Thursday, February 1, 2007

Why Blog? Making the most of your blog

In the interest of making all blogs a little more addicting... (as if I don't spend enough time reading them and writing them!!), I thought I would share some blogging ideas, linked with real life examples from photographer blogs, in the hope that others will feel free to add to this list and to share their thoughts as well!

Why blog?
- To improve your search engine ratings (also known as SEO; applies if your blog contains searchable text)
- To keep your customers (and competition) updated on your latest news and work
- To give your customers a way to personally connect to you and/or your business
- To convey your brand/philosophy/personality/style
- To announce new products or specials
- To make your clients/friends/family feel famous and to show your appreciation to them (aka being a lovecat)

What to blog?
- Favorite images from your latest event or shoot complete with location info and any additional vendor info. Key phrases like "chicago, il" "engagement photos" "four seasons hotel" will attract search engine rankings - outbound website links will also help search engines treat you as an authority.
- Stories about the couple or the wedding (everyone likes to feel famous, right?!)
- Your latest awards and recognition (be your own biggest fan!)
- Create a weekly or monthly feature, such as random favorite things, theme image or technique, favorite quotes, fun stuff online, personal news, favorite recipes. It doesn't have to be photography related, in fact it may be even better if it isn't directly related to photography since it will give your clients another way to connect to you that may more closely relate to their lives, but do make sure it is in-line with the brand image you want to convey (for example, I often blog about ways to live a "greener" lifestyle because it fits with the message I want to send to my clients about what I value.)
- New products, or products that you're sampling/considering
- Questions or contests for your readers to particpate in
- Sales and promotion information, deadlines for holiday ordering, holiday gift reminders and ideas
- Personal news, happenings, and travels
- Random thoughts
- Ideas of things you'd like to try with future clients (plant the seed early! Trash the dress, rolling in sand and water on the beach, sky diving, etc.)

Think about the blogs you're addicted to and why you're addicted to them. Often times addicting blogs have a few things in common...
- It's not always about business
- They blog frequently and you feel like you've missed out if you haven't checked the blog in a few days, or they have a special feature that you look forward to weekly
- They make you feel good or inspire you
- They have a definite sense of personality and feel very "real" with single voice that comes through to personally connect with you instead of a stale company voice (this is the difference between a real blog and just a site for your company's latest news)
- They keep the content fresh and change things up from time to time

Here are a few blogs which I find very addicting!!
BluDomain may be a company blog, but they do an awesome job of connecting to their readers and keeping them interested weekly! I think they actually do all of the blog ideas mentioned on the "what to blog" list above... favorite things, contests, new products, latest news, etc... they've got it all.
Photojojo has tons of crazy ideas and different things to do with your photos or your camera!
What the Duck is the perfect daily comic relief just for photographers ;)
Gary Fong has been blogging almost as long as blogs have been invented and he does it well. I'm addicted because of the funny videos he posts of his friends, but I value it for his insights about business, investing, and marketing.
Awesome Photographs is a place where you can submit your awesome images with a link to your website to improve your search engine rankings. While there isn't a critical selection process (that I know of), it's always cool to say you've been featured in a blog about Awesome Photographs!
PhotoshopTV is like free video-a-week Photoshop tutorial. You never know what you might learn next!
Foundation Workshop Member blog is a blog that allows multiple photographers (forum members) to post their latest work to the same blog and link back to their personal blogs. A great resource for inspiring images, as well as a way for photographers to promote their work as a team.

What are some of your favorite blogs? What keeps you addicted? How can you apply that to your business or blog?

(Disclaimer: I don't think my blog is as great as it could be, but knowing what I need to improve is half the battle. ;-)