Official challenge participants:
Erin Oveis Brant, James Law, Ashley Goodwin, Damaris Mia, Maria Maltseva, Ryan Lum, Jerod Harris, Mirian Silva, Sara Wilbur, Mioara Dragan, Saundra McBride, Abril Esparza, Tiffany Manning, Jessica Furtado, Leslie Wilson, David Pascua, Kyle Bromley, Ed Devereaux, Ivan Harris, Christy Cropper, Chantale Perron, Julia Beckmann, Lori Myers, and Justin Douglas (link to be provided). To be perfectly fair, I just want to make sure you all read the *fine print* on the challenge rules on my last post. I expect you all to hold up to your end of the bargain, as I’ll be checking in each day at noon to see if you’ve posted. You have until noon today to opt in or out – but if you opt out – I’m going to post it for all to see in tomorrow’s blog. Let the challenge begin!
To kickstart the momentum of this 30-day challenge, I thought I would provide a useful first post that might help a few of you out when coming up with ideas on what to post throughout this next month. (Note* – a few of these examples apply mainly towards photography, but I’d like to hear input from fellow bloggers who *aren’t* photographers on alternative benefits of THEIR blog)
By now, I’m sure you’ve grown accustomed to the main incentives for blogging:
1. Search Engine Optimization
2. Putting your clients in the spotlight
Blogs are great to increase your ranking on google, and they’re a nice tool to make your clients feel famous – maybe it gives them their first opportunity to see themselves published somewhere online!
While those are two terrific uses for blogs, I don’t consider them at all when writing my posts. Here are some HIDDEN benefits I’ve discovered from my blogging and how I think they can help you in your business/personal life:
1. Provides you with a highly targeted portfolio
When booking a new client, sometimes I’ll respond to their inquiry with a link to a specific blog post which I think is very similar to what their looking for in their shoot. Chances are, they’ve checked out your portfolio & liked your work, or maybe just heard from a friend that you do good work and that they should hire you. This is your opportunity to get them HOOKED. By showing them something that you’ve already done in the past that’s identical to what they’re looking for, it increases the probability in booking and clearly defines their expectations for the shoot. This will ensure them that YOU are the photographer they’re looking for, and if not – helps avoid any unrealistic expectations of your work due to the idea that “because you are a photographer, you can match what abstract concept they have in their head, whether it be glowing red skies or an intense photoshop edit to make someone look anorexic.” In a way, while your portfolio might get them interested in you, past examples of similar shoots will probably get them SOLD on you.
2. Helps your client identify with you as a person
I didn’t understand this concept completely until I had seen presentations from Promise Tangeman and the Youngrens on content marketing, but now that I do – it makes perfect sense. If most of your clientele is relationship based – meaning that there is at least some element of the business relationship based on personality and rapport, this is definitely key in strengthening that bond.
The Youngrens identify with their target demographic by posting about their love for scooters, boat shoes, and recipes for delicious dishes you can make at home. They know their clientele and give them content they would enjoy reading about and can use in their daily life. I didn’t realize this, but with my post about my experience in Spain, I was doing exactly this. My goal is to attract adventurous, young, care-free clients who love to travel – and this post would identify with that ideal client perfectly. By posting about your own interests/day-to-day life, it allow the rapport process to happen THAT much easier. I have another little secret weapon with this approach, but I’d rather not broadcast it out to everyone because it’s so good - if you’d like to hear about it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Success breeds success
Something I’ve taken from real estate agents has given me insight into what prospective clients are thinking when looking at your blog – if you post a lot, you’re busy. If you’re busy, a lot of people are buying. If a lot of people are buying, you must be doing something RIGHT! What I had taken from real estate agents was the idea that presenting a successful image increases the probability that you make the sale. (Are you going to want to buy a house from a person that seems like they’ve sold a lot of homes and can get you a good deal, or someone who looks like they’re just starting out?)
