Interviews with Big Bloggers

Interview with Photographer Tim King

6 Comments 06 March 2012

Tim King is a San Diego event photographer who makes more money than anyone else I know traveling and having more fun than anyone else I know. In a world where instagram and Pinterest have made everyone and their mother a photographer, Tim has managed to create a product so high quality that it’s unequivocally set apart from its competitors. Last week we met up over coffee while Tim was back in town (we’re old friends from high school and I still live here in Colorado) and caught up about his thriving business. Oh, and did I mention he’s built it largely through his blog and social media?

**Note: all of the images in this post were stolen from Tim’s blog. To see them in their original context and see other related photos, just click on them or visit TimKingBlog.com

Tim King Photography

Jen: The point of this blog series is to demonstrate how the internet and travel have enabled a whole new way of living on your own terms that wouldn’t have been possible 50 years ago. I want to prove that blogging isn’t just for nerds (although some of us do embrace our inner nerd), but that it can serve a much bigger purpose and enable a really amazing lifestyle. So, with that in mind, how did you get started with all of this?

Tim: Well first of all I want to comment on the idea that blogging is nerdy. I’m going to go ahead and say that people that go to nightclubs and all of these “cool” spots – those are the ones that are nerdy. And I’m going to say that people that are blogging and caught up on technology are part of the fresh new exciting stuff that’s going on in the world. Personally, I think that that’s cool because it’s improving how we live on a daily basis. When people go down to the clubs and they’re just getting drunk every night it is one of the biggest wastes of time I can think of – and, to me, that’s “nerdy.” I think what’s nerdy is not utilizing life.

Tim KingBut, in terms of blogging and constructing the lifestyle that you want, I think it’s integral because it’s basically your voice on a worldwide platform. And what you put out there is what you’re going to attract in your life. So let’s say you blog about  - well, in my case travel and photography and exciting adventures – those are the kinds of people that I’m going to attract to my blog. They’re the ones that are going to be emailing me and exchanging ideas, and often we’ll meet up in-person. I’ve actually met with people in other countries because they followed my blog, and gone and done adventures with them based off of our communication online. So it’s really nice just to connect with other like-minded personalities and it just wouldn’t be possible the way it is without the internet and without constantly putting stuff out there that attracts the attention of like-minded individuals.

Tim King Photography

Jen: So how did you promote the blog and the business? What did you do to grow?

Tim: PR of 3! Page Rank of 3.

The main thing is lining up with leaders in my industry and attracting their attention to the point where they’re going to link me on their site. One of the big things was going to this workshop up in Seattle at Creative Live studios, an internationally renown photography studio, that broadcasts live workshops. So when I was doing this workshop they blasted out our twitter and our Facebook  and our blog URLs. So after doing that workshop I got a lot of attention, a lot of people came to my site, and I just filtered-in the kind of people that identify with my brand based on what was up on my site at that moment. So I made sure that what I had up was something that I wanted to attract for my followers.

Tim King

But yeah, SEO – it’s random posts that have attracted random people from Google based on some certain posts. Like I did job interview questions and that’s drawn some people that are all over the states, and some internationally. I’ve gotten some inquiries from people in different places that I’ve posted travel photos from. A lot of times it’s just keyboarding areas or certain topics that aren’t necessarily mainstream, but very specified. I find that the more specified it is the more connections you’re going to get. Trying to hit main keywords is just like putting your card in a bowl of 5000 instead of like, 500.

Tim King Photography

{Jen interjects} Yeah but backlinks are really powerful. Like, really really powerful. (I’m articulate, I know)

Tim: Yeah they are. I actually got a backlink from Wall Street Journal a couple months ago because they’re one of my clients, so I just emailed them and asked them if they could do it as a favor – and they did.

If I were to suggest things to other bloggers I would say start emailing people that you look up to in the industry, start writing about their stuff, start writing about a topic that they touch on but haven’t really delved into, maybe elaborate and then see if they would link back to you as a reference or something like that. See if you can add value of any kind to their posts.

