by Skip Cohen
I'm hoping after yesterday's post, at least a few of you found the time to think through your strategy about your blog. With every word you write think about your target audience. It's so important to see the world through their eyes.
The great thing about a blog is your ability to fine tune your style, the content and your approach to opening your heart. Let's keep expanding the list from yesterday.
Stay relevant: It's at the top of the list, and the best way to demonstrate the point is with an easy to understand example. Several years ago I was looking at the blog of a young photographer and read a post about an evening out with the girls the night before. Their favorite band was in town. They had a terrific time hanging out with the band, partying and doing shots all night long. She wrote about the evening in a blog post. The images posted looked like a party from the movie Animal House. It was pretty entertaining, except for one thing...
She was working to build her reputation in the community as a family and children's photographer. Sadly her post is the last thing "Mom" would want to read, especially if she's trying to make the decision for a family sitting. The photographer had an "R" rated post when her audience was looking for "G" rated.
It all goes back to your strategy. If sharing your politics and lifestyle to the world is important then build a personal blog. Your business blog is about reaching your clients and target audience. You need to give them what they want to read and remember:
"The Internet has no eraser!"
Images of your clients: There's nothing wrong with featuring a customer now and then on your blog, but when you do it for every client it becomes a popularity contest, and you get caught in what I call "riptide marketing." As your business grows, you'll eventually reach a point where you have to feature their images to avoid insulting them. Use client images sparingly and try to use them to make a point. For example, using an image to talk about matching outfits, the time of the day or a particular technique used to create a special effect is the perfect use.
Less is more: It goes with client images most of the time, but whatever the topic of a blog post, you don't need to show every photograph taken at the sitting, the event or to demonstrate a point. One to three images is plenty to tie in with a blog post.
Be interesting: Not every post is going to be a potential New York Times best seller, but they need to be interesting to read. Now and then I read a blog post that could put a rock to sleep. Try and keep your blog posts short, to the point and fun to read. Before you publish, have somebody else read your post and then read it out loud a few times yourself.
Build your stash: Not every post has to be written fresh in the last twenty-four hours. Build a stash of posts so when you're stressed for time and can't keep up with the consistency of twice a week, you've got something in the pipeline to draw from. Remember, one of your primary goals is consistency. You need fresh material at least twice a week.
"But what do I write about to build my stash?" There's so much for photographers to write about. Be helpful. Give your readers pointers on taking better pictures. They're consumers and know very little about photography. How about some of your favorite places to shoot around your community? Sharing information about key events coming up in the community is always appreciated. How about gallery openings that might feature some of your favorite photographers or artists? Announcements and details of upcoming fund-raising events are always winners. Tips on better holiday pictures are always good. Advice on things to check when you're hiring a photographer is a great topic, obviously making sure you meet all the requirements you suggest they check.
Every post you write doesn't have to be earthshaking, but it should add something to the lives of your readership. For example, my buddy, Jared M Burns, who I met at Skip's Summer School many years ago, brings the community into his blog a lot. He regularly publishes information about events going on in the area related to photography and the arts. He's shared tips on taking better pictures targeting a more consumer audience. He's even done stories about cultural differences to appeal to different client targets.
Encourage interaction: I've already talked about the interaction you gain by allowing comments, but you can also use posts for calls to action related to different topics. Just something as simple as, "I'm looking forward to this weekend's Breast Cancer Walk. How many of you are going?" You're doing three things with a statement like that, telling people you're going to be there; encouraging them to join you and showing support for the event and sponsoring association.
Provide links: Blogs are perfect for providing links to other events, people, retailers, etc. but don't get carried away. No more than 2-3 links is pretty much considered the maximum to stay effective. In the publicity community, they suggest one link per 100 words in a press release. Just don't overdo it.
Bring in guests: Guest posts are a fun add-on to your content. It's not something I'd do right out of the blocks, but having a guest post now and then from somebody in your network can be interesting to your readership. For example, let's assume you're a wedding photographer. Having a guest post from a florist on centerpiece ideas could be a terrific addition. A travel agent in your community could bring the same results - an interesting story about planning your honeymoon and at the same time a new partner in expanding your reach. Think about the potential for guest posts to be reciprocal and share your abilities with other sites as well. Cross-promoting with that same travel agent gives each of you an added benefit to working together.
Don't worry about the numbers: I wish I could take credit for this one, but it's great advice from my buddy Scott Bourne who's been instrumental in helping me understand social media over the years. Your numbers will come with consistency and patience. Just keep delivering great content, and your readership will build.
Be careful about selling and stay informative: Your blog isn't about direct selling, and I found a quote that says it all:
Selling to people through social media is like going to a party,
meeting somebody for the first time, and then saying,
‘Hey, do you want to buy this Tupperware?’”
Your blog is just one aspect of social media along with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the list goes on an on. However, it's the cornerstone of your business and today, if done right, can be as important as your website!
Just like your images though, don't compromise on the quality of anything you post!
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.