Marketing for Photographers: SEO vs Social Media

Social Media Marketing for photographers

There are many many talented photographers who make decent money and returns on their marketing dollars. However with such a vast amount of photographers getting it wrong or not spending at all, how can you benefit from spending on advertising or networking on social media. What IS worth the time and effort where others are not succeeding with their marketing strategy.

In this blog post I’ll be taking a look at how you the photographer can improve your marketing and social media strategy to succeed.

Social Media marketing

Before I start talking about social media, I have to confess that I am a bit rubbish at having to chase down business on social media. Firstly I haven’t had to relay on it too much as the majority of my work comes from a different pipeline altogether but the little I do does help me.

Saying all that, you’re wondering what can you do to help yourself. Is Instagram worth the effort, Facebook or Twitter. The answer to those questions really depends on the market you want to go for. Facebook is great for non business related sales, such as family photography work but without a decent spend on ads the business to business element of Facebook is very difficult to master. Changing policies and very fluid rules means what was effective one month may fall flat on its backside the very next.

Instagram is a very odd bird in terms of marketing, so many users delete their own posts and run in “packs” which is basically a way of commenting on others posts in return for likes and comments thus boosting visibility. Which to me makes the whole “follower count” a little phony. Instagram is a good platform for some but it’s a platform which needs plenty of love and attention, something a business photographer might not be able to prune much.

The other issue with Instagram is the lack of SEO to your own site (the same could be said for Facebook too) and the ability to publish links outside of paid adverts. Some of the strategies mentioned above work in some cases but the quality of leads will be questionable, saying that getting to around 10k followers will open some doors for you but the investment in terms of time when starting from ground zero is difficult to quantify on it’s return. Instagram is pretty good for some content providing gigs if you are stay committed to posting one style or genre of photography.

Twitter for me has been great, creating engaging content and tweeting others has helped me attract some paid work in forms of advice and editorial work which has been valuable to pushing my brand. There are some pitfalls mind with Twitter, like Instagram you need to be committed or use a tweeting tool to help you post while you are away and be consistent in your messages, using one of the many dedicated social media management platforms is highly recommended. Paid adverts haven’t been successful for me so I wouldn’t bother with them further.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Connecting the dots to create an effective photography SEO marketing plan is actually much easier than you expect and can prove more effective in the long term than using social media for promotion. The reason being is once you have set your photography SEO plan the maintenance is pretty low, much lower than having to manage social media and driving business almost daily. Plus it will have a significant impact on your search visibility something Facebook, Instagram or alike just will not do at all.

There are some golden rules that you will need to follow and getting found on Google that also means you will have to find your way round Google’s tools and services which can be an epic chore. Before you start will need to think of “keywords” which you associate with your website and have them implemented into your pages / offsite SEO and website copy. Without it you are ignoring some of the basic fundamentals of SEO marketing and it’s something many photographers ignore because of the steep effort that’s required. Labeling your images with {alt} tags which tells the search engine bot what your images are all about is also critical to SEO success.

If you find SEO a bit of a monster that you can’t tame it is worth considering running some Google Ads based on keywords to help boost your site and speaking to an SEO company who will help you create a keyword and onsite SEO strategy. Many will take the labor intensive task of creating back-links and content on blog posts on your behalf.

Which is for me ?

Which one is for you ? Well for a photographer choosing their strategy today, I would say use the SEO route first and then tackle social media after. However that really is dependent on how much money / time you want to invest. If time isn’t luxury then social media is a great option to start with as the cost to you is next to zero. If you have some $$$ to burn and not enough time, then going the SEO route first would be the choice and maybe enabling an SEO company to look after your photography SEO strategy.

I hope you find some of these comments useful, if you want more advice you’re welcome to connect me in the box below.


  • Andrea
    Posted August 22, 2018

    Good info. It is so hard to keep up with all of these changes. Thank you for the clear information on your post!

    • Dan M Lee
      Posted August 22, 2018

      Glad you liked the information, SEO for photographers is something many overlook. Too much concentration on the art and not enough on business.

  • Tamieka
    Posted August 22, 2018

    This is really good and valuable information. Definitely having ones own website, we’re able to control a lot of this.

  • Annie
    Posted August 23, 2018

    Great article! I can’t keep up with social media

    • Dan M Lee
      Posted August 23, 2018

      Hi Annie, it’s not easy but also you don’t have to. Long term gains are found within SEO. Social media is great if you have a network already but then can prove patchy in the quality of leads.

  • Victoria Vasilyeva
    Posted August 28, 2018

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is really helpful !

  • Allison Anderson
    Posted August 28, 2018

    I feel that as soon as I learn something or get good at it, the whole marketing system changes and I have to start over. Frustrating. But as long as I am booking clients, I think I am doing something right.

    • Dan M Lee
      Posted August 28, 2018

      That’s where the benefits of SEO come in, the effects are for the long term rather than at mercy of regular changes to Facebook or social media policies.

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