Internet Marketing For Photographers – Your Virtual Personality
It’s pretty obvious that internet marketing is critically important to a photography business.
When I started my business, the argument was: Do you need a website? At the time, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that a website would become only a small part of an overall photography business internet marketing strategy.
But, when was the last time that you checked your virtual personality?
In this article, I am going to review what I find when I search my own name and my business name – with at least one curveball thrown in.
In case you are wondering, I did not in fact write “Live Nude Girls: The Top 100 Strip Clubs In North America”.
It was written by someone who happens to have the exact same name as me, and Amazon has been making sure that it has been popping up in internet searches for my name since 1998.
You’d be surprised when meeting me for the first time how often new clients say something like:
“Ohhhh right, JP Danko, you’re the photographer that wrote that guide to the best strip clubs.”
Which brings me to my first point: your name is your brand and it’s important.
I am fairly lucky in that I have a relatively unique name, and more importantly, besides "Live Nude Girls" my name is not really associated with anyone else.
Rick Danko (of The Band fame) and Danko Jones (of alt rock fame – with a way cooler version of my name) come up once in a while, but other than that, I’m all by myself.
If you happen to share a name with someone famous, or even worse, a serial killer – forget about it, your name is never going to be on page one of any search engine.
Some people are really touchy about their name, but if your name happens to be William Smith, or Kate Perry, I would consider going with an alias or just using your business name instead.
Of course, that also gives you an excuse to go with a way cooler version of your name…like say Max Power.
The Internet Will Follow You Forever
You’ve probably heard that anything you put online will follow you forever.
While that is generally true, it is also interesting that the web sites you interact with, what you like, what you comment on, etc. also follows you around.
Internet Tracks - Example One
For example, this is a screen capture of a Google Image Search for “JP Danko”.
Most of these are my photos, but six of them are images that I recently liked on 500px when I was looking for inspiration for an upcoming athletics shoot.
Now imagine if I was looking for nude black and whites.
Internet Tracks - Example Two
Here’s another example - this is a link that pops up a few pages into a Google Search for “JP Danko”.
This is a comment that I left on Scott Kelby’s blog a couple months ago about an article written by photographer Tim Tadder (check him out on 500px – his work is awesome).
So, be careful about what you say online (under your own name or your business name anyway – but regardless, it’s probably a good idea not to be an anonymous troll either).
Internet Tracks - Example Three
This is a good thing, because I want potential clients to actually see who I am and have a name to face recognition right off the bat. This also shows the importance of using a consistent, good quality avatar across your online presence.
Next, most of the images that pop up on the first page are actually my work - another good thing.
Obviously, I want my work to be associated with my name – but it is interesting from what sources Google is pulling my work from.
Almost none are from my actual studio website blurMEDIAphotography.com. Instead, the majority are either from my Stocksy portfolio, my 500px portfolio or from various articles that have appeared here at DIY Photography.
Then there are a bunch of images that I have posted along with articles on my wife’s photography blog. Most of these are editorial or stock that are not my work, but were posted as editorial content in an article under my name.
Interestingly, the only social media platform that Google seems to be pulling images from is Google +, because I don’t see anything associated with my Twitter account, or my personal Facebook page.
Finally, there are a few images from a magazine site that are my work, but were posted online by a model who then gave me credit. Apparently, that’s enough for them to show up under my name.
I think the point here is that you have to be careful with any images that could even be associated with your name.
If you post a stock photo of a fluffy cat swinging from a ceiling fan as editorial content somewhere online that is also associated with your name - you could end up receiving a lot of nasty emails from irate cat people.
Standard Search Engine Results
This is what I get if I search for my own name on Google:
My studio website comes up third, beat out by my personal Facebook account and Amazon with “Live Nude Girls” - Newman!
All of my social media networks also pop up on the first page…along with a few other random links associated with "Live Nude Girls"…
If I search “blurMEDIA Photography”, my studio website comes up first. However, second is an old Blogger website that I no longer use.
Even worse, the images for blurMEDIA Photography that come up are outdated and associated with that same old Blogger website.
To fix that, I will need to be proactive and delete that account and hope that things will eventually re-associate with my current website.
Interestingly, I also have a flash based website that was promised to be search engine friendly (blurMEDIA.ca) that has been online for over five years. It doesn’t show up until page five.
One other thing that I also see associated with blurMEDIA Photography is a number of directory websites, such as Manta.com, Eventective.com, ylm.ca, weddingwire.com, goldbook.ca etc.
I can’t tell you how much I despise directory websites.
There is nothing worse than searching for a business and coming up with page after page of directory websites instead.
Directory websites are also an excellent resource for spam bots to lift your name, phone number, email and address.
Thankfully, Google has recently cracked down on directory websites so they don’t figure as prominently in search results, but I can see that there are still a number of listings for blurMEDIA Photography that I need to have deleted.
Three Tips To Build A Quality Virtual Personality
1. Stay Consistent
Use the same name, the same business name, the same avatar, the same logo, the same colors etc. across your entire web presence – from your studio website, to your social media accounts, all the way down to the name you sign when you leave a comment.
Consistency also applies to your photography. For example, one common mistake that I see over and over is photographers who associate themselves with both photos of women in bikinis and families with kids.
That might not be a problem for the women in bikinis, but it will certainly be a problem for the moms that search for the photographer’s name or business name.
2. Maintain Your Virtual Personality
This is not easy work and it is not necessarily something that you have full control over – but your online presence is still something that needs regular maintenance.
Search for your name, your studio name, misspelled versions of each and see what comes up.
If there are undesirable results, do what you can to have the offending content taken down.
3. Don’t Underestimate Web Karma
Always be conscious of what you post anywhere online.
Something that seems innocent, like an off color joke, an angry comment or the classic drunken selfie can come back to bite you years later.
Even something as seemingly benign as posting say a blog post about the ten worst photos you’ve taken this year will end up associating those ten bad photos with your brand.
Above all, just be nice. If you post and interact online as you would with someone face to face, then your virtual personality will reflect your actual personality – and it is the real-world you that will draw clients to your business.
What Is Your Virtual Personality?
What do you find when you search for your name or your studio name?
What images do search engines associate with your name - anything odd like "Live Nude Girls"?
Does your photography studio website figure prominently, or is it lost in the shuffle?
What strategies do you use to actively manage your virtual personality?
About The Author
JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.
JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.