Blogging: You’re Doing it Wrong with Jeff & Lori Poole
You Know You Should Be Blogging
Let’s face it. This isn’t the first or last article you’ll read telling you that you should be blogging. Blogging is good because:
It creates new content on your website
which is good for SEO. Search engines (and humans) love to see that your website is constantly evolving in order to bring the best content to your viewers. If the bot sees that your last update was in 2017, it’s going to assume your website is outdated, and demote you in the ranks.
You actually own your content
Unlike images you post directly to social media, the content you post on your blog is always under your control. Social media platforms DO come and go. Friendster, MySpace, and Periscope are all perfect examples. Instead of investing energy to create content for Zuckerberg, create it for yourself instead.
It increases web traffic
When a potential client views your blog, they are only one click away from seeing the rest of your website. Provided your content is good (keep reading for more on content), they should be enticed to stay and click around. Plus, all that additional traffic tells search engines that you’re valuable.
It builds trust in your brand
An evolving blog shows that you are working consistently and are in demand in your market. Furthermore, the right content can position your brand as an expert in photography and/or your specific niche.
Dude, Its free marketing
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be paying for ads on Facebook, on Google, or in local magazines as part of your marketing strategy. But if you have an avenue for free marketing that brings prospects to your website, why wouldn’t you use it?
But it’s not enough that you are blogging, it’s how you are blogging that matters!
You’re Doing It Wrong If
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that blogging is an important part of your marketing mix. Good blogging needs to have a mix of quality and quantity to be effective. You’re not maximizing your blog’s potential if:
You’re not blogging
An obvious one, but it can’t work if you don’t do it.
You’re not blogging enough
I know, it’s like pulling teeth to sit down and write. You’re a photographer, not a writer—I feel this. But if you’re blogging infrequently, or your posts are too short, your efforts won’t pay off. You don’t need to post every day—some experts suggest it might lead to reader burnout or come across as spammy—but you do need to make it a part of your routine. Aim for posts that meet the SEO standard of 300 words or more for best results. This means that you can’t just blog photos! Words are important.
You’re only blogging client work
So you just shot an AMAZING wedding. You’ve got eleventy billion photos you can’t wait to share. You sit down to blog and write—what? “Joe and Amy got married at this gorgeous hotel in Anytown USA. Amy’s dress was beautiful! And these wedding details are totally #swoon.” Boring, right? You hate writing those blog posts. They’re the reason you gave up on blogging. They’re painful to write. And guess what? Pretty much everyone but Joe and Amy thinks they’re painful to read.
The thing about recent client work is that it’s what bloggers refer to as “decaying content.” This means it’s going to get a bunch of hits when you first post it—probably from Joe and Amy’s family—and then your analytics will drive right off a cliff back to zero. There’s no reason for anyone to come back to this content later. Future brides aren’t searching for “Joe and Amy’s wedding.” No one cares.
This means, in order to get engagement back up, you need to post another recent client. And another! And another! Kinda like the endless treadmill you’re already on with social media. And aren’t all of us exhausted with that cycle?
Fortunately, there’s a better way to use your blogging energy.
Maximizing Your Blog to Market Your Photography Studio
So you know you should be blogging, but blogging client sessions is painful and yields few results in the way of new leads or lead conversion. As a photographer, what else are you supposed to blog? Read on, friend.
It’s about them, not you
Remember when I said that no one is Googling “Joe and Amy’s Wedding”? It’s true. If your target market is couples getting married, what are their concerns? What kind of information are they looking for on the internet? Inspiration photos, sure. But dig deeper. Do they need help with their timeline? Are they curious if it looks weird in their photos to have more bridesmaids than groomsmen? Start thinking about your blog as a way to cater to your future client with helpful information.
Focus on evergreen content
This helpful information that you’re writing becomes what is called “evergreen content.” This is content that is not tied to a specific recent event (a la Joe and Amy) and is therefore relevant long after it’s originally written. Evergreen content has the propensity to become what bloggers call a “compounding” post. The opposite of a decaying post, a compounding post gains more and more viewership over time as it climbs the ranks in search engine results.
Note that your blog does not have to be 100-percent evergreen content. It should be a mix of evergreen and decaying content. So keep posting your recent weddings and sessions, but mix in some helpful how-to’s and listicles to keep leads coming back. Check out the video that accompanies this article for some topic ideas.
Help leads know, like and trust you
Your online presence should be geared toward helping leads get to know you, like you and trust you, before they reach out and inquire about a session. In addition to your educational/helpful content, consider articles that communicate your “why” as a photographer. Share personal anecdotes and opinions. Find a way to become more than just another photographer. Become a real person.
Blog first, Social media second
Let’s get the traffic pattern right. If you post an image on Facebook, the person viewing it stays on Facebook. And you’re already on a constant uphill battle to keep your social media content buffer full. You’re trying to swim upstream. Let’s flip the script.
Write your blog content first. Decide on your message, write the text, create the images. Then drip those out to your various online outlets over time. This works for decaying and compounding posts alike. For example, you’ve just blogged Joe and Amy’s wedding as decay filler for your blog. Now, take one favorite image and one excerpt of their story to post on social media. Hook viewers in with a taste, then link to the blog post so they can read the rest.
Two days later, choose a different image and a different excerpt from the same blog post, and post to social media again. If you play your cards right, you can get several social media posts from one blog post. Think about that. Your social media job just got easier.
Now, let’s go one step further. You can take this blog post and turn it into email content for your newsletter. Use the same strategy: a killer image with click-worthy text, with a link to the post. This is an effective way of reviving old leads. You know those leads who inquired, and then ghosted? They probably got busy and forgot to follow up. Remind them you exist.
ProTip #1: Build your links
Search engines look at whether or not you’re linking out to other sites, and whether other sites are linking back to you, as a measure of trust in your site. Use your blog as an opportunity to build those links. Wedding blog? Link to the vendors that serviced the wedding. Portrait blog? Link to the location, the makeup artist, or where to buy specific wardrobe items. Ask those vendors to link back to you when they share the images on their own blogs or social media. Some vendors will actually pay you for the traffic you send their way. Amazon has a notable affiliate program. You could even make money off those links!
Pro Tip #2: Add read times to Increase link clickthrough
Have you seen how news and popular blog sites have a little note that says something like “three-minute read” beneath the article title? That’s a handy metric known as read time. Research shows that posting read time actually encourages people to click through to your article. People are notoriously busy and distracted these days, so showing that your article won’t take too much of their time is a plus.
Article read times are calculated based on the number of words in the article and the speed the average person reads. It’s simple math, but rather than do that work yourself, you can install one of many handy plugins that will calculate and post this info for each blog post.
Pro Tip #3: Keep ’em clicking
To really maximize your blog’s unique appeal and SEO power, keep your viewers clicking. At the end of your post, don’t send them packing! Instead, include links to other posts they might enjoy. Or, have a call-to-action for them to contact you. Ask them to share the post on their own social media. Give them somewhere to go, so that they don’t leave.
Build Value and They Will Come
There are a lot of tips, tricks, rules, SEO tactics, and more to building your blog. And it all can get pretty technical pretty quickly. But creating a blog that people actually want to read is really the main goal. Create content that is informative, interesting, helpful, sharable and/or entertaining. If people find that your content provides value, they will be much more likely to come back, inquire and eventually convert. And isn’t that what marketing is all about?