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.

10 WordPress Themes Perfect For Today’s Photographer

Do your New Year’s goals include building a new website? If so, WordPress is the perfect option for you.

Dig Deeper: The 10 Advantages of WordPress For Designing Your Photography Site

And while WordPress offers a ton of options to help you customize and create content to reach out to your clientele, it’s also great at “plug and play” technology. Because WordPress is so popular, with 1 in 5 sites now being built on a WordPress platform, there are many themes you can purchase that give you instant access to a professional look and feel. And the best thing about it is all of these themes are priced under $100, so they are perfect no matter if you are a start up, or a seasoned professional. Check out these 10 WordPress themes perfect for photographers.

Photopassion

Photopassion is a WordPress gallery theme that offers  unique photo viewers, sliders and sidebar managers, a horizontal gallery slider, and 5 color variations.

Karma

Karma is a beautiful WordPress template that provides a ton of opportunity. It features a 3D slider that makes your photography pop, and comes with a ton of options for page layouts, color options and more.

[Read more…]

5 Tips To Make You Better At Blogging

I was talking with a friend this week who started asking me about my blogging habits. She was wondering how I create new content almost every day, and how I can stay with it month after month. Do I really have that much to say, or am I just filling up my site with content?

I’ve been to a lot of sites that simply fill up their blog with content, and really don’t care what they put in each post. They focus in on keywords, and add the content just to have something there.

I take a different approach. If I don’t have something to say, I skip a day.

Yep, there are always days when I wake up, search the ‘net, and can’t think of a thing to write about. Or I’m out of the office, traveling, or focusing on something else, and I simply don’t get to my writing for the day. That leads me to my first tip.

Tip #1 Make Your Content Valuable

I’ve been listening to a variety of training seminars over the past few weeks. And one of the teleseminars I listened to talked about a new approach to getting content in the system. Instead of choosing one niche and focusing on creating valuable content, his approach was to blast it out. Find dozens of niches, with hundreds of keywords. Create a little bit of content on each and throw it out there to see what sticks. Then choose those that have the most potential to focus in and create more valuable content.

It sounds like a great strategy. But what I can’t agree with is the cluttering up of sites with content that basically “sucks”. If something has my name on it, it has to be quality. Otherwise its not worth writing at all.

I suggest you take that same philosophy with what you do. With everything you write, everything you create, is it strong enough that you will be proud to have your name on it? If not, rethink it. If you don’t think you’ll be proud of the same content five years from now, don’t do it at all. [Read more…]

Do You Make These 7 Mistakes When You Blog?

This past week I’ve been teaching classes on blogging and becoming web savvy with your marketing. And the questions students asked reminded me of some of the top mistakes bloggers make with their blogs, especially if you’re new to blogging and haven’t really cracked the code of increasing traffic enough to bring in new clients.

After blogging for years, and writing well in excess of 1,000 posts, I have made most of the mistakes top bloggers make  – numerous times. And whether you are new to blogging or have done it for years, you can learn from these mistakes, and change the way you approach your own blog.

Mistake #1 You don’t post enough

How often do you post? If you haven’t seen the results yet, chances are you’re not blogging enough. If you’re not posting at least once per week at the bare minimum, you’re probably losing momentum. Frequency is what keeps people interested, and keeps them coming back. The more you post, the more traffic you’ll see. Commit to your frequency, and make sure you do it every week.

Mistake #2 You don’t write to engage your reader

After you’ve written a post, step back and read it one more time. Will people have a reason to comment on it? Did you ask questions? Is there something a little controversial? If not, go back and add a sentence or two that gives people a reason to comment. I love to ask questions along the way, and ask people what their opinions are. Make sure they have a reason to connect with you. [Read more…]

The 10 Advantages Of WordPress For Designing Your Photography Site

I heard a statistic a few weeks ago – 2 in 10 sites now being developed are using the WordPress platform. And I completely understand why. After using WordPress for the past few years, we wouldn’t use anything else.

1. It’s easy to design

Have a theme for your site in mind? It’s all doable with WordPress. The WordPress directory gives you access to over 1400 free themes to choose from. And if you do a search in Google for WordPress themes, you can find hundreds more. If you are willing to pay a little for a more custom theme, there are many more options for a great looking site. There are even specialized sites that will give you Photography WordPress Themes – just be creative in what you search for. And if you want to go all the way, hire a designer to give you a complete custom look and feel. Flexibility is what makes WordPress so powerful.

