If you’ve ever ever struggled to post regularly on Instagram and Facebook or regard planning as something a creative avoids, here are seven reasons to create a social media schedule and change your life.
CONSISTENCY – WHICH HELPS BUILD YOUR BUSINESS
Posting consistently helps humans and Google return to your content again and again. We humans like to know you’re going to entertain or inform us regularly, just like your favourite Tuesday night TV show. And algorithms like us sharing new content regularly too – that’s Google, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest right there.
So consistency is possibly the best reason to create a social media schedule – in one fell swoop, you can please your visitors / potential clients, Google search and your social media platforms.
YOU CAN BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTING
When you have a plan, you can be strategic in your posting. You can deliberately post your best work, captions and hashtags based on how posts have performed in the past.
Compare that to last-minute posting, where your photo may not be a great choice, your caption is rushed and you probably haven’t been that careful to figure out the best hashtags or tagging other accounts.
SCHEDULING MAKES SUCCESS EASIER TO MEASURE
When you’re posting at the same frequency over time, you’re able to analyse your successes more easily. For instance, you can compare website traffic numbers month on month in Google analytics, knowing that your blog post and social media frequency is consistent, so any changes in traffic are related to particular posts or other reasons.
The same goes for analysing your success on social media platforms. Consistent posting allows you to compare weeks, months or quarters with each other and spot trends.
For instance, Instagram photos are getting less traction than they did previously for many, because of the rise in Instagram Stories. If you were watching a drop in engagement or reach with regular posts, you could try varying your posting schedule, content or add in Stories to stop that slide. If you aren’t posting consistently, it is far more difficult to see these trends or blame them on your posting.
YOU CAN COAST THROUGH BUSY PERIODS
With all of your social media planned, you can schedule ahead – or at least plan ahead so you know what you’re posting and when. Even if you haven’t shot or processed a wedding yet, you can plan your usual ’just one’ or ‘sneak peak’ alongside your other content.
It also helps you spot dry patches, when you might not have much new content. You could take this opportunity to shoot some styled photos of your latest sample albums or other products for using on social media and your website. You could use client testimonials to create styled graphics in Canva or Photoshop.
You can schedule out content several months in advance, which is likely to cover your busiest time of year. Can you imagine your peak summer time without having to even think about what to post?
A SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS SAVES YOU TIME
One of the main reasons photographers give for not posting consistently on social media platforms or blogging is that they don’t have time. Here’s the good news: a social media scheduler can save you time.
When you use a social media scheduler, you can batch your content. That’s all of your Instagram grid content for June, for instance. Perhaps you go into Lightroom, choose 12 photos for four weeks of posting three times a week. Export. Upload into your scheduler, schedule and write the captions.
Then you might research three new sets of hashtags that cover the three areas those photos cover and you add those. That’s a month COMPLETELY FINISHED!
By batching your content, you’re being super efficient, cutting the number of times you context switch or change your focus between each step.
If you are sceptical about the time saving of context switching, time yourself scheduling out one month as detailed above and then scheduling out another month one post at a time.
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DONE
Who doesn’t like that smug feeling you get when you’re totally up to date with your processing, even if it only happens once a year? Well, it’s kind of the same when you’re done scheduling your social media posts for the week, month or quarter. (Yes, some people really are that organised – almost weird, huh!)
If you choose to post a certain number of Instagram photos, Stories, Pinterest pins, blog and Facebook posts and you do this all at once for the month, you’re done for another 29 or so days. All you have to do in the meantime is engage on your platforms.
If this is already you, high five! If not, this is what you could have for yourself with a social media schedule.
BE ON TOP OF IMPORTANT DATES
Knowing important dates such as Mothers and Fathers days, Easter, Black Friday and local school holidays can be key for photographers to maximise their sales and profits.
If you’re a portrait photographer, you may plan months in advance for promotions for some of these dates. This might start with a model call on social media platforms for promotional photos or asking your audience what kind of studio set-up they would like for a portrait series.
If you’re a wedding photographer, you might run promotions for past clients for particular dates such as Mothers Day with reprints, albums, photo jewellery or other products.
Being this organised can have other benefits. If you’re this organised with your social media, chances are, you’ll be planning any printed collateral such as flyers or brochures. Plan that far enough ahead and you’ll avoid express shipping fees or save with long turnaround times.
So there are seven reasons to create a social media calendar. Convinced? Would love to know your thoughts if you’re not. Next week, I’ll be going into detail on the essentials of building a social media schedule, so stay tuned.
Local marketing using Instagram is easier than you think! Here are three simple tips to get you in front of potential clients in your local area.
