What Do I Write On My Blog – Answering Your Customers Questions Before They Ask

The most asked question I receive from people when they are thinking of marketing with a blog is

What do I write about?

The first five or six are easy. But it quickly goes down hill from there.

So you start creating posts like:

What I Did For Spring Break

Or

My Weekend Trip To Ski Town USA

Nope, not going to help you.

But where can you get ideas? And what source can help you find out what your clients are thinking way before they know to ask it?

If you are there with content on your blog before they think it, you’ll be well prepared when they type it into Google and look for it.

The best place to go and do a little research is: Amazon. Yep, Amazon. Millions upon millions of books exist on every subject matter you could ever imagine. And with a little creative thinking, you’ll quickly discover things to write about, and in many cases, even find potential titles that your audience really is looking for.

Let me show you how it works with an example.

Let’s say we are a commercial photography studio, and our target market are art directors for creative companies. The creative director that would potentially hire us looks for photographs for two reasons.

1. She regularly puts together a catalog of her products to send out to potential buyers

2. She creates brochures, postcards and advertisements for a variety of sources

So she needs photography on a continual basis, depending on her new inventory and the focus of her latest ad campaign.

How do we know what she is looking for online?

To start, we know she is always looking for the latest and greatest information on how to make her “stuff” better. She wants a catalog, brochure, postcards and advertisement that bring more people in.

So we can head over to Amazon and start looking up concepts related to her interests.

Amazon Search Results 1

In this case, we have 1,249 results for our search phrase.

Amazon Search Results 2

Some will be more applicable than others. As you look through your results, focus in on the books that have the Look Inside! feature. With those books you can take a peek at the table of contents, and find out what things matter most to a person that is concentrating on developing a successful catalog.

Amazon Search Results 3

With this book’s information, you can find a variety of things to blog about.

Amazon Search Results 4

You could do a full post on “catalog photography”. Fill it with advice on the type of imagery you need to sell through a catalog – good lighting, close up images to show detail, etc.

You could do a post on page production, and talk about different image size, how images relate to copy, color vs black and white, etc.

You could do a post on catalog organization. The more you know as a photographer, the more you can photograph things together to build relationships as a person moves from page to page, section to section.

Your goal as a photographer – in this case specializing in commercial photography – is to give your clients 110 percent service and give them more than they ever expected, or received, from any other photographer.

If you know a ton of information about catalog production and creating advertising and marketing pieces that gain traction with their recipients – and can prove it with samples and case studies – who do you think your next prospect will pick?

If this seems like a lot of work, put yourself in your prospects and/or customers shoes. They have a job to do. They have money to spend. Yes, they might be looking for a deal, especially with budget cuts and economic problems. But they also want value. They are willing to pay a little more for someone who knows exactly what they are doing and can provide even more than they thought they wanted. They want the full experience of working with someone knowledgeable about what they are doing.

Use your blog to communicate and build that relationship long before they ever talk to you. If you can prove you’ll go the extra mile – if they find you by doing quick searches and stay with your site because they like what they see

4 Types Of Posts You Should Be Writing For Your Photography Blog

“I know I should be writing, but I just don’t have the time.”

“It can take me all day to write even the simplest of ideas.”

“I post the images from my shoots, but I have no idea what else I should be including in my posts.”

When it comes to questions about blogging, I’ve heard them all.

Blogging has become and will continue to be in the future one of the top buzzwords of the industry. Why? Because blogging = content. And content drives the marketing of today.

The reason content is huge is because everything we do involves content. We are a question frenzied, instant gratification society. No matter what you want to know – right now – you can quickly find the answer on your iPhone/Android/iPad. You don’t even need to type it in – just use Google Now or Siri and ask your question instead.

And where there are questions, there needs to be answers. Which is where you come in … and your blog.

Every blog post you create is designed to answer someone’s question.

How To

How To blog posts are, in my opinion, one of the best forms of content you can create. Think of it as your FAQ section on steroids. By creating how to posts over and over again, you can create unlimited content answering very specific questions from all types of clientele. You can solve problems, you can entertain, and you can provide step by step instruction to help people take one step closer to becoming a client … and adding profits to your bottom line.

