How to increase Social Media following and turning it into money

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Today’s PhotoProfit show we have a very special guest, Jay Patel. He has a huge social media following. We are going to talk about how to increase your social media following and how to turn that following into money in photography business. I’m sure you are going to love this interview.

Enjoy. Brent

(00:58) – Social media offers a pretty large market to anybody who’s interested
(02:08) – My following of people was a fluke
(02:55) – All social media platforms has “suggested users” list
(04:07) – Following a very consistent and very high quality content posting strategy
(04:54) – What kind of followers do you want?
(05:27) – Finding your followers and posting contents relevant to your followers
(05:36) – Original contents are more interesting
(06:12) – How long before you start seeing results in following a content posting strategy?
(07:45) – Capture people’s email or is it good enough to have followers on social media?
(08:54) – Regardless how large your following is you are still under the thumb of the people who run social media
(10:05) – The best way to convert followers into leads and eventually customers
(12:00) – How to tame social media monster
(13:56) – Ignore the likes and measure the post clicks
(14:00) – Why people should come back to the website and not on social media
(16:00) – Content syndicating and leading them back to the website
(17:07) – Make sure you know where the sales are coming from
(23:34) – Make sure people spend enough time on your website
(24:45) – Minimize content creation and maximize content consumption strategy
(24:44) – Automating for busy people

Show Notes:
Jay Patel –SITE>>>

  • Social media is a huge help and platform for the business of photography
  • Since everyone around the world is connected somehow through social media and everyone on social media loves images, take advantage of it.
  • Knowing what to post and making good quality content is good
  • Everyone that follows you will have a mindset and expectation to see something relevant from you posted.
  • Content has to be original. If it’s original, it’s more appealing and interesting.
  • You have to know who you want to attract to follow you
  • Know what their interests are
  • Then post something relevant to your followers’ interest
  • Never post only image on any social media platform
  • Every post must have some content.
  • Disregard the ego and focus on what’s good for business.
  • People liking your photos doesn’t mean anything if they don’t convert to being customers
  • It is important to know where the sales are coming from (Google Analytics)
  • Automation is very helpful if you only have a few hours a week
  • Have all kinds of social media platforms and syndicate them through your website
  • That way, people from whatever social media platform will always end up in your website.
  • Remember that certain people are only comfortable with a certain social media platform
  • Make sure you are on that platform too

Florida Keys, Florida (FL), USA


Brent: Hey Guys and welcome back to Photo Profit, the business of photography and today my special guest is Jay Patel. Jay has a huge social media following and what we’re going to talk about is how to increase that social media following and how to turn that following into money in the photography business. I’m sure you Guys are going to love this interview so let’s jump right into it. Alright, Jay how are you doing today?

Jay: I’m doing great!

Brent: Awesome! Just so everyone knows, Jay and I going back a couple of years now. We’ve been working together and Jay is definitely the guru when it comes to social media marketing. He’s got quite a large follow in social media and he’s manage to leverage his following to make sales with the online courses that he’s created. So, today we’re going to talk about how to do that. So, Jay why is it important to gather a following online and why is it important to convert that into sales on your website?

Jay: Social media offers a pretty large market to anybody who’s interested so if you don’t have a big presence on your website, for example what you can do with social media is to use that social media to promote your work and make sure that people notice you and hopefully, if you managed your strategy right it will translate to more sales going forward. So, it’s sort of a two step process if you create visibility for your work and then going forward you’re going to leverage that visibility to make money.

Brent: Awesome, Jay do you want to turn your video off? Just so we can cut through the bandwidth and the guy can cut this a little bit out hopefully. Okay awesome, so the reason you’re doing this is so you can promote your work and get eyes on your work and hopefully convert those people into buying customers. So, that’s great! So, Jay, tell me a little bit about your story and how you actually did this. Let people know how many people you’ve got following you and how you’ve actually managed to convert them into real customers?

