“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.”
It's Marketing Monday, and I can't think of a better topic, because so many of you are missing the point! I've written a lot about ideas to help you strengthen your blog as well as your website, but it's so important the two work together. It's your strongest marketing tool, and it deserves a few more reminders.
Your website is about what you sell, your specialty and your services, while an excellent blog gives you an opportunity to share your heart. Your blog gives you a chance to be helpful to your readers and supportive of your community. Here's a batch of tips to consider in establishing a more effective blog.
Continuity in Design: Look for ways to make your blog reflect some of the branding elements of your website. The logo should be the same; stay with the same color theme and look for simple design elements that can be shared on both your website and blog.
Consistency: If you're not going to post at least twice a week, then hold off on your blog. You're working to build readerships, followers and feed the search engines with new material. Posting now and then just isn't going to get you the momentum you need. In fact, a client visiting your blog and seeing the newest post was a month ago, might even think you're no longer actively in business.
Length of Posts: You can find an "expert" to pick any number you want, but for the most part everybody seems to agree that 200-400 words are plenty. You can go longer if you're making a point, using bullets and it's easy to read. Also, remember to always include an image or illustration with every post.
Stay on Topic: The theme of your blog should be helpful to your target audience, but remember to stay relevant to your readers. You can go off topic now and then, but not until you've established your reputation and brand.
Build a Stash: Every post doesn't have to be written fresh each time or be related to something you did earlier in the week. With the underlying theme of everything you post should be about "being helpful" it leaves you a lot of room to write posts in advance. For example, under the umbrella of being helpful, publish tips for better picture-taking, locations in the area beautiful for photographs, a calendar of community events or announcements of fund-raisers you might be involved in and profile features of key people in the community, etc.
Don't Respond to Trolls: Sooner or later you'll get somebody who feels entitled to take shots at you, criticize what you wrote about or attack you for taking up space in the universe. The bottom line, is don't bother to get in the confrontation. Don't take the bait. Trolls hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens and say things they'd never say to your face...so, hold back the urge to play defense and don't engage them!
A great website and blog work together to build your reputation and a stronger brand. Be helpful and generous with your time and work to build loyalty with your readers. Most important of all, be patient and work to produce good solid organic content.
The Art of Live Networking
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about this topic over the years. With ShutterFest coming up next month (April 18-19) it's the perfect time to write about it again. In fact, one of my workshops at ShutterFest is about the "care and feeding" of your network.
At every convention, workshop, monthly meeting of a local camera club or PPA chapter you attend, you have an opportunity to build a stronger network. For the purpose of this post, I'm focusing on the building of your network while at a conference or convention, but many of the same rules apply to people in your community, especially those you define as opinion leaders.
I know there are still people who pride themselves on their stack of business cards, but just collecting cards doesn't cut it anymore. That's also why so few of you even know what a Rolodex is. It's not just the issue of collecting cards that's become ineffective, but what you do with the information.
Here's a ShutterFest game plan for networking outside social media with real live people!
Meeting other photographers face to face, from your own backyard or other parts of the country and world, is one of the very best reasons to attend ShutterFest or any conference/workshop, but remember - you snooze you lose! You've got to get involved in every possible program and introduce yourself to an industry loaded with creative people willing to share their ideas.
"We don't have a choice whether we DO social media,
the question is how well we DO it."
I know I've written about this before, but in virtually every aspect of your business as an artist the key is consistency.
Let's look at social media...There are thousands of you who have blogs today and even more of you on Facebook and Twitter. If it’s just a hobby you can stop reading now. However, if it’s part of your livelihood and meant to be one of your marketing tools, if you’re not consistent then you’re wasting your time!
You need to post at least twice a week and ideally 3-5 times is even better. Having a blog and only posting when there's a full moon serves absolutely no purpose, except to get people wondering if you're really in business. You’ve also got to Tweet several times a day for people to know who you are.