Yes, you can start with the obvious:

  • How To Hire The Best Wedding Photographer
  • How To Find The Perfect Portrait Photographer For Your Family

From there, you can take it as far as you can go:

  • How To Design Beautiful Pages For Your Wedding Album
  • How To Choose The Perfect Outfit For Your Fall Portrait

Again, the opportunities are endless when you think specifically.

Infographic

If you’ve ever visited Facebook or Pinterest for even a moment, you can’t have missed the latest content style circulating in a big way … the infographic. Infographics are built perfectly for viral distribution, and thus are perfect for you to include within your posts.

Want an example? According to Visual.ly, one of their most popular how to infographics ever was the manual photography cheat sheet.

4 Types Of Posts You Should Be Writing For Your Photography Blog

Manual Photography Cheat Sheet infographic
When you create your own infographic, think from your visitors perspective. Not only do they want to view it, they want to share it. So make it easy to share by providing them with the embed code to copy and paste. You can create easy infographics by trying infogr.am, or try these resources as well.

Dig Deeper: 8 Inspiring Infographics For The Photography Industry

Dig Deeper: Easy Ways To Make Infographics For Your Social Sites

Education

Slightly different than the how to, education posts are meant to move your existing clientele into bigger and better packages. They are meant to turn their experiences from average to WOW.

Education posts help them understand you as a person … and as a business … a little bit better. You’re helping them develop a stronger relationship with you. And therefore love their experiences with you that much more.

You can educate them on:

  • You studio’s policies
  • Why you’re a photographer
  • What makes you special – unique
  • Why you are a great photographer
  • What separates you from your competition
  • New things happening in the industry

Again, there are many, many things to write about. If you are teaching your clients to be better clients, prospects to be better prospects, and followers to be better referral sources, you’re accomplishing all you can.

Different Modalities

Content is king. It fills up your web presences and it gains traction everywhere in the online world.

But it’s not the only thing that exists. You know photographs are important. How about audio? How about video? What about starting your own podcast? Or how about your own YouTube channel?

Things today are easy to create, easy to produce, and accessibly in many different ways. Your goal isn’t to get people to come to you, it’s to get your content in front of the right people. That means you have to find them in their favorite sites and apps. You have to make everything you do is to generate in their preferred method.

Phew, that’s a lot of work!

And if you’re thinking “I can’t do all of that”, you’re part of a huge club of business owners thinking the same thing. Which is why this vast majority of business owners will never find success online. If you don’t do it, you won’t reap the results.

There is no secret. Just a lot of hard work.

So are you up for the challenge?

Back To Basics To Leverage Your Blog

Recently I found myself on the home page of a well known photographer. The site was beautiful – it showcased his images well and really made you want to dive into his site further. So that’s exactly what I did.

I looked through some galleries, read all about him on his About Us page, and made my way over to his blog. Suddenly everything changed. I found an erratic publication schedule and content that had nothing to do with his business or his personality. Everything about it was haphazard and unfocused.

Unfortunately that’s not uncommon. In fact I see it all the time. Business owners seem to think it doesn’t matter – they’ll do a post or two when and if they have time. But what they don’t understand is they are literally destroying the initial contact they are making with potential customers.

If you have a first meeting with someone, would you show up 30 minutes late or wearing your gym clothes? Of course not. You want to make a great first impression.

Its no different with your web presence. Your web presence is something you control and have access to at all times. You need to think of it as your first impression, and always look at it through the eyes of your future clientele.

Would you hire someone that hasn’t posted since March 2012? Would you do business with someone that rants about politics, or only talks about what they do on the weekends?

So, if this sounds like you, maybe its time to get back to the basics, and turn your blog into everything it can be. With these 3 simple steps, you’ll have a fabulous marketing tool that will help you make your coming months successful.

1. Publish Consistently

The Social Ghost blogging calendar and planning guide

The key to any marketing tool you use is consistency. If you don’t do it on a regular basis, your results will be sporadic at best. Your readers are creatures of habit; give them what they want and make your blog a place they have to check back in with again and again. It might be daily, or even weekly. Schedule it if you need to – or even consider hiring someone to help you with it.

