Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Blogging is old-- in a relative sense. Blogging, as we know it today, started its evolution in the mid '90s and has grown to become a huge part of the internet today. How big is blogging? Well, according to Worldometer, there are nearly 4 millions blog posts published every day. That's big.
What does that have to do with photography? A lot. If you've ever spent any time researching the photography business online, you'll see many self-proclaimed photography "experts" extolling the importance of creating and writing a photography blog for your business. In this instance they are not wrong. This post will get into a few of the details of why writing a photography blog is important, as well as a few tips I've personally learned along the way.
This is my third photography blog (I believe 😕.) My first was attached to one of my earliest websites as part of the website package I purchased in my early photography days (probably around 2007 - 2008'ish.) The truth of the matter is I don't recall making much use of it, if at all. I may have had a few posts, but it was not the focus of much of my efforts. It was simply a simple blogging platform that was integrated into the service I was using at the time.
My second photography blog was maybe around 2012 - 2013'ish, and at this time, I think blogging was becoming the "in" thing to do-- and perhaps though still as more of an "activity" for photographers more so than a method to build website traffic (and as a result... business.) I constructed this second blog on a Wordpress platform, and made an effort to post regularly, and before long, this blog was generating thousands upon thousands of visitors per year. Not bad.
I kept that up for a bit, but blogging seemed to fall out of favor for other social media outfits, and other avenues started to get more of my limited time and attention. I debated keeping that blog, and for whatever decision, I let it go perhaps two years ago, and decided to start anew-- again.
So here we are on my third iteration of a photography blog, and at this point I'm taking advantage of some of the lessons I've learned previously, and I'm here to pass along some useful information to you, so you can re-discover blogging as a means to help grow your business.
I'll start out by giving a brief overview of the current social media scene. As a business, it's your goal to attract customers and make money. The one thing to understand about outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is, well, they are not yours. You don't make the rules on those platforms, and at any moment those companies can, and do, decide on their own terms what may be best for you.
I'll give a real great example using Pinterest. At one time I was more of an avid Pinterest user. I would post a few photos a week, and over time, I literally was receiving thousands of visits per year from Pinterest. Granted, most of these people weren't my customers-- they were merely people interested in my work, and most of this traffic was going to my photo galleries.
I think it was around summer 2018 I noticed a strange thing. Essentially all my traffic from Pinterest was gone. All of it. It was one of those things I noticed, but didn't really research at the time. It wasn't till much later I was poking around, and the best I could come up with was that Pinterest had developed some sort of an AI platform that was analyzing photos, and in its programming it was determined that "boudoir" style photos were "bad" content and they were all pretty much scrubbed from the platform. It didn't seem Pinterest removed the photos... they just merely hid them from feeds or search results. Result. No boudoir photos showing in Pinterest feeds = No traffic. This is a striking, but real world example of how in an instant someone else can control my material and they determined it was "unfit."
Another example may be the Facebook business page. I, personally, was a never a big user of the Facebook business page, but I have had one for about ten years. There was once a time on Facebook when you posted content all your followers would see it. Magic! Facebook decided one day, Hey, this is about us... not you, and slowly started limiting organic reach of Pages. I don't know the exact decline rates, but they would limit your posts to fewer and fewer native eyeballs... till whatever it is now, maybe 2% or 3% of followers. (I don't know if those figures are exact. It's more of an illustration.) Why? Because they want you to pay to promote your business. There's nothing wrong with that business model, but I'd have to imagine that at some point people started figuring this out and Facebook Page use by businesses has plummeted as organic reach dropped. Why would you be spending your limited time on publishing content no one was going to see? I don't.
Similarly, it seems the same strategy is being applied to Instagram. I have no empirical evidence, but I believe Instagram is showing posts to fewer and fewer eyeballs in your feed, too.
The moral of the story is these platforms certainly have their uses, but you have to understand you are held to their rules, which can change at any moment. I know from personal experience Instagram also uses AI to "filter" content it feels may be "inappropriate" for Instagram users. I've had photos I posted taken down that came along with messages about the content not being appropriate. (Which is a subject for another entire post...)
