Are you a photographer who dreams of taking your photography business to the next level?
Well, one of the things that creative people (like artists, writers and, yes, photographers) forget is that you grow a business by marketing it – not necessarily by just being good at what you do. There are plenty of good photographers out there.
So what’s the problem?
Not all photography businesses have a huge budget to spend on marketing.
And that’s where a blog comes into it.
In this post I’m going to talk about how you can start a blog (or use an existing one) to get you more clients for your photography business. I don’t run a photography blog but I’ve got a bit of experience with helping small businesses grow using content marketing.
I’ll use a few examples from photographers I know as well as taking some sweet ideas from similar small businesses doing the same thing.
Not all blogs/websites are created equal
For the purposes of this article I thought it would be important to make a few distinctions.
And let’s start by highlighting the fact that a regular “brochure” website is not the same as a blog. Not by a long way.
What’s the difference between a blog and a website?
So what’s the difference? Well, a website is something that generally has static content – pages like About Us, Services, Gallery, Contact and so on. A blog is something that you update regularly with new content. The newest posts usually appear at the top. This comes with a huge set of advantages – some you might never have considered.
Can the two work together?
Absolutely. In fact, that is the ideal situation. The best way to set your photography website up is to make sure it has a blog integrated seamlessly with the rest of the website. Having a blog on a separate domain name is good but not nearly as good as building one under your main brand name. I’ll explain why later.
Where do I get started?
If you don’t have a blog (or a website) and want to learn more I’ve done a video and a full walkthrough on blog hosting that helps you understand how it all works together and how to get started the right way the first time around. You can also check out this Wiki later on for some hosting alternatives.
So how can a blog bring you more photography clients?
Now that we’ve got some of the preliminary stuff out of the way let’s jump into the meat and potatoes of the post.
1. A blog helps to build trust
The first thing to note about a blog is that it helps you build a lot of trust with your potential customers and clients. This is an extremely important part of growing a business these days because a huge amount of your customers will research you before they engage your services. In fact, some people say that one in three people look at the website before engaging the business.
Part of this means having a well designed website that showcases your work and part of it means showing your personality. This is especially important for things like wedding photography where your client will want to have a good relationship with you as it is such an important day for them.
A few cool shots from Lisa K’s blog.
Tasmanian photographer Lisa K does this extremely well by having her blog as the homepage of her photography website. The articles she posts are about her daily life and family but always showcase some stunning photographs that would, no doubt, help to create an initial “buzz” and trust with a potential client.
2. A blog helps to increase your reach
The most important part of marketing a business is reach – you need to get in front of new people as often as possible.
This can be quite a difficult concept to understand because we are usually told that loyalty and repeat customers is the most important. Well, if you have five loyal clients who bring you the majority of your business but one drops off then you’re in trouble. A better scenario is to reach new people regularly and then convert them into loyal customers by providing a quality service. Reach is always more important than loyalty for growth.
So how does a blog help to increase your reach?
Well, it gives people something to share and a platform for you to promote all the cool intricacies of your business. People are very unlikely to share around just a portfolio site (unless it’s incredible!) but if you publish a quirky or unique blog post that’s different to your regular material you might find it makes the rounds on Pinterest or Twitter and brings you some new clients.
For example, let’s say you have some hilarious wedding photos of brides trashing their dresses. They’d look look good in a portfolio but imagine the difference it would make if you combined them into one blog post called 10 Hilarious Photos of Brides Ruining their Expensive Dresses. Much more entertaining and shareable.
3. A blog can get you more exposure locally
Google is now giving a lot of weight to local listings. What this means is that if someone types in “photographer” into a Google search they are going to get result from their local area. Here’s an example:
As you can see, in South Australia I get a Wikipedia result and then the next few are all local South Australian photographers.
Now, a blog can help you take this to the next level in a few ways. The main one is that every blog post you publish will increase your visibility for local terms. For example, if you do a blog post called 25 Beautiful Landscape Photos from Around Sydney you are more likely to rank for terms relating to those photographs to people in Sydney.
Or, you might do a blog post about every photo shoot that you do with local businesses. When people see those photos on those businesses websites or marketing materials and then look it up on Google you’re more likely to appear. So you can piggyback off the success of your client and your quality photos to get more business.
