Christmas is coming and I thought is the right time to do a little SEO and marketing for my website. Since I am offering my photography as FREE ecards, I am not able to spend a fortune on marketing strategies or hiring someone to do it for me. So I tried what is handy and trendy now: social media. Let me tell you a bit more of my experience on this.
Google plus seems a nice place for photographers. Big brother google is offering free image hosting and this is gold and probably the main reason it is so spread among photographers. It gives you also some kind of social network where you can "circle" or "follow" people which work or posts you like. But I don't want to enumerate here all the features of google plus, I'd rather like to share my experience as a user of it. I have to confess in advance that I didn't read Guy Kawasaki's book and I did things in my own geeky logic.
Two years ago I made a g+ profile, circled a bunch of photographers and posted my own stuff using my so called "personal" profile. Well, nothing happened. I reached to have few thousand people in my circles, who probably did not give a damn about my photos. And I do not believe my photography was that bad at that time, and you can have a quick look over my photos in 2011 here. So my "personal" profile was not personal anymore and also did not bring anything to my photography.
At the end of 2011 I decided to have a website as showcase of my photography, and since I had no intention to make money out of it, I decided to offer it as FREE greeting ecards. I thought is nice to let people share images of places they would like to see or where they have nice memories, with other people close to them, lover or friends. I still think this is a nice idea and a more humanitarian and altruistic approach than the classical "John Smith Photography - if you like it, buy it or call me for your wedding!"
When you have a website, google lets you create a g+ page for it, and it gives you also a lot of tools (for free, same as my photo cards!) to connect it with analytics, sitemap and so on, so actually you are tight to google. Of course big brother google knows everything about you, as a owner of a page: your phone number, your name and address, even your bank account ...so you cannot do this incognito, as some gplusers did falsely assume (will tell you later in this story, keep reading...)
For some time, my g+ page was almost empty, I focused in bringing more value to the website, new look, new features and users interested in photography as me. But little by little I was also sharing on the g+ page and got some pluses every now and then.
It was recently (maybe 2 weeks ago) when I started to be intrigued how come people with photos with no other value than for themselves are famous and getting hundreds of pluses in 24 hours...I saw that...so I started to pay attention on those people and what they were publicly sharing. Finally I discovered the secret: is the power of circle! You have to be in many circles that people share with each other and you can add all people from a shared circle with few clicks! There are limits to the number of people you can circle, but no limits on how many people can circle you. So this is the game of g+ and I started to play it too. And that brought followers and pluses to my photos. That's why you will find in pure photography circles not just photographers, but those who are playing this game and have nothing to do with photography, moreover, their own pages they created specially to use for sharing circles. For example, in a circle with tagline
A collection of beautiful photography by amateur and professional photographers from Google+ you will find, beside the real valuable photographers, people that share animated gifs or gross youtube videos. There is also a top of the circles and releases of circles, once a week. Just try a search using hashtag "#sharedcircle" to see what I mean...
Going on with my story...I started to play the circle game and asked to be included in whatever circles were coming up in my news feed. Also, I continued to share my photography, which now suddenly was appreciated, thanks to circle power! I started to post in photo communities and share with daily photo themes, when I had the next revelation. Some gplusers (curators of themes or communities) refused to share my photos (even when they appreciated it!) with the reason they only share "original photographers" content...OOPS! So now, when I show my photography on a website I am not a "original photographer"? My photos are good but not authentic? Really? Another guy told me he cannot include me in his "original content creators" circle, but he included me in a "photo sharing" circle, in the end I thanked him saying we all are doing photo sharing on gplus, right? Some share their own photography, some sharing animated gifs, makes no difference...Another woman asked for my "personal" profile...if is "personal" means is for family and friends, this is how I understand the word "personal"! Is not about scamming or using pseudonyms, as I told you before, brother google knows everything when you create a page. And frankly, when you look at a photograph, you like it better if it has a watermark with "John Smith Photography" or a website name instead? Are the colors brighter or the framing better? Kinda disappointed by this mind narrowness I found on gplus...sorry google, maybe is not your fault!
In fact, is our all fault that we live always in a competition, that we need pluses and shares to feel appreciated for what we do, and that we allow us to be manipulated by social media because of these...We ceased to enjoy a photograph for the little light that it brings in our eyes when we like it, and instead we run for likes, pluses, shares...
I will continue to share my photography for free, with the secret hope that it might bring a smile or a nice thought or just a "bien etre" feeling to people who get to see it. And I welcome anyone who wants to join me in this adventure.