Why blogging? Blogging helps you in several different ways both large and small-- immediate and long term. Although this article is not a post about the technical intricacies of blogging, a few of the benefits are:
SEO. This is a major impact reason for blogging. Blogging broadens your keyword scope, and creating excellent content makes your site more important in the eyes of search engines.
Sharing expert advice. Been working on photography for a long time? Share your expertise with your clients/other photographers. It's good evidence that you know what you're doing-- and let's your clients know they are in competent hands.
It's great for clients. Blogging provides your clients insight into you, how you run your business, and what to expect from working with you. It is an excellent forum for a "getting to know you" and building relationships. Don't underestimate how much research clients do! --Remember that toaster you bough on Amazon last fall... you spent nearly five weeks reading reviews... ABOUT A TOASTER!! Imagine what folks do for larger purchases.
So, What Impact Will This Have?
This is why this all bring us back to blogging, and why you should be doing it to help promote your business-- but maybe with a little bit of a twist you were not expecting.
All of my customers receive a questionnaire about how they found me... and it's overwhelmingly "Google search." So, what does that have to do with blogging? Well, think of blog pages a bit like octopus tentacles, or maybe a spider web. The larger this web grows, the more likely people are to run into it. As you increase your footprint on the web, several things happen.
Let's take a look.
Steps For Re-Visiting Your Photography Blog
Making The Commitment.
OK, where to start? First and foremost is you, and making the commitment. The way these things becomes successful is to make them a habit. Something you do regularly. Making small incremental changes in your daily behavior leads to large changes over time. It's a simple and proven tactic.
"Habits are the compound interest of self improvement."
Like anything else worth doing, it is work. Blogging is a commitment, and over time this commitment will bloom to providing you a huge increase in web traffic. You need to create a plan and say to yourself, "I'm going to publish a blog post every Sunday," for example. The first step is to give these goals a time and place-- and make it a habit.
The biggest obstacle is understanding how these "healthy" habits don't necessarily show immediate positive rewards. It seems in life that "postpones" positive rewards on many good activities. Think about exercise: Going to the gym once doesn't get you strong. You can very easily exercise for a few days and say, I don't see any changes...it's not working and give up. When you commit to an exercise plan, it may take many months to a year before visible results appear. You will be healthier and stronger in the long term. That's the reward.
Let's contrast that with eating a cupcake. After eating a cupcake you feel good-- and get an immediate reward in that sugar rush, but what happens when you make a habit of eating cupcakes every day? You'll most likely gain a bunch of weight long term, and that's not a great result.
Like most healthy habits, blogging is not something that will reap immediate results or rewards. Whether you commit to doing it once a week, or once a month, the key is to putting it on a calendar and just starting. Think of blogging like going to the gym... and keep doing it. Over time you will see positive results.
Re-Think Blogging. Don't Only Blog Sessions.
The first tip I can give you about getting back into blogging is-- don't blog sessions. --At least don't only blog sessions. Contrary to what you may believe, Google does not care about your "Miss L.'s Session" blog post. This is not what I mean by blogging. Have you ever personally gone on to Google and done a search for a "Miss L's Session?" Probably not. Neither does anyone else. They have no idea who "Miss L." is, and really don't care. A post like this, which is what most boudoir photographers do, is of little to no "web value." It may be nice to show a bit of your work, but it provides no "juice" for your website and it's getting you nowhere.
So what do you do? Well, in 2020 Google is all about providing answers and valuable information. What question is "Miss L's Session" answering? None. Is it solving a problem? No. In 2020 you have to re-frame what it means to be a photography blogger. Remember that old saying "content is king?" Well, that's exactly how you have to approach blogging.
In 2020 blogging is all about creating useful content and answering questions. It's about changing "Miss L.'s Session" into "A Beautiful Newport, R.I. Boudoir Session In Traditional Lingerie"