a photography business simply off using Facebook, some people still do, but not everyone. Don’t limit yourself to only one means of marketing. Marketing is the most crucial thing we do as business owners behind the scenes. Put in the time and effort to really expand what you do and where you can be seen. If you’re not sure where to start, you might be interested in some classes on how to use Pinterest and Instagram or blogging for your social media. I’d highly recommend checking out http://rockyourweird.com which is launching in January and will have tons of awesome information on developing an internet presence as a whole!
Is it even possible to find new clients on Pinterest? You may be asking yourself this very question. I never really thought it was, but let me tell you – IT IS! Since I’ve been filling up my time this year doing research on social media and re-focusing on the parts I think are most important I’ve really changed my Pinterest philosophy and it’s actually paying off. Clients are finding me through Pinterest now and they’re not just any client – they’re my ideal, nerdy, alternative wedding clients. I’m confident that any photographer can use Pinterest to connect with clients. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Pinterest is one of the best ways on social media to showcase exactly who you are and what types of photography you’re interested in! It’s such a direct and easy way to say “this is who I am” and own it. If you want to see what I mean, check out my Pinterest. I’m sure you’ll look at it and either love me or think I’m a crazy nut and not the photographer for you. That’s exactly the two types of responses I want because it polarizes clients that wouldn’t be a good fit for me.
Create a pin board just for your photography. Start pinning your photos up there from your blog posts (so the photos have a link back to your website). When you write descriptions for these photos on Pinterest use location based terminology, or vocabulary that describes what is in the photo – like a wedding cake, purple bouquet, or a family photography pose. Consider terms that are popularly searched by clients and start pinning and using terminology that matches what they might be looking for.
Create pin boards that showcase things you want to photograph. If you’ve always wanted to photograph more weddings that involve modern decorations, start a pin board full of modern wedding photography ideas. Pin bouquets, cakes, centerpieces, dresses, hairstyles, etc. Be a resource for potential clients!
Connect your other social media accounts to Pinterest so they show up in the header. That way when potential new clients find you through your Pinterest ideas and because you are being a resource, they know where to go to find out more about you and your photography services.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.
After a recent blog post on how to sell without using in-person sales I got quite a few follow up questions so I thought I’d do a follow up blog with more specifics for those of you who asked about them.
Here’s what I will say and will aways maintain – everyone’s business is different. There is no one right way to do things. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have the time or drive to incorporate in-person sales in your business. You always have to do what’s right for you and there are so many different paths to get to the same result. I think all photographers should encourage their clients to purchase tangible items – because nothing can beat tangible memories. However, we all have to get to that result in different ways that suit our business model, lifestyle and personality best.
In my last blog post I mentioned some specific tips like using an online gallery, advertising in advance, educating clients, providing incentives, not overpricing and using a professional lab. I’ll elaborate on a few of these things with more ideas for you guys!
Using an Online Gallery – Last time I blogged about how I used Shootproof to automate sales for me and have a professional lab fulfill my orders so I can go on about my day doing whatever I want to and not worrying about the sales. Aside from allowing you to create your own prices and chose what items you want to sell, Shootproof has a few other features that make online sales easy. If you want to use Shootproof just use the code SWAILS25 to take 25% off any annual plan!
Automated Print Release – If you let your clients purchase digital files from you, Shootproof sets up a print release that will email with their files automatically after the purchase. That way your clients don’t have to bug you when they take those digital files to a consumer lab and try to print them on their own. They just need to print out your print release and take it with them. If you need some print release wording – stop by this link.
Gallery Introduction – One of my favorite features of Shootproof are the layouts of the galleries. You can actually have a written introduction to each gallery before your clients click through to view the photos. This little intro is a great spot to remind clients that they can purchase professional quality prints and products right through your gallery. You can also use this intro to remind them to share the gallery link with friends and family to gain sales as well. (see photo for sample)
Automated Email Reminders – Emailing your clients reminders of when their gallery is going to expire, or other incentives is awesome, but Shootproof lets you take it to the next level with automations – where Shootproof will just email out automated reminders to any of your clients for you. You can email them discount codes, expiration reminders, print order reminders and more this way. It’s a great tool to let your system take care of the client order reminders for you, instead of having to worry about fitting them into your schedule yourself.
Advertise in Advance – On the last blog post I talked about putting together systems that will showcase your products to clients before the session so they know what they can purchase and are planning on it, even if they purchase online rather than in-person. Here’s a few ways you can incorporate this type of advertising into your workflow.
