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"
Creating Useful Content
What is useful content? Useful content is high quality content that is relevant to your audience. As I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, Google is getting extremely good at identifying what you are writing, and they want to show the best results to their search users.
Think about how you would approach finding a photographer, or finding out information about boudoir photography. What are the questions you would ask? These are the things you should be blogging about. These are the questions you should be answering.
Get the idea?
Re-Educating Yourself About How To Blog
Well, the first thing needed is to do some research about effective blogging. The internet is full of experts on every subject, and blogging is no exception. One great resource to check is one of Neil Patel's guides to writing a blog, among many others.
After a bit of poking around you'll see that blogging has become a bit complicated. They key is keep it simple at first-- but just get doing it!
An entire blog post in and of itself can be written about how to create effective blog posts. (That sounds rather recursive...) As a matter of fact, there is an entire industry based around effective blogging. It's an easy rabbit hole to go down, and it may be worth taking a day or two of your time to do a deep dive on how people are getting results from blogging.
It's easy to get caught up in this topic, and the danger is, as in photography, there are a lot of self-proclaimed "experts" out there, so use a bit of caution. The bottom line is you can follow a few simple tips to create effective blog posts, and after that-- you can dive in as deep as you wish.
One of the keys to blogging in 2020 is creating great long form content. To a degree, you want to create the best, most in-depth content for your reader. To some degree there is a correlation between the number of words in a blog post, to how it ranks. Blog posts are growing longer and longer. Backlinko released some research that showed the average word count for a blog post on a first page result was 1,890 words.
Word count is only important, when its coupled with great quality. Remember: Google is smart. -And getting smarter. If someone has written an article about "The 20 Best Tips For Getting Ready For A Boudoir Session," you need to step it up and create "The 50 Best Tips For Getting Ready For A Boudoir Session."
There are lots of other factors involved in blogging yourself to the top of Google, and these are only a few. With hard work, though... it can happen!
Build A Content Strategy
Who are you writing for? The great thing here is that as a photographer you can write content to target your ideal client, you can write about you and your business, and you can also write expert content to target photographers. --Remember, it's your blog, you can write what you wish. Your blog can be used to target specialty niche topics-- up to broad information that may be useful to millions (like this post!)
Write about photography. You're an expert, right? Share some of your hard earned knowledge with the universe. Are you an expert of setting up strobe lights in tiny rooms? Have a favorite way to deal with nervous clients?
Write material useful for clients. What are some things clients of boudoir (or any other genre of photography) need to know before their session? Got tips? Tricks? How tos? ...Get idea?
Write about yourself. What about you? How did you start? What's it like being a photographer with a pack of Weimaraners? You can let your clients know all about you, and that's just one big giant step forward toward them booking.
One thing that may be a bit difficult at first is to come up with ideas to blog about. Once, again, the key here is to just to start writing at first. Once you get started-- you won't run out of ideas to write about.
I know that the more I write, the more new ideas just start popping into my head. At any time I have at least a dozen blog posts in draft form waiting for me to work on them. One of the things I've found is that blog ideas will pop into my head at the oddist of times-- and I'm a big believer in having a note app to jot them down. I use Google Keep, which is a free note app from Google, but there are literally dozens of options available.
If you want to get a bit more into it, there are services you can use, such as Ubersuggest, which is a keyword tool where you can actually do research on photography blog topics to see what people are writing, what's popular, and where opportunities lie.
What Makes A Good Post?
Don't worry about being perfect. Don't worry about having perfect grammar or syntax, or any of those other things you learned in grade school. Just start writing. Be yourself. Be uniquely you.
The "new blogging you" should remember a few of the things above, however. Ask yourself, "What question is this post answering?" Stick with answering a questions or providing information on a very specific topic. It gets easier as you work on it. Remember-- it doesn't have to be perfect at first. If you find yourself getting tired of writing, or not sure where the post is headed-- stop. Come back the next day and get yourself back on track.
Be helpful and positive. I think this is pretty self explanatory.
Include photos. Give your readers something interesting (and relevant) to look at. Use your own work, or you can grab one of the thousands of freely available photos from a website such as Unsplash.
Try to sprinkle some helpful keywords into your blog post. For example, if you are writing a post about favorite shoes in boudoir-- make sure you are using relevant keywords (maybe cute heels, pumps, etc.) in not only the body of the post, but in the title of the post and descriptions. Don't over do it or stuff in words where they don't belong. This doesn't work. Remember: Google is smart.
Although this post only covers a few brief ideas in the new blogging 2.0 world, hopefully it piqued your curiosity to investigate it more, and re-start your blogging. It really can affect your business, but remember, it takes work and as many good things, they payoff will not be immediately evident.
Instead of writing photography blog posts of little to no "web value," think of writing in terms of answering questions your clients may have--
Create long posts with high quality content and include a level of depth on a topic that will give value to your reader.