4. A blog gives your website multiple new points of entry
This point strongly relates to the previous one but is worth mentioning on it’s own.
Every time you publish a blog post it (if set up correctly) publishes with it’s own unique web address called a permalink. For example, let’s say you do a post called 5 Interesting Photos from New York that post’s permalink would be something like www.yourwebsite.com/5-interesting-photos-from-new-york/
The great thing about this is that Google will index each post like this in the search results separately depending on what people search for, and how authoritative your website is. This is quite a complicated field we’re getting into now so if you’re interested you can read this SEO for blogs article or this list of SEO tips from Darren.
The main point, however, is that for every blog post you publish you’re creating a new set of keywords through which people can enter your blog.
A great real-world example is my mate Tim fromwho told me the other night that since he started blogging and posting photos of his flooring jobs he’s getting more and more phone calls every day. As each one has a different set of keywords (carpet, concrete, bamboo, timber, etc.) he’s got a lot of entry points he didn’t previously.
5. A blog can help your website rank higher
Now, one of the cool things about the previous few points is that if you do them all within your own website you can cause that website to rank higher on Google for important terms like “photographer in [your city]”.
Google likes to show results that are both fresh and of the highest quality. So if you have a small five page website with not much changing, Google might not think it’s all that useful.
If, on the other hand, your website has an active blog with lots of new posts, people sharing it on social media and so on, Google is likely to think it’s more useful for their customers (people searching) and thus rank it higher.
As you can see in the image above, this can lead to an immediate increase in business because the first result in Google gets over 35% of the traffic for that page. Worse still, the first page gets over 95% of clicks so if you aren’t in the first few results you’re getting overlooked.
6. A blog can help you form new collaborations
A good online friend of mine, Jamie Swanson, runs two photography blogs. One of them is embedded in her main business website and acts as a promoter of her main services. Her second blog, however, is called The Modern Tog and it’s all about running a photography business.
I wanted to mention her second site because it is a great example of someone who has set up something slightly out of the box and created a lot of new connections because of it.
For example, Jamie contacted me through Blog Tyrant about a year ago and I put her in touch with the content editor at ProBlogger. This lead to her writing a hugely successful post about Pinterest that, in many ways, has lifted her reputation online as someone who knows about photography and the marketing side of photography.
It wouldn’t have happened without the blog.
7. A blog can help reduce client friction
Client friction is what happens when they visit your site, like your stuff but for some reason don’t make contact. It could be because they don’t like your prices or it might be something a little bit more intangible like not really “feeling the vibe”.
James Field runs one of Adelaide’s best wedding photography businesses and has a great little video on his website that is a cool example of something you can do to get your clients to know you better.
Now, James’s video isn’t on a blog but it’s the perfect kind of cross-platform content that a blog is perfect for. For example, you could do a series of these types of videos showing how the wedding day pans out for your clients. These could then bring you traffic from YouTube as well as reducing client friction on your blog.
Tips for your photography blog
So now you’ve got some reasons as to why you might want to have a blog on your photography businesses website. But once you’ve got the blog what are some things you can do to make sure it succeeds?
- Be personal
People will love your photos (if you’re good) but they might not like you. Try to figure out who your audience is an, if possible, make sure you are personal and friendly.
- Know your brand
Know who you are targeting and what keyword they might be looking for on Google. This will help you craft the right content.
- Make sure it loads fast
People are getting less and less patient when it comes to websites. In fact, a one second delay can affect conversions by up to 7%.
- Find a way to be different
Don’t just publish the same stuff everyone else is. Take a leaf out of BuzzFeed’s book and use content we’ve all seen to come up with something fun, shareable and relevant.
- Make your blog your “home base”
In my guide to social media I talk about the fact that your blog should be your base for all your social media activities. This way, all the Tweets, Pins and Shares that you get go towards growing your blog’s traffic and rankings.
Do you run a photography blog?
I’d be interested to hear how many DPS readers have photography blogs and whether or not they’ve helped to get more customers vs just a static website. What has worked for you? Leave a comment and let us know!
Also check out dPS founder – Darren Rowse’s article – How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps.