In my last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about photographers’ online reputations. In the first post, I mentioned the need for photographers to keep an eye on what their names turn up in Google searches. And in the second post, I pointed out a few things that photographers can do if their links on the first couple pages of search results lead to places that they’d rather potential clients didn’t go.
In practice, it’s going to be pretty rare for a photographer to run into serious trouble on Google. Unless they also happen to be running for public office, photographers aren’t likely to have the sort of enemies who will dig up dirt and put it online for everyone to see. The biggest threat often comes from the photographers themselves.
The problem is that photographers usually trade under their own names. It’s all too easy, then, to forget that when they use their names in a public space such as the Internet, what they say reflects on them not just personally but professionally as well.
There are a number of places where personal comments can affect a professional reputation.
The first is on blogs. Lots of photographers have professional blogs where they talk about their work and discuss their techniques. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, those blogs can be very useful branding tools.
Personal blogs that carry a real name, though, are a whole other affair. These have to be treated as another professional outlet, too. There’s no harm in discussing family life or what you like to shoot in your spare time. But criticize a client, for example — even if you only intend the post to be read by friends and family — and winning the next one could become harder.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can say whatever you want. But if you put your name to a post like that, even on a personal blog, be aware there might be negative consequences.
The same is true of comments posted on forums or at the end of blog posts. Again, written carefully, those can be good tools for spreading your name and associating it with experience. Write carelessly, though (by being harsher than you might be in person, for example), and you could create the wrong sort of impression for a client wondering who to give an assignment to.
Even reviews on sites like Amazon.com can turn up in search results, so be aware what you write there, too. While those are also good places to show that you read about photography and that you’re constantly updating your skills, be aware that it’s not just other book buyers who could be reading them.
For photographers, the Internet isn’t just another place to find and exchange information. It’s a place where clients find and research photographers. Keep this in mind whenever you use your name online.
[tags]reputation management, Google, photography marketing [/tags]