Tim King Photography

Jen: So, something that I’ve been reading about a lot lately is that transition from a hobby (like blogging or photography) “just because you love it” and turning it into a business. You really want to have that genuine aspect to what you’re putting out – the idea that you do it because you love it and care about it – but then to make that awkward transition to say “will you be my client” or “will you give me a backlink” and start asking for things – how do you approach that?

Tim: Actually I don’t approach it too much. I just try and post cool shit that people are going to dig and suggest that they tweet it, share it on Facebook, or pin it on Pinterest. So it’s more about posting stuff that people can talk about – conversation starting ideas – and just suggesting at the end. It’s a little thing to do, but just saying “I’d love to hear from you” or “feel free to share this” goes a long way. In terms of getting those backlinks though.. I don’t know, I’ve never really believed in asking for something. One thing I did that got a lot of juice was this 30 day blogging challenge. When I did that I got a ton of backlinks because people wanted to lay out how I set up the rules, so everyone that participated linked back to my blog. That was pretty big.

Tim King Photography

Jen: You did a great job with that challenge, too, and I was actually really sad when it was over. I was watching you on my Google Reader and your stuff was good! It was consistently good!

Tim: It was a challenge! It was a challenge to post consistently good content everyday.

{Jen interjects} And over the holidays! Your timing was horrible! I would have done it if it wasn’t over the holidays.

Tim: Well that’s why I did it! I knew that it was going to be tough and I wanted to challenge people, I wanted to push them to their limits. And I thought about doing it on January 1st, but I thought like most New Year’s resolutions you should start them ASAP rather than waiting for a certain date to do it. So I said eff it, let’s go and get this started right off the bat.

Jen:  So do you have any upcoming projects or challenges we’ll be able to take part in?

Tim: Funny you should ask, Jenn.  I actually have been talking with a few people about an idea, and whenever I bring it up – people respond with bug eyes and a dropped jaw.  It’s going to be a really exciting (and difficult) project, but will be fun none-the-less.  Keep an eye out for it mid-April or so, announcement on the blog and facebook.

Tim King Photography

Jen: So then how long have you been doing this now? 

Tim: Coming up on 4 years in April.

Jen: How did it start? With freelance work?

Tim: Yeah I was actually working as an event promoter – you know one of those sleazy guys that sends you event invites on Facebook. Well, after awhile I got a girlfriend and the whole “inviting girls to the club” thing wasn’t going over so well anymore, so I had to find something different. At that time a buddy of mine that worked for the same company was doing their photography and he moved out of town and couldn’t do the events anymore. So he hooked me up with his camera and told me what to do. When I first started out I really sucked, but as time went on I learned more and researched more. I learned a shit-ton about photography and how things work, and I met other professionals that I admired and linked up with them. I learned on my own, too, and it just grew over time.

Tim King Photography

Jen: One thing that has really stuck with me is the controversial nature of a lot of the blog posts and videos you put out.  You say things that other people won’t talk about! This is totally in sync with my foundation platform, which is the idea of fearless thinking. I will never forget your video where you talked about how much you make doing photography. No one talks about that stuff! I remember that video made a huge difference for me because you were making something like $7,000 a month and I was making about $2,000 to sit behind a desk from 9-5 and be miserable while you were traveling all over the world. If that doesn’t make you rethink your choices in life, nothing will.

So with that in mind, these are my final questions. 

First of all, do you think there are more financial opportunities this way? In taking the reigns and doing your own thing? And second, has it taken time to learn how to be as “open” and fearless as you are? What would you say to first-time blogger that’s nervous?

