The challenge today comes from so many of you thinking you needed a blog and launching a perpetual disaster in building your business. Instead of helping your business, you're essentially tearing it down with inconsistent postings, irrelevant topics, even inappropriate topics and comments. Your blog is feeding your ego instead of your client base.
The good news is nothing in the blogging world is forever. You've got plenty of time to change what you're doing and develop some great content, but it takes patience and a strategy.
Your Blog Strategy
I know it seems obvious, but so many photographers just 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 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 client (your target audience in most cases) and literally work to see the world through their eyes. You need to recognize what's important to your readership. You need to be providing them with helpful interesting information. They're also looking for more information about you, not the technical things, but how you think. Do you have the same values they do? Can you they trust you to capture the images and memories they want to savor?
That means 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 hook wedding clients then you need to 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 then showing wedding shots or children and family portraiture and talking about a family you photographed last weekend will send potential commercial clients running away from your site!
Ask yourself the following questions... Who is my target audience? How often am I going to post to my blog?
What are the primary topics I want to talk about? What do I want to accomplish?
The next step is to simply be consistent with the answers to those questions. It's okay to stray off topic now and then, but be careful. The key issue is staying relevant to your audience.
“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” Brian Clark
Consistency: You've got to post on a regular basis. Personally, I believe photographers should post at least twice a week or more.
Post Length: Most of the experts seem to agree that a blog post should be somewhere between 200-500 words, but I've also seen them go much higher. For example, we're at 551 words right to here. You can go longer, but it depends on your following and the relevance of the topic.
When to post: I've seen so many different studies. You can just about 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 it relates to your target audience. My preference for photographers posting to their target audience, assuming it's consumer based, is typically 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: I'll be the first to admit I'm work in progress and working hard to be a better writer, but I write all day long. Most of you are artists and typically aren't 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.
Allow comments: Sadly we live in a world with trolls and spammers, so while I'm saying to allow comments, I'm also suggesting you make sure you screen them before posting. Every comment doesn't have to agree with you, but everybody does have to at least "play nice". Just make sure you DON'T do what I did when this blog first launched. I didn't realize there were several areas where comments were accumulating and went ten days before finding a few dozen comments that had been sitting their waiting for approval. Check your comments every day.
There's simply too much information for one post on blogging tips, so we'll hit part two tomorrow.
However, here's your homework assignment - pay attention to those three 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, rather than help it! Your blog should show your personality and needs to represent who you are versus your site representing 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.” Andrew Sullivan
Illustration Credit: © aihumnoi - Fotolia.com