First Byte: First Bytes are 1-2 minute summaries and suggestions that tie directly to a specific blog post. I'm hoping they're helpful in expanding the topic of the post itself.
Your website is about what you sell, your products and your services. Your blog is about what's in your heart. A good blog gives you the opportunity to go off track a little and be involved in your community. There are very few things with this strong a potential to help you build brand awareness. This is all about working to establish yourself as the photography expert in your community. It's a soft-sell approach, without getting in anybody's face.
This couldn't be easier to understand or for that matter implement.
Draw an imaginary 3-5 mile circle around where you live. The whole idea is to build terrific content using businesses in your community. So many photographers complain about not having enough content and needing things to write about. Why not feature all your favorite places, starting with retail establishments.
Here's a great example - everybody has a few favorite restaurants, pizza places etc. Start with a visit to one of your favorites and shoot an environmental portrait (wide angle) of one of the staff in the restaurant. Maybe it's the chef in the kitchen or the host/hostess, a waiter or waitress or the manager. The point is, you're going to pick somebody who's added something to your life in your community, even it's just inches to your waistline!
Next, do a short write up: 50-150 words is plenty. Talk about one of your favorite dishes and include a link to the restaurant's website or if they don't have a website, give their address. This is about recognizing one of the places in your community and why you like to go there. It's about sharing your experiences.
Having trouble understanding environmental portraiture? It was one of the legendary Don Blair's favorites. He'd shoot with Hasselblad's 30mm fisheye and pull in as much of the subject's environment as he could. Here are a few examples I pulled off of Google when typing in "Environmental Portraits". Click on any image and you can find out more about the artist and how the image was used.
Now, let's pull the concept together with a marketing plan.
On the day this post runs, print out a hard copy and put it into an inexpensive acrylic free-standing frame. I went on line and Googled "Acrylic Frames" for the example at the left. This one is an 8x10, but depending on what you print, a 5x7 might work as well.
At the top of the image add the following text, "Community Profiles - As Seen On ______________'s Blog (_____________.com)". Drop it off as a thank you to your subject for the time to pose and to contribute to your content.
Here a few more tips to help you make this more effective...
- Run just one community profile a week.
- Build a stash of profiles. You need consistency for a blog to be effective, so post at least twice a week. Getting twenty of these community posts done in advance would give you material for one day each week for almost five months.
- Everybody in your community has the potential for a profile. Don't forget clergy, dry-cleaners, teachers, law enforcement, bank tellers, supermarket managers, doctors, dentists, restaurants, even the Chamber of Commerce. The list goes on and on.
- When you run out of establishments, think about other topics. For example, pets of the community has almost the same draw, just not the added exposure with the acrylic sign. You could also do "Leaders of the Community" and theme the series.
- Once you've published a half dozen profile posts, send out a press release about the project and include a couple of images of members of the community. You never know who's going to read the release and what new doors it might open.
Here's one of the best benefits of community profile posts - They help establish your expertise as a photographer along with being an enthusiastic member of the community. Every establishment loves a little publicity and you're giving them a chance at more exposure, as well as showing your appreciation for whatever role they've played in your life. Even better is the fact that each subject is going to become one of your ambassadors. Don't under-estimate how excited they're going to be about being featured on your blog when you drop off that acrylic stand.
In a way, this is about giving back to your community using your skill set. You're looking for the community to be good to you. So, you better make sure you're being good to your community!