Business + Marketing

How to Find a Balance with Social Media When You Own a Business

May 20, 2019

By Arlene Evans

Photo © Sandra Coan

It’s hard to imagine our world without social media today. It’s always there, whether we’re at work, at home or hanging out with our friends. We depend on Facebook to tell us where the parties are, who has gotten married, who just had a baby, where people are eating and what they’ve ordered. Instagram allows us to peruse beautiful images, daydream about where you want to take your next vacation when you see your friend’s images from Costa Rica and watch Insta Stories about puppies. And then there’s Twitter—the platform has been a little tainted as of late by its political messages, but people still use it as a source for real and fake news. There’s a blurry line between personal and business when you use these platforms, so it’s important to ask yourselves: When is it too much, and can I afford to take time off?

I originally joined Facebook and Instagram to “spy” on my children (there was quite a debate between the two of them as to whether they should accept my friend request!). But I quickly realized that to stay on top of trends and updates about photographers worldwide, I needed these tools to do my job. I spend time searching for business accounts as opposed to personal ones, even though many photographers only have one that they use. I’ve gotten the names of new photographers and went on Instagram to see how many followers they have. But does that number make them an “influencer” in the industry? The key is to gauge the amount of engagement on their social media pages. If a photographer posts an amazing image that gets 5,000 likes but only 10 comments, then I get a little suspicious about the number of real followers that they have

Facebook can be a great marketing tool for photographers to attract new clients. You share a few wedding or family portrait images, tag the clients (with their permission, of course) and they’ll share it as well. How many weddings have been booked based on a bride’s friend who saw her wedding images online? And what about the travel photographer who has a million followers on Instagram and is being pursued by major ad agencies?  Can you really afford to sign off?

Sandra Coan, a family, newborn and film photographer who is based in Seattle and ran a Platform Class at WPPI this past February, doesn’t let social media take over her life. She uses a scheduling website (, but there are others), batches her photos, saves her hashtags and schedules her business posts throughout the week. She also keeps a Google spreadsheet with all the copy she has written to use again at a later date. Her philosophy is “be smart about your social media strategy and think like a marketer,” and that has helped her to grow her business.

Everyone throws around the phrase “work/life balance,” but there is a way to keep your business running and still have time for family, friends and activities that you like to do. No one expects to totally disconnect. And it’s so much harder for wedding and portrait photographers who are self-employed. Here are a few ways to clear your head of that incessant blue light:

• Stop looking at your screens  at least an hour before you go to bed. Sounds harsh, but it’s an easy habit to break. Scientists have found that the blue light emitting from your phone can wake you up so it’s hard to fall asleep. It interrupts your circadian rhythm and hurts your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is an important hormone that works to regulate your circadian cycle.

• Read a book instead! Studies have shown that the light emitted from an e-reader does not have the same effect on sleep as the blue light that you have from other devices. Or better yet, read a real book! When was the last time you did that?

• Be present when you’re with family and friends. I love the idea of putting phones in the middle of the table when out with friends and the first one to reach for it must buy the next round of drinks (or appetizers). 

• Create a social media calendar. Take one day a week and set up your posts in advance so that you don’t have to worry about fitting it into your daily schedule.

• Set business boundaries. Decide how many times you need to check your emails, Facebook and Instagram during the day, and stick to that schedule. Then you won’t be worrying about missing something; you know that you’ll catch up on everything in 30 minutes, 60 minutes or whenever you decide to look.

• Spend some time with other photographers. That’s what I love about WPPI—people meet at the show, start sharing ideas and maintain those relationships long after they leave Las Vegas. You may be self-employed but there’s a community out there that shares your struggles and concerns, and they’re at WPPI.

Arlene Evans is the conference producer for WPPI. Previously, she was head of the photography channel at CreativeLive, and before that the Director of WPPI. Email her your feedback:

Related: 10 Questions for Arlene Evans, WPPI’s New Conference Producer and Thoughtful Community Builder

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