And to get you started for the New Year, try out my year long blogging planning guide. It’s a free download – get it and start planning what you’ll write about all year long.

2. Write For Your Audience

The biggest question people have when it comes to blogging is “What do I write about”? Turn it around and ask “What will interest your readers”? Why do they come to you? What do they like learning from you? Blogging should be thought of as a transparent conversation with your prospects and your clients. Tell them something that will be meaningful to them. And make sure you’re not telling them something they will hear from everyone else out there. Tell it through stories, and put your spin on things. They come to you for your personality – let it shine.

3. Encourage Conversation

Before blogs, people wrote in a more formal way? Remember high school English class where you had to use proper English and complete sentence structure? That’s what we incorporated into our press releases and whitepapers. With a blog, it’s more conversational, more informal. Write like you talk. Create short sentences. Let your personality shine. Ask questions that motivate answers. Also make a habit of welcoming new readers and asking them to comment in your comment section. Answer when warranted.

The 1-2-3 Marketing Mistake Most Photographers Make And Why It Kills Business

Have you ever done this?

You get excited about blogging. So you create a blog and start writing content for your posts. You write the first month because you are excited. By the second month it’s getting a bit tedious, but you do it anyway. By the third month you are really questioning why you’re writing and you begin limiting your posts. You slip from every day to three times per week. No results. Month four is cancelled.

Or maybe you’ve decided to send postcards to certain zip codes to try and drum up business. You spend time creating a postcard and figuring out how to make it a powerful campaign. You’re excited about its potential and you ship the first month issue out enthusiastically. With no bites on the first go around, you’re a little more hesitant about month two, but you’re still dedicated to the concept. Month two’s postcards head out your door and into the mail. By month three, you’re very unsure about the whole thing. You may have had a call or two, but really no clients yet. Do you really want to do this and incur this expense? Maybe one more month; postcard three heads out the door. Month four – no sales, no great leads – it’s over.

This is what I call the 1-2-3 Marketing Mistake.

No matter what marketing tool you try, online or off, nothing will work spectacularly on its first go. (Okay, I’m sure you can find some case studies that show instant phenomenal results, but they are the case studies, not reality.)

People today want instant results. We can solve cases in one hour, thanks to television. We can see an entire generation move from birth to death, thanks to Hollywood movies. We know everyone can get rich overnight thanks to many of today’s marketing tools – just look through your email or watch an infomercial.

So why shouldn’t our marketing methods work just as quick?

We are exposed to so much content, so many ideas, so many messages, its almost impossible for the average person to understand your offer with one contact, especially if they don’t know they have a need yet.

Lets go back to our two examples.

If you’ve decided to set up a blog, there is only one thing you should be doing on a regular basis. Blog. [Read more...]

Comments or No Comments – What Should You Do With Your Blog?

“What do comments really do for you? I have a blog but I’ve never allowed comments before. Should I let them go through so others can read them? Should I try and get people to write comments? Or should I forget it all together?”

Today’s websites are build on blogging platforms – 1 in 4 is now built on WordPress – simply because of the ease of creation and modification. Anyone can easily login to the backend at any time, and make changes, additions or deletions as long as you have Internet connection. That’s the one thing that people were craving for so long – the ability to handle their own content. And that’s what has brought on the popularity of WordPress.

Yet while WordPress does allow you to build a site and control it too, it also gives you one more thing: the base of your social media platform.

A blog gives you your online presence. But it also allows you to connect to all of your other social accounts in a variety of ways. Blogs are powerful because they give you an easy way to create and control your own content, and connect and share ideas with your readers as well.

When you blog regularly, you share your ideas with others. [Read more...]

Why A Blog Filled With Client Posts Is The Best Way To Sell

How many clients will you be photographing this year?

