Like many of you I have struggled with blogging (like really? What should I write about?), SEO, what website platform offers the best fit for me, and the ever declining reach of social media. I have always loved to customize and change up my website design, but I soon learned that the “back end” needed to function just like the front end of my website. I have spent the last two years researching SEO and blogging, and how to make it work for my business. I hope this guide helps you on your SEO and Blogging journey.
Many photographers have blogs, but only a small fraction of us actually use them in a beneficial way. When researching the question of why photographers don’t blog, two answers stuck out for me.
They don’t know what to write about
Who has time to sit and type out lengthy blog post every single day? So, time and fear of producing relevant content leads to photographers avoiding the task altogether.
There are so many benefits to blogging, especially since our visual medium is suited for such display. The blogging part of this guide is geared toward teaching you how to put together a variety of blog content with the goal of getting you to blog on a regular basis. Before you jump right in, I recommend making a blogging plan.
How many times a week would you like to blog (Think scheduling blog posts)
What categories would you like to blog about? (Client stories, tutorials, personal post, vendor spot lights)
For example, my goal in 2019 was to blog at least three times per week. The categories I wanted to blog about included client stories, design client-features, tutorials, gear, something personal (my own kids, something about Essential Oils), vendors I love, education and mentorships, and reviews.
For this guide, let’s focus on writing a blog post about a client session. Whether you are blogging about a family or a motherhood session, there is always a story to tell. You have already told them with your beautiful images, now you have to articulate that story in to words. If you are not currently a SEO expert, that’s is OKAY! We will have plenty of time for you to master SEO techniques after you master the art of writing blog posts. You do, however, need to have an SEO plan in mind. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind when writing a blog post.
Choose one main keyword to focus on.
Write as much as you want.
Link to other articles or blog post you have written using appropriate keywords. (ex. If you are blogging a newborn session you may link back to mamas maternity session)
Put proper data into the images that you’re posting (descriptive titles, alt text, etc.)
Implementing the tools NOW will help benefit your blogging career and send you down the correct path.
Now that you have a plan and know a bit about SEO, how the heck do you actually write the blog post? What should you write about? The answer is simple! You write about the story your images are telling. It is true that an image is worth a 1000 words, but you need at least 300 of those words written if you want search engines to pick up the content from your blog.
Here are a couple of examples about how to write these stories.
Tell the story of the images from your own heart in your own words. What do these images make you feel? What emotions did you feel while capturing your client’s story?
Have clients retell the story from their own point of view!
If you have trouble putting words together to tell the story try having your client to help by sending a quick email after their session asking questions like:
What do you love the most about your children/husband/being pregnant?
How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a mother?
What is not so easy about being a mama?
Now that you’ve learned HOW to write a blog post lets talk about the WHY.
Why do you need to blog? What’s the point? Is anyone reading?
Blogging is good for SEO
Search engines love when you blog because it helps them figure out what your site is about and the value you are providing your visitors. With a lot of good content your site is more valuable to search engines and your visitors. When I consistently blog I see an increase in my website’s performance thus bringing in more inquiries.
Targeted blog topics are also amazing for SEO. It gives your website more topics to talk about which means that visitors are also seeing post about styling their sessions, beautiful location options, or products they can display in their homes.
Blogging provides value to your clients & visitors
Even if you only post your client stories you are giving insight to being a photographer. This may mean the world to someone just starting out in our industry. Everything you know is brand new to someone else.
You can focus on post that help your clients in their everyday lives, or even write a personal post about yourself. It could be a funny story about your children, a post about wellness or self-care. The beauty of blogging is these are YOUR stories. Your clients often like to know you on a personal level, and this is a great way to give them a glimpse of who you are. If the one difference between you and a competitor is that your client knows something personal about you (insert funny kid story here) then you have an advantage! They know you and they feel closer to you, so insert your personality throughout your blog and website.
What do I blog about?
Its so easy for me to tell you GO BLOG, but I know from experience that sitting down to compose these stories can be easier said than done. Sometimes it’s just really hard to sit and think what to write about. The easiest thing is to write what you know. Here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Write about business
Write about your most recent session, or one of your favorite ones. (Hello fall/holiday minis) What did you do during your session? What went wrong? What went right? How did you handle the situations, crazy kiddos, the elements, or the lighting? Why did you enjoy it? Provide some examples of your work and it can even become a mini portfolio!
Blogging about your business lets people know more about you, your personality, and how you handle situations. It lets them know what they should prepare for, and that they are in good hands with you. It shows off your work and capabilities, and shows them your value.
