By Donal Doherty
Since I launched my photography business, blogging has been at the core of my marketing strategy.
In this article I’m going to share the strategies I’ve used to win Photography Blog of the Year for the last two years, while growing my business.
Blogging is an essential part of every photographer’s marketing arsenal, but many are unsure how to approach blogging for their business. Jasmine Star believes that “your website is your handshake and your blog is your voice.” Essentially it is a free marketing tool, which enables you to speak directly to your audience. Your website shows that you can pull off the stand-alone WOW images, but your blog showcases a whole session, showing that you deliver consistently high quality images. It’s your chance to show what goes on behind the scenes, highlight the quality of your customer experience and to provide content to help your customers with their pain points.
Content is king
Content is anything you create or share to tell your story. Create killer content and give people a reason to return to your blog and to share your posts with others. As image-makers our bread and butter is the creation of compelling visual content. You may wish to blog each shoot, as I do, or you may prefer to share only the shoots which really stand out. For me I know my clients look forward to the curated story of their wedding day which I share on the blog and they love to share this with their friends and family. I wouldn’t want to give one of my clients the impression that their wedding wasn’t good enough to feature, so I blog each and every shoot or wedding unless the client has expressed a preference not to appear online.
When I post a shoot I offer a synopsis of the shoot or wedding day. I want my images to speak for themselves and the content I write is more geared towards appearing in search results. I have also seen some other photographers share a bit of poetry with each post which is a nice touch if it fits with your brand. Find out what works for you and use that as a structure for your blogs in the future.
If writing isn’t your strong point, you can outsource to a service like Fotoskribe or find a freelancer on Upwork. Make sure they write in your voice so the content is onbrand. Among the blogs on your latest shoots, share content that is relevant to your target client. For example on my blog I interviewed brides to be about their pre-wedding shoots and got top tips from vendors, such as florists, bridal designers and venue coordinators.
Think about your clients’ pain points and write content to solve these issues. Research the topic and other content out there on the subject. Aim to write the best post on the internet on the subject. This will enable you to increase your chances of the post going viral. Once you have the post together use ahrefs.com to identify sites that link to similar articles and message the owners of the sites asking them to link to your article. Explain how your blog approaches the topic in a different way or covers something the post they link to hasn’t included.
Another key facet of your blog is the personal content you share, which provides readers with an insight into you. A blog makes you more approachable, providing an insight into your voice as an artist and your personal thoughts on life and work. The idea is to offer those who want to connect with you on a personal level an opportunity to do so. Give people a distinct impression of what you are like online and you’ll attract like-minded people.
Make sharing easy
It is imperative that you offer social sharing options on your blog to enhance the shareability of your posts. Visitors to your blog should be able to pin your images to Pinterest, like and/or share your content on Facebook, Tweet the blog post etc. This will enable your content to be shared more widely and will drive more traffic to your blog.
Incorporate calls to action into your blog, whether you want people to sign-up to your newsletter, download an ebook, or to enquire about booking a session. Aim to convert your readers to customers, but ensure you take a soft sell approach.
When I blog a wedding I tend to share the link to social media first with a tagline, i.e. “Sarah and Gary’s wedding was full of love – check it out on the blog now”. I then post an album to my Facebook page with three to ten images with a prompt to visit the blog to view more images and a slideshow. The goal is to drive users from Facebook to your blog and once there for them to explore more content or give you their email address.
Be consistent and organised
There’s nothing worse than visiting a blog and seeing that the last post was six months ago. It gives the impression that the company is out of business. Consistency is more important than frequency, but I would suggest two to three blogs a week is a good number to generate a significant level of traffic to your website. However, one blog a week is better than none, so start with what you can manage and build from there. An editorial schedule will encourage you to deliver content on a consistent and regular basis to keep your readers glued. They will be excited to return each month to see the next blog in the series. I recently started using CoSchedule, a content marketing editorial calendar software that enables you to create your blog and schedule your social posts for that post when it goes live.
Blogstomp is a great tool to use to resize and prepare your images. Simply drag and drop into the desktop application and you can batch process your photos, resize, add your watermark and create collages in a few moments. It is important to optimise the size of your images for your blog as loading full res images can seriously increase the page load time of your blog. I also use this software to rename my images to ‘Wedding Photography and Venue Name” to further enhance the SEO.
Categorise your posts into different areas, such as weddings, portraits and personal so people can easily explore more content should they wish to do so. Also tagging is very important; add three to five tags to each post to aid people when searching for that content and to boost your SEO. I have a plugin that offers readers other similar posts they may be interested in. The goal here is to make the blog even stickier so people want to stay on the blog and explore more content.
Harness the power of SEO
To ensure your blog is found on Google you can take some steps to improve your search performance. For each post think about two to three search terms you plan to target with that post. Think about the keyword density, i.e. the number of times you mention the phrase or phrases you’re targeting for that post. A keyword density of 7% should stand you in good stead. If you’re not sure what terms to use, avail of Google’s Adword Keyword Planner. However, remember that you are writing to an audience, not to a search engine, so make sure your blogs read well.
At the bottom of each blog post I provide a video slideshow of images. I use Animoto to create the video and upload it to Vimeo to embed on my blog. It’s straightforward to use and with royalty free music included, it really adds impact to your images.
Give credit where credit is due
Credit the creative team you work with on each shoot. Yes, it’s great karma, but it’s also a no-brainer from a business perspective. The other vendors will appreciate being credited for their work and they will often link back to your site. As you are helping them it can also boost your referrals from vendors. This is also great for SEO as I tend to come up on search results when someone searches for that business and those people are often my target client too.
At the end of the month I create a newsletter which is easy if you’ve been blogging consistently. You simply link out to the blog posts you’ve shared and send to your list.
Visit Engage live to watch a free masterclass video on blogging.