You won’t build brand recognition putting up a post here and there. Building traffic is about consistency and you’ve got to be out there all the time. I'm always surprised at the number of blogs I read that just aren't kept up to date and many of them by some of the best photographers in our industry.
Facebook is the same. You’ve got to be involved to build traffic. You’ve got to be making a contribution for people to remember you’re out there.
Post and tweet regularly or just step away from social media until you can put in a little dedicated time. It can be an incredible marketing tool for your business, but you'll only get out of it what you put in. Remember, even with consistency, quantity doesn't trump quality - you've still got to stay focused on topics your target audience wants to hear about.
Consistency is such an important part of being a professional photographer. Just remember it extends to everything you do, including your quality, great customer service and in this case maintaining a presence. Make it a point to "hit" the social media button in your day, first thing every morning. Try and develop a routine for both contributing to your own pages and reading other posts from people you enjoy. Pretty soon it'll be second nature.
A few years ago I was following a thread on Linkedin in one of the discussion groups. A member of the group had a black-tie wedding coming up and threw a question out about what was appropriate attire, wondering if he could get by in a dark suit and not a tux.
The question was great and certainly appropriate. It was answered right away, but twelve days later the banter was still going on. The volley continued as two photographers argued their points about beach weddings versus the rest of the world, when the only answer that really mattered was to "dress appropriately". The question was answered right from the beginning, yet people wanted to keep giving input and it got emotional.
Last week I had the same type of challenge in a forum I administrate. It got ugly because a couple of people wanted to play troll and simply didn't know how to behave, let alone communicate. Once a thread goes off track, there is absolutely NO WAY to get it back. We wound up deleting the thread and permanently removing the trolls.
So, here's what I wish we could all agree to and I'm including myself in this. It's an extension of the "Rules of Engagement" I've written about before and it's pretty simple.
Don't get me wrong, I love forum/group discussions. The Internet is a remarkable tool and helps so many photographers every day, but there's no telling how much stronger we could all become if we were simply more selective when commenting in any group.
The endless volleys that come up over and over again would rarely happen if we were all together in one room talking to each other.
“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
It's probably my most favorite quote and it's from one of my best friends who passed away far too early, Dean Collins. There isn't a day that goes by that something doesn't come up that makes me think of him. He died at 51 in 2005 after a lengthy battle with cancer. When he passed away the industry lost one of its finest artists, educators and presenters. Nobody could light up an audience or literally a room or subject like Dean!
The first time I heard Dean use that quote was in reference to somebody criticizing a series of images he was sharing in a program. His point was, it doesn't matter what any of us think about each others work, it's the client who passes judgement.
What got me thinking about Dean and that quote, which I've probably used a dozen times this year, was a battle over an image in one of the forums. Here's the scenario that happens dozens of times every day...
Somebody puts an image up in one of the forums and starts to get a little criticism, some times positive, some times negative. Things typically start out well, but immediately spiral out of control when somebody comes along who wants to play troll and starts to slam the skill set of the artist. Next thing you know everybody jumps in and the discussion/thread becomes a miserable hateful/hurtful mess. I've even seen discussion go so far out of control that politics, racial and even sexual slurs become part of the process.
I'm an administrator on two different Facebook forums and every forum could use some help in getting more photographers to simply "play nice".
When you're being critiqued, take all the suggestions, listen to what people are saying. Take what seems to make sense and what doesn't and boil them down into what you can learn from other artists. In the end, do what your heart is telling you and what you believe.
The Internet is an amazing tool that twenty years ago none of us had. It's made the world smaller and it's making all of us better business people and artists. Let's stop screwing things up by giving trolls more credibility than they deserve and just not react.
Remember the most important person in the equation of any image is the subject or the client. Why?
Because beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder!