Jay: Well, we have a couple of millions of people following us on a variety of social media platform. Majority of them are on Google Plus, about a quarter million or so on Facebook and a bunch on other social media accounts. Now to be honest with you, my following of people was a fluke and you have to remember that social media like Google and Facebook are in the business to make money themselves so what they’ll do is they’ll attract people that they think have money and if you’re one of those people who’s selected and put on the suggested user you can end up with a very large following on social media and that is exactly what happened to me. I’ll be happy to claim that it was all because of my brilliant talent but the reality is not. If you’ve got some guy in Google or Facebook or something that decided “Oh, let’s put their business on the suggested people and pretty much all social media platforms has something similar to suggested users list where they promote work or some individual to bring them in the forefront because they find them interesting and it helps them grow their own membership.”

Brent: Okay, so people that don’t know what suggested users is, the way I see it Jay is when you sign up to Facebook or Google plus or whatever they ask you what you’re interested in and if you say landscape photography it will say “Follow Jay Patel”.

Jay: Right or the default is actually saying “Here are the people you’re following before you sign out”, it just depends on what social media you’re working with and Facebook has a more subtle suggested users list than Google Plus and more of a suggested users list. So it just depends on different ways. There are different ways of promoting people on social media and what social media platform does is have the suggested users list but they offer it in a slightly different ways.

Brent: Okay, so you got lucky. You got on to the suggested users which I don’t think it’s luck. I think it’s hard work Jay that you actually got noticed to be one of those suggested users. Okay, so you’ve got a large following so what would you say to someone who doesn’t have a large following? Someone who’s just starting out and they want to create a large following on social media that they can leverage and get eyes for their work and eventually make sales from those people? What would you suggest? How should they do that?

Attracting the right followers, Posting the right contents

Jay: I think if you really want to create a large social media following, you can have a lot of followers on social media by following a very consistent and quality posting strategy. So you’re just starting out on Facebook or Google plus and you want to get up to say 5-6 thousand followings, post your very best content. Be very best and do it consistently so people know that if I follow you, I expect two post per week or three posts per week or one per day, whatever it is but the best possible content that is out there.

Brent: Okay, so what do you suggest, one everyday or one every two days?

Jay: I think if you have a large portfolio one a day would work right? But you also have to remember what kind of following you want? If you just put photos then you’re going to attract people like pretty photos. Now if your business relies on education market and you put pretty photos, not everybody who follows you will be interested in learning how to take photos so the content you put has to be relevant.

Brent: So you figure out who your audience is, the people you want to attract because I suppose it depends on what you’re selling on the back end right? What kind of course are you selling? Is it a beginner’s course, is it intermediate, is it a business course? So that’s how you target right? You find your audience and then you post relevant contents that are going to interest that targeted audience.

Jay: That’s correct and the content has to be or not has to be but the more original your contents is, the more interesting it will become because you’ve got to remember you’re not the only person on social media who’s following this traffic. There’s thousands of photographers out there that follows that same strategy and any one of them wants larger following than you so if you end up posting or sharing somebody else’s content or posting a content that is stale, then you will not attract the attention of the people like you want to

Brent: Okay so, those are great tips Jay. So original, high quality, consistent and that’s relevant to your audience. One, a day put your best stuff out there that gives really good value to people that you want to attract so that’s a good strategy. Now, how long do you do that before you start seeing results?

Jay: That depends on a number of other things like how good your content is? I would say give it about six months. Now, along with that content, you also have to put content in a large group or community out there on Facebook, Google Plus and other social media. For example, if you’re participating in a landscape photography, if you want to build up following for that photography content that you’re posting, you can post through photography in Google plus or start a photography community on Google Plus and there are landscape photography community on Google Plus that has several million followers and if you keep participating in those, it will end up building your content slowly.

Brent: Okay, so you think it’s probably the A20 creator principle when it comes to posting contents and you go for the group first because that’s where most or your relevant audience lives.

Jay: Correct! And then I ended up joining new groups, posting up on these large groups and perhaps having some sort of hang out or marketing strategy that you can offer something for free to the new and say “Hey, if you join me such and such I’ll post an Ebook or free short tutorial to do post processing”, or whatever you’re good at.