WHY DO LOCAL MARKETING WITH INSTAGRAM?
With Instagram allowing us to reach anywhere in the world, why would it be especially good for marketing in our local area? Instagram’s geotags and hashtags for geographical areas are the perfect way to be found for your town or city and the surrounding area. An increasing number of Instagram’s 800 million users use it to explore areas they are visiting, planning to visit or simply to stay on top of their community.
The power of you posting using geotags and hashtags for an area is that you don’t have to have a marketing budget or – like for Google – done months or years of work to be found. You can open an Instagram account today and be found by locals within a few hours, as long as you’re using hashtags and geotags.
TIP 1: USE LOCAL GEOTAGS OF POPULAR LOCAL PLACES
If you’re a wedding photographer, an obvious use of geotags is to link to a wedding venue. If you haven’t been doing that, you could go back to the past month or two and edit any photos in your feed without a geotag. Couples considering booking the venue for their wedding or who have booked and want to see ALL the photographs from there are going to be looking – your PERFECT potential clients.
For portrait photographers, think about the local clothing stores or boutiques that stock the clothing your clients wear. If you do location portraits, you could tag the location you use or tag your studio, so potential clients can find you if they search Instagram. If you’re searching Instagram places, the first option that comes up is ‘Near current location’, for which you could appear.
If you work on your laptop or phone sometimes, why not work from a coffee shop or restaurant, especially the ones where your target clients go. Get seen!
TIP 2: TAG LOCAL BUSINESSES IN INSTAGRAM STORIES
When you tag accounts in your Stories, they get a notification of your mention and can re-share Stories where they are tagged. Be aware that they can only re-share Stories where they are mentioned, so if your Story has multiple photos or videos, you need to tag them in all the photos/videos.
You could even put together an Instagram highlight of great local service. That way, if a potential client is flipping through your account, they learn that great service is a value of yours – and chances are – if they book you for a job, you’re going to do your best to offer great service too.
It doesn’t hurt to use local businesses and share a photo from there with the business geotag and mention them in your comments, whether that’s a much enjoyed coffee, product or fabulous service. As an aside, while you’re out in your community, you’re most likely meeting more people and connecting with them.
TIP 3: INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS
You can use local hashtags such as your town or city name. If you live in a large city and only want to target a small part, mention just your local neighbourhood or the ‘local’ version. As an example, the #miami hashtag has 55 million posts, which means that you’re unlikely to be seen for any more than a few minutes and there’s fierce competition for the most popular spots.
The hashtag #miamiliving has less than 400,000, where you’re much more likely to appear! And you’re more likely to find Miami locals with that hashtag rather than visitors.
You can mix your location with an interest too, for niching down further. If you target well groomed women in Miami, for instance, you could add tags like #miaminails (290,000 photos) or #miamiboutique (373,000 photos). So now you’re getting your local area AND niching down, potentially being seen in front of thousands of your potential clients – and certainly local ones.
For more help with hashtags for your business, you can pick up the Hashtag Hotshot ebook to nail the hashtags that will help get you in front of the right people on Instagram.
October is the month where wedding and portrait photographers push their business systems and processes to breaking point, as the summer’s post-production and pre-Christmas run-up overlap. And its when you push yourself for your fourth quarter success to help you hit your year’s financial targets.
To help you navigate this month and the fourth quarter, here are some steps you can put in place to avoid overwhelm and manage your clients so that you’re not dropping off albums and prints on Christmas Eve, unless you really, really want to.
REVIEW CLIENT WORK
Have a look at all of your client jobs you’re currently working on and which are due to coming up in the coming three months. This includes:
– Current post-production and orders
– Clients from earlier in the year who have outstanding album or print orders or who might want to make an order for Christmas
– Clients booked into your coming three months
– Clients from past years who might want shoots or orders
The goal of this is to assess your workload, to proactively manage your clients and maximise your revenue from existing clients.
YOUR CALENDAR: PART 1 OF YOUR FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN
Get out a calendar and make sure you have marked on it:
– Client shoots and appointments
– Supplier deadlines (albums, prints, framing)
– Your deadlines for clients (if you have them)
– Any personal commitments that impact your working life e.g. your child’s Christmas carol concert
You can download a free printable planner of 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here.
If you don’t already have your deadlines for clients, now is the time to set some, based on your supplier deadlines, time for you to do your work and including a cushion to cover epic courier failures, mistakes and illness. Add these to your calendar.
It can be useful to have this printed or written on a large sheet of paper that hangs on a wall you can see from your desk. Now back to your list of existing and possible client work. Add an approximate time for each chunk of existing work. Map that into your calendar in pencil or erasable pen, allowing daily time for admin and emails.