Blog About Products – People always say they never know what to blog about when it comes to their photography business, but this is a very easy solution in my opinion! Start ordering sample products, photograph them beautifully and write blog posts about what you sell. Then you can always link back to those blog posts when clients inquire about products. You can link back to these blog posts as references in emails when reminding clients about product purchases.
Create Product Brochures – Just like blogging about your products you can create magazines, brochures or other tangible items to send to your clients or give out when you meet them. These are price sheets and samples they can take home so they fall in love with what you sell and will want to buy it later.
Create a Client Lounge – A client lounge is basically just a private portion of your website that only your booked and paying clients can see. In this area you can showcase products, dive into price lists and explain how and where to buy these things to your clients.
Showcase Products During Consults – Even if you don’t do in-person sales, but you do consults before bookings this is a great time to showcase products and imbed the idea of purchasing albums, canvases or other goodies later during their experience with you.
Educate Clients – Teaching and showing clients the difference between consumer grade products and professional lab products is a really big deal and can make or break your sales. I definitely encourage photographers to be honest with their clients. Buy samples of prints from consumer labs like Walmart and Shutterfly and show them how they compare to your professional grade products. These can be great for blog posts, promotional material in a welcome kit or something you showcase during a consult. You don’t have to be in-person to get this idea across. Knowledge is power and these days people are purchasing services and products from brands solely because they want to support that brand – not necessarily because of the quality or product itself. This gives small business owners a huge advantage because people love it when we’re authentic and honest. Be honest with your clients about where their money goes when they purchase prints somewhere else, and how it benefits both them and you when they purchase through you.
Providing Incentives – In my previous blog post I talked a little bit about how you can use incentives to get clients to purchase from you. Here are a few ideas on incentives you can incorporate into your business. These might be good paired with Shootproof’s automated email reminder system.
Give each online gallery an expiration date and remind clients that their last chance to purchase professional products from you is before the expiration date. You can schedule automated emails around an expiration date to do a countdown of 30 days, 2 weeks, 1 week, last day, etc. to encourage sales.
Furthermore you can also provide a discount to clients. Maybe the sooner they order the bigger the discount? Let’s say you give all your clients 90 days with their online gallery. Perhaps you could set up your discount incentive like this. Order within the first 30 days and you get 20% off, after 30 days you only get 10% off, the last 30 days you only get 5% off, and maybe the last week of the gallery you get no discount at all. You could automate these email reminders right through Shootproof…pretty awesome eh?
Use a Professional Lab – a few of the questions I got after my last blog post on this topic were about which labs to use. I’ve used a lot of different labs and these are the few that really stand out to me with quality products and a great customer experience for me and my clients.
Become an Affiliate Marketer – Affiliate marketing programs are amazing. Basically you as a business owner can sign up to become an affiliate of any service you think your customers would love to use. If you’re approved to be an affiliate for a certain business you are given unique URLs that track back to you. Anytime a customer makes a purchase using one of your links – you get a kickback. So, how can affiliate marketing help you as a photographer?! Well…even though we don’t love companies like Shutterfly for our clients prints, inevitably sometimes clients are going to print a bunch of 4X6s there to scrapbook with. Why not get a kickback when they order those prints? There are tons of online programs you can do this with. If you would love for your clients to purchase wedding invitations, save the dates, graduation announcements, thank you cards or other stationary through you, but you just don’t have the time to do it – becoming an affiliate may be an amazing way to get a kickback by promoting those companies to your clients. I love earning passive income from my clients purchasing prints through Shutterfly or thank you cards through Wedding Paper Divas…I definitely can’t complain! Here are a few companies you might consider becoming an affiliate for.
Affiliate marketing doesn’t end there. You could become an affiliate for a wedding dress store or other companies you know your clients will use. You can throw those affiliate links on your photography blog, in your reminder emails through Shootproof (have I said how much I love Shootproof yet?!), in your client lounge and anywhere else you can think of. If you’re interested in utilizing some passive income techniques through these affiliate marketing things – just search “affiliate” on any of their websites and follow the instructions to sign up! Make sure you go over affiliate linking laws, disclosure of affiliate links is REALLY important – like the disclosure you see at the top of this post because some of my links here are affiliate links.
Hope this blog post gives you some new ideas of how you can use various marketing techniques to still sell prints and products even if you aren’t into in-person sales. A lot of these techniques are the similar to things that in-person sales uses.
