How Social Media is Helping This Photographer Expand Her Business

The Luupe speaks with Steph Bolton aka Phoenix Michele about her innovative use of social media to expand her client base.

After starting a fashion blog with a friend, Steph Bolton realized just how important visual content is for brands. This led her to create a practical, helpful one-stop studio under the pseudonym Phoenix Michele Photography.

As Phoenix Michele, Bolton not only photographs her clients but also helps them brainstorm the most beneficial way to use the content they create.

Bolton uses Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to promote her work, empower creatives, and build her client base. You can catch her weekly Instagram live series, “The Late Happy Hour” where she offers all kinds of Instagram tips and tricks.

We interviewed Bolton to learn more.

© Phoenix Michele Photography

The Luupe: How did you get into marketing and branding?

Steph Bolton: I got into marketing and branding because I saw there was such a great need for the creatives I worked with. I would be giving them ideas on how to use the photos and videos I would capture in their session. As I began to talk I realized whoa! I know a lot and I REALLY like talking about it. So I began going live every week to share what I have learned over my years of being in business and working with other creatives.

The Luupe: In what ways have you combined your photography skills with your knowledge of branding and marketing?

Bolton: I have combined my photography skills and knowledge of branding and marketing in such a fun way. It’s great because photos can help set the tone for a brand. If you are a boho brand, then your photos have to give that boho vibe. I really enjoy talking with clients and building a relationship before we have our session. I like to understand why you started your brand and business, it gives me insight into their personality and how to help them with marketing.

Meet Steph Bolton aka Phoenix Michele

The Luupe: How have people responded to your branding and marketing tips on Instagram?

Bolton: It has been AMAZING! I really have received great support and encouragement from everyone. In fact, I get DMs constantly for ideas for my Instagram Live (The Late Happy Hour) on topics to cover. It has really been a lot of fun and I have been able to teach people so much. I love getting DM’s or people reposting tips I have shared on their feed or stories.

The Luupe: What’s your best advice for photographers on using Instagram to promote their work?

Bolton: Instagram is a great outlet to promote work if you are consistent and interact with others. You have to showcase your work with a consistent style. If your style is inconsistent then it sends a confusing message to potential clients. They do not know what to expect because of your feed. Then also if you post here and there, it looks like you are not passionate or getting booked.

© Phoenix Michele

The Luupe: What other outlets are you using to get eyes on everything you do?

Bolton: I am using YouTube and TikTok, but Instagram is my jam! I like YouTube because I can do more from a video tutorial perspective for branding and marketing tutorials. TikTok is great for short but impactful content. I can show the fun and fashionable aspect best.

The Luupe: Are there any key steps photographers just starting out can take to grow their audience? 

Bolton: The most important advice I would give to anyone trying to build their audience is to not focus on the numbers, but the quality. Build up what I like to call your “home team” these are the people who will cheer you on, no matter what. If you say ‘hey I am going to be on this brand’s live come and check me out.’ Guess what, they will be the first ones there. The numbers will come in time once you build that consistency.