First things first, I'd like to make a special shout out to those that have ordered prints. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I'm keeping names anonymous, but you know who you are. THANK YOU!
It turns out launching a site is both exhilarating and exhausting. I should know this already because my career has been in user experience design for longer than I care to share. I've worked for several large, successful brands helping/participating/leading parts of product and feature releases of all sizes. This isn't something I'm completely unfamiliar with. The big difference with those launches was being part of a large team. Here it's been all me: The photographer, the UX and visual/brand designer, the writer and content strategist, the SEO team (we need to fire our guy!), the marketing team, the product planner, the tech research, QA team, and partner relations. Perhaps I'm making it sound bigger than this is, but all those roles existed through the duration of the building of the site. I spent a lot of long days and late nights pulling things together. So I feel...pretty darn good about the first day.
Yeah, I was excited to get that part over with because when I made the declaration to launch, I felt the pressure immediately. I didn't want to put all this effort in and slowly slide the boat into the water. I wanted to make some waves for my effort.
What were my expectations
I didn't write down my specific goals, which goes against how I've had to work in my professional career. This was personal and I wanted it to be a bit loose. With that said, I did have some plans for what I was doing. For example, I wanted to hold off on launching this site before I was ready and had enough of a potential response available once it was built. Did I meet expectations on traffic and engagement as a result? I'm not quite sure yet. I know from other photographers that IG followers and engagement doesn't always translate; however, I was surprised and humbled by the responses I received to my launch on that platform.
I spent the bulk of my day responding to the comments, DM's, stories, and reposts of my work. Here are a few of the wonderful things written.
Looks fantastic and it’s also great to view your quality pics outside of the ‘fast-food’ constraints of Instagram. Loving the sounds too. Something to aspire to.
fantastic job with your site! really loving the idea of combining visuals with audios!
The thought and work you’ve put into this shows! Most websites are a snooze fest. Congrats on launching!
...loved your site! Learned a thing from your night photo blog!
What could have been better
I don't have a lot to say here. I have some quirks with my site platform that bother me. One has to be investigated by the service I chose, but it's nothing that's preventing someone from completing a goal. There is friction though so I'm going to try to get that remedied.
I also really wish IG made it easier to hop out of their app and into a native browser versus their web view. This ties back to the friction I mention. When I looked at Google Analytics for the days traffic it was all from IG, as to be expected. Lesson here: I should have spent more time testing from within that web view.
What would I do differently
Aside from the testing I mention immediately above, I think the I would do a couple of other things. These are things I don't naturally enjoy doing. First, enlisting the help of others to promote my site. Just writing that makes me gag a little; however, there is something to be said about having a strong network when trying to start something new. Now, I never had the expectation this would become a second career, but it's something I would like to continue and continuing has costs. So, if anything, I'd like this to help pay those bills.
Second, I would have started to announce what I was doing sooner, but I'm not quite sure how I would have done that yet. It just feels like I could have done more than a few story posts and captions in gallery posts. Right, Captain Kirk?
To summarize what's above, set your expectations low, especially if you don't plan to do much marketing and if your in a niche creative space. Build up your base of fans and/or followers to avoid having to keep spamming them as that grows. Market your work broadly and keep talking about it. No one will do this for you unless you pay them.
My next steps
I'm certainly not done now that I've launched the site. 1. I'm going to get back out and start shooting more again. I can't wait to do that! 2. I plan to keep up writing. I'm actually enjoying this part although I cringe thinking about some of my writer friends taking a look at this. Yikes! 3. I'm going to use the experience curating my work to submit work to galleries and magazines both virtual and physical. 4. I'm going to reach out and do more collaboration with other artists. Working with Caleb for the music and shooting with Matt Dempsey brought more creative joy to the process. 5. I'm going to take my work beyond paper prints.
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Again, the overall day was great! I landed here...