Photography Blogging: 8 Ideas For Your Next Post with Skip Cohen
It’s a slow time of year for business for many of us, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be busy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The first quarter is the perfect time for you to lock in your plans for the year ahead, starting with your blog.
Your website is about what you sell. Your blog is about what’s in your heart. You’ve seen me write that a lot.
You shouldn’t be in the photography business without a blog. I’m not suggesting you can’t make it with just a website and a great reputation, but a good blog gives you the power to enhance your role in the community. It helps you reinforce your passion, sincerity, integrity, expertise and trust.
Here are some key ingredients in the recipe for success.
Consistency: Post fresh content at least twice a week. A blog’s success is about building readership, and you can’t do that by posting every other full moon. Choose two posting days and then stay with them for at least six months, and never miss a post.
“But Skip, I start getting busy and can’t keep up with it!” The answer? Build a stash of material in advance. I’ve written about this before, and so many of you still haven’t figured it out. Start writing now and don’t stop until you’ve got at least 20 posts in your stash. This content will bail you out when you get too busy or just don’t feel like writing.
If you hate writing or are a terrible writer, don’t despair. Visit a high school and find yourself an A student or an English teacher looking to moonlight. Somebody who loves writing will have no problem listening to an idea you have for a post and producing an article based on your words and ideas.
Content is king. The foundation for success of your blog is the content your target audience wants to read. For most of you, that means moms and brides, since women make 98 percent of the purchase decisions to hire a photographer in the portrait/social category.
Your topic range is huge, anything that’s helpful to your readership. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions.
Photography tips: There are things you do every day that you take completely for granted, but Mom doesn’t know them. Share ideas on posing, composition, fill flash, depth of field and storytelling, just to name a few. Show examples of before and after, which helps establish your expertise as the photography expert in the community. Don’t be afraid to show examples with cellphone pics. The purpose is to raise the bar on the quality of images they’re capturing on their own equipment.
Places to photograph: You don’t have to give up your secret spots, but share a few places in your community as great places to shoot.
Community events: This is one of my favorites because no matter where you live, there’s something going on of interest to your readers. When you post about a walkathon for a nonprofit, you’re also helping the organization. You’re spreading the word while standing out as more than just another business in town.
Do follow-up posts on as many events as you can attend, which puts you in the position of being able to walk the talk. You’re not only attending the event, you’re demonstrating your skill set as a storyteller and photographer.
Community profiles: Take your camera and visit businesses where you spend your money, such as pizza restaurants and grocery stores, and offer to do profiles on the business and its owner or standout employee. Share the photos on your blog with a short post about why you enjoy this establishment or the person being featured. When the post runs, give a copy to the subject to share.
There’s a very cool thing that happens when you start doing community profiles: You demonstrate your ability as a photographer. This is assuming your skill set is top shelf and you know how to light and shoot a wide-angle environmental portrait. If you don’t have the technique down yet, keep practicing and put this idea on the back burner. Your images have to be terrific.
Second, your subject becomes your ambassador. Most people like being in the spotlight, especially businesspeople. A portrait of the chef at your favorite pizza place will probably put a copy of your post up by the register. They’re proud to be featured, and you’ll find that with each profile you do, you’ve found a new marketing ally.
This kind of content is easy because it’s the environmental portrait that’s doing most of the talking. All you need to do is share some text about why this is one of your favorite places or people in your area.
Don’t be afraid to give a few suggestions on your favorite style of pizza. Here in Sarasota, we’ve got a favorite sushi place I’ve written about several times on TripAdvisor. We’ve become friends, and they want me to create a unique roll and put my name on it!
Get personal: I’m always hesitant to suggest this because you have to do it with lots of common sense and finesse. It’s okay to share a little about your own frustrations in life, but you have to do it in a way that’s not offensive. Share some of your frustrations about your kids growing up too fast, not enough quality time with your family or there never being enough time in the day. Then include some ideas on how to solve these challenges.
Remember, the readership for most of you is Mom. She has her own challenges in finding balance in life, including all the different hats she wears.
Share your images: So many of you have turned your blogs into nothing more than an extension of your galleries. You’re caught up in what I call riptide marketing. Because you feature images from every session or event, you can’t stop without offending your client, especially if you live in a small community.
Here’s the solution. Show fewer of your images. Use the ones you do share to point out another lesson in photography. Talk about what to wear for a portrait, the time of day, a special location or technique you used to capture the image. Stop showing everything you shoot.
Things to do with photographs: This is especially helpful in planting ideas like framed prints, slide shows and canvases into potential clients. If you think nobody wants to print your images, wander over to my blog (SkipCohenUniversity.com) and read Michele Celentano’s December episode of “Why?” Michele shares a piece she wrote several years ago that explains why her clients need to print their images, and she’s given all of you the okay to plagiarize what she wrote.
Throwback Thursday: This is one of my favorites because it’s like the old “Subliminal Man” sketch on SNL. Share some of your old images and talk about how fast kids grow up, how quickly families change and how important memories are.
Just a few weeks ago, I tweeted a quote, attributed to Dr. Seuss, that’s become one of my favorites. It fits so well with the definition of photography: “Sometimes you’ll never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Now think about your role as a photographer. It’s perfect for Throwback Thursday content and being able to remind your readers the important role photography plays in their lives.
Here’s the bottom line of this month’s article: Don’t let this first quarter slip through your fingers without cleaning up a few messes around your business, especially your blog. If you don’t jump on these things now, in May when you’re too busy, you’ll be saying, “You know what I should have done?”
As my wife Sheila likes to remind me, “Don’t should on yourself!”