Instagram’s Cool, But Podcasting Builds Empires: A Photographer’s Guide

There's a bridge yet to be crossed that connects us to our audience on a much deeper level. Enter podcasting, a medium that can absolutely revolutionize the way we engage.

Is being a photographer enough these days?

Let’s take a moment to breathe and put aside the endless pursuit of marketing perfection, shall we? We became photographers to create images that move us, that tell stories, that leave viewers emotionally connected – not to have a second job as Marketing and Content Creation experts.

Day in and day out we are (or at least should be) always working on our craft, trying to create the perfect shot, mastering lighting, and capturing emotions that may only last for a moment. Yet, in a world bombarded with visuals, I’ve often wondered if artistic efforts alone are enough to stand out. Are our images truly making an impact, or are they getting lost in the ever-expanding sea of content?  If you try to think about it for too long, it just drives you crazy.

I have this sneaking suspicion (and maybe you feel it too) that good photography (read: the stuff we make), regardless of genre or style, is supposed to be seen by more people. That there’s a bridge yet to be crossed that connects us to our audience on a much deeper level. Enter podcasting, a medium that can absolutely revolutionize the way we engage.

Why Podcasting Could Be the Missing Link

Since I started hosting radio shows in college in 1992, I’ve always been amazed at the immediate relationship you can build with an audience. Through the late 90’s and early 2000’s I ran pirate Internet radio shows out of my basement, often DJing for 5-6 hours at a time, having call in guests, and creating a decent following. But as my career shifted, so did my focus and I unfortunately never took advantage of the burgeoning podcast market.

Fast forward 30 years and while technology has changed making broadcasting infinitely easier, the end-result connection is still no different and highly impactful. For example, I was super grateful to have been a guest on several episodes of The Portrait System podcast and the Self Value Podcast with Nikki Closser and each time saw an immediate bump in my business. 

During the pandemic, I linked up with several other artists and became a panelist on The Artist’s Forge, a daily podcast where we talked about how to THINK like an artist. We hosted it on the Clubhouse app for a few years but when Life got back to normal in 2022, the Forge ran it’s course and we moved on to other things. 

All of those experiences as made me realize I could draw on my past experience and get back behind a microphone as a host.

I started Generator because I saw that the photo industry had great podcasts like The Portrait System, but there were conversations I was having with friends inside and outside of the photo world that I didn’t hear represented in the market. I wanted to have the long, casual conversations from the Artist’s Forge that generally centered around Creativity, but left enough room to follow the natural course of human interaction. I wanted it to feel like I was sitting in my backyard with my guest, having drinks and just connecting. As soon as I started posting episodes, I knew I was on the right track based on the amount of listeners and feedback I was getting. 

So here’s my hot take for other photographers: 
It’s time to look beyond the curated feeds of Instagram and the slot-machine approach to virality on the TikTok FYP. It’s time for you to unlock the power of your voice. It’s time for you to start a podcast.

Before we talk about the HOW, let’s talk about the WHY. There are a ton of benefits to starting a podcast, even if you think the market is saturated. But is it any more saturated than the market for your photography that you complain about? Exactly. No, it’s not. 

How to add a podcast to your business

I believe there are five basic pillars in a good marketing strategy: brand marketing, content marketing, social media, email marketing and SEO. Podcasting can be incorporated into every one of those pillars and fuel your business in distinct ways. From communicating your values, answering questions, promoting services, networking, increasing email list subscriptions, to monetization like sponsorships, subscriptions, or selling your own branded merch – you can use your podcast and do all of that at once.

Here are some reasons that now is the perfect time for you to add podcasting into your overall marketing plan.

Establishing Your Voice: Suddenly, you’re not just a name behind the images that people see online; you’re an approachable expert sharing your journey, including the bumps along the way. This vulnerability is the essence of true influence.

Genuine Conversations, Real Impact: Imagine your voice, raw and unedited, acting as a bridge to realness. Step away from crafted captions dumped out of ChatGPT, and create a space for authentic dialogue. This fosters a sense of trust and creates a personal connection between your listeners and your brand.

Eureka Moments for Everyone: You know how it feels when you are discussing the nuances of what you do and how you do it, those personal habits that fuel your creativity, or a particular project that was a turning point for you? Now, think about sharing those insights and watching the light bulbs go off for your listeners. Suddenly you are a trusted subject matter expert that helps people improve their lives. You attract clients. You build your network. Are you starting to see the big picture here?

Organic Discovery: Sure, podcasts can boost your SEO, making you more discoverable. But the magic lies in connecting through genuine stories, not keyword stuffing. Promoting your podcast is essential, and believe me, your audience will find you in the most unexpected ways.

Building Your Community: Think about the excitement of talking to photographers you admire or clients with captivating stories. This is networking that’s both enjoyable and meaningful, planting the seeds for future collaborations. But if your passion lies in a different pursuit or hobby, think about talking to THAT audience!

How To Start Your Podcasting Journey: Embrace Imperfection and Authenticity

I’d place a bet that when you think about starting a podcast, you’re feeling a mix of excitement and gut-wrenching anxiety? Totally normal. But what if I said the hardest part is just getting started? That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a plan. In fact, my course “Unlocking the Power of Your Voice” walks you step-by-step through the entire process of developing and producing a podcast. Spoiler: It ain’t about having thousands of dollars worth of gear.

Celebrate Your Uniqueness: Finding your niche in podcasting is one of the most important parts of long term success. Dive into the specifics of what makes your photography unique. Whether it’s your fascination with light, your approach to capturing candid moments, studio screwups, or anything else that sets you apart. By niching down to your specific passion, you are guaranteed not to sound like anyone else.

Amplify Your Authentic Self: Think of the energized version of yourself you become when discussing photography with friends. That’s the vibe to aim for.

Keep the Gear Simple: While it’s easy to spend money on all the gear you THINK you need, take it from me: you need a good microphone and some basic editing software. Beyond that, your enthusiasm for what you do is your most important asset. The rest, like photography itself, you’ll figure out along the way. (or you could learn it in my course….just saying)

Experiment With Formats: Whether you’re flying solo, engaging in lively discussions with guests, or sharing stories behind your shoots, create content that’s unmistakably yours. 

Consistency is Key: Regularity builds audience trust. Choose a posting schedule you can realistically maintain and be there for your audience. Whether it is once a month or once a week, find your rhythm. Most podcasts start and end after 3 episodes because people realize it takes effort to stay consistent.

The Extra Ingredient: Nailing SEO for Podcasts

Captivating Titles & Descriptions: Draw in your audience with titles that spark curiosity and resonate with your ideal listeners. Create short form descriptions of what your podcast is about and how you are different from everyone else. And don’t forget about the value of good cover art!

The Value of Show Notes: Invest effort in your show notes for added value and discoverability. Study some of your favorite podcasters or YouTubers and see how they structure their show notes. Not only does this help with SEO, but it adds a level of professionalism as well

Leverage Social Media: Use it to share sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes content, and shoutouts to your guests. Share it anywhere it will get more eyes and ears!

The Core Message

Listen, I’ve probably done more wrong than right in my journey as a podcaster (spoiler alert – you will too!), but over the past 30 years I can tell you it has never become less fun. At its heart, podcasting is an extension of the visual stories we are already telling with our cameras. It’s a space to dive deep, share, and present a more rounded view of who we are, beyond the portfolio. It’s connection. Pure and simple.

So, are you ready to let your voice be heard? I thought so. And I can’t wait to hear what you create.

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