Constantly posting shoots or examples of your work instills the idea that people are buying, and one of the elements of “creating a want” is subtly letting others know that “hey, these people want me too, so there’s definitely something good about my work aside from the obvious”. If you have no recent work to blog, go out and make them happen. Get some models that look like the kind of client you want to book for future shoots. Just look BUSY!
A great quote from entourage’s character Ari Gold, “You don’t bang the prom queen until she finds out her best friend blew you underneath the bleachers” – says it all.
PS – as a side note, your competition is probably blogging all the while, so how do you think that might make you look in comparison? Which leads to my next benefit…
4. Staying in front of their eyes & building trust
I’ve had it happen too many times to call it coincidence, but I’ve found that a few minutes after I will promote a post, a client will inquire about an upcoming event they’d like to use me for. Sometimes you strike at the right time, and sometimes it’s just a matter of staying in the front of people’s minds when there’s a potential gig around the corner. Maybe an acquaintance of yours has a friend that’s getting married, and she just so happens to see your latest post pop up on her news feed/twitter stream. She’ll love to help her friend out with this “photographer that she knows” Or MAYBE a potential client is on the fence about choosing between you & another photographer and you don’t even know it!
I’ll bet that your consistent posts are going to instill a sense of trust within them, and it might just be the “difference that makes the difference” when it comes to choosing you. Even if it’s not spectacular content, it’s FRESH & reliable. Seeing you respond to blog comments and interact with your audience just might be the factor that makes a client feel comfortable enough to TRUST in booking you.
In addition, if you’ve been wanting to start a newsletter – linking to recent posts is a great filler for email blast content.
5. Building a community/Voice of authority
I could write an entire post on the benefits of this item, but ‘ll try to keep this succinct and to the point. The importance of building a community around your blog will bring you benefits in TEN-FOLD. Not only does it serve as a conversation-starter for potential clients & industry affiliates, but it makes it a whole lot easier to foster new connections based entirely on YOUR posts. A blog relayed on twitter, online publication, or a guest-post might lead you into a new relationship with peers in your industry that will propel your progress and give you a huge boost towards getting to WHERE YOU WANT TO BE.
It works both ways, and by paying attention to other blogs – I’ve gained some pretty valuable experiences by being interactive. Blogging has introduced me to new friendships and solid second shooters. Eventually, I’d like to be able to reciprocate to an online community and be able to provide opportunities to aspiring photographers in the future. An efficient way to get there is by building a community around a blog. Eventually, by building a strong community/following – companies & individuals will be open towards sponsoring you, providing promotional give-aways, and affiliates will express interest in creating a symbiotic partnership for future products. I currently use this idea for some smaller-scale business ideas, but would prefer not to list it online for all to see – if you really want to know, email me at email@example.com and we’ll talk.
And while you might not realize it (this was a hard thing for me to grasp myself), but your work might very well be inspiring to someone who’s just starting out. I remember the first photographers who I came across when I first started out, and I would read their posts for HOURS-ON-END some nights! Seeing the cool images & stories they wrote about their work made me want to achieve something similar one day. After the first email I received from a reader telling me that I “inspired” them, I first thought there must be some kind of error and they confused me with another photographer. You never know who’s checking out your work, and how much it may mean to them.
6. (BONUS!) Provides you with an opportunity to learn
As an unexpected benefit, I’ve actually gotten feedback on my posts and learned about new products/techniques that have helped my business grow in some form or another. Whether it be a great lighting technique or a shooter who’s style is similar to mine, sometimes the FEEDBACK on a post ends up being the most valuable part!
With that said, I’d love to hear about YOUR IDEAS when it comes to blogging & what benefits you have experienced as a result. Or maybe you’ve come across some killer ideas which have really helped your blog gain a lot of the right kind of attention? If you’ve got something to share, post it in the comments below – I’m sure not only myself, but the other people reading this post would really appreciate it as well!
I hope you enjoyed this post my friends, and as always – have a good day.