Maybe you’re a wedding photographer. Your 2012 looks like this:

  • 35 weddings
  • 22 engagement sessions
  • 10 trash the dress sessions

Maybe you’re a portrait photographer. Your 2012 looks like this:

  • 50 family sessions
  • 35 baby plans
  • 100 high school senior sessions

Maybe you’re a commercial photographer. Your 2012 looks like this:

  • 3 commercial jobs every month – 36 jobs for the year

Every single one of these sessions should be more than just the session. They should be made into a blog post to showcase your work and show other potential customers exactly what you can do. [Read more...]

Your Blog Post Checklist – Make Your Photography Blog Attractable

Do you blog on a regular basis? If so, you’ve probably posted a few that were anything but complete. You forgot to spell check. You didn’t include the link you planned on using. Or you simply made it a short post because you didn’t know what else to write.

Writing posts on a regular basis takes more than talent; it takes a checklist to make sure all of the pieces are included.

Even if writing isn’t your “thing”, here is an easy way to make sure every post you create is perfectly targeted towards your readers.

1. Start with a great title

Titles are more than a quick note about the photography you are including in this post. If your titles have ever looked like this – “Jack and Amanda” – its time to rethink your titles. Titles should be a perfect balance to attract your readers that come to your site, and entice people that find your titles through Google, Facebook, Twitter and more to want to head over and actually read what you have to say.

Dig Deeper: How Do You Find Your Titles For Your Blog

2. Is the post complete?

When you are finished with your post, read through it. Is it a post many others would find interesting and useful? Would they want to share it with their friends? Do you get a complete story by reading through it? While posts should never be complete novels, they still need to have complete thoughts. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end, and your reader gets the complete story by the time they read your last word. [Read more...]

8 Simple Ways To Get People To Read What You Have To Say On Your Blog

Blogging. Nothing online can make you more successful than the words you write on your blog.

But if you’ve ever slaved away over a post, spent tons of time carefully crafting your post, and had NO ONE read it, it can be a bit disheartening.

Or you may have experienced the opposite. Instead of writing, you post a dozen photos or so from your latest shoot and release them to the world. Yet if you factor out your client and her family, ZERO have seen it.

What’s a photographer to do?

Should you really keep writing? Should you keep placing your images in posts? Or maybe you should tweet instead.

Writing can be difficult. And many photographers are visual by nature – they like to photograph, not write. And while your blog is the perfect place to include a variety of images, photographs alone will not bring you success.

The key is in the writing.

Yet the key might not be in writing more; the key may be in writing less.

The problem with many photographers is they don’t spend enough time thinking about the way they write their content.

Dig Deeper: It’s the Greatest, Easiest, Most Profitable Way To Talk About Your Photography … So Why Aren’t You Doing It?

Think for a moment about how you approach search. When you search for new information, you use keywords in Google and head to the first relevant link.

Then you head over and scan the information. If you find something relevant immediately, you scan a bit more. The more you find, the more you read.

Words matter. But so do graphics. You use it all to quickly determine what your next step is.

Ultimately, it comes down to interest. And there are 8 ways you can structure your posts to capture even more interest with every post you create.

1. Use short, compelling paragraphs

Your English teach from high school may not approve, but in the blogging world, keep it short. Every paragraph should be short and too the point with equally short sentences. Two or three lines per paragraph is a good thing in the blogging world, and will leave you with plenty of white space.

2. Plan your subheadings first

When you start your blog post, your title should direct your content. Subheadings should help you divide it into thoughts. I’m a fan of making them bolder and stand out as well – something you see here with these 8 subheadings. They also help direct your content and help you stay on track. [Read more...]

Blogging Is Booming For Business … If You Do It The Right Way

Its easy to get caught up in the promise of big returns by using the latest social site – whatever that may be. Yet by jumping on the “latest and greatest” social networking site, you may be missing out on an opportunity that has been there all along.

Blogs are sometimes overlooked as the strong marketing tool they are. A recent study showed that blogs as sources of online buzz have increased over the last five years  from 36 million to 181 million. Yet why are blogs still so strong? Should you be using them? And is there a right way … and a wrong way … to use a blog for your photography business?