Converting followers into actual leads

Brent: Okay, so we’ve talked about getting followers and getting people to look at your contents and you know, when to post, what kind of quality, what kind of stuff that you should post. So how do we convert these to actual leads on our website and is it a good idea to try and capture people’s email address or is it good enough to just have people following you on social media?

Jay: So every social media platform, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, they all are in it again to make money. The only way they can make money is at this point in time, well, I’ll put Google aside because it’s a different company. It’s more diversified but for Facebook and Twitter, the best way for them to make money is through advertisement. Now, they want us as content creators to advertise and for advertising they will boost your visibility. So what they do is in the back end they manipulate the straight, well, it doesn’t matter whether you have 2 million followers, if you post contents on Google Plus maybe a couple of thousand of people will see it. Maybe you’ll get a hundred likes or 300 follows you and then you’re wondering what happened to the rest of your 2 million followers that have not seen the content. Well, the stream of your content that is being echoed by your followers is controlled by these people. So if you give Facebook $10 they’ll say, “Oh, we’ll share this with five thousand more customers out there”. So what you have to remember is that no matter how much your following is on social media, it is under the thumb of those who actually run social media. So it is always better to have your followers to have a direct link to you whether via RSS Feeds, via newsletters, via visitations on your site because that is the link that you control and nobody is overseeing that.

Brent: Yeah, great suggestion there. I would say the same thing. If you can get somebody’s email address so you can talk to them directly, that’s the best way because then you don’t have to go through a third party who controls everything.

Jay: Yeah, and it isn’t just email addresses. I have RSS Feeds, programs like Feedly, flipboard, Google Newsstand and you know, all are part of directing people back to your website.

Brent: Yeah, exactly and I actually followed you Jay, on Feedly.

Jay: Yeah, Feedly is a great site for readers and you can build your content there and for that content you can put out a stream that brings people directly to your website.

Brent: Okay, you’re building this large audience and you’ve got some way of bringing people back to your website. So what would you suggest the best way to do that? Is it creating a free E-Book or free course or how do you convert the social media following you’ve got into leads on your website?

Jay: Remember that our business is all conducted to a website. Not every landscape photographers offers that. Landscape photographers may want to sell frame. Now if you’re in one of those categories and your focus is on prints then the audience that you’ll attract and the audience that will come back to you may not see it as a relevant. So, what I’m going to recommend is you start with the audience, you participate and share contents which is relevant to your audience and then based on what you’re trying to sell whether it is education content, whether it’s print, tutorial, whether it’s riding horses then decide whether the audience should come back to your website or whether the audience should visit the local store or gallery that you’re participating at. That strategy is incredibly relevant when you put out your record through social media because what happens with social media is it’s all about “Look at me”, and people will give you a thousand likes and your ego will be boosted and you’ll feel great but those thousand likes are not converted to a single sale or may not convert into a single sale if you’re trying to sell it to the wrong audience.

Brent: And I don’t think the landlord would take the rent with likes you know, you can’t pay him with likes. There’s a problem with that. So we’ve got to convert. Let’s just look at your business model for instance Jay, so you’re selling education products right? So you’re educating landscape photographers, how do you get people from social media to be a lead on the website when you can talk to them directly?

The importance of people coming back to the Site

Jay: I don’t really want to talk to people directly as much as I want people to read what I have posted. So there’s actually a very relevant post that came out about how to tame social media monster and that actually summed up our strategy. In that post is a key statement that we followed for several years now and I’ll read that statement to you and you’ll see what I mean. The single most important goal for interaction in social media is for our audience to read the content posted around that time and that is probably the most relevant that we want our content to do. So if you look at my social media stream on the internet, you’ll see less photos and more content with laid back story. Now, the downside of that is you look at it and say “Wow, you didn’t get that many likes on a link that you shared”, but only if a few people shared the link and came back to my site that’s more important to me than if I shared a photo and a thousand people shared it on their stream because with those thousand people maybe only ten people have clicked on the link and came back to my site.

