Gone are the days when photographers could rely solely on word of mouth recommendations. While the offline world still plays a significant role in bringing new clients, without an impressive online portfolio you’re basically giving away your potential customers to your competitors.
Having said that, a photography website is only one pillar of your online presence temple. Instagram, Facebook, 500px, Pinterest and Twitter are key ingredients in maintaining your digital popularity. Today, we’d like to ‘go pro’ and talk to you about the third biggest social network in the world – LinkedIn (who would have thought?).
If you don’t see why a photographer should have a profile in this career-oriented platform, read on – we just might convince you otherwise. If you’re already “linked in”, then here are some mega useful tips on how to optimize your photographer profile to the fullest. Let’s go!
Why you should bother
It’s a big big world
Believe it or not, like we mentioned above, LinkedIn is the third biggest social network in the world. Yes, that’s right, it’s even bigger than Instagram! Unlike its sizeable cousins, Facebook and Twitter (where spammers and bots rejoice), the vast majority of LinkedIn’s users are real people, who actively use the network to find jobs, candidates or business opportunities. That means that there are nearly 467 million actual users, who might be looking for a photographer or recommending one to their friends.
He who searches finds
What’s more, LinkedIn profiles are scanned by Google and other search engines. So the next time a potential customer types your name in the search bar, they will be able to see just how professional you are. Having a meaningful number of contacts, endorsements, and even posts on your behalf will only add to your professional aura as a photographer. The cherry on top: inserting a link to your website on your LinkedIn profile is an absolute SEO win for photographers.
They call it networking
It doesn’t require much effort to maintain an online connection, but it is very important. Today you might help someone find what they’re looking for, tomorrow they’ll want to do the same for you. LinkedIn is perfect for effortless communication – we will immediately discuss what type of interactions are extremely useful to stress the “pro” in your profile.
It’s easy and free
Last but not least – it’s so easy, you can do it with your eyes shut. Spend an hour on building a strong profile, 10 minutes per week to maintain it, and you’re ready to enjoy all the benefits this platform has to offer.
Ace the basics
The cool thing about LinkedIn, is that it guides you effectively through the profile creation process. To put it simply, when the professional social network gives you advice on how to complete your profile, you listen. Just follow the Profile Strength bar, and add the info it suggests you to. This will include your:
Featured Skills & Endorsements
While ‘Experience’ and ‘Education’ are quite obvious, we’d like to focus for a moment on the other four:
The Intro section is highly important, as it is targeted at enticing anyone looking at your profile and encouraging them to explore it further. Don’t play games with names: add your first, last and middle name (if applicable) without any nicknames or superlatives. Take the time to find the most accurate headline that lists your fields of expertise and includes your main keywords.
The summary that follows should include your present and future ambitions as a photographer. Here you can list your skills, talk about your vast experience, or it can simply contain a good marketing text that convinces people to hire you. Not sure where to start? Get inspired by industry leaders in LinkedIn’s Profinder tool.
Featured Skills & Endorsements are important not only for your professional branding, but for networking purposes too. When you add a featured skill, like ‘Wedding Photography’, ‘Image Editing’, or ‘Photojournalism’, make sure your friends and colleagues endorse you. In return, endorse them back for their professional accomplishments – only the ones you’ve actually witnessed, it goes without saying (doesn’t it?). It’s a win-win situation for both sides – you get to brand yourself professionally, and improve your networking status on the way. (We’d say “endorse even a horse”, but that would be horsing around).
Recommendations are an even a better opportunity to show off your talent and skills. LinkedIn doesn’t restrict recommendations to people you’ve worked with, so you can get recommended by happy clients and even friends. Having a couple of recommendations from people you know is extremely valuable – nothing like a positive review or opinion to convince people to hire you.
The Accomplishments section is where you get to show off your greatest achievements. Feel free to share awards, photography contests, excellence certificates, photos featured in magazines, professional courses, personal projects and even foreign languages you’ve mastered. This is where your LinkedIn profile is born to shine! Avoid overkill: make sure you’re sharing only the most valuable and outstanding tricks up your sleeve.
Your image is at stake
Alas, photographers have a lot of photos, just not of themselves. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, a LinkedIn profile pic isn’t the place to show your artistic personality or creative abilities. Your image should show your face clearly and convey only one trait: professionality. So: don’t hide behind a camera, save last night’s going out photo, and try to stick to a headshot where your face and smile can be seen beautifully. You might even want to apply your portrait shooting skills to make a photo specifically for LinkedIn. The recommended size is 400*400px, but any 1:1 ratio between 200-20K pixels will do the job, be it JPG, GIF or PNG.
If a LinkedIn profile photo sounds like a boring project to you, we have some good news: recently the professional network launched an option to add a background photo. THIS is the podium to showcase your talent: choose an image you’re extremely proud of, adjust the size to 1536*768 px, and go! Just preview your profile to see what the final outcome looks like (with your profile pic layered on top).
Follow your colleagues
It’s a social network, so get… social. The main benefit of being an active user in groups is that it increases the chances of your profile being viewed by up to five times more. Start by following industry leaders according to your specialization. Be it National Geographic or Vogue, we’re sure they put enough resources into providing the most up-to-date content related to your field of expertise. Second, join professional groups that share your interests – freelancers, event-related businesses, marketing for photographers – you’ll definitely find some valuable tips here if you have the time to browse through these.
Here are some popular groups that are worth checking out:
LinkedIn’s search bar is highly effective when it comes to finding people, groups, company pages, and of course – jobs. That’s why we’re here in the first place, right?
Your shares are on the rise!
On top of following other people and brands, you can create and share your own content. Whether it’s based on your insights from day-to-day work, descriptions of an amazing personal project you’ve accomplished, some neat photography hacks, or even sharing a post from another cool photography blog – anything goes. Similar to writing a blog post, your update can include text, images and videos, video being the most engaging one (hey, it’s 2017 after all).
Here are some useful tips for successful LinkedIn blogging:
A typical post is somewhere between 500 and 700 characters.
Use a short but captivating headline (40-49 characters is optimal).
Use images – visual is effectual.
Break long texts up with subheadings.
Asking questions is always a good idea to grow engagement (but not in the headline).
Posts that are published on Sundays and Thursdays seem to have higher visibility.
Being active reminds your connections about you (everytime you post they will get a notification), and proves once again that you’re truly passionate about what you do.
Where projects are born
Have a creative project in mind involving a specific person, but don’t know how to reach them? Need to contact a chief editor of a certain photography magazine? Looking to offer your portraiture services to a big brand? Sending an email is always an option, but unfortunately not a very effective one. People (and spam algorithms) tend to ignore messages from people they don’t know. That’s where LinkedIn steps in: it’s a powerful search engine that allows you to find the professionals you’re looking for. What’s even better, LinkedIn will suggest if someone from your contacts (and their contacts) can make the needed introduction.
The search is based on industry related keywords – yet another reason to include the correct ones in your own profile, exactly like you would do for your photography website.
Linked In? Don’t forget the link!
Needless to say, LinkedIn will not be the only platform for your online presence as a photographer. It will help to complete a full picture in addition to your Facebook page, Instagram account and other channels you’re using. Wherever you end up sending your social ships in the Internet sea, make sure they all lead your potential clients to one safe haven: your website. Before you click “Save” on your LinkedIn profile, add a link to your online portfolio in the intro section. Now everyone will be able to see your photography work at it’s best!