Photographers are making some terrible mistakes with their TikTok and Instagram Reels content.
Are You a Photographer or an Influencer Photographer?
This blog post and video are more for the photographer that wants to earn money from their business, accumulate traditional clients, and not rely on branded posts for their revenue. There are "influencer photographers," and for them, the likes and follows have value, but that's entirely a different model.
Photography TikTok Mistakes to Avoid
- Before/After Photos: A friend of mine said to me: "Walid, what is this trend with before and after photographs all over social media?" And when I asked why it bothered her, she said: "it makes me think they are going to post my before photos for everyone to see also." That's a valid concern.
- Quick Edit Videos: Many photographers on TikTok or Instagram Reels showcase the before and after photographs. They are great for engagement. Although, one should ask, "engagement from whom?" Not only might it be engagement from the wrong people; it could lead them to think that the edits are quick and require little effort, and that drops the value. Clients are generally not creative. They may not understand the amount of time it takes to post-process. They do understand phone apps that take a few seconds. What I would fear is that they assume your creative editing came from an app, the same app they could purchase and use. Do not destroy your rate this way.
Wrong Ideal Photography Client: I spoke about the ideal client in the previous example, but many of those likes and follows are from other photographers. Peer support is important, but you have to understand they are not your ideal clients, which means they will never purchase from you. They only wanted to learn your style and then use that in their own business to make money. All of those likes do not equate to revenue.
How to TikTok Correctly for Your Photography Business
I would much rather have a smaller audience who are actually potential clients. And here is what will push them over the edge to hire you and give you their hard-earned money.
Create videos that showcase how hard you work for each client. Are you a stickler for getting the perfect lens for that fashion shoot? Give us insight into that and talk about your process. Do you drive around aimlessly to find the perfect location for your next photoshoot? Take us on the trip; we would love to see how much time you spend on our photoshoots.
Take us behind the scenes what makes you unique and helps you stand out from the crowd. That is what makes you hirable and someone they are eager to work with, not chasing the latest trends on TikTok. Use the platform to help you grow your bank account, not your engagement.
I'd be genuinely interested to hear about anyone who books clients from TikTok. I would have thought the booking power comes from, as you mention, doing everything you said not to, gaining a huge following and becoming desirable because you're the 'popular social media photographer', a la Brooklyn Beckham. That and adding in brand deals to you proposition for a secondary revenue stream.
I have. It works when posting content that shows how you work, and the end result. Social media is a powerful tool when it is done right. Using TikTok and IG reels, especially showing behind the scenes can break through the noise. People and potential brands want to get to know you also as a person.
I've never tried. Not a fan of TikTok — probably too old or too miserable!
I have managed a few client video jobs for TikTok-friendly ads/sponsored content though. Otherwise, I'm in a very sparsely populated part of the UK, so guessing it would be an uphill struggle. Good to see people getting work from it though,
Trust me making videos is a pain especially when you spent the majority of your career doing stills like me. But once I got over the hump and realize the return of investment it was definitely worth it. Riding the wave when a social media platform pushes it like IG Reels is key for success. I look at it as a business decision and it has been the best decision for me so far getting new clients that way. At first, it looks tough but once you keep posting and getting your work out there it pays off.
The first question, I think, is whether TikTok is populated yet by "ideal clients." Frankly, my "ideal clients" are mothers aged 40 to 70.
The second question is how often do you have two Kirks commenting on the same post on Fstoppers?!?
Y'know, it's funny, but I was over 40 years old before I ever met another "Kirk." I did discover from a DNA test that I'm 20% Scottish.
I'm English, but strangely named after a Canadian... there are a few of us around, but even in Scotland, it's not many.