Photo Credit: © enterlinedesign - Fotolia.com
In one of the forums recently somebody asked the old question, "What do you shoot, Canon or Nikon?" If you're honestly worried about being in the Nikon/Canon Club, then you're not paying attention to all the changes on the gear landscape. I'm blown away by what Panasonic's brought to the party with the LUMIX family, but you've also got new products from Fujifilm, Sony and Samsung, just to name a few. The question should be, "What new cameras haven't you checked out yet?"
In the same way technology is expanding the quality of gear available today, marketing has done anything but stand still. The way we communicate today has actually changed more in the last year or two than the way we capture images. Think about it for just a second. Twenty years ago Dean Collins said you can’t be in business without a yellow pages ad. A couple of years ago I probably wrote somewhere, you can’t be in business today without a website.
This morning I’m reminding you that you can’t be in business without social media! While you can live without a blog, I believe that photographers who utilize their blog to compliment their website will do better than just those who are solo with one or the other.
You also have to take advantage of Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Google+ and Pinterest. You need to be creating slide shows and e-hybrid products in order to stay cutting edge with your clients. Can you be in business today without getting involved in social media? Of course you can, but you won’t see growth as quickly with new clients. And, sooner or later, your existing client base is going to be looking for you in those social media hang-outs and you won’t be there.
As I've written before, you can either be in the parade or stand on the sidelines and watch it go by. Don't underestimate the power of each platform in social media. For me Facebook, Twitter and this blog give me the reach I need to help aspiring and working professional photographers. YouTube is an amazing resource for educational material and Google+ is the venue for our "Mind Your Own Business" episodes. Then there's Pinterest and I'm a complete newbie just getting started.
For finding clients in the portrait/social categories Facebook and Pinterest are leading the way along with photographers utilizing their blog to show their heart and personality, while stronger websites show their products and services.
For the last few years we've all been caught in the perfect storm between the economy, technology and social media. Now you've got a chance to be a leader in your category and it's just as important to understand the marketing tools at your fingertips as it is lighting, exposure and composition. Work on your skill set to make it the very best and pay attention to the importance of every new tool in marketing.
What a kick these next few years are going to be for everyone who pays attention to building their reach in the community!
Illustration Credit: © Brian Jackson - Fotolia.com
This past week was pretty remarkable and while I don't usually do summary posts, there were a few posts I wish I could get everybody to read. If you missed it, just click on the image and you'll get the full post.
Pricing: A couple of months ago a young Canadian photographer started a blog, Sprouting Photographer. I'm amazed at Bryan Caporicci's insight and his SCU guest post on pricing is one of the most in depth explanations I've read to date. As photographers it's always the biggest mystery - how to price your product. It's a great post and one of those topics I wish everybody would pay more attention to!
Illustration Credit: © waldemarus - Fotolia.com
Facebook and Advertising: Virtually all of you are using social media to promote your business and are confused about the changing landscape at Facebook. Blake Sunshine worked for Facebook for three years. In this special guest post, already one of the most read in SCU history, Blake starts to address some of the challenges. You're going to be hearing a lot more from her, but in the mean time read her first post on the topic and start fine-tuning your approach. Facebook is an amazing tool, but you've got to use it right.
Illustration Credit: © artagent - Fotolia.com
Your Current Customer Base: It was Marketing Byte 108 and it hits the challenge of paying more attention to your past clients. Even as a wedding photographer, just because their wedding is over doesn't mean they don't have other friends who will be getting married. You've got to put a serious effort into relationship building and utilize their enthusiasm for your work as a foundation to turn them into ambassadors for your skill set!
Illustration Credit: © Welf Aaron - Fotolia.com
Back to Film: And just to get us back to our roots, thanks to Tamron USA, Liz Huston took us back to Peru traveling only with film from her "double secret stash" in the fridge! If this is your first time getting to know Liz, check out her first guest post where she candidly talked about burn-out and what it took to rediscover her creative spirit!
Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday weekend...hug somebody special! For those of you headed to ShutterFest in St. Louis, see you Monday night and safe travels!
