- Facebook and Instagram
- Email Signature
- Printed Materials (Brochures, Postcards, Flyers)
- Business Cards
- Articles and Press Releases
- Industry Niche Materials (Author bios, real estate yard signs, casting calls)
- For YOU and your loved ones
As a professional photographer specialized in headshots and branding photography, I know that headshots can play a vital role in a person’s career success story. However, the average person may not be familiar with the myriad benefits of having professional headshots taken, and, more practically, what to actually do with the headshots after that investment has been made. Before I dive into my top 10 ways to leverage your headshot, let’s first address the elephant in the room–the intrusive thought many people experience when that deadline comes for a headshot: “Can’t I take it myself?” and “Should I ask my partner or friend to take one for me in our backyard?” or even “Can I use an AI-powered service to generate some for me?” My response is an emphatic “No”–you shouldn’t take shortcuts when it comes to your headshot. At least, not if your first impression is important to you. While it may be more convenient to DIY your headshot at home, the resulting photo will give the impression that you don’t care as much, or don’t put as much effort into your work as someone who has an updated, professional headshot. For some people, it may be difficult to justify the investment in headshots if the goal is just to change a profile picture. But for those of you who are on the fence about investing in a session, or for those of you who have already gotten theirs taken, I want to share some of the top ways to leverage your headshots in your career and beyond.
It likely comes as no surprise that the first place you should share your headshot is on your LinkedIn account. Whether you’re happily employed or actively seeking a better position, having an updated professional profile photo on your LinkedIn account will make you look more approachable, credible, and serious about your work. People are more likely to trust someone they can see and recognize. A profile picture can help you build trust with potential clients, employers, and other LinkedIn users. Additionally, a great headshot as a profile picture will get you more profile views, more connection requests, and more job interviews (LinkedIn users with profile pictures are 21 times more likely to be contacted by recruiters than users without profile pictures).
After updating your LinkedIn profile with your new headshot, I recommend moving over to your other social media accounts to share next. Professional headshots are essential for making a good first impression on Instagram and Facebook. They help to increase brand awareness, build trust and credibility, get more engagement, and get more followers. Beyond just updating your profile picture, you can share your photos on your stories, add them to your Instagram stories highlights as a permanent “About Me”, and use the headshots again and again as an integrated piece of your content. For example, an interior designer would benefit from sharing their headshot or personal brand photos as standalone images or as images within a larger graphic on a regular basis to familiarize their audience with who they are, and to build trust as the face of their small business. You can (and should) repurpose your headshots across your business’s social media platforms since photos of yourself build engagement much better than content with text only, product photos or stock photos.
Just as professional headshots are essential for making a good first impression on social media, they can also be a valuable asset for your email signature. A well-captured headshot can help you make a more personal connection with your recipients, build trust, and distinguish yourself from the competition. Once you have chosen a headshot, you should resize it to fit your email signature. Be sure to keep the file size small so that your email loads quickly. A few tips for using your headshot in your email signature are to use a file size of 100KB or less, use a plain white background headshot if possible, and use a template to create a seamless design without much hassle.
One of the most important places to feature your headshot is on your website, or on your company’s “Meet The Team” or “About Us” page. Since a website can be a valuable tool for selling, educating, or communicating directly with potential clients or customers, a headshot absolutely belongs there. From a client or customer perspective, let’s say you visit a business’s website hoping to book them for a professional service. You’re met with general stock photos of people smiling or industry-specific stock photos of inanimate objects. Worse yet, let’s say you don’t come across any photos at all. What will your impression be on the legitimacy and trustworthiness of the business? One of the top excuses for the absence of headshots on a website is that the business owner doesn’t ever like any photos of his or herself. However, a website is not for the business owner, it’s for converting the target audience into customers, or supporting the customers they already have. If you don’t have any headshots or team photos on your website in this day in age, you’re undoubtedly missing out on an opportunity to add a human touch to your online presence.
If your business uses printed forms of advertisements such as brochures, postcards or flyers, a headshot can elevate and personalize your print marketing efforts. When people see a headshot on a piece of marketing material, it makes the business seem more real and approachable. It also helps to build trust and rapport with potential customers. This is because people are naturally drawn to faces. In fact, studies have shown that people are more likely to remember information if it is paired with a face. Another benefit of using headshots in your print marketing materials is that they can help you to stand out from the competition. In a sea of logos and text, a headshot can help your marketing materials to grab attention and make a more lasting impression. A headshot can go anywhere seamlessly–on a brochure cover, on a side column, or on the back with your contact information. It can even be the only photo used at all on the printed advertisement for a really personal statement.
Closely related to brochures and flyers but uniquely significant is the use of headshots on your business cards. Business cards are often exchanged after someone has made an in-person connection. However, they usually end up in a pile of other business cards with mainly text, logos and phone numbers. Imagine trying to figure out who was who after a networking event while sifting through a stack of business cards–can you see how it would be advantageous to you if your headshot was on your business card in this case? Since a business card is an introduction, yours should have your face on it if possible.
Another lesser-known application for your headshots is in magazine or online publication articles and press releases. When advertising in a magazine, it is to your advantage to use a headshot–especially if your advertisement includes a full spread story. Headshots help to add intrigue and infuse a human element into an otherwise monotonous wall of text. More importantly, incorporating a headshot into your articles and press releases will make you more relatable, effectively introducing yourself in the best light possible. Many of my headshot clients don’t anticipate these applications when they come in for their headshot, but when that opportunity arises for a press release or magazine feature, they are prepared to make the most of it, even on a crunch deadline.
While this certainly won’t apply to everyone, there are plenty of professionals who would benefit from having their headshot on their industry-specific marketing materials. For example, an author will need an updated photo of themself for their author bio, likely to go on an inside cover of thousands of copies of a book. A real estate agent should consider having their headshot on yard signs to promote their real estate listing. An actor or actress will need an updated and industry standard headshot to share with casting directors, and unless they’re already well established, the headshot is a make or break aspect of their audition.
Another lesser-known opportunity to share your headshot is in the context of presentations, awards and speaker events. These opportunities are often had on a short timeline where a professional headshot appointment may or may not even be possible to obtain, so it’s important to have an updated headshot taken regularly in anticipation for things you may not even know are on your horizon. A headshot is often displayed in high resolution on a large projector screen in these cases, and you’ll want it to be flattering, professional and recent.
Last but not least, headshots are a gift to yourself and your family. Like mile markers on your journey through life, headshots tell the story of who you are at a moment in time so you can celebrate now, and remember later. They’ll be heirlooms for generations to come, and they’re more important for personal reasons in the long term than for their professional reasons in the short term. I cannot stress enough that high quality professional headshots are for yourself. Ultimately, it’s this application that drives me to work with dozens of headshot clients each month. Knowing that these photos will be important to my clients on a personal level–that they’ll raise their confidence, or help to show them that they have a gorgeous candid smile, or that they in fact do not have a “bad side”–that’s what empowers me to keep doing my thing as a photographer.