5 Tips to Make Your Blog Work Harder by Kendra Swalls
Wedding and Portrait photographer Kendra Swalls, of Paisley Layne Photography, knows how important a blog can be in assigning a voice to your business. Updated blogs provide your audience with insight to your work, session style and even lifestyle tips and tutorials. Staying in front of clients and potential customers will not only grow your business, but will establish your presence amidst all the online clutter. Now, with a viral blog post under her belt (remember that adorable pregnancy reveal session?), Kendra has written an eBook with tips and tricks for improving your digital marketing strategy and has some valuable blogging insight to share with us! Continue reading to learn more or scroll down for a link to her full eBook.
You have probably heard it said a million times–blogging is key to running a successful photography business. Not only does having an up-to-date blog help you appear relevant to your clients, it is also great for boosting your SEO. However, if you are like most of the photographers I know, you either a) haven’t blogged in weeks or months, b) get writers’ block each time you sit down at the computer, or c) you do a marathon blogging session once a month where you publish 10 posts in one day (each one featuring images from your latest session and nothing more).
I know the struggle is real, I have been there. But I am here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the blogging tunnel. When I first started my photography business in 2011, blogging was something I thought only housewives did to share their stories of potty training and recipes for homemade granola bars. Little did I know that creating a strong blog could be the key to my business success.
My first blog was created through Blogger (because it was easy & free) and I merely used it as a way to post pictures of my recent sessions. I would write a sentence or two about the family, child, or couple and then share a string of images a mile long. I would hit publish and not think about it again. I am fairly certain my mom may have been the only one looking at them, and after a while, I think even she got bored.
My blog has come a long way since then and I can now honestly say my mom is no longer the only person reading my posts. So what changed? For me it was working with other photographers and learning what they were doing to help boost their businesses. I then took the tips they were passing on to me and started implementing them one by one until I started noticing significant results. So, today I would like to share 5 of those tips with you. Secrets that can help take your business to the next level.
1. Not all blog sites are created equal
As I mentioned before, I started off using Blogger mainly because it was free and easy. It worked perfectly in the beginning but eventually I needed something more. About a year ago I decided to make the switch to WordPress and haven’t looked back since. I love all the features and SEO capabilities WordPress has. Being the Type-A person that I am, I like having control over every aspect of my blog and WordPress gives me that ability. Whatever blog site you ultimately choose, make sure it fits your needs and is working for you.
2. A Picture is NOT always worth a thousand words
As a photographer I am naturally drawn to pretty pictures. I love browsing through other photographers’ websites and blogs admiring their work. However, when it comes to blogging, you need more than just pretty pictures. This doesn’t mean you have to write a novel for each post, but you do need to include some short description or special detail about the images.
Here is a perfect example. The other day I was looking through a photographer’s blog where she posted pictures from a gender reveal party. You could tell the couple was shocked and excited, but there wasn’t any story to accompany the images. I wanted more! I wanted to know the story behind it. Her blog post could have been so much more powerful if she had taken the time to write a few sentences about the couple and their reaction.
Blogging is all about getting your name and business noticed. The more people that are sharing your posts, the better. Truly the best marketing tool you have is your clients. Use your blog as a way to make them feel special and they will gladly return the favor. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes for a moment (not literally…that would be weird). Which client do you think is more likely to share your blog post with her friends?
Client A has hired you to take family photos for their holiday card. You spent weeks emailing back and forth about locations and outfits. You spent almost 2 hours together at the actual shoot talking, laughing, sharing stories, and capturing special moments. After the session you post 1 photo to social media with no caption. A couple of weeks later you publish a blog post with the title “Client A Family Session” and a string of pictures from their session.
Client B has hired you to take family photos for their holiday card. You spent weeks emailing back and forth about locations and outfits. You spent almost 2 hours together at the actual shoot talking, laughing, sharing stories, and capturing special moments. After the session you post a couple of photos to social media with a caption that says, “Spent my afternoon with the most adorable family. You could really feel the love they have for each other and we had so much fun exploring a new park in town.” A few weeks later you share a blog post titled “So much love – The B Family” that includes a short paragraph sharing funny moments from the session and your favorite images.
The answer, Client B. Obviously. So take a few minutes to add something special and unique to your post. I know that some sessions will be easier to write about than others, but try to find at least one thing to say that will let the client know you viewed their session as special.
3. It’s all about the relationships
We all have that one friend that just loves to talk about herself. Your whole night out is spent listening to her brag about her promotion, her perfect kids, her amazing husband, her tropical vacation, etc. That is usually the same friend whose calls you stop answering and texts you “forget” to respond to. Now, think about your blog as if it were your friend. Is it a one-sided relationship? Are you the annoying friend that your client wants to break up with? If all you are doing is sharing your success stories and sharing your great images then what is keeping your client around?
I know we all want to believe that they keep coming back for the pretty pictures, but the reality is that they don’t have time for that. They want something they can take away. What can you offer your clients that will bring them back over and over again? For example, if you are wedding photographer you could write a blog post about the latest trends in wedding dresses or the top wedding venues in your area. These are posts that clients are going to want to read. It may not be photography-related (you can include pretty pictures if it makes you feel better), but if they are coming back to your blog as a resource for planning their wedding, then you can bet that when it comes time to book a photographer your name will be on their list. Keep a running list of blog posts that you think your clients might be interested in and go back to that list anytime you are at a loss as to what you should write.
4. Schedule it out
In an ideal world I would tell you that you need to blog at least once a week. In reality I only blog about once a month, BUT I do use a handy-dandy little tool in WordPress that lets me schedule my blog posts to publish at a later date. This keeps me from having to sit down once or twice a week and come up with a post to write. Instead I can sit down once a month, write four to six posts and schedule them to publish one at a time. It’s genius! Having current information on your blog is great for your SEO because it tells those lovely web crawlers that your site is active and relevant which, in turn, helps you rank higher in a web search.
5. Sharing is Caring
A well-written blog post can do wonders for your business and you never know which posts are going to make the biggest impact. A few months ago I posted a session to my blog (assuming a couple of people might see it) only to wake up the next morning and realize it had gone viral. While I have no idea what caused it to go viral or who shared it first, what I do know is that social media played a HUGE role in spreading it around the globe in just a matter of hours. Each time I write a blog post, I share it on social media with the hopes of not only driving traffic to my site, but that others will share it as well. I also make sure to include “Pin It” buttons on all images in the post so my clients and visitors can easily “Pin” my images to Pinterest. Make it as easy as possible for readers to share your content and don’t be afraid to share it yourself. If you aren’t promoting your business then no one else will.
Blogging can become quite addicting once you can see and appreciate the value in it. I promise you don’t have to be an amazing writer for it to work for you either. Try implementing just one or two tips at a time until they become habit and then move on. If you are ready to take your blog to the next level you can also check out my latest eBook SEO & Social Media – Simplified and Demystified for a more detailed look at how to boost your blog posts and get to the top page in a Google search.
Do you use WordPress as your blogging platform? What other social media tools do you use to boost engagement from your audience? What topics work best and why? Comment below to share what digital marketing tactics work for your business.