It's Saturday and I'm still catching up on everything I need to do following this past week's convention. This was one of the best WPPI shows I can remember, especially for new projects and I find myself getting very close to what my pal, Julieanne Kost, refers to as "out of bandwidth".
But here's what really made it a great convention for me... I don't remember ever being able to put so many names together with faces. Even in passing somebody in a hallway and having a minute or less to talk, it's such a great feeling to physically meet somebody. Over and over again I had a chance to talk with people I've only met flying through cyber space.
The convention season is still going on with a number of state and regional shows coming up. If you're on the fence and still undecided, just take the plunge and go! Any convention has the potential to be terrific if you walk in with the right attitude.
Years ago Photo Plus had a sister show called Photo Midwest in Chicago. Most companies thought it was terrible, but Hasselblad did a mailing in advance to every professional photographer within 100 miles. I still remember laughing because we even mailed to the nine forensic photographers on the list. (It's one of those totally useless facts that somehow has been lodged in my brain for all these years!)
The bottom line is that we had a terrific show. We were busy, made some great contacts and were happy, even though it was pretty slow for most of the other exhibitors. My point is pretty simple - every convention you attend has the potential for greatness, but it's all in your attitude.
Networking is the greatest reason to attend any convention and physically being able to talk to somebody is so much richer than email, IMs, DMs, Comments and texting! Physically meeting people in your network and getting time with new friends is the mortar that holds the bricks of your network together!
Putting the "Social" into Social Media
I'm still fascinated by the pure power of social media and its ability to make the world a smaller place. However, with just a little extra effort you can push it to a level that's incredibly rewarding.
Most of you are active in Facebook. A huge percentage also use Twitter Google+. What's missing for many of you is taking that extra step and actually making direct contact with a "friend" from any of these three social media giants. Here are just a few examples of what I'm talking about.
Here's one last example, Cindy Harter Sims attended several SCU programs and was willing to do a guest post on her journey from music teacher to having her own studio on Main St. Then we followed up with a podcast. Her guest post and downloaded podcast have gone over the 5000 mark combined.
So, here's my point to this short post today. Don't let your social media world be one-dimensional. Pick up the phone and make a call now and then. Ask for help from a friend you've only met on line. Set up time to actually meet in person at the various conventions.
This is an amazing industry, filled with thousands of talented artists, but it's not just about the art of photography. Don't forget about the art of conversation. It will make your life and career so much richer.
Illustration Credit: © -Dragun- - Fotolia.com
Trolls and the Wisdom of Yogi Berra
“Never answer anonymous letters.” Yogi Berra
by Skip Cohen
So, what makes the quote funny is there was no way to answer anonymous letters at the time. There was no Internet. Yogi Berra was the master of disconnect when it came to some classic statements. There are some very funny quotes credited to this baseball legend, but this quote got me thinking about a challenge we all deal with today, trolls!
The hardest thing for any of us to deal with is somebody not liking something we did, said or wrote. Actually, it's not even the not liking part, it's the fact that we never get a chance to explain...or for that matter even apologize. They jump on us with all the finesse of a storm-trooper and at that point you have to make a decision to engage or just let it roll off your back.
My suggestion along with hundreds of experts on the subject of Internet communication is to NEVER engage. It's simply a waste of energy, time and it's not typically constructive.
Last January I was at a conference where Guy Kawasaki spoke and he talked about everybody always having at least one negative critic in the crowd. What was so entertaining about the topic was Guy's approach:
"I do not engage trolls, but every now and then there's one that I like to take on, just to stay in shape!"
Scott Bourne has also commented and it's in his top ten list of tips for building strength in social media:
"Ignore your audience when they are complaining due to their false belief that they are ENTITLED to something from you other than the free gift you give them of your time. Also ignore trolls. No good can ever, ever, ever come of responding to them."