Brent: Okay, you said that’s the biggest mistake that maybe photographers are doing right now. Taking an image, putting it on social media with no quote action or no link coming back to their website or saying “Hey, come check out our website”, “More information on this image” or “How I actually photographed this image” or something like that, some kind of incentive to come back or click to come back to your website. Do you think that’s the biggest mistake?

Photographer’s biggest mistake on Social Media

Jay: I think the biggest mistake is to recognize the fact that this stunning image with the quote action may not find the attention you want than stunning image showed everywhere.

Brent: Okay, so you write a blog. So I just want to make sure I understand this correctly, you actually write a blog of your image directly and you share that blog onto social media so that the people can see just a little bit of the blog and click back to see the whole content on your website?

Jay: That’s correct. So for our business model, we ignore the likes and we measure the post clicks.

Brent: I like that! “Ignore the likes” that’s a great thing. Okay, so why do you actually want people to come back to your website and come see it on your website more than on social media?

Jay: Remember I said my goal for my social media strategy is for people to come back and read the content right? So that goal is wanting to educate the people because we are educators. We are photography educators, we collide a lot of contents and those photography educators, when they come back and they see what we have to offer and after a certain amount of time they know that there’s a consistent amount of relevant contents being consumed and then from social media they begin to follow us either by our newsletter, by our RSS Feed, Flipboard, Google Newsstand and any other sources we can provide the following and we help them choose whichever they want to follow.

Brent: So that’s awesome! So it’s kind of like you’re at a shopping center. You have all these people that are saying “Hey, Jay love your stuff”, and you’re handing out cards and then you get a couple of people and you’re saying “Do you want to come back to my studio and have a look at this image in the right lighting?” and then they say “Yeah, cool” and they come back to your studio and then they go “Wow, look at all these other stuff you’ve got here”, “Hey, if I clicked on here and I give my email address I get sent a newsletter every week”, is that kind of how you know, it works?

Jay: Pretty much! Yeah or they come back and they say “Oh, you Guys are also on flipboard and I have read this stuff on the magazine so I’m going to follow you” or Feedly. They’ll see a link on Feedly and they say “Yeah, I really read Feedly all the time. I’m going to follow you on Feedly”. So we don’t force people to choose us on a particular model. If someone wants follow us on social media, by all means go ahead and follow us. If somebody doesn’t, then we offer a variety of different ways. If you looked at the post that I mentioned “How to tame social media monsters”, one of the things we pride ourselves on is our content originates from our website. However, the following can be everywhere that you are most comfortable with whether it’s Google Plus, Twitter or Feedly, or Facebook, Newsstand and other sources.

Brent: Right, syndicate your content everywhere but have everyone come back to the one place to see it?
Jay: Yes.

Brent: Perfect! Alright, so once they have come back to your website, what’s the next step to convert them into a customer? Jay: We honestly don’t have a strategy for that. We have a variety of content on our website. Some posts are free posts for people to read, some posts are sales posts but we are in the business of video courses so out of the 20 blog posts that we put out maybe one will be a sales post.

Brent: Okay.

Jay: So, once we are on our website, we are actually very confident that the original and the relevant content will keep people coming back.

Brent: Okay, what can people expect when it comes to numbers? So let’s say a thousand people look at your article on social media, how many people will actually buy something then?

Jay: So, you have to make sure where sales are coming from. Every single sales we track using Google Analytics and using other tools that are available. But mostly Google Analytics because everything gets summed up to Google Analytics. So we have every single visitors gets logged into Google Analytics and they purchased something, then that visitor goes into what’s called the E-Commerce checks now and we can figure out exactly what the visitor purchased and what the commercial rate was for a particular day or a particular product or a particular, you know, campaigns that we sent out or our social media campaigns that we put out.

Brent: Okay, when you say conversion rate, a lot of people actually don’t know what that means. Can you explain that?