Write about Photography
If there is one thing you know its photography! Amiright? No matter how new you are, there is a reason you decided to pick up a camera and create this career. Share some of that knowledge with your clients and viewers. This will give your clients and viewers an insight about what you really do behind that camera, and what makes you so special. Once they know a little more about the techniques, people generally tend to value custom photography a little more. Even if they never use it themselves, knowing what goes into creating beautiful art makes it more interesting and appealing.
Write about your clients
Tell your clients story! I use client questionnaires to get to know my clients before they book me. Knowing a little about their family or situation is very helpful for me to create their images. It is also helpful when composing my blog stories. The more you know about your clients the deeper you can make connections. Clients love to read about themselves and the way you saw their family. These types of blogs inadvertently jump out at others and can be a great way to attract even more clients.
Write about yourself
There is nothing more unique than your own life experiences, and it adds a little personality to your business, putting that face to the name.
Clients and viewers are looking for someone to connect with. Clients are searching for someone to capture a very personal part of their lives, so it is important that they connect with you. We have all had sessions that we just didn’t really click with a client or it was awkward, and then we have had session that left us so deeply touched and connected to our clients that we not only gained them as a client, but as a friend. These are the types of connections I want to make, and sharing personal bits of my own life helps create these connections. It is so important to try and relate to your clients, and blogging about your family, traditions, personal care, and interest outside of business all helps to make those connections. I would much rather hire someone who has things in common with me than someone who does not relate to me at all. Remember you are telling their stories.
Whatever you choose to write about. There are a few things you can do to make your blog awesome. Good grammar and readability is key, but being a professional writer is not as important as you may think. (ex. I write like I am speaking to people. It’s what you write about, what you include (this includes images), and how you say it that matters the most.
No one likes a Debby Downer! People want to work with someone cheery, talkative, and fun to be around, or at least something along those lines. I have worked with photographers for my own family photos that only spoke to me and never acknowledged my husband or children. Needless to say, my family session never received a blog post. I personally was very put off by her demeanor, and it made a difference in the way I thought about her. Clients see the things you write and they take note! If you are constantly negative, then it comes across as a platform to gripe and moan, and they will pick up on that.
People are visual and they love to see pretty pictures. I can’t count the times that I have stalked other photographer’s blogs and wished that I had family photos like they produce. A photograph really is worth a 1000 words. Photos also increase media performance! You are a photographer, so show your work off. It doesn’t just improve the look of your website, it’s a stealthy portfolio too.
Photos can also be included in Google Image searches, and to increase shareability on social media, especially Pinterest! Make sure to alt tag your images so that search engines know what they are looking at. What are alt tags you ask? We will go over that in the SEO portion of this guide.
I’m going to touch on keywords here because it’s relevant, but we will go more in depth later in this guide.
If you want your blog to be found in search engines then you want to include important keywords in your title, subheadings, your image alt tags, and the post text body itself. It is not really about forcing where it doesn’t belong, but making sure to include it in the most important parts of your blog, making it stand out more to search engines and clients. This is what will get you noticed. Hello number one on Google!
Getting your blog out there
Writing your blog is the easy part, but writing is not always enough. Getting your blog out there is just as important. If no one knows about it, how are they going to read it? A very important part is getting it out there so people CAN read it!
Keywords are time consuming, but one of the most important parts of blogging and getting your blog seen.
Sharing on social media is a great way to direct clients and potential clients to your website. Whatever platform you choose, (Facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest) sharing your blog post gives your social media more purpose, and increases readership.
An email newsletter can be a great tool for gaining exposure. If you are working on a mailing list then add blogs as a worthwhile thing to send out to your subscribers.
Getting your blog out there takes work and it’s not always easy. It can be disheartening to see a blog you worked hard on getting no attention. Don’t be to let down! These things take time and having a backlog still contributes to your website and your business. Never expect to go viral and always think of the long term. Social Media has become so unreliable in getting all of our content to potential clients that eventually they will have to return to Google to search for things they want. Remember… think long term!
Honestly, there is no perfect answer to this question. However, some quick advice would be if you are not blogging at all, that is not enough. Even if you are super busy, try to find a small window to compose several post and schedule them out, even if they are small post. A rarer problem is blogging too much. Blogging on a daily basis works for some people, especially if you are sharing shorter post about your own life. However, remember that time-spent blogging could also be used improving your business in other ways, so don’t let it take over your business completely. This is why I choose to write several posts at one time and schedule them out. This is similar to scheduling social media post. Blog often enough that your website doesn’t look dead, and not so often that other areas of your business suffers.
Now we get into the fun part….
Which one is better and why is it better? Which should I use?