2. It’s easy to customize

Once your site is developed and you have your look and feel in place, you can continue to design and customize forever. Start with a full array of WordPress plugins – I’ve also provided a review of my favorite WordPress plugins here. Then add from there. If you have any coding skills at all, you can quickly start designing your own graphics and icons, and use them to promote and sell your products and services. [Read more…]

11 Things You Must Do To Be More Effective At Blogging

Do you blog? What does your blog mean to you?

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time now, hopefully you’re beginning to realize the importance of content on a blog. It can truly be the tool you need to catapult your business to a whole new level.

I started blogging years ago, and now use my blog on a daily basis to connect and build relationships with my customers. Along the way, I’ve discovered 11 things you must do to be more effective at blogging. Take a look at my list, and let me know what I’m missing. What do you do regularly that helps you build a strong web presence with your blog?

1. Talk To Your Visitors

When people come to a blog, it’s to learn more about you. If you offer great information, they will be back. As a photographer, they love to see your photographs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn more about you too. Instead of creating a post, titling it “Amanda’s Senior Photos”, and placing 10 of her best images in a row, do something more. Tell the story of Amanda. Tell what it was like working with Amanda. Pictures may pull us in; but if you have a story with the photographs, we’ll quickly feel that much closer to you.

2. Consistency

If you blog, you have to blog regularly. Doing it only when you feel like it, and only when you have time doesn’t cut it. To be recognized, you have to build a schedule and stick with it. If you blog once a day, make sure you get it in once per day. If you create a blog post on your recent senior portrait setting, make sure you create a blog post for every senior you photograph.

3. Use Plugins

Right now almost 1 in 5 websites online uses WordPress as its design platform, and with good reason. Nothing is easier than being able to load a plugin in to make your job easier, and give you even easier access to create great content for your readers. Here’s my list of 10 WordPress Plugins For Photographers – what are your favorites? [Read more…]

5 Blogging Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Business

Everyone is a blogger nowadays and with good reason. Because small business owners know the importance of being online, many look for the least expensive route to get there. And that often leads them into the blogging realm. It’s easy. It’s affordable. Why not?

Yet just because something is easy and affordable isn’t a reason to jump in headfirst and go full force unless you understand what you are doing and have a plan in place. Blogging, like any other marketing tool, has certain characteristics that make it a great tool. But if you don’t use it in the proper way, it can do more harm then good.

Here are the top blogging mistakes I see photographers make, and how you can avoid them.

Bad Writing

Some of us are writers. And some aren’t. While a blog needs to be personal in nature, and express your business style, you do need to be careful about what your message conveys. Are you writing complete thoughts? Do you have spelling and grammar errors? Are your posts interesting? Customers won’t come back if they can’t see beyond glaring errors that occur on a regular basis. Concentrate on writing great posts. And if you need help, hire a ghost blogger. [Read more…]

3 Ways To Make Sure Your Blog Posts Are Perfect For Search Engine Placement

If you are a photographer who is active online, chances are you have your own blog, and post new content on a regular basis. Posting is good  – content is and will be king well into the future. But posting in the correct way is the only way to go. If you don’t add content in the right way, it will never offer you SEO strategies, and help you gain traction where you need it the most – within Google.

Content is great, and its important to talk directly to the people that visit and read what you have to write on a regular basis. But one of the main reasons to blog is to attract new customers as well. When people are searching through Google – and 31 billion searches occur every month – will they find you with the searches they are performing?

If you want to start growing and attracting more visitors from Google, there are 3 ways to make sure your blog posts are perfect for search engine placement.

Put Your Keywords In Your Post Title And Title Tag

I was on a photography site the other day. It was a blog built by a wedding photographer, and he showcases many weddings per year, along with a variety of engagement and family photographs based around his wedding clientele. He adds a couple of posts per week, and titles them all in the same way:

  • John and Mary’s Wedding
  • Justin and Kim’s Engagement
  • Marc and Sarah’s New Baby

There is one big problem with this method: no other searcher in Google is going to look for a wedding photographer by typing into Google “John and Mary’s Wedding”. So this photographer isn’t gaining any traction by using this title.

By putting keywords into your title, your blog automatically inserts those keywords into the title tags and page name, and gives you an instant boost in SEO. So just by changing tactics, and posting “A Mountain Wedding In Aspen Colorado” instead of “John and Mary’s Wedding” will give you better traction in Google, and a better chance of being found when brand new searchers look for a “wedding photographer in Aspen Colorado”. [Read more…]

The Only Reason You Should Ever Create A Blog Post

I have a client. She’s a very good client, bringing in thousands of dollars to my business over the last several years.

