Cindy looking at laptop with red jacket. Kyoto, 2017.
Cindy looking at laptop with red jacket. Kyoto, 2017.

What’s the purpose of having more followers?

I. What having more followers means to me

Cindy color. Kyoto, 2017

Okay, so I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself.

  1. The benefit of having followers, is that if you want to make money from your photography (like I do teaching workshops and selling products), having followers and an audience is good. Generally, the bigger your audience or following, the more likely someone will purchase one of your products or attend your experiences.
  2. A sense of security or pride: Knowing that you have a following, gives you some sort of self-confidence.
  3. The more you grow your followers or audience, the more you have a sense of “progress” or forward advancement or growth.

II. More followers, more problems

Cindy with leaves covering her eye. Kyoto, 2017

Here are some problems:

  1. The number of followers doesn’t matter. The quality of followers matters. Kevin Kelley has a theory of “1,000 true fans” that all you need is 1,000 “true fans” (someone who will actually spend money on you) to make a living. For myself, that number is much lower. If I sell a workshop spot for $2,500 or $3,000– I only in theory need 2 students a month to make a comfortable living, which is around 24 “true fans.”
  2. If you don’t see your follower count go up, or if you see your follower count go down, you feel depressed and shitty.
  3. The more followers you get and the more famous you get, the more you become a slave to your audience. Why? You want to please them at all costs, and therefore you become more fearful of deviating from your personal “style” or formula. This has happened to me… I became afraid of sharing new styles of pictures, fearing my audience would not like it. Also, having fear of really speaking my mind or saying controversial things, because I might lose followers, and therefore I lose money, go broke, become homeless, and die.

III. Why have more followers if you’re just making pictures for fun?

Portrait of Cindy outside our Airbnb apartment. Kyoto, 2017

If you are just taking pictures for fun, or as a hobby… what does having more followers mean to you? Before I made a living from photography, this is why I craved more page views, followers, or “fame”:

  1. The chance to get “discovered” by a publisher, and to have my works be exhibited internationally. To travel. To gain glory, and to feel “successful” and good about myself. Lesson: better to publish or “discover” yourself, rather than waiting for someone else to “discover” you.
  2. To perhaps get “sponsored” and get free gear and equipment. Lesson: getting free gear and cameras actually turns you into a slave.
  3. Affirmation: I didn’t have enough confidence in my photography, and therefore wanted others to tell me how good my pictures were. Lesson: don’t “crowd-source your self-esteem”— by making your self-worth as a photographer based on how many “likes” you get on a picture.

IV. What does having a follower mean to you?

Once again, there is nothing wrong with wanting more followers.

Just ask yourself, “What does having a ‘follower’ mean to me?”

No wrong or right answers. Just be brutally honest with yourself.

Once you contemplate that, read my resources on photography entrepreneurship and how to gain more followers, and to build an audience in photography.



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

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Table of Contents

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Photography Business 101

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


Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography Entrepreneurship

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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Mastering Photography

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