Grow Your Photography Audience: The Social Media sites, photo blogs, magazines, and competitions you should be posting to!
How do I get my photography noticed? How do I gain more followers?
This guide lists some of the Social Media sites, Blogs, Magazines and Competitions you should be using to get your work out there.
Everyone wants to see their photography reach as many people as possible, and for many of us that desire extends into an effort to increase our social media follower counts. This, of course, takes time, lots of hard work and generally a fair bit of luck. Besides the obvious social media sites which we will go over below, there are also many other useful platforms where you could be submitting your work, and in some cases, these can yield far greater rewards that make way for growth beyond simple likes and follows on Instagram.
In 2018, gaining the right audience on Social Media has certainly become a lot more difficult than it used to be. No longer can you rely simply on the strength of your work to bring in more followers, today its all about marketing. While many of the bigger networks have started to prioritize monetized content which effectively makes it pay to play, there are still ways to make an impact by following advice from various online guides that tell you how to 'play the game'. My advice is to post on as many social networks as you feel you can handle, see what sticks and after a while drop the dud ones. Apps like Hootsuite and IFTT can help greatly with this by acting as a manager for all your networks, so you need only upload an image once, add your text and then have it pushed out simultaneously everywhere.
Still the best service for client-based photographers
Facebook may be a bloated mess of its former self, and largely pushed aside by younger photographers in favor of Instagram, yet it still remains a solid base for photographers that need to advertise local services, such as wedding photography, portraiture etc.
Notice I used the word "advertise" there, as that's really what it comes down to when trying to promote yourself through Facebook. The platform is largely Pay-to-Play nowadays, as posts using Facebook Pages will only reach a fraction of your subscribed followers unless boosted with monetization.
So regrettably, trying to gain an organic follow growth on Facebook is largely a thing of the past. That being said, the platform should not be ignored completely. For those looking to boost themselves as a local business, using Pages with monetization seems to be the best way to still reach your target audience. For others simply looking to get views on their images, I would argue that transforming your personal profile into a photography-centric one is the best route to take.
Need more Facebook hints? : Check out Building a Facebook Following for Photographers
Reach the exact opposite audience to Instagram and Facebook
A large portion of Twitter's active audience I find are usually professionals. Bloggers, journalists, news, and media...exactly the type of people that appreciate artistic content and engage with it. To cleverly make use of the platform, try following accounts that you feel identify with your type of content, and then be sure to hashtag or @mention them when you post your images. Twitter also allows you to post multiple images at once, and I've found that posts containing a series of images, with a neatly worded caption (with hashtags and @mentions of course) always tend to get a larger reception than just a single image post.
Need more Twitter hints? : Check out Why and How Photographers Should Use Twitter
Writing about Instagram could take up an entire blog post just on its own, and thankfully there are countless articles online about how to grow followers. The fact remains that Instagram is now the worlds largest photo sharing network, and no matter what your genre of photography is, there is still a massive audience to be found on the platform.
Need more Instagram hints? : Check out 50 Ways to Increase Your Instagram Followers
Caters to all manner of photographers
Flickr, in my opinion, is still one of the best photo sharing websites out there. With around 25 million new photos being uploaded every day, the service is hardly in the clutches of death as many would have you believe.
With a free membership, you are provided with 1TB of storage, which is perfect to use as a backup service for your photos (Flickr supports uploads of high res images).
The perfect application for Flickr I find is as a means to being found by potential photo researchers looking to license images, as many people still use the service for this exact purpose. Images uploaded to Flickr with metadata attached and then subsequently tagged with good keywords also tend to appear on Google Image Search and Bing Search, which is fantastic for discovery.
Need more Flickr hints? : Check out How to Get Your Photos Noticed on Flickr
Premier Photo sharing for the millennial generation
I always think of 500px as the pure photography variant of Instagram. Boasting 13 million active users, 500px is a beautiful website to navigate, and quite clearly has a host of talented artists making use of the service. Ideally, the site should be used as a portfolio to show your best work, yet it viewers do seem to be biased towards certain genres and styles of photography over others. Street Photographers beware....you're not going to find an audience here!
Recently, 500px announced a partnership with Getty Images to license images on the service, allowing 500px users to submit photos for licensing. For those looking for an easy way to get into stock photography, this might be an avenue to make some extra cash.
The largest female audience of all social networks
Largely ignored by photographers, Pinterest can be a very powerful tool for boosting exposure to your brand, and in-turn, the products or services you offer.
To get started, simply create some new 'Boards' and then fill them with topically similar items. Pinterest works in a similar vein to a search engine, so don't forget to tag everything with keywords so they can be discovered.