So here's the point and it's a great one for a Saturday post. You can't do any more than your best. Regardless of what you post and share there will always be people who exhibit troll-like behavior and your best approach is simply to leave them alone. They tend to hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens forgetting my good buddy, Levi Sim's favorite suggestion for how we should all behave:
"Act as if your grandmother is watching you!"
Happy Saturday everybody - make it a great weekend and thanks for your support here at SCU!
Photo Credit: Google Pics - Academy of Achievement - http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/ber0int-6
Photographers on Facebook
by Skip Cohen
Okay, so somebody help me out here...I got an indignant email from a person I didn't "friend" a little while back on Facebook. They were "disappointed" because I didn't allow them in my Facebook "family". I didn't because they had no head shot; we had no friends in common and there was nothing that suggested they were even a photographer. I wasn't being rude, just practical. I'm at 5000 and never started a fan page - so people get added as other people fade away.
We've got the same challenge with Facebook Wedding Photographers. It's a great forum for professional and aspiring wedding photographers. It was started by Chris Fawkes from Australia a couple of years ago, who asked me to help him by being a co-administrator. We changed it to a closed group roughly eight months ago and grown from 3000 to almost 12,000 members, but it's not without its share of challenges.
One of the biggest challenges comes with people wanting to join the forum, but their Facebook page tells us absolutely nothing about their involvement in photography. We're doing our best to keep the forum strong with photographers sharing images and questions that are professional, but every now and then there's one bonehead who just doesn't get it.
If you're a photographer, then why wouldn't you at least have a head shot in your profile? And, with that head shot, if you're new to Facebook and looking for other photographers, why wouldn't you have a camera in your hands or at least be creative and put something relevant in your about section.
I'm not picking on anybody who just has a great head shot or a picture of your kids etc. The issue is about not putting the right information in your profile and then expecting people to be mind-readers. Even worse is not having any information and then being upset when a group doesn't let you in or somebody doesn't friend you. This definitely falls under my "life is too short" philosophy. Seriously, save feeling hurt, indignant and upset for the really great crisis moments in life!
From freelance writer Robert Brault I found a great quote that fits so well:
"Life is short, God's way of encouraging a bit of focus."
It All Starts With Your Blog
Tomorrow morning I'm doing a presentation at ShootNYC, a special two day workshop sponsored by Hasselblad. Actually, it's far more than just sponsored by Hasselblad. It is Hasselblad!
In 90 minutes I'm going to pack in as much information as I can to help attendees better focus on the goals for their blog. A good blog can help you build business, but a bad one, that isn't thought out, can actually drive business away.
The big difference between your blog and your website is simply, your blog is about your heart, while your website is what you sell. A great blog can help you build a strong brand, enhance awareness for special projects and give you stronger reach into the community. It can drive traffic to your website, your email address and your phone. The best thing is that it's really not rocket science. You need to respect the science behind obtaining great reach, but you don't have to understand every aspect of it - just stay focused on good organic content and be patient. If you build it they WILL come!
If you can join me and the crew at ShootNYC, terrific. Hasselblad has received an amazing response with over 2500 people already registered. This program is destined to be a kick and one with an outstanding list of speakers and program topics.
But, there's a sidebar to my enthusiasm. I'm probably most excited about returning to my roots and working with a team of professionals who have the same commitment to education the Hasslelblad team had when I was there. They're working hard to help you build a stronger business and skill set. Just the fact that this two day workshop is FREE, says a lot about where Hasselblad and Broncolor are focusing their energy and how they've made your growth a priority.
See you in NYC!
What a Difference Ten Years Makes
Some time before Facebook, before Twitter, before email, blogging and the Internet, I actually had a normal life. It wasn't too different from The Brady Bunch minus Alice and just two of the kids. Yeah, I'm dating myself a little, but just look back at how your life has changed in the last ten years!
The Internet changed the way we share images, shop and communicate. Digital photography changed the way we create and capture. Social Media changed the way we connect and with whom. Do I miss my life from ten years ago? - NOT A CHANCE!