I have personally used Prophoto with WordPress for yeeeaaaaarrrsss, and I currently operate with Prophoto 7. I have been comfortable with the Prophoto platform and I can navigate the ins and outs of designing and customizing the platform. I have recently been researching Squarespace and Showit 5 to see if one may fit my needs better. There is no question that WordPress is the King of SEO, but as my business grows I want my brand to grow as well. I can’t tell you which to use, but I can tell you that many people like all three. Showit offers you all the design freedom, but comes with a monthly/annual fee, and some aren’t fans from an SEO perspective. I don’t know much about Squarespace other than it’s all template operated and pretty simple to use. As far as SEO, I’ve heard it is doable to have good SEO but very difficult. I personally will continue on with Prophoto for now.
So let me guess… you’re here because you are tired of paying for advertising that’s not really reaching your clients and potential clients, and you have heard that blogging can result in an insane about of visibility. You have Googled SEO and have seen a plethora of overwhelming information. At this point you are probably having trouble comprehending all the information and are not sure where to turn to for help. Learning SEO is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. This guide is going to help you figure out what you need to do to in what order.
The first thing you should understand when learning about SEO, is you get out what you put into it. If you are not giving your SEO your all, you will not see results or at best very minimal results. You can’t blog a few times and do a few keyword and alt tags and expect a ranking. SEO is very much like a fitness plan. You need to put in the effort, but the pay off in the end is worth it if you do it properly. The reason people give up on SEO is not because it’s impossible to understand, it’s because they aren’t dedicated to the cause.
You need to assess your workload and your workflow to accommodate for a blogging schedule, and devote the time to blogging. You can learn all the SEO in the world, but if you don’t follow through with any of the knowledge it will not do any good.
Understand that all websites are not created equal in terms of blogging and SEO. WordPress is the most superior blogging platform. Squarespace markets its self as very “SEO friendly,” but the more you learn the more you’ll realize that Squarespace is great at marketing and that you don’t have as much control over SEO as you do with WordPress. If you are not on WordPress I highly recommend migrating your site before you being blogging.
Recognize that your venture into SEO may mane you need to revamp the design of your website. Your website is basically your storefront. You would want everything to be pretty and perfect, but that it’s also functional. You want to make sure clients know where everything is, and where they can find pertinent information. Websites not only need to be search engine friendly, but also user friendly. A client will look for a link for information for and average 6 seconds before navigation away form your site. Your website should be incredibly organized and showcase links to what your clients want to see. This is important because ranking number one for your keyword after all the SEO work wont do a bit of good if they cant find what they are looking for and click out of the browser.
Understand that SEO takes time. It will take time to get a WordPress site set up if you’re not already on WordPress. It will also take time to learn how to properly write articles and post specific for SEO. Search engine indexers also take time to crawl your site, and it could be weeks or even months before you start seeing results and benefits from your SEO. It is important not to dismiss other forms of advertising until you start seeing results of you SEO endeavor. Be patient because your hard work will pay off!
LEARN! Now that you are in the proper mindset for your SEO journey, its time to learn. Read everything you can about SEO! While it can be a daunting task it is one that will pay off.
A major component of SEO is Keywords. This is the first thing you should learn about when optimizing your website. Put yourself in your client’s shoes as they research potential photographers. You wouldn’t want to attract clients searching for “wedding photographers” when you want to appeal to clients searching for “newborn photographers”
Simple keywords go along way in developing a long-term SEO plan. You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and enter keywords you think best describe your specific services. Search for keyword with a medium to low competition score for best results.
Claim your City
Many photographers who have a physical location in a city or town have the added bonus with local search results. I have a hard time with this one because I live in a very rural area, so I simply use all of the larger cities around me for this.
You spend a lot of time creating beautiful images for your clients, your website, social media, and your portfolio, but sometimes miss out on optimizing them for your website. Here is how you can get maximum SEO efforts with images.
Reduce the file size:
For the most part, and image width of 1500px is optimal for loading time and image quality with a file size of less than 500KB for best results.
Name your images descriptively:
Uploading your images and using the generic file name (SOOC such as IMG_0936.jpg) is doing nothing for your SEO. Descriptive and keyword-rich file names you’ve researched are essential for image optimization. Google doesn’t read the actual image; it reads the text associated with the graphics.
I hope this guide has been helpful in preparing you for a wonderful blogging and SEO path. It is not the easiest path, but if you work hard you WILL see results. I love to share and I love to help so if you find yourself stuck and overwhelmed please reach out to ask questions. If you would like help with website customization or SEO help, I would love to chat with you about customization opportunities.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I am so blessed to be included in your adventure. I would love it if you followed me on my journey, and I would enjoy following you back!