Tim: First of all to combat that question about whether or not there’s potential, I think it’s really relative to the individual. If you have the motivation, dedication, persistence, patience, and passion – yes. You can do it. You can be a blogger and just kill it. There are girls like iJustine and Jenna Mourey (“Jenna Marbles”) just killing it financially just because they have so many people that want to advertise with them and display their products. And it’s a fun lifestyle, but it takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of confidence to put yourself out there like that. It’s sort of like having a baby, it’s a big challenge, but over time you’ll really appreciate it. When I first started it was like $75 bucks a night, for 4 nights a week. I was making like $600 a month on top of my regular 9-5 gig, which was like $8 an hour or something. So, at that point I thought I was living the life, but obviously there’s more potential that can be superseded even more. So, the sky’s really the limit.

Tim King Photography

In terms of talking about those controversial topics, I think I’m just more inspired at the frustration that I’ve always encountered to learning different things when it comes to photography.

A lot of people won’t talk about what’s behind closed doors and the kind of experiences they have. I really wish I had had something like that when I was first starting out. Learning stuff like that is just as, if not even more important, as learning the basics and learning the standard stuff.

The experience that really motivated me to talk about the “how much I make every month” was when I was in Denver working at an art studio with my friend, and I knew that this painter
Tim Kinghad created a successful life for himself and his family all based off of his artwork. He lives in Cherry Hills Village (for those of you that don’t know, Cherry Hills is a really nice part of town) and I wanted to know if it was feasible to get started in the career. So, I basically just sort of wanted to gauge how much he was making. I asked him, and he told me it was “personal info” and a “faux pas to talk about how much you make.” So I responded and just said “well, you know it’s just something I’m thinking about doing and I just want to know what’s the standard progression.” Did he start out making $100 for a painting and now he’s making $4,000? But he won’t tell me how many he sells each year because it’s “personal info.” But it shouldn’t be personal info! It should be shared with aspiring entrepreneurs, and whether or not it’s a process you’re willing to go through in order to achieve the lifestyle you want.

I actually met a photographer last week that is clearing over a million dollars a year. I didn’t think that was possible. But he’s killing it. And he’s doing it out of Arkansas.

Jen: Wow, he must be really creative!

Tim: No, he’s not. {Jen laughs.} He’s actually one of the worst photographers I’ve ever seen that’s an industry leader. But he knows how to market, and he knows business, and he knows branding really well, and so it’s not just the craft that you have to learn, it’s a lot of business and a lot of marketing and a lot of relationship building that’s crucial to having success.

The relationship building is probably the most important thing that I can suggest. Out of anything. Out of branding, out of learning your skill, or how to write. I would say the relationships that you build are the most important thing.

Tim King Photography

 

Want to find Tim online?

I would be lying if I told you I didn’t stalk his travel and wedding photography. Especially the weddings. He makes people look so shiny and happily-ever-after-esque.

Tim’s Portfolio & Event Site: TimKingWeddings.com

Tim’s Blog: TimKingBlog.com

Want to socially network with him? Well, say no more:

Tim’s Facebook Fanpage

Tim’s Twitter

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6 Comments so far

  1. Christy says:

    Excellent interview! I love learning new things from photographers. And I follow this one through all his travels. Love it. EXACTLY what I want to be doing.
    Christy recently posted..A Letter To 2010 & 2011My Profile

  2. He has quickly become one of my all-time fave photographers! Inspring and adventurous…yeah!

  3. Lisa Jensen says:

    It’s always worth thinking about what you want to do. And it changes through life…you get clearer about that. And doing what you want, what you care about is really the reward in itself. Tim is doing that already. Nice interview!

  4. Merely wanna remark on few general things, The website design and style is perfect, the content material is real excellent : D.

  5. Curt Worrell says:

    To be honest, I am not sure how I reached this post, but I am sure glad I did. From this interview, I am really amazed by Tim. What he says about marketing, living life freely and about getting out what you put in. I’m glad to have read this post, excellent job.
    Curt Worrell recently posted..How To Build A Successful BlogMy Profile


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  1. If You Want to Die Alone and Miserable, Be the Strongest Person in the Room | MsMorphosis - March 7, 2012

    [...] my latest interview on Blogging Fearlessly, I talk with Tim King, a successful photographer, who tells me about someone [...]

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