To start, I love staying connected to an industry I truly appreciate. Think about the people you "talk" to every day. It used to be a year between friends, often only connecting at an annual trade show or convention. Now I'm connected to those once-a-year friends every day. And, what a kick it is when you meet somebody in person who you've only met through social media!
The world is getting to be a tiny place. I talked to my friend Francesco on Skype last Friday morning at Venice Album in Italy. In fact, when he said "Ciao" at the end of the call I just laughed, because unlike Americans who use the expression, for him it's his language. And I'm connected to my old friend Taka from Asukabook in Japan and his son now and then, again on Skype.
Scott Bourne and his team built the infrastructure for this site and it was all done back and forth on the computer, which is something we all use every day without a thought to what we'd do if tomorrow it disappeared. I've never met Chris Fawkes from Australia, but we're working together to build Facebook Wedding Photographers. As we approach 5000 wedding photographers world wide, I'm blown away by how much I enjoy working with him to build this resource. He's on the other side of the world and we've never actually met.
Then there's the simple act of picking up the phone. I spent an hour last week with Leslie Ball, a photographer who I've never met in person, but in a Facebook forum saw she could use a little help and just made a phone call. New friends, new challenges and new support and it's all thanks to Twitter and Facebook. And, when my mother passed away earlier this month, I had dozens of amazing condolence comments, many from people I've never met.
Trends that used to take months to create, are out there in seconds in front of hundreds of thousands of people. And if a manufacturer produces an inferior product, the word is out on a dozen forums in a flash. Best of all, when you need help with a challenge, especially in photography, just post it on a good forum and watch the number of people, many of whom you've never met, come to your aid!
In fact, these communities, especially Skip's Summer School on Facebook, is what I love most about the Internet. It's not even my page, but was started by Brent Watkins, a photographer from Ohio who came to SSS a couple of years ago. The Internet is bringing people with common interests together to help each other, share ideas and build a stronger photographic industry.
The world shrinks a little with every step you take further into social media, but best of all is the power you have as a photographer to market yourself. If you do it right and build your website and blog with a great attitude and the dedication to stay involved, you've got the power to communicate that just a few years ago only a national magazine might have had!
So, every now and then I'll complain that my day starts out with a couple of hours of tweeting and posting and I'm answering emails before the sun comes up. But, would I go back to a nine to five job and not knowing what was going on until I literally opened my mail? Would I trade in my computer for the silver letter opener my Dad had on his desk? Would I trade in the excitement of "chimping" now and then for the pride of getting 38 exposures out of a 36 exposure roll?
The answer to all of the questions and the dozens we could all add to the list - NEVER! In the history of photography, there's never been a more exciting time and never more tools at our disposal to capture, create and share images.
But, if you're not actively involved in staying on top of technology, as well as social media, you need to take a serious look at how I predict the growth of your business is going to simply be stunted or even die completely in the near future.
I found the following quotes that are so appropriate:
"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road." Stewart Brand
"The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential." Steve Ballmer
Photo Credit: © Kadal - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
We're finally into the start of the "busy season" and whether biz was good or bad for you in 2012, you've got a fresh start right now. The economy has been a challenge for everybody. Sadly, a lot of photographers pulled back on their advertising and promoting. They're following the profile of the hot dog vendor.
I can't fault anyone for being worried about business, but too often being ultra conservative becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The bottom line is, now is the time to look at every aspect of your business, especially your website. Your website is your calling card - it's the one vehicle that virtually everybody interested in hiring you is going to look at.
Don't kick off this new season without really putting yourself out there. Think about it - if so many of your counterparts are pulling back then isn't this the perfect opportunity for you to make your work really stand out? You've got a chance to be in the spotlight all by yourself!
Just watch this short video with Trey Ratcliff, Jim Garner, Kevin Winzeler and Sancy Puc. It's four of the industry's finest photographers talking about the passion for their work and the importance of how their work is presented..