What are all the supplies you could need for this quarter? Check printer ink, sticky tape, Sharpies, bubble wrap, brown paper, labels, scissors, batteries. Either check everything now and order or make a note on your calendar when you are going to do this.
If you usually give your suppliers a little extra something at Christmas, now would be a good time to schedule that. Black Friday comes up at the end of the month if you’re buying things that might be discounted.
Ditto, if you send Christmas or New Year cards, schedule in time for those which could include: planning, shooting, designing, ordering, writing and addressing.
An inbox is not a task list. So if you have hundreds or thousands of emails in there that want actioning, move them to a sub-folder so you don’t get drawn in every time you go to your inbox.
Going forward, you’re going to empty your inbox daily Monday to Friday or whatever your business week is. Check your inbox between one and three times a day and close it at other times. This will allow you to concentrate on the big chunks of work you need to get through without email being a distraction.
Answer anything that you can do inside a couple of minutes and for anything that will take longer, turn it into a task. Copy and paste the relevant piece of the email to the task. If you have a system that links emails like LightBlue or Daylite, that’s fabulous.
Once you’ve either replied or turned the email into a task, file the email in a sub-folder. Given that you can search for the email by content or sender, you could just have one sub-folder for ‘dealt with’ emails.
This system of handling email is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s a fabulous book for managing your business and life generally – perhaps a Christmas read?
You also need to go through your current inbox for the past month or so and triage it: either respond inside a few minutes or turn into a task. You do not want one of these coming back in a few weeks to trip you up when you’re at your busiest. Schedule your triage session in your calendar in the next few days if you can’t do this today.
MAXIMISE INCOME FOR FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS
Have a look at where you could maximise your income for this year. Do you need to check with regular clients to book in a portrait shoot for Christmas gifts? If you’ve done this already, fantastic. Do your wedding clients want to give their parents something extra like a framed print or album?
If so, set a time to draft emails to those clients with your deadlines, send them and follow up. You might even have a bonus for those who take action early.
PROJECTS & TASKS: PART 2 OF YOUR FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN
When you’re planning your client projects, it can be useful to keep the notes and thoughts for each project in a separate folder. Breaking down projects helps prevent overwhelm and keeps them on track.
For instance, ‘do album’ may include:
– Request favourites from client / choose favourites
– Import image folder into album design software
– Check size of album + number of pages
– Design album
– Export design as double-page spreads
– Resize spreads and save for web
– Upload to online review software, write intro blurb, publish.
– Email client with link, next steps and album deadlines.
If your list flags you to check album size details, you can be doing this while the image folder imports and perhaps setting up the online review page.
For sets of repeating tasks such as the steps in designing an album, it can be helpful to keep a list of them which you print and tick off. Electronic task managers sometimes have their own versions of this; for instance, Daylite has activity sets.
Although you may know all the steps, remembering them in the right order can take up space in your head that you may want for other things.
If it looks as if you have too much on your plate, there are a few things you can do.
One is to truly look at how efficient you are. For instance, designing albums and making album changes all on one day is more efficient than doing an hour a day for the week. This is because when you switch context between different tasks, it takes us time to adjust from one to the next.
This means that a one-minute email in the midst of album design is more like a five to 10-minute email as you lose your train of thought on the album. There is also something intrinsically rewarding with getting something as complex as an album design done in just one or two concentrated sittings without distractions.
If you are being efficient, then what support could you get? Concentrate on removing or reducing tasks that suck your willpower. For one person, this could be using social media hashtags, for another, it could be the thought of what to cook for dinner. Social media management or food boxes with recipes such as Hello Fresh might help.
Also keep in mind services such as Fiverr and Upwork for online business tasks and Helping Hands and local teenagers/parents to deal with physical ones such as packing orders and post office runs. Try to get your support set up before you need it.
Schedule time in your calendar for you too. This includes time off, family/friends time and workouts. You can download a free printable planner of your 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here.
You should now have a calendar with important dates and deadlines and a set of projects, each of which contains tasks. These two pieces can help you stay on top of this quarter like a boss. Check your projects each week – it will probably take you less than 30 minutes – to make sure that everything is progressing as it should be: clients or suppliers have responded to emails and nothing you were meant to do has fallen through the cracks.
We’re all human and things WILL get lost along the way, but the weekly checks will bring you back on course quickly and help you plan your tasks for the week. Don’t forget, you can download a free printable planner of 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here.
I hope this helps you plan your fourth quarter success, staying sane and delivering a great service to your clients.