You’ve probably entered hundreds of giveaways yourself on the internet. Maybe you’ve even hosted one for your photography clients? Either way I’m sure you’ve seen them going around social media and if you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re considering hosting one yourself. Before you jump in and host one there are lots of laws to consider and I’m here to give you a few tips to get you started.
First let’s talk about various types of contests you might encounter here in the US. There are sweepstakes (giveaways) where a prize is given to a randomly generated winner. There are contests where winning is dependent upon criteria or skills. Finally there are lotteries, where you can buy a chance to win. These are the three big ways you can offer a type of contest. Most photographers and contests in our industry are giveaways so we’re going to focus a little bit on what you need to include to give away a prize to a randomly generated winner!
Comply with Federal and State Law – First, all giveaways need to comply with both federal and state laws. You may have to limit who can enter your giveaway based on laws in various countries as well as the states here in the US. Some countries actually restrict sweepstakes so you may not be able to offer the giveaway to all of your followers. Most importantly, here in the US you need to look up your federal and state laws before hosting a giveaway. Giveaways in the new world of the internet are even more difficult because the laws were created on an older sweepstakes style system and our new system doesn’t always account for how the internet plays a role. That means some of the laws may be hard to decipher and fully understand, so do your research and call your state and federal departments that govern giveaways.
Outline the Rules and Regulations of the Contest – You will always need to outline on your giveaway what the official rules are and how things work to be considered compliant. Below is a list of basic things you may need to comply, but the laws may vary depending on where you’re at and who you’re allowing to enter.
Age – Usually 18 and older
Country and States – Make sure if there are any states that cannot participate you list them. It’s also a good idea to state that your giveaway may be void where it is prohibited by law.
How to enter
Who can enter
Identify the prize and list the total value
State no purchase necessary – in order to qualify as a sweepstakes (giveaway) you need to make it clear people don’t need to purchase anything to enter
Explain how you will re-award the prize or deal with unclaimed prizes
Dates and duration of giveaway
Odds of winning and how the winner is chosen
How you will handle any problems that may arise during the giveaway – These could be technical like your website being unavailable etc.
Value of Your Giveaway – The total value is important here in the US. The value will dictate what types of laws you may need to follow. If the total value of your prize is $600 or more you will be required to collect the Social Security Number of your winner(s) and issue a 1099 at the end of the year. This means your winner will have to claim the value of the winnings on their taxes as income received. If you have multiple winners any of them who receives more than $600 in prizes will need a 1099. It’s important to disclose this information on your giveaway so your winners know what is expected. Also, some state and federal laws may have very specific rules for any giveaway over $5000 specifically.
Considerations – Operating a giveaway means you’re running a sweepstakes. In a sweepstakes everything around winning is based purely on luck or random chance. A consideration is usually something a participant has to do in order to be considered for winning, such as purchasing a product or a ticket. Sweepstakes are what they are because they don’t require any considerations to win, that’s why it’s so important for you to put “no purchase necessary” on your giveaway. However, the complex part of considerations are that a certain action required to enter a giveaway may result in financial gain for the giveaway host, and therefore void your giveaway. Anything that could benefit the company could potentially be a consideration and mean your giveaway is illegal. It’s difficult to specifically say what is and is not a consideration. I’ve read sources that say asking people to like your page, sign up for a newsletter, or share the giveaway are considerations because they bring the company benefit by showcasing the company to potentially new people. Each state and the federal government has its own laws on how these things work. Unfortunately it’s really difficult to give a concrete answer on if doing any of these things will void your giveaway since the laws are still vague. Some people argue that simply needing a computer or internet access to enter a giveaway could be a consideration. Since these laws surrounding consideration are deep and complex I recommend contacting a lawyer who has worked on sweepstakes or similar contests to ensure you are complying with the law before offering a contest.
Social Media Platforms – If you are going to promote your giveaway on any social media you will also need to ensure you comply with their rules and regulations regarding giveaways.
Now that you’ve read up you’re probably incredibly scared to dive into offering a giveaway or contest to your clients. If you’re looking to do any type of contest, giveaway or lottery as a marketing tool please make sure you contact a lawyer to ensure you are doing it correctly. Unfortunately many of us have made mistakes that don’t follow US law regarding giveaways in the past and now we have an opportunity to do them correctly. Please know this blog post is intended as informational content only based on my own personal research and is not legal advice. If you’re looking for more information on the official side of doing business check out our Get Legit blog archives or sign up to take the Taxes and Official Ickiness Bootcamp that starts next week and runs continually all year long!