Today's special isn't fast food at all. I'm sticking with bigger entrees, giving you more to work on. While these new lunches are more extensive, they also have the potential to provide you with bigger and better results.
We've got a guest "chef" today. My good buddy Scott Bourne is sharing an archived recipe for building traffic on your blog, but we're "cooking" today's special together! He's got the entree, and I'm throwing in dessert!
Remember, this is only one "meal" - building a successful blog is about great content, consistency and paying attention to your target audience. Too many of you have let your blogs become nothing more than an extension of your galleries with image after image from client shoots!
Building Traffic for Your Blog - Five Primary Tips
If you're attempting to become (or already are) a professional photographer, in my opinion you need a blog. But not just any blog will do. Your blog needs to be an extension of you. It needs to show off your work for sure, but it also needs to show off your personality.
Once you build a blog, it won't do you much good if people coming to it don't stick around, because you aren't giving them a reason. So here are five ways to increase your blog's audience.
1. Avoid too many ads, too much sales talk, too many banners and too many commercials on your blog. Make sure there is a nice content to marketing ratio. Read your blog as if you were someone else and ask yourself, would I find this blog to contain enough helpful, valuable information to put up with "X" amount of marketing.
2. Publish your blog on a dependable and regular schedule. While publishing new posts every single day will get you a bigger audience faster, it's not a requirement. What is important however, is publishing with consistent frequency. Publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for instance and let your audience know the schedule. Whatever day(s) you promise to publish, stick with it so people know there's a reason to come back and more importantly, so they don't forget your message.
3. Tell stories. Be engaging. Talk more about your subject expertise or your clients than yourself. Make sure your content solves a problem for someone else, not for you. Narrative is a powerful form of communication. Use it.
4. Be yourself. You can't make a blog work unless it's honest, transparent and truthful. It has to be written from your very own true perspective, NOT the perspective you THINK people want to hear. It's way too hard to be someone else and to keep it going. Just be yourself. Not everyone will like what you do. Don't worry about that. There's a big world out there. You only need to reach the people who DO like what you do - the rest can head on down the road to find someone or something else. Life goes on.
5. Be helpful. Make sure every blog post provides the possibility of help to your audience. Your content has to be useful, or nobody will care about it. The more targeted, and niche oriented, the better. The more problem solving the better.
Staying on Target
Scott's shared five outstanding tried and true tips, but I want to add to his list.
- "Mom" Appeal: For most of you, your target audience is "Mom." Women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. That means your content needs to have appeal to Mom, but so does the look and feel of your blog. Your content needs to be relatable to your readership.
- Gift Ideas: It's holiday season, so share ideas on things to do with photographs. From frames to albums to canvas and prints, technology has made the choices to suggest virtually unlimited.
- Making "Mom" a Better Artist: There are things you do every day as a photographer that you take for granted, but can help Mom do a better job of capturing images of her family and event - even if it's just with her cell phone. Share ideas on composition, lighting, fill-flash, and storytelling and help her get better results.
- Throwback Thursday: Use your own throwback images to help remind your audience how fast the kids are growing up, and their family is changing. It's like the old "Subliminal Man" on Saturday Night Live - you've got to plant the seed for an updated family portrait this holiday season.
- Be Consistent: Scott already hit on the point above, but I want to hit it again. Consistency is crucial in building readership, and if you find yourself blogging every full moon, then you're better off to shut off the blog entirely and come back when you can make the commitment it deserves.
- Build a Stash: Every post doesn't have to be done in real time. If you look back at a previous Fast Food Friday special on blog ideas, they can all be written in advance. Build a stash of posts you can use and then don't relaunch your blog until you've got 12-15 posts all ready to go and in the pipeline. Then alternate between posts in your stash and something fresh each week.
- Guest Posts: Sharing and exchanging content with other blogs help you build stronger awareness. Look for partnerships where you swap material with other photographers and groups within your community.
- Support Your Community: Writing about upcoming community events gives you more traction in terms of giving back. It also helps define your role better as somebody who's helpful. You're likely to find the sponsoring associations for each event you help publicize sharing your information and helping you build more awareness.
And, if you're stuck and need a little help or have questions, then you know where to find me! I may not always have the answers, but I've got a fantastic network, and we're all here to help you thrive, not just survive!