Last week, my privacy was violated. I got a disturbing text to my personal phone from an unidentified number saying they got it from Instagram (and other creepy things). That text coupled with a few unwelcome phone calls AND a hacking scare really shook me about the open online world. It got me thinking – do I need instragram for my photography business?
I know I’m not alone because almost every photographer I talk to about business has a similar distaste.
The truth is, though, I don’t hate instagram. I actually really enjoy it. I like supporting my long-distance friends and fellow photographers, interacting with quick information, learning about new things, and getting inspired.
I like keeping in touch with clients and cheering them on through life.
There’s lots of funny, relatable, and moving stuff out there that sometimes makes parenting and business more bearable. But with the evolution of sponsored posts and reels, it feels like a big commercial vs staying in touch with the people and accounts I actually care about.
The tipping point
Like most things, there’s a tipping point. It’s the place where the pain point over shadow the benefits.
When I talk to other photographers about using instagram for their photography business, the pervading sentiment is comparison, overwhelm, and distraction. I feel that, too. Not always, but enough that it’s disrupting.
I don’t want these are qualities to define my days and I’m guessing you don’t either.
But without intentional goals, boundaries, and strategy, we slip back into the instagram hole every time.
Determine the goal (and the non-negotiables)
I want to connect with families and make heartwarming photos of them.
I want to work with other photographers to grow sustainable, heart-led businesses and also make heartwarming photos for families.
I do not want to sacrifice my family’s safety to do it.
Or be stuck in my phone when the world and people who inspire me are desperate to look up, too.
I believe instagram is simply one of many tools available to photographers. Even though it seems easy, if it’s not working or jeopardizing my work and stealing my joy, then it’s actually not easy at all.
Consider asking yourself – what am I using Instagram for? Is it actually bringing me business? More importantly, the kind of business I want? Or is it just making me spin my wheels and lose focus on what matters?
Is it fueling my vision, creation, and service?
Using it personally for fun is a different story – but if we’re getting frustrated because we think we have to use it for business, that’s a limiting belief that needs to change.
Set the boundary
It feels extreme to say we either need to go ALL IN or be completely ALL OUT – there’s always a middle ground. After determining the goal, the next step is to decide the boundaries around using instagram for my photography business.
There are boundaries around the when:
- Can I engage and post 3 days a week then delete the app for the rest?
- Could I engage consistently for one week then delete the app for the next – one week on, one week off?
- Could I set “business hours” or time limits for app use.
And boundaries around things like who, what, and how:
- Will I share photos of my family?
- Will I share personal work or only business? If personal, too, what parts are off limits?
- Will I utilize stories, lives, reels, posts… ?
- Do I want to treat this as a standing portfolio or vessel for regular engagement?
- (again) WHAT’S THE POINT?
Really drilling down and answering these questions gives clarity and intention to the tool.
Consider making a social media manifesto to write these answers down and review for accountability on a regular basis.
Also, maybe most importantly, ask the question – is this helpful or hurtful?
If the answer is clear towards one or the other, then the all in vs all out option is totally on the table.
Tools are ineffective if they are hurtful to the user.
There’s always another way.
Build for the future
I always coach photographers to build for the business they want in 5 or 10 years and this instagram violaiton was a huge wake-up call to practice what I preach.
In 5 years, I know I want to be teaching and engaging and photographing with others all around the country in real life.
I want to be present with my family life and honoring of my kids privacy.
Spending a ton of time on instagram now feels distracting and misaligned towards those goals, but I do need an entry point for growing my reach within my market and industry. So I’m going to start getting more creative around how to minimize and ultimately eliminate the use instagram for my photography business.
It means I’m doing some deep work around those middle ground boundaries and crafting an in-between strategy that feels more healthy, safe, and true to the deeper connections I want to foster.
The answer might be different for you, and that’s okay. As long as it’s on purpose.
Watch how I’m developing my marketing without instagram for my photography business
Innovation doesn’t come without effort.
I believe if you want things to be different, you have to do things differently.
As I roll up my sleeves to market with tools outside of instagram, I plan to share what I’m learning and trying along the way.
I’m going to try things that don’t work and use technology that’s new to me. It may look a little messy.
But I’m happy to do that in public because it’s important to prove there are other ways. And as a mentor for family photographers, it’s important to demonstrate what it looks like to build a business on your terms.
Maybe messy at first, but aligned and successful in the long run.
I started and grew the first 5 years of my business entirely without instagram and I’m confident I can continue to do so.
If you’d like to come along on the journey and engage with the deeper, quality content and lessons I’ll be sharing, here’s a few ways to do that:
1. The Firefly Letters
My weekly newsletter goes out every Wednesday night for anyone interested in creativity, motherhood, and simple joys. Its where I pour my best thoughts and stories that bridge my personal life with business and art.
You can also expect first dibs on new offers, session availability, and announcements (did someone say podcast?!).
2. The Behind the Scenes Facebook group for family photographers
My private Facebook group for family photographers is still technically still social media, but it’s private. It’s also free and curated to only lifestyle family photographers. I do regular free portfolio and website audits + gallery walkthroughs, live chats, and more to support family photographers with a focus around in-home family photography.
3. 1:1 mentoring
I have virtual and in-person options available to support and guide the growth of lifestyle family photographers who want to up-level their art and business. We can work through these marketing questions and create your own growth plan together.
Check out the details and reach out and we’ll set up a no-strings-attached 30-minute call to grab coffee together. I’d love to learn about you, your business, and your goals to determine if I can help!