PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101: How to Build a True Following


Dear friend,

To continue PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101, let’s talk how you can build a following.

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Why have a following?

First question, why even have a following? Why bother? Isn’t social media, blogging, and having someone just like and follow you overrated?

Yes and no.

A “like” on social media really doesn’t mean much. It just means someone who was bored and looking at their phone in line at the grocery store, scrolled through their feed, and double-tapped or pressed the little heart icon on your photo.

A “follower” on social media is just someone who clicked “follow” on your social media account.

True followers

What we want are “true” followers.

A “true” follower to me is someone who is committed to the same mission statement as you. Someone who believes in what you do. Also, a true follower might buy your products (digital or physical), attend your workshop (online or offline), or spread the word about you.

A true follower is someone who is committed in terms of their time, attention, heart, and wallets.

Money isn’t always important. Often, someone who zealously defends you, or spreads the word about you is as valuable as someone who pays money to you.

Why follow someone?

I can only diagnose my behavior, in terms of why ERIC KIM will follow someone.

  1. I want more of their stuff: I will follow someone on social media or their blog or website, because I want to hear more from them, see more of their stuff, and I believe in what they believe in.
  2. I want to support them with my dollars: I’ve bought books from authors I admire, because I wanna support them. Even though I know they don’t really “need” my money, it still makes me feel good good about myself.
  3. I want to be like them: I follow Elon Musk and Kanye West because I want to emulate them and be like them. I wanna help empower humanity like Elon, and I want to innovate in culture with Kanye.

So why would someone follow you? Do you actually have something of value, or do you make “dope” (good) stuff that people actually want? Do you have a compelling mission statement? Are you interesting?

A simple suggestion to build a following:

Avoid being boring.

Tactics to build a following

Practical tactics:

  1. Cross-pollinate: promote yourself on different channels, and make your channels or accounts link to one another. Cross-pollination: imagine a bee going from one flower to the other, cross-pollinating all the flowers as it goes. Everyone benefits.
  2. Publish useful stuff: show your worth, knowledge, integrity, and intelligence as a photographer. Publish useful blog posts that empower your reader.
  3. Find like-minded people: you want to build a following of people who belive in the same values as you do, and you want to empower them. You don’t want negative folks, haters, or random people following you. You want a small, yet focused following.

1,000 True Followers

I got this idea from Kevin Kelly: to survive and (eventually thrive) in your business as an entrepreneur:

Build 1,000 “true followers”

His definition of a true follower: someone who will pay real money for your products, services, or attend your workshop or event.

To think about it, you only need 1,000 paying customers to make a solid business.

Using ERIC KIM as an example: my bread and butter is teaching workshops and curating experiences.

When I get 16 students to invest $2,000 USD to attend my workshop, after expenses, my profits will probably be around $20,000 USD. That’s a lot of money. All I need is $40,000 USD a year to live “comfortably” in America. So for myself, I only need around 30 students (a year) for me to make a living.

Imagine now, if I had 1,000 students, each paying $2,000 USD. This is where things get interesting from a business standpoint. In theory, that would be $2,000,000 in income a year ($2 million).

How to get people to invest in you

But how do you build enough trust to get a student to invest $2,000 USD for your workshop?

1. Build trust over a long time:

Most of my students who attend my workshops have followed me for at least 2-3 years, and read my blog for a long time, watched my YouTube videos, downloaded my free presets, and read my books.

I’ve “been in the game” in the street photography world from 2011-2017, aka 6 years of building my brand of ERIC KIM. And to be frank, that’s not even a long time.

Moral of the story: hustle hard for 5+ years, and you can make a good living from your passion.

2. Offer value

What value are you offering your customers?

For a workshop, I’m offering confidence. Courage. To help people become re-inspired. For them to “conquer their fears and meet new peers” (note how catchy rhyming mottos work well).

For a travel experience, I’m curating an unforgettable time in an exotic and foreign place. I’m selling adventure and excitement. That’s what travel is all about.

So what are you really selling as a photographer?

If you’re a wedding photographer, you ain’t selling photos of the wedding. You’re selling the memories of their special day.

If you do commercial work, you’re not selling headshot photos. You’re selling an image of professionalism and trust. The company will use the “professional” photos to also further sell themselves, their brand-image, and legitimacy–to have their clients give them money too.

3. Create insane value

To sum up,

Offer insane amounts of value to your customers. Offer more than you take.

For example, I’m selling confidence in my workshops, which will compound interest for the rest of a student’s life. Additional confidence in their photography will also be additional confidence in their personal and business life.

If I teach a workshop on Photography Entrepreneurship for 10,000 USD, and my students can end up earning 200,000 USD, that’s insane value.

To once again sum up:

Offer more value than you take.


ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

How to Make Money with Photography

Photography Marketing 101

How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money


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