Blogs Are The Backbone Of Success

Sarah is a photographer. When she decided to start her photography business, she had been unemployed for several months and didn’t have a lot of funds to invest in her new business. So she did what any savvy business owner would do and did everything she could for free. She printed off business cards on her home printer. And she started designing a Facebook page to showcase her work. She spent several months adding posts and content to Facebook and gradually built up a pretty good following. She gained over 2,000 followers and had a steady line of prospects and customers – enough to keep a steady income coming in every month.

Then someone got a hold of her Facebook password and started posting spam from her account. Facebook received a number of complaints and shut her account down. [Read more...]

It’s the Greatest, Easiest, Most Profitable Way To Talk About Your Photography … So Why Aren’t You Doing It?

You’re standing in the checkout line, with several people in front of you. You glance over and start reading the titles of the magazines in front of you. And for some reason they just pull you in.

Do you really care who had an alien baby, or how you can create 365 looks that will make you look more sexy? Maybe … Maybe not.

Yet there is just something about those titles that make you want to pick up the magazine and start reading.

It isn’t a coincidence that the titles are that tantalizing. In fact I’m willing to bet more time is spent on creating those titles and cover layouts then they do writing the stories theselves.

What sells is the title – the sizzle – not the meat of the story. Yes, the story itself has to be good and give you exactly what the title promises. Yet the story satisfies your hunger for whatever information you were promised. You won’t move forward and take action once you’ve read the story.

Because editors know the only way they will stay in business is to get you to buy the magazine, they spend their time on what matters most. The titles.

Now lets convert that over into what you potentially do every week. If you blog, every week you sit down and come up with topics to write about. Yet how much time do you spend coming up with your titles? I know for a lot of you, the answer is “just a few seconds” – and that may even be pushing it.

I see post titles every day that are worded something like this:

Randy and Laurel’s Engagement

Elizabeth’s First Birthday

Jason and Kim’s Wedding Day

Yet what does this do for your business?

When your clients come over and visit your blog, they are a captive audience. They love what you do and chances are they are looking for their own images. I’m sure in the above example Randy and Laurel are thrilled to see their engagement images online, and are passing around the URL to all of their friends and family.

Yet how many people will ultimately see that page? Randy and Laurel – that’s two. Family and friends – we’ll add in another 20. And other clients that may come to the site and decide to look through their images – we’ll add another 50 for long term exposure. That’s 72 in total.

Yet what do these 72 people have in common? Not one of them found any excitement and desire to click on the title from any other method outside of the fact they knew Randy and Laurel. Or had a vested interest in looking at the images.

If you saw Randy and Laurel’s Engagement in Google, would you really click on it?

And more importantly, would you ever look in Google for Randy and Laurel’s Engagement in the first place?

Which means if you are trying to attract new clients, people that have never heard of you yet might want to find you, you have to start thinking like a magazine in the checkout lane. You have to pay attention to your titles and give people the things they are looking for.

How do you know what they are looking for?

The easiest way is head over to Google and use their keyword tool to do a little research.

Let’s get started by typing in the word “photography” just to see what comes up.

When you type in photography, you’ll get many different results. This will show you what people typed directly into Google last month using the keyword you’ve selected. It isn’t a comprehensive list, but should be a great starting point. It will show you search terms as well as worldwide and local results.

From there, you can further refine what keywords you wish to look at. For this example, lets choose the term “wedding photography”.

When you add those words to the search function, your results will come up based on the key phrase instead of one word. In this case everything will be centered around the phrase “wedding photography”. At this point, we’ll further refine our search and look up the term “beach wedding photography”.

After letting the results come up using this phrase, you can see a wide variety of options.

If you are in California, or have the desire to photograph weddings in California, you’ll notice 720 searches were made for “long beach wedding photography” and 390 searches were made for “newport beach wedding photography”.

So if you were showcasing “Jason and Kim’s Wedding” as a blog post title, you may attract a few dozen family and friends to the blog post.

But if you created a blog post title “How Jason and Kim Had Fun With Their Newport Beach Wedding Photography”, do you think you could attract more attention from a variety of sources … including Google?

If you write hundreds of posts every year, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) use the same titles over and over again just to attract Google’s attention. But if you think about it first and find a way to make it attractive to both Google and your readers, your posts could quickly help you build up the traffic to your site – and the profits to your business.