“Don’t focus on having a great blog.
Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”
While you can be in business today without a blog, there's no question that a good website combined with the power of an interesting blog is going to help you build a stronger brand, accelerate your marketing, and in general build a more consistent business.
Your website is your retail store and represents what you sell, but your blog allows you to open your heart. Your blog, if it's done right, allows you to enhance the message you're trying to convey on your site.
The challenge today is with so many of you thinking you needed a blog and launched a perpetual disaster in building your business. Instead of helping your business, you're essentially tearing it down with inconsistent postings and often irrelevant/inappropriate topics. Your blog is feeding your ego instead of your client base.
The good news is there's time to change what you're doing and develop some great content, but it takes patience and a strategy.
Your Blog Strategy: So many photographers have a blog where they post random thoughts at even more random intervals. You need to think through what you want to present. Start with this tip I got from a terrific marketing consultant, Ed Foreman, many years ago:
"If I can see the world through my client's eyes, then I can sell my client, what my client buys!"
You have to think like your target audience and literally, work to see the world through their eyes. Recognize what's important to your readership. Provide them with helpful, interesting information. They're also looking for more details about you, not the technical things, but how you think. Do you have the same values they do? Can they trust you to capture the images and memories they want to savor?
You have to decide what your message is going to be. My recommendation is to make sure the message on your site is appropriate to your target audience. If you're looking to reach wedding clients, then write about relevant topics to that audience. You won't hook a bridal client by showing landscape or commercial product shots and writing a post about how you got the images.
In the same respect, if your target is the business community and you're looking to build a commercial reputation, showing wedding shots or children/family portraiture and talking about a family you photographed last weekend will send potential commercial clients running from your site!
Ask yourself the following questions:
The next step is being consistent with the answers to those questions above. It's okay to stray off topic now and then, but be careful. The key issue is staying relevant to your audience.
Here's a list of blogging tips bouncing around in my head.
Consistency: You've got to post on a regular basis. Personally, I believe photographers should post at least twice a week or more. If you can't post twice a week, then put your blog on hold until you've built up a stash of content.
Post Length: Most of the experts seem to agree a blog post should be somewhere between 200-500 words, but I've also seen them go much higher. You can go longer, but it depends on your following and the relevance of the topic.
When to post: Listen to the "experts," and you can find whatever answer you want. While most people agree that weekends followed by Monday and Fridays are slow, we're in the photography business. I've had some Mondays that were record-breakers because so many studios are closed, and photographers are catching up on their reading. Remember everything should relate to your target audience. My preference for photographers posting to their target audience, assuming it's consumer based, is to suggest Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts.
Images: Always include a relevant image or illustration with every post - it makes it more interesting.
Being a writer: Most of you are artists and typically not good writers. Many of you have told me how much you hate to write, yet you've got a blog. So, if you're going to do a blog then don't be afraid to get some help from a friend, associate or family member. They can proofread for you and help you avoid plenty of silly mistakes.
No matter who helps you, always read your post out loud one more time before letting it go live. And, check out Grammarly. I use it all the time, and while it doesn't always catch everything, it helps make whatever I'm posting better to read.
Also, if you hate writing, then it's time to visit the local high school. Talk with an English teacher and see about an "A" student who might like to work for you part time. Even better, you might find the teacher interested.
Allow comments: Sadly we live in a world with trolls and spammers, so while I'm saying to allow comments, you need to screen them before posting. Every comment doesn't have to agree with you, but everybody does have to at least "play nice." Check your comments every day.
There's too much information for one post on blogging tips, so we'll hit part two tomorrow.
In the meantime pay attention to those four questions up top. You've got to think through your strategy and make sure you understand the importance of your blog so you can maximize your effectiveness. Having a blog is a big commitment.
If you go into building your blog with a half-ass attitude you won't get the traffic you'd like and eventually it'll hurt your business! Your blog should show your personality and needs to represent who you are versus your site describing/listing what you sell.
“Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics:
more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive.
It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”