Jay: Okay, the conversion rate is the actual number of people that went into my website and looked at a product and people that actually bought the product. Brent: Okay and what are you looking at, 1 or 2%?

Jay: It depends on whether we do promotions. When we do promotions we’ll get as high as 15%rate. When we put out a new video course we’re looking at 5-10% and on a regular basis we usually go around 1 to 2% on average.

The importance of knowing your numbers

Brent: So, just back to having a look at where your sales are coming from, Jay, how important is it to actually track exactly where your customers are coming from, conversion rates and all that good stuff?

Jay: Well, it is most imperative because otherwise you’re just taking a shot in the dark and if you just take a shot in the dark about your customers and conversion rates then you really don’t know where to focus your records in. For example, if you want to do a campaign on Facebook, on social media but over the last year or so if you don’t know that the social media you have has almost zero returns then what happens is it’s difficult for you to know whether your additional resource on social media is working.

Brent: Definitely! And Guys, just so you know, having the numbers and having the information on where your customers are coming from, your best customers are coming from is an amazing tool. I did that in my portrait photography studio, when I looked at the numbers I realized that my best customers, my highest paying customers were coming from 20% of my marketing. When you actually dig into the 20%, which marketing source is providing me the 80% of those 20%, I know this sounds a little complex but basically the 4% of your leads or customers are producing the 64% of your profit in your business. If you can find that focus, if you know where you are, all you have to do is focus your energy on that. So in my portrait photography business I ended up working 5 or sometimes 6 days a week to working 2 and a half days a week and still making the same amount of profit because I figured out where my best customers are coming from and I only focused on that and I’ve cut everything out. So it’s very important that you know your numbers.

Brent: Awesome Jay, so when it comes to that and when you’re focusing, the question is where would photographer focus on? If you’ve got all those numbers, what’s working for you? Can you give us a couple of secrets?

The secret on how to make people want to follow you

Jay: I think what works for me is or the biggest secret that I can tell you about what works for me is knowing a particular source and we make money on social media, we make money on newsletters, partnership referrals, all kinds of different avenues and they’re sort of equally distributed for us. Well, what works best for me is you have to figure out why a customer wants to follow you whether they’re following you through newsletters or social media, RSS Feed or in real life. Why would somebody want to come and pay attention to what you’re saying and for that our best strategy is consistency and in the beginning of 2012 we have been producing original blog contents at least 3 times a week and sometimes more and that has allowed us to build a following which we have today and not only are we producing original content but we are producing relevant content. So for example, our content that is produced is for landscape photography education. It is not for “Look at me”, “Look how great my photos are”, ultimately as an educator you want to showcase great photos to your students. We are actually in the business of creating content for making sure that our students or followers get something out of it and they excel and be able to take photography to the next level.

Brent: Awesome! I’ve seen this mistake made a few times when new photographers start getting in and start taking pictures, say like for instance a workshop and they want to post like twenty images all at once on social media and then have nothing for the next week to post and I think that’s a really good tip over there. Your secret you know, Jay, so consistently post, consistently maybe 3 times a week or once a day if you can but be consistent. Don’t post a thousand images and then wait three months and then post another thousand more.

Jay: That’s correct!

Brent: Jay, any tools that you Guys are using that would help anyone listening to this Podcast? I’ll give a quick tip of something that I use when it comes to converting social media followers into leads onto my email list. I use Leadpages, it’s a little plugin that creates a pop up or a form that you can fill out and you can track your conversion so you can see how things are doing so are you converting one percent of the people that actually go to this page to leads or are you converting 6% like what I’m actually doing right now, so any other tools that you use?

Jay: There’s a number of plugins like WordPress. We use wordpress. There is another good plug in that is available offered by an elegant team. If you want to really measure, you can measure anything with great details. That plug in is also really cool. Let me see if I can actually pull it up. It’s called Bloom plug in. Bloom Email Opt in.

Brent: Bloom Email Opt in, okay. So that’s basically giving you a pop up or some way of capturing someone’s email address when you’re doing the content on your website? Okay.

