Learn to Love Blogging as Much as Photography
Now if you are like the majority of photographers that I know, you loathe the idea of blogging. Most photographers either don’t blog, don’t have a blog, or refuse to even acknowledge you are speaking English when you mention the word “blogging.” If you find yourself in any one of those categories, I am here to tell you that you need to be changing your ways and pronto!
BLOGGING: ADD NEW MATERIAL TO OR REGULARLY UPDATE A BLOG
So just in case you dislike the idea of blogging so much that you forgot even what the word means, I was kind enough to add the definition here for you. After reading it, did you catch the word that was important there? Regular. So all you photographers (and small business owners) out there that think just owning the blog makes you winning, you are actually hurting yourself more if you aren’t utilizing it. Good news for you is I am going to teach you how to start blogging and quite possibly fall in love with blogging.
Before we can dive into any of the meat and potatoes of this blog post, we first need to tackle the passion of why we are blogging. I am going to assume that if you are still reading this blog post that means that you don’t love to blog, capisce? But what if I were to tell you that you need to look at blogging as a bi-product of the original passion you have…photography. And that by blogging your stories, you are only sharing your first love.
To dig into this thought process a little more… did someone teach you about photography, or did it just happen? Because usually artists fall into two categories: the ones that were instant rock stars and had an amazing eye, and the other 99% of us who had to work our tails off to be the photographers that we are today. What if you had decided that this was all too hard in the beginning and quit? You wouldn’t be where you are today, and assuming you actually like the job you are doing, I am going to say you believe it is worth holding onto.
Just like photography, as soon as you understand how to blog and complete your post with efficiency, you will wonder why you waited so long to get started. People usually will shy away from something that they don’t understand or get easily frustrated with, which is what usually happens with blogging. When really, blogging can be quite simple and rewarding. Once you have an outlet to share your passion for your art and gain followers who also love your art, it drives your passion to create more art. See where I am going here? By loving photography, you are going to blog your photography, which is only going to drive your passion for photography even more.
Now that we have figured out why we have the passion to start blogging, we now have to figure out the mission. What are your goals in sharing your photography? Most photographers want to gain more clients and are getting more and more frustrated as their social media isn’t working. Blogging gives another platform to be found, letting potential clients see what work you are currently working on and create an emotional pull for clients to book you without even speaking together. So let’s get this right… just by BLOGGING you can BE FOUND, SPEAK CREATIVELY, and BOOK CLIENTS? Tell me again why you aren’t blogging?
BE FOUND, SPEAK CREATIVELY, AND BOOK CLIENTS… The power of blogging. –Tweet this
As I said before, blogging may seem complicated but once you have a workflow established and learn a few tricks, you will find that you can sit down and blog several sessions in the time it use to take you hours. To help get you started I am going to walk you through a very basic blog post.
- WORDPRESS – When I first started blogging, WordPress immediately stood out as the superior choice. The manner in which you can create your posts, make changes, and promote your articles is nearly effortless. There are other choices here so be sure to do your research. If you don’t know what your options even are, visit the post here that might help make your best choice.
- PROPHOTO – To give my blog a more crafted look, I chose to use a ProPhoto template for my design. With ProPhoto there are two options: to implement the design yourself, or have their team of professional help you. Depending on how tech savvy you are, you might consider having their team install your template or hiring a graphic designer to help. As you are searching for the right design keep in mind there are free templates that come with the basic ProPhoto purchase or there are several different options you can find for sale.
- BLOGSTOMP – I’ve discussed this tool before but it’s worth repeating – without Blogstomp my workflow would be no where near as fast! Blogstomp really is a must if you are going to be doing any placement of media into your blog post. To read the top 10 reasons I love Blogstomp, you can find that article here.
- H1 & H2 – These two abbreviations are very important. With Google and their method ranking of your website, otherwise known as SEO (for Search Engine Optimization), you need to have included both H1 and H2 headers. By adding H1 and H2 headers you are letting Google know what information is relevant in your article, thus ranking it higher. With this post as an example, I have my blog title as the H1 header, followed by key points made throughout the article as H2 headers. If you are blogging a family session try to create multiple pieces of your story to break it down into sections with H2 headers. Sessions such as weddings or travel wouldn’t be as complicated but a little bit of creative thinking will be needed for shorter pieces.
- LENGTH – The biggest downfall of many photographers sharing their sessions are that they don’t TALK enough. Again like the H1 and H2 titles, Google wants to know that it is sharing relevant information and articles worth reading. Reading, not just viewing. If you have a senior session that you are blogging and all you write is something like:“Susie was nice. The lighting was perfect for our session together. I can’t wait for Susie to see her final images.” Is that something that you would really want to read? Let me help you… the answer is no and Google knows that, ranking your blog post lower. In order to increase the SEO ranking of your blog post, it should consist of a word count around 250-300, while making sure that the information being shared is descriptive of what you are originally posting about. For example, instead of writing the above stated copy of Susie something like this might be better and more informative:“Tonight’s session with Susie was absolutely magically! We had been talking for weeks about what Susie needed to bring for her session, what outfits she would wear, and what locations we would be shooting at. Together we made sure no stone was left unturned and eased any pre-session jitters. On the day of her session, Susie was a champ! Paired with beautiful lighting, Susie took direction with grace and mastery, making my job seem effortless. “From there, I would increase your copy even more by going into detail about each location that you shot at or talking about the details of Susie’s session, such as her clothing choices. Looking at this blog post as a potential client, I am already relaxed at knowing you are great at helping plan the session, will help me make decisions on my clothing and location choices, and we will have lots of fun together. Also by talking more personally about your sessions, you are letting your client know that you enjoyed your time together and they are more than just a paycheck to you, leaving a more positive impression with them.