When she originally found my business, she was just starting up her company. She heard me speak at an event, and decided to sign up for my ezine. She lurked on my list for a number of months while other things happened – she designed her logo, created her business plan, got funding, etc.

Then one day I ran into her again at a networking event. She said she had read my ezine for over a year, and loved the information it provided. She even had a special folder in her email account especially for my information, so she can go back and read it again and again.

We met for coffee. She signed up for my marketing services. And three years later she still has me on board to help market and grow her business.

Why did this happen? And more importantly, how can we make this happen again. And again?

Something shifted in her life. When she originally found me, she was motivated enough to take a tiny step. She signed up for my ezine, my free electronic newsletter that I send out twice per month. And that was fine for her for a while. She used it to gain new ideas, and help her plan out the next steps of her business model. Then the change happened, and she jumped on board as a client. Because she followed me, followed my advice, and was already in a relationship with my content, taking the next step was an easy one.

eZine – What About The Blog Post?

You are probably wondering why my title is The Only Reason You Should Ever Create A Blog Post, and up until now I’ve been talking about ezines. If you too have followed my ezines for a number of years, you know how I structure them.

  • I give a quick note about my personal life – something quick to learn a bit more about me.
  • I give one article that is exclusive to my ezine readers – information you can only get as an ezine subscriber.
  • I give two short stories that start out in my ezine, and link over to longer blog posts.

And while many people still follow my ezine regularly, I also realize that email is a dying format. Why? Because social is so much easier to gain access to the information you truly want.

  • You can choose an RSS reader like Google Reader, and have instant access to the RSS feeds you enjoy the most.
  • You can use apps like Flipboard that give you instant access to your news streams in magazine style format.
  • You can use Facebook and Twitter to follow people that provide quality information, and click to the news items that matter most to you.

Which is why I’m incorporating blog posts into my ezines, and have been doing so for the past two years.

I’m writing quality content that I know my readers love. And I want to share it in a way that my readers choose to read it – whether it’s through an ezine, through Facebook, or on a favorite app.

The true reason to create a blog post isn’t to sell your products or services, or to advertise your business. The true reason to create a blog post is to provide top quality information that helps your potential customers in some aspect.

If they can learn something new, and it motivates them to change something in their lives because of it (no matter how small), they will be back. You’ve made them think, and they value your expertise and your knowledge base.

By posting again and again, and spreading your content in a variety of ways, you are establishing a trail back to your business. Some will convert in a short period of time – a few days. Some will convert in a longer period of time – a few months or even years. But it your goal is to be in business 5 years from now, and have a steady stream of clients along the way, all it will really take is doing a little bit every single day.

Like one blog post – every day.

10 WordPress Plugins For Photographers

Are you using WordPress yet? If so, you know all the amazing things you can do. With a click of a mouse, you can download thousands of plugins that can make your blog/site do anything you choose. In this post, lets look at 10 plugins that can offer you, the photographer, a wide array of capabilities within your site – from marketing to showcasing your work.

All-In-One SEO

All-In-One-SEO – Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo can bring in loads of traffic to a site, but need to understand what your site is about. Search engines look beyond what you’re writing about, and also focus on your keywords and descriptions. Having a plugin for your search engine optimization helps make the connection easy. Here are a few items that this plugin provides: generates META tags automatically, fine tune Page Navigational Links, override any title or META description information to make it clearer.  And best of all…even if you are a beginner, you don’t even have to look at the options, it works out-of-the-box. Just install.

NextGEN Gallery

NextGEN Gallery – A full integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with a slideshow option. Want to load large amounts of images to your site? You can load zipped image files quickly instead of individual files. Tag your images with meta data so search engines can see them. Auto generate thumbnail images on the fly. And so much more…

SEO Friendly Images

SEO Friendly Images – SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. ALT attribute is important part of search engine optimization. It describes your images to search engines and when a user searches for a certain image, this is a key determining factor for a match. TITLE attribute play lesser role but is important for visitors as this text will automatically appear in the tooltip when mouse is over the image.

WP-Cycle

WP-Cycle – one of my favorites to add to a blog or site. Creates a running stream of image slides on a site and the best part is you can link them to a page or post. Easy to change sizing, both width and height and when the visitor hovers over the image, it pauses the show so they can click it. [Read more…]