Despite the fact that blogs have been around for more than a few years now, it amazes me that there are still so many photographers who either don’t have a blog at all, or have one that’s poorly maintained.
These days, it’s almost as important for photographers to have a blog as it is for them to have a web site. Blogging is a form of social media and, since we’re now firmly in the social age of the web, a blog is necessary to create a level of social engagement with our clients that you just can’t achieve with a static web site.
This week I’ll be presenting a series of new posts and bonus article on the subject of blogging for photographers, useful to all photographers regardless of their experience with the world of blogging.
Today, we’ll start out by looking at the basics of writing and maintaining a blog.
Why Have A Blog? Don’t I Have Enough To Do?
Well, I’m sure you do have a lot on your plate, but the reality of marketing a photography studio in today’s business landscape means that there’s a lot more to be done than there used to be!
In the ever-accelerating world in which we live, it seems that we have to take on more and more tasks each day, and get them done faster than ever. The pace of life is becoming relentless, but we must do everything we can to keep up!
Welcome to the world of the small business owner!
So, why do you need a blog? Surely, a web site and a Facebook page are enough to get you all the business you need, right?
Your web site can be considered as the face of your photography business. It tells people what you do, where you are, how they can get in touch with you, and an idea of what they might expect from working with you.
A blog, on the other hand, is more akin to your voice and personality. It adds another dimension to your prospect’s web experience of “you” that lets her get a better idea of who you are and how you approach your assignments. Much like a well-rounded character in a novel, your client can really feel as though she can get to know you in more detail through the articles and stories on your blog.
In a sense, it’s the pulse of your business…
As for your Facebook page, that can be considered more as a micro-blog. Yes, you can share photos, videos, links and status updates, but it’s really in the form of mini-bites. Facebook is indispensable, of course, and it has an important purpose, but it can’t and shouldn’t replace a blog for the purposes of fostering a deeper level of engagement.
A blog really allows you to express your voice with much more depth and meaning than you could through Facebook alone.
What Blogging Platform Is Best For Me?
So how do you get a blog started? In fact, there are quite a few platform choices for serious blogging currently available:
While all of the above are excellent ways to publish an online blog, there is one hands-down winner, in my opinion: WordPress.
There are several reasons why I believe a WordPress-based blog or website is the obvious choice for any blogger, not just photographers:
- Fast becoming an industry standard
- Easy to install
- Vast (and expanding) array of useful plugins
- Easily-customizable with a huge choice of themes
- Can be self-hosted
It’s the last one that I believe is one of the most important reasons to use a WordPress blog, the objective being to retain all of the SEO (search engine optimization) qualities of your blog content.
SEO is all-important for your web site and blog, since this determines how much web traffic you’ll see from the search engines. More traffic equals more prospects, more clients, and better sales, so it’s worth giving it the respect it deserves.
Hosting your blog on your own domain means that you get all the SEO benefits, rather than passing those on to the hosting site (blogpspot.com, blogger.com, typepad.com etc.). Unfortunately, for those whose blogs are hosted by one of these free platforms, all the SEO credit is given to the hosting domain, instead of you, where it really belongs.
Where Should I Put My Blog?
The answer is to host the blog yourself, for which there are three main options:
The first two are the better options from an SEO perspective, while hosting the blog on a subdomain (option 3) is okay, but may not have quite the same SEO advantages.
Whichever one you choose, you’ll be assured of a much better SEO result than hosting your blog on one of the free blogging sites mentioned above.
Anatomy Of A Blog
It’s worth spending a few moments taking a quick look at the general anatomy of a blog, and what some of the terms mean that you might encounter in your blogging research.
A blog is made up of several self-explanatory components:
- Header (blog title, tagline, business contact details)
- Navigation (menus and site buttons)
- Content (post and pages)
- Sidebars (zero or more)
- Footer (copyright info, important internal links)
These can be arranged in a variety of ways to provide a different user experience, for example:
You may also come across the term “widget”, which refers to a small application that can be added to the sidebar (or content). For example, the sidebar on this site is populated with several such widgets, such as a calendar, list of recent posts, an app to link with on Google+ etc.
The Main Benefits Of A Blog
The effect on your overall SEO position has already been mentioned as a major benefit of blogging, but if that’s not reason enough for you to start a blog then there are other considerations:
Keeping Your Clients Updated
Your blog can act as a conduit between you and your clients to keep them regularly updated on what’s happening in your photography business. This means you can post stories, news, upcoming events, photos from sessions, special offers, your personal projects and photographic adventures etc. without having to craft new web pages.
Each of your blog posts are aimed at engaging your clients and prospects with your brand, to provide them with meaningful points of contact and relevant and timely information about you and your business.
Be careful that you don’t go overboard on the marketing aspects. For example, if you constantly post entries about your latest specials, then people might stop reading.
Successful blogging for the photographer is all about creating a good balance.
Client And Business Interaction
Something that really differentiates a blog from a regular web site is the ability for the visitor to easily leave a comment about what they’ve read and seen. This interaction between the client or prospect and the business was really the main precursor from which the social web of today evolved.
For the site visitor, it provides a way for their opinion and voice to be heard, while it allows the business to keep track of how their content is being received.
Of course, there is the added SEO benefit, in that the search engines consider comments to be a good indicator of popularity. Posts with more comments are therefore more relevant, thereby increasing their page ranking in searches.
Humanizing Your Business
Now that social media has gained such a foothold, business is more about relationships than ever before. People don’t want to work with faceless entities that have no personality – they much prefer dealing with real people.
Consider this old sales adage:
“People buy from people who are like them, and from people they like.”
Blogging gives your audience the opportunity to get to know you and the chance to like you – increasing your odds of finding more of your ideal clients.
A blog is the perfect way to put a real and three-dimensional human face to your business, and to allow some of your personality and authenticity to shine through. It is extremely difficult to fake authenticity and if people understand why you do what you do (and they agree with it), they will be more likely to hire you and become evangelists for you and your brand.
Posts Or Pages?
A question someone asked me a couple of days ago, was: “What’s the difference between blog posts and pages?“
Blogs generally do have two different types of content: “posts” and “pages“.
Pages can be considered to be more like static content, and they help to form the framework of the blog site, such as “About Us”, “FAQ”, “Studio Policies” etc.
Posts, on the other hand are more like journal entries, which can be divided into categories and assigned tags (basically, keywords). There are usually many more posts on a blog than pages, for obvious reasons.
But I’m Not Technical!
One of the great things about using a WordPress blog is that it doesn’t require a great deal of technical know-how, yet it’s powerful and open enough for those who are technical that want to get into the nitty-gritty of HTML, CSS and PHP programming.
You really don’t need to know any HTML in order to write a basic blog, although I will admit that some rudimentary knowledge can be helpful. HTML is not rocket science and I believe most people can quickly and easily get at least a working knowledge of it from the many sources freely available on the Internet.
In the next post in this sequence, we’ll be talking about how to set up a WordPress blog from scratch, and you’ll be amazed at just how quickly you can get started with your blog.
Comments And Thoughts?
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this useful. If you have thoughts, further insights or comments, please do share them below.