Need for Pinterest hints?: Check out Pinterest Tips for Photographers to Boost Their Profile
One of the webs earliest photo/microblogs
With around 500 million monthly users, Tumblr still pulls in a steady audience on its microblogging platform and its major strength is that it thrives off the sharing of other peoples content, rather than one's own. Popular posts tend to get picked up pretty easily and have the potential to reach thousands.
The biggest problem with Tumblr however, is the lack of attribution given to the original artists when something gets shared around, so for those more cautious about protecting their copyright, Tumblr may be one to skip.
Need more Tumblr hints?: Check out How to Get Followers on Tumblr
Get reviewed by Nat Geo editors
Resembling a typical social network structure of uploading images to a profile, and a system of likes & comments, what makes Your Shot different is that the editors at Nat Geo go through all the popularly voted images every day and select their top picks to be featured on the front page of the site, along with the possibility of getting featured on the official Nat Geo Instagram feed, and occasionally if your lucky…printed in the magazine itself.
Images that tend to do well are typically photojournalistic in nature. Travel portraiture and wildlife also find an appreciative audience here.
One of the best platforms for showcasing creative work
Half Portfolio, half Social Media. Behance is a fantastic service for freelancers looking to show off their photography to an audience of other artists, designers, filmmakers etc, along with potential clients who regularly scour the service looking for creative talent.
Behance works great for photography projects and a series of images where you can use the portfolio layout to present everything in a beautiful fashion. It's also very easy to start building and customizing the layout.
Cost: Behance is free as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan.
6th most visited website in the world
The largest social media aggregation and discussion site on the web, Reddit functions somewhat similar to a forum with thousands of topics classed into sub-forums, or 'subreddits' as they are known.
For photographers, Reddit is an ideal platform to share photos due to the viral nature of the site, as popular content pushed by its viewers has the potential to reach the tops of subreddits or even the front page, exposing it to many thousands of viewers.
For the best chance of having your images seen, it is recommended to post in a subreddit that sticks to the theme of your content. Here are a few common large subreddits that work particularly well for photographers.
r/pics - Ideal for: Funny, Epic, Heartwarming, Powerful, Newsworthy images, or otherwise pictures that tell a story
r/itookapicture - Ideal for: General Photography
r/earthporn - Ideal For: Landscape Photography
r/cityporn - Ideal For: Cityscape Photography
Online photography blogs are an important part of the ecosystem on the internet for promoting content. The best thing is they are always in need of fresh content, whether its articles, reviews, funny stories, and of course photographs and videos. As a photographer, this can be a powerful tool for collaboration that really shouldn't be ignored. In fact, many photographers have successfully garnered their audience by focusing on posting guest features to photo blogs.
One of the photography communities most respected blogs, Fstoppers also has a mini-social network of its own where you can upload and vote on other peoples images. Every day editors pick their 'Photo of the Day', featuring it on the front page of the site, alongside posting on their social media feeds.
You can also contact their editors directly to try and get featured.
The webs largest photography news source, Petapixel caters to all manners of amateurs and professionals with technical articles, gear reviews, editing tips & tricks and more. Petapixel is always on the lookout for new photo stories or a series to share with their readers. Take a look at some of their previous posts to get an idea for the type of content they like.
Featuring the latest in the world of contemporary photography, the bar is held very high for submissions, however that shouldn't detract from trying. Lensculture occasionally put out a Call For Entries on their site, often with a free review of you work even if not selected.
Submit to Lensculture by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Much in the same vein as sites like Fstoppers and Petapixel, these three photoblogs also post similar content revolving around gear reviews, tutorials, tips & tricks. Always seeking guest submissions, however, they are open to content from amateurs and professionals alike.
Submit to The Phoblographer by following their submission guidelines here
Submit to SLRlounge by following their submission guidelines here
Submit to Digital Photography School by entering on their website
Kind of like the Buzzfeed of the creative world, Bored Panda features the latest in popular aggregated content from around the web. Photography rates very highly on their feed, and so any photo series with a strong or unique theme is highly desirable, along with behind the scenes shots, before & after editing comparisons, quirky/humorous photos. Most posts featured on the site tend to gather very large amounts of shares to social media, along with interest from other similar sites looking to re-share content.
Submit to BoredPanda by using their Contact Form
Featuring a range of creative art and photography, My Modern Met also raises the bar quite high in terms of quality content. They are open to submissions featuring a body of work that follows a project or series of images along with a meaningful write-up.
Submit to MyModernMet by following their submission guidelines
Similar to My Modern Met, the bar for high-quality content is raised at iGNANT. Featuring creative photography, art & design, they welcome submissions from three to ten images alongside a description of the work.
This site is ideal for photographers exploring experimental or contemporary styles in architecture, portraiture and street photography.
Submit to iGNANT by following their submission guidelines
Putting the online world aside for a moment, photography magazines are still a relatively easy way to have your work displayed in print. Pretty much all magazines welcome user submissions, either as single photos, or articles featuring a series. Below are a few common publications that cater well to photographers amateur and professional, but more importantly are suitable for those shooting more traditional forms of photography like wildlife, landscapes, travel, portrait etc. These topics are more suited for publishing in general photography magazines. An extra bonus is that most publications pay for any images printed!
Also known as DPmag, this is one of the last remaining US photography-centric magazines with a relatively large subscriber base. The same company also publishes a sister magazine Digital Photo Pro alongside Outdoor Photographer, but by the numbers, DPmag is the easiest to submit to.
Submit to Digital Photo Magazine by e-mailing to email@example.com
As the name suggests, Outdoor Photography caters to all things landscape, wildlife, nature, and adventure. They welcome submissions following the above-listed themes, but state that competition is fierce due to the large volume of high-quality image submissions.
Submit to Outdoor Photography by following their submission guidelines
A small wildcard this one, and one best suited for travel photographers and those with a bit of writing experience (which rules me out!).
Almost all airlines produce a monthly in-flight magazine, whose sole purpose is to further advertise destinations along the routes they fly to. The articles they produce are typically mild natured travel pieces revolving around food, touristic spots, arts, shopping etc. The kind of thing that many photographers could produce a story on with ease, and in some cases without even having to travel!
The best thing, however, is that compared to typical publications, in-flight magazines tend to pay a higher rate for freelance submissions.
The magazine publishers are completely separate to the airline, so you won't find any contact details on the website of the carrier, but with a bit of digging, it shouldn't be hard to find the e-mail for an editor.
Here are just some of the prestigious yearly photography competitions worth entering. The chance for real exposure, cash prizes, and recognition of excellence in the field of photography.
Now in its 12th year, the Sony World Photography Awards holds four competitions on each occasion, with $30,000 of prize money available.
• Professional - Recognising outstanding bodies of work
• Open - Rewarding the world’s best single images
• Youth - Best single images by photographers aged 12-19
• Student - For photography students worldwide
Admission Costs: FREE TO ENTER
An annual competition for professional, amateur, and student photographers on a global scale, with around $33,000 in prize money for winning entries alongside exhibitions across the world for the top images in each category.
Admission Costs: $25 for single image, $50 for 2-9 images. Separate rates for students.
Each year National Geographic sets out three major themes for their competition, with 2018's themes being "nature, cities, and people". Open to all, this is one of the finest competitions to enter, with the grand prize winner receiving $10,000 and the potential for real exposure around the world with further publications.
Admission Costs: $15 per image
Dedicated to the art of panoramic photography, each year EPSON holds their competition to find the worlds best photography on the themes of architecture and landscapes. Last years total prize pool was around $50,000 awarded over three categories.
• Open Awards
• Amateur Awards
Admission Costs: $18 to $22 per image (Amateur and Open respectfully)
Not to be confused with the identically titled Nat Geo competition, the TPOTY now in its 15th year, has categories that cover a wide range of photography topics, including a New Talent and Young Photographer of the Year category.
Admission Costs: £8 to £30
Having your own personal website is a perfect way to show viewers that you take your craft seriously, and to represent exactly what you are all about. A portfolio site should ideally feature only your best work, and offer a glimpse into the person behind the camera and the services you offer.
A website allows you to build a brand name for yourself, and through the use of proper keywords and tagging on the backend, will boost your organic SEO reach, allowing more people to discover you.
All-in-one solution for image hosting, selling prints, and unlimited storage
A photo hosting service built by photographers, for photographers. Smugmug offers a free 14-day trial to get started. Multiple templates to choose from and tons of customization to make a truly unique website. You can also easily sell prints through Smugmug thanks to the built-in integration with professional photo labs in the US, UK & Europe.
In fact, this website is built and hosted completely by Smugmug.
Fast, modern templates, online store, blogging
With more than 1 million users, Squarespace offers professional looking templates designed for photographers, along with the ability to set up an online store to take orders, book clients etc. Just like Smugmug, you can try it out for free for 14-days.
Cheap web hosting, beautiful templates and extremely easy to setup
Another popular hosting site is Wix. You might remember them from those super annoying "you need a website!" YouTube ads that seemed to run on almost every video a couple of years ago.
Wix has some of the best-looking website designs around and is certainly one of the simplest to set up and get running. They too have a free 14-Day trial, but unlike Smugmug and Squarespace, Wix's premium plans are far cheaper.
Free, open-source CMS
Used by over 60 million websites, Wordpress is arguably the most popular website management system in use. In order to function, it requires a separate web host to run. There are virtually no limits to the level of customization available in the form of themes, functions, and plug-ins, but getting it all setup is not suited for those without at least a basic knowledge of website hosting & building.