So, before you blame the challenges in your business on the economy or the Uncle Harry's of the world, are you happy with your website? Is it time for a face lift and a new look for your business? The best time to launch a new brand or look, is when your competition is slowing down and their marketing efforts lacking. Maybe it's time to go back to square one and analyze your site, your images and the message you're sending to your clients when they "walk through your door". Are people talking about what they saw on your website, or did it look like everybody elses?
Illustration Credit: © senoldo - Fotolia.com
Slowing Down and an Apology
So here's the challenge...
This is a new site and a new blog and even though I think I know what I'm doing, every now and then I realize what a potential hazard I really am. I really love blogs that allow you to comment and hate it when they take forever to screen what you wrote before posting. Sadly, with today's trolls, a little screening is a necessity...but not for a month or more.
I just found a stash of fifty comments that I released and I want to apologize. It had nothing to do with anything that was said, only my failure to not recognize where they were stored. What can I say except, good help is hard to find!
And to Gabe - thanks for finding the typo - I agree. A third proof-read might have caught it. However, it's been fixed.
Seriously you guys, thank you for your support and especially your patience, feedback and guidance. Sure do love this industry!
When my buddy Scott Bourne wrote this guest post for me in 2009 he had 35,000 followers on Twitter. Today he has over 144,000 and has never strayed from the advice he shares here. He wrote this as a guest post on my first blog and many of his points I've incorporated into my marketing presentation when I'm teaching. They're ten solid tried and true points of advice and each one is on the money! Skip Cohen
by Scott Bourne
Here are some tips I've found useful as I use these new communications technologies to spread the word about my
work. These tips have all worked for me. I don't offer them as a set of rules or even guidelines. I offer them as pure information that you can use or ignore. Just remember, they worked for me.
1. Remember that blogs, podcasts and social media sites WHEN COMBINED are 10 times more effective than when used alone. When I JUST blogged, I had a good audience. When I started podcasting and blogging, my audience grew much larger. When I added social networking (Twitter) my audience grew tremendously. If you do just one of these things, you'll see benefit. Do all three and you'll see that benefit multiplied by more than three.
2. Blogging, podcasting and Tweeting are all about communicating. As photographers, we all feel the need to communicate. Otherwise we wouldn't make and share photos. Remember that you need to be accessible to communicate. I put my telephone number, email address and snail mail address out there on almost everything I do. I want to be reachable. What's the point of sharing a photo that moves someone if they don't have a way to respond?
3. Respond to your audience when they ask for help or ask a sincere question.
4. Ignore your audience when they are complaining due to their false belief that they are ENTITLED to something from you other than the free gift you give them of your time. Also ignore trolls. No good can ever, ever, ever come of responding to them.
5. Try to use your blog, podcast and Twitter sites to solve problems. Everyone likes a problem solver.
6. Be consistent. Blog or podcast once every hour, or every day or every other day or every other week, but be consistent. This applies less to Twitter but you should try to Tweet at least once per day to keep your followers interested.
7. Don't spend too much time worrying about SEO and search marketing. If you offer targeted, niche content of high quality on a regular basis, you'll outscore the best SEO-driven site every time.
8. When you first start out in blogs, podcasting and social media, listen first, talk second. Listen more than you talk. Only talk when you REALLY have something to say.
9. When you launch, you'll have few in your audience. Be patient. Don't start counting followers on Twitter until you hit 1000. Then you have real traction. Until then, you're just ramping up and still learning. Don't be discouraged. Keep at it. It took me one year to get my first 4000 Twitter followers. It's taken me 10 months to add 31,000
10. Be generous. Be generous with your time, your knowledge and your gifts. Yes, prizes and giveaways are a form of generosity. It's a form I use well and often. But you need to also be generous in human ways in order to gain real traction.
Illustration Credit: © Arrow | Dreamstime.com
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.