Since I'm in the yearly concert photography lull of a month that is July (Granted, there is a major festival on the horizon but very little else this month), I've decided to make use of the down time by sprucing up the home page a bit (Check it out!) and trying to come up with some advice pieces based on analyzing my current way of operating. I wanted to do this so I could see where changes could be made to better my work and myself. One of the areas where I have put a lot of thought into is how I market myself, specifically the work here on DSmithScenes, via social media.
I have always had an "interesting" relationship with social media. Dating back to the early days of Facebook, I was that type of user who, basically, added a bunch of friends with the intention of mass marketing my work, whether it be the concert photography side of things or the wedding photography side of things. I know this turned off a lot of people and probably cost me business. Still, I went with that strategy as I wanted to get my work in front of as many eyeballs as possible and this was a way to do it.
When Facebook began to change to an algorithm based feed, the reach of businesses and people making posts like I would quickly dropped. If you really wanted to reach people, you had to pay. I mean I understand why Facebook did it because they are a company and responsible to their shareholders. It just let me with trying to find ways around the system.
I would do things like double posting content to my Facebook page and then my personal profile to try and maximize hits and clicks back to the content. Sometimes it'd work. Other times it wouldn't. I mean I had thousands of people on my friends list, but I know very few were actually seeing the content initially because they had never interacted with me or had just probably muted me a long time ago. It'd make me frustrated, especially when I'd spend a lot of time working on galleries, such as the ones linked in the photos in this post, and publishing it, only to get just a handful of visitors. Since I photograph such a wide range of bands and genres, it's safe to say not everyone I know is going to want to see the bulk of what i do. That's just the reality of things.
Outside of Facebook, I'd also be active on Twitter and Instagram with the intention of driving traffic back to my site. Both have their perks, and both have their downsides. Sometimes fans of bands would find the post, retweet it and/or share it to help boost the traffic, but a lot of times, the numbers would be stagnant. I really found myself trying to get more likes and followers on Instagram more than anything. I then asked myself "Why am I caring about this so much"?
As much as I like having an active group of followers across social media platforms, I started to understand it is not and should not be the ultimate goal of what I am doing. It is not how I make money with the content I have on DSmithScenes. Sure, it's nice to drive traffic to the site in the hopes people buy prints, but, for the most part, I'm making my money through the licensing of images. Social media definitely does not help in that aspect. I definitely don't get paid by the number of likes I get or the number on my followers list.
The best example of this I have is a photo I took of the band Local H back in 2015. I wasn't happy with the results, and I'm sure very few actually paid attention to the gallery when I published it. On my most recent royalty statement, though, I saw where an image from that show got me my single biggest payment for one photograph. That opened my eyes quite a bit in regards to what is popular on social media and what actually sells.
I am not saying I am abandoning social media. That's definitely not going to happen. I am saying, however, I will stop being so wrapped up in trying to make a breakthrough with it. If people like my work, awesome. If they don't, awesome. I'm going to put it out there and let it speak for itself. At this point, people should know where to find my work. If they come up and say, "I haven't seen things from you recently", that's, well, their problem. It's a mentality I should have had a long time ago.
For example, I've stopped double posting on Facebook as all my work is now being put exclusively on the page for DSmithScenes. Sure, I'll share it to my profile, but I won't post it there as well. I also culled probably 1,000 people on my "friends" list because, honestly, I didn't know the people in the first place. A big thing is that I also left pretty much every concert photography group on Facebook. The bulk of them are incredibly toxic and not helpful at all. I could do an entirely different post on them, but, frankly, there isn't a need to give those groups that much attention. As for Instagram, I switched back to a personal profile because I didn't want to be hooked on looking at analytics anymore. I also didn't want to look at DSmithScenes as a "business" in the strictest sense nor did I want the people following the feed to do so as well.
Changing my social media habits, hopefully, will continue my efforts in looking at DSmithScenes as my avenue for artistic expression. I mean the concert photography side of things will always be the majority of what is posted here, but I also want to experiment more. I want to post more event and slice of life content. I want to challenge and push myself without being constrained to the whims of whatever is the current social media trend.
As with everything in concert photography and photography in general, my advice to you all is "Do what works best for you". If a strict social media policy works for you, then definitely stay with it. If you want to play fast and loose with things, play fast and loose. Each person has their own unique audience. Build on that and see where it goes. Don't just focus on trying to appease and attract other concert photographers. Try focusing on appeasing and attracting that audience you don't think would find your work in the first place. Knock those doors down. Follows those unexpected routes.
I know this is going to work for me so that's why I am sharing it with you. It might not, however, work for you. Always keep that in mind. If you'd like to talk more about this, shoot me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts. As for my work, well, I said it earlier, and I'll say it again. You know where to find it.