- IMAGES – How you decide to layout your images is completely up to you. Some people prefer to keep their layouts simplified, while others prefer big collages. When laying out your blog post keep in mind the ease to which people can look at your images and how easily they can be re-pinned to Pinterest or shared on other platforms. Personally, I prefer one or two images paired together, as it let’s the focus stay with each image that I choose to feature. Large collages inserted into a mix of other images can become too visually stimulating, resulting in people losing interest. You want to draw people in and have them really focusing on your photography. After you have your images picked you need to be sure you are prepping them correctly. To ensure that your images look their best, size them to fit the width of your blog. Each blog will recommend different width size depending on what side banners you have picked, as well as what other graphics you have installed on your blog. The recommended image size for this blog is 634 PX and you can find that information listed on the right side of your blog post, listed under “Recommended Image Size.”
- ALT TAGS – Alt tags are another way for Google to easily rank your article and your images. Typically when I am inserting an alt tag, I will copy and paste my H1 header into each image. This is just a short and simple shortcut to making sure I have each image appropriately labeled.
Full session by: Ashly Collins Photography HERE
- TAGS – I know what you are probably thinking right now, “great, MORE tags,” but I promise this is super easy to knock out. Tags make your site easier for readers to come and find information on your blog. For instance, a mother is coming to look on your blog to see what your family sessions are like can simply click on the tag “FAMILY” and it will take her to all sessions that have the same tag. This is great especially if you cater to more than one speciality of photography. Two ways that you can tag sessions without having to go through and type them out specifically each time would be to either copy and paste the tags from another post such as this:
It is important to copy from your post page rather than from inside the post itself. If you try to copy the tags from inside the post, the copy tool will also copy each “X” that separates all the topics. One other shortcut you could use for quickly entering tags would be to keep a Google document ready with all the different tags you might use for different sessions that you blog. For example, you would tag a wedding different than you would a newborn and different than you would a family. Once you have your general tags in, I would then go back and add a few tags that are particular to that session, again making it easier for your site to be indexed.
- SEO BY YOAST – If you look at the plugins available on WordPress, one common plugin you will find is SEO by Yoast. I am using it for this blog and, so far, I can say I find it rather easy. Once you know what to plug in and where, this plugin won’t look so scary. By not plugging in the right information, this plugin could also be useless, so be sure to utilize it correctly.
Look at the example above. This was taken from the blog post by contributor Kala Rath. In her article she discusses finding your confidence as an artist. If you visit the article here, you will see that I have the H1/Title in the SEO Title box, as well as Kala’s business name. I also take that same line and copy/paste it into the post title box, at the beginning of the post.
For the keyword I try to pick something that is relevant in the H1 title, is found throughout the body of the post, and isn’t something that I use frequently. Over-using a word for the focus keyword will also decrease the SEO value of the post, so be sure to mix it up and make it as unique to each blog post as possible. Finally, for the meta description you want to tell Google what the body of text talks about. I generally will take and copy and paste the first few sentences of my post, as long as it contains my relevant keyword. You are allowed 156 characters and be sure to use as many as possible. After you have plugged in all of the SEO sections, you can save your post in draft and go back to check the page analysis. While some things cannot be changed, using this analysis will help you determine how you can increase the value of your post.
While there are more moving pieces to the SEO puzzle, this will give you a great start.
- FEATURE IMAGE – Finally, after checking over your post, be sure to pick a featured image for your blog post. This is just another way for Google to rank your post, as well as giving other social media outlets a way to visually share the content of that particular post. If you don’t pick one, WordPress will automatically pick an image for you, and generally it is your header image found at the top of your blog.
I know after reading all of this you are might be thinking you are just going to give up before you start trying… DON’T. If you want to stop starting over on a project, stop quitting the project to begin with! These few tips will help make blogging seem more enjoyable:
- Pick particular days to be your blogging days, leaving you with a stockpile of blog posts ready.
- Break up a blog post by accomplishing different parts each day. Such as picking Monday to be your day you Blogstomp all your images. Tuesdays you go in and plug in your relevant information, and so on.
- Keep a journal or Google document with each client’s story. After you finish a session, and before you forget the details, come home and write down everything you can remember about your time together. This will keep your frustration down, as well as keeping your details accurate.
- Tell your clients you want to feature them and ask them to help. This not only helps you find enough words to write if you aren’t an emotional writer but also let’s your clients talk about their session, which is always great for potential clients to read.
- Keep your files organized. As you are culling your images, separate your images that you want to blog into a different folder. This way when it comes time to Blogstomp them, you won’t have to try to remember which images it was that you wanted to share. Staying organized takes all the busy work out of blogging.
The more you begin to blog, the more you are going to see the rewards. More clients are going to find you, which will ultimately lead you to scoring those dream clients of yours. Another great reward that you might not have even thought about yet is the possibility of other companies and brands finding you. There are more and more respectable stock sites being launched and they are actively looking for photographers to contribute to their image galleries. You may also find yourself being contacted to produce photographs for brands directly who are looking for images to be used for campaigns and bypassing the stock sites all together.
As scary as blogging might sound, in the end the rewards are far more important than letting your fears stop you. Take baby steps, make a plan, and before long you will be blogging like a champ!
Photograph from: Unsplash