Why Photographers Should Take Tumblr Seriously
This is it: you're ready. Armed with your SLR, heady technical know-how and creative prowess, it's time to get out there and take on the world of professional photography. All you need to do is stand out against a sea of competition.
Today, close to every man and his dog is a photographer. Monkeys, even. Interest in the craft is skyrocketing, and if you're sincere about becoming a photographer, you're going to need a plan in getting yourself out there. Whether you like it or not, you're going to need to dip your toes into realms of marketing. Social media marketing, to be exact. After all, 90% of the information that reaches the brain is visual.
There's no reason the word 'marketing' should strike fear into the hearts of otherwise-qualified creatives. Really, all you're doing is figuring out how you want your content, i.e. your photos to appear to, and be shared with others. When we speak about this kind of strategy, we often draw lines between your 'social' (what you post over your social media profiles) and 'content' (the 'meat': how your photos themselves appear on your main site) strategies. When you're a photographer, your brand is you, and your content is your work. The types of conversations you need to be having are no different.
Tumblr is a hugely popular microblogging site for some 198.8 million bloggers worldwide, but often faces sneers from serious snappers: Tumblr isn't 'serious' enough; it's a place for viral, funny content, and plus, it's far too easy for someone to steal my pictures. But in truth, the site is probably the best helping hand you'll get in crafting a killer social media strategy.
Content is king, customisation is currency
Tumblr should by no means be the only channel you push your work across. You Tumblr should head your social strategy, and supplement what appears on your main photography site (your content strategy). This means that it should work to humanise your work as products of you as a photographer, and offer insight into your inspiration, likes, and candid behind-the-scenes glimpses into new projects. People will engage with you as a person as well as a great photographer, and give your brand a neat three-dimensionality that is all the more likable.
Who else are you inspired by, who are you following? What sorts of things inspire you? Pick them out strategically and put them on your Tumblr. Let who you are behind the camera coalesce with the work itself in your main digital folio. Give updates with what you're working on, and involve your audience in the process through candid snaps and updates. Remember: you content needs to inform, where your social profiles need to humanise. After all, 90% of digital users listen to recommendations shared from friends, so if you get people talking, you'll spread like wildfire.
You can also let your personality shine through by customising your profile. With different themes and an easy user interface, you have plenty of ways to tailor how your content appears: more so than on Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.
Photos are power: don't be scared to share
On Tumblr, you can share anything you like: be it text, quotes, video, GIFs or audio. Photos, however comprise 83% of all Tumblr posts, and get the most 'notes' (a Tumblr equivalent of a 'like') of all other types of content. Commandeer this clout and share, share, share.
And despite popular concern, sharing is nothing to be scared of. You should always watermark the photos you put on Tumblr, and can easily include the source URL on the image itself so that it clicks through to your main site. If you're still not convinced, you can always find out who has re-blogged your work (you can either type your name into Tumblr or search using TinEye) and then get in touch with them directly about crediting your work properly.
Get on board
Any social network's strength lies in its numbers. In the last year, Tumblr's audience grew by 14%, with the platform itself marking a 74% growth in 2013. On the other hand, Twitter and LinkedIn grew by about 40%. Blogging itself also exploded as a hobby, professional platform and key marketing tool. Per month, 329 million people will read at least one blog, whilst 37% of marketers name blogs the most valuable type of content in marketing. When you post on your Tumblr, you're doing so to a huge (and growing) potential audience. Make sure you remember to tweak the sharing and engagement settings on your dashboard to let people get in touch with you and ask questions.
Keeping an eye on your competition, peers and sources of inspiration is an invaluable asset in learning the pulls of your field and reaching out to build a network. The whole point of social media is to be social: it doesn't work unless you consistently contribute content and make a point of engaging with others. Otherwise, you're just yelling into empty space.
Follow Monica Karpinski on Twitter