Jay: Right! The other one is Google Analytics because one of the best things we do is we measure depth of interaction with Google analytics so when somebody comes to your website, how much time do they spend doing what and looking at what? So you want to make sure that people that come to your website are spending enough time on your website, looking enough on your website to get comfortable with you. So the depth of interaction that Google Analytics gives you is absolutely key to whether you’re putting relevant content or you’re putting out flop.

The importance of automation for busy people

Brent: Okay good! Well Jay, this has been really, really good. I mean we’ve spoken about a lot of things here. So, we’ve spoken about how to get a following on social media, when to post, what to post and also figuring out who your customer is. We’ve spoken about the advertising, the boost post and that type of thing. We’ve actually gone into what to do with your social media following, point them back to your website, basically, we’ve also gone through how to actually convert them to leads on your website. We’ve gone through tools, we’ve gone through a bunch of things and now I want to put together a couple of action steps for people listening to this. Now, let’s just say you’re starting out, you’ve got maybe a hundred people following you on Facebook, you’ve got a small Google Plus Audience and you’ve only got four hours a week to dedicate to getting an online follow and converting them to leads and then possibly customers. So, what are the few things that you would suggest someone does if they’ve only got four hours a week that will give them the biggest return for their time invested?

Jay: I would say put in automation and minimize your content creation and that’s what we call construction strategy and you can do that with automation very easily with just four hours a week and the “How to tame the social media monster”, actually gives you a strategy on how to do that. Our strategy or action steps for somebody who actually does that is to create a website, put all your content ahead of time on the website and then schedule it to go out on a certain schedule and you can automate so that everything goes out to syndicator, to social media sites like Twitter, Feedly, Facebook, you can actually automate all of that so that once your content is made public within the next 30 days or 60 minutes you can automatically have your content on every one of them.

Brent: Okay, so I’ll just run through that really quickly again. So, have a decent website, put together a decent website, possibly a WordPress website with a good theme that helps you, create good content on your website with right images and schedule that content to go through automation to go out to your social media channels and then what else? Somewhere about capturing people when they come back to your website, converting them right?

Jay: Yeah, if you’re talking about converting them, yeah. Try to convert them and monitor them through Google Analytics.

Brent: Okay, say you don’t have anything to sell just yet, what other ways can we convert these people to an email list? Because I think building an email list or following through email is probably the “Holy grail” when it comes to capturing your leads and able to speak to your audience on a regular basis right?

Jay: Yeah, but it’s also the same as going to social media to convert people to your email list so it’s even something as simple as converting people to your email list. Well, email list does help but email list on itself is not going to do any good. The email list out here is in a whole different ball game. The social media strategy is fine. You can convert people from social media to your email list which is great but you can also have people through social media who are consistently coming to the website as well.

Brent: Okay, so you’ve got different channels there to get people to come to your website to consume and then eventually buy. Awesome Jay, you’ve been so great with your information. Any last words for people who want to take these strategies and build a social media following and then get them into the website and purchase one of their products?

Jay: I think the biggest insight that I have for social media and having good social media following in the last few years is that what is good for the ego is not always good for the business and you need to learn to recognize the difference between what is good for business and what is good for ego. I know it’s going to be hard to do but that would be my social media strategy of today.

Brent: Awesome, I love that Jay. Do what’s good for the business and not for the ego. Maybe that should just be a life strategy. Do what’s good for your life and not good for your ego. Well, Jay thank you so much for being on the show. If people want to follow you and see what you’re doing and especially that blog that you’ve put together and by the way Guys, we’ll put that into the show notes if you go to you’ll find that. Where else can people go to follow you and find out more about you?

Jay: I think they can go to Visual Wilderness or the most particular or the most relevant part of the Visual Wilderness is the business section and there are like several tons of articles that are there.

Brent: Awesome! Yeah, I think I’ve read a few of those and they are really good. Thank you Jay so much for being on the show and I’ll talk to you in Fiji.

Jay: Alright! Talk to you soon!

Brent: See you later, Bye!

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