Monday, December 8, 2008

What Can Blogging Do for You?

The first form of social media that most people use and encounter is blogging. Almost every photographer has a blog these days (and if you don't - you should RUN and get one!), and many use blogging effectively.

The biggest point behind a blog is to give you a voice. When people look though your portfolio, they only see the images. These may be very soul-stirring images, but when you give readers a chance to know how you felt about the image - why you captured it, what it says to you - then it brings the reader even closer to the image. It personalizes it.  It makes it about YOU, and your artistic vision.

Blogging gives you a chance to talk WITH people.

More and more brides are using the internet as a tool in finding the perfect wedding vendor. Your blog can help you stand out to them. I can't tell you how many times I have had couples comment to me in our initial meeting about something that they read on my blog, and how that spoke to them. I've had some greet me at our first meeting like we have always been friends - and they normally say that that is how they feel, like they already know me because they have had a chance to read my writing. This is an incredibly powerful aspect to connecting with your clients!

Another great thing about blogs? Search engines LOVE THEM.  Last year, I had a splash page for the entrance of my website, which then lead people to either my blog or my flash portfolio. Having been a long-time blogger, this bothered me. I knew Google and the other search engines were not coming back to that static index page. In December 2007, my blog only had about 800 unique visits.  Superbowl Sunday, while watching the game, I decided to move the blog to the front page of my site. Now when you visit my URL, you land right at my blog.  The impact on my traffic?

Unique Visitors by Month:
December 2007 - 811
January 2008 - 1887
April 2008 - 3911
August 2008 - 5232
November 2008 - 5673

I went from 811 to 5673 unique visitors a month, in under a year!

I still have my flash portfolio site, but it is now the secondary portion of the site, what people see if they choose the Wedding Portfolio link at the top of my blog. Added bonus? Google loves me! Plus potential clients can see my latest work, not just what goes by in my flash portfolio. They can engage with me. We can have a conversation. They can leave comments, and I can email them back - creating that dialogue.

Your blog can truly set you apart. Let your voice be heard!

Do you blog? Have you tried moving the blog to be the first part of your site that people see? How did it work for you?

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

21 comments:

  1. Do you think it's a good idea to only blog about once a month and then when you do blog, say something about how you have been so busy and that's why you never get around to posting? I'm just wondering if you think that's a good idea because I see so many photographers that do that.

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  2. No, that isn't generally the best thing to do. It is much better to blog about events -- and if you can't get a post with photos up, at least talk about what is going on. Not just "I'm busy, I'll do it later."

    By the way, this isn't limited to just photographers that do it -- it happens far and wide throughout the blogosphere.

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  3. Well, I'll give you my opinion since I was guilty of that in the month of November. i think that it's good to let your audience know why you haven't been blogging if you've been absent for a while. Especially if you have clients that you haven't regularly communicated with in some other way - they want to know that you didn't fall off the face of the Earth before their wedding day. Is that the best thing to blog about? No, there could be many better things to blog about. Is it honest? Yes. I feel it's better to be honest than to hide from the truth.

    However, if someone regularly goes three months without blogging, they may want to re-evaluate the purpose of having a blog since it doesn't appear to be a priority or a way to keep their audience informed.

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  4. Ah, Anne said it so much better than I did...

    I've written posts like that too - but I always try to include tidbits like which weddings just went up in the galleries, or just why I haven't been posting at all. Since the blog is at the front of my site, I want them to know I'm still around!

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  5. I love blogsites! I briefly check out the fancy websites, but only to look for a blog link. Then I go to the blog to check for the latest work. A fancy website is great at first glance, but then that's that ... it stays that way until the owner gives it a facelift, which is usually six months or more later. Personally, I'm always looking for fresh stuff, therefore, a blogsite works best because I can always find a new post and photos by the end of the week. I didn't have the money to get a fancy website so I did what I could and that's blogged -- and, it's FREE! People come back to my blogsite because they know they'll find something new from me come Monday. I thought when I had the money then I'd invest in a fancy flash website later, but now I'm doing something better ... I'm investing my money in a fancy blogsite. I simply prefer the interaction with my blog-stalkers. :)

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  6. Anne, are you saying that google loves your blog more because you moved it to your main url vs. having a splash page jump to it? Or was its new placement simply more convenient for people to hit it? Not sure I'm clear on where placing your blog is friendlier to google...or just more accessible to people.

    I'm working on getting mine up and assumed a splash page was the way to go. And have heard that placing the blog as a sub-directory to your main site would improve your main sites credibility ranking, esp. if its been there a few years vs. a brand new url. Thoughts?

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  7. And how do rss feeds work with stat counters?

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  8. Eric, yes - my search engine ranking improved dramatically when I replaced my splash page with my blog's home page. Within days it was noticeable -- that was why I had such a large traffic jump in January 2008 right after I made the change.

    Google seems to weight an index page heavier than the index of a subdirectory, and a frequently updated page will get tracked by the search engine spiders more frequently than a static page ever will.

    If you do a test and search keywords that are important to you, the first page of hits will almost always be blogs and directories. Hopefully, the blogs will come first. ;-) Static splash pages only require your visitors to make more clicks to get to the content they want, and people are not patient when they are surfing the web. As MsBunn pointed out, they want fresh content, and they are more likely to return to your blog then to your splash page.

    My blog archives reside within a subdirectory still. I've never heard that a subdirectory has impact on a search engine, but it isn't impossible.

    You brought up a point that I should have clarified in my original post -- those stats don't include RSS feeds. My stat counter doesn't track them - but there are plugins out there that can track them for you, I believe. Most stat counters don't include them in their figures. It is something I'll research more and post about in the future!

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  9. PS - Sorry for the novel -- some of that might just end up in a future post! *grin!*

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  10. Thanks for your extended response Christine! That's what lovecat is all about- helping people understand.

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  11. Christine! Thank you for your thorough explanation. I have never seen this done and I really appreciate the thought provoking discussion that can have real impact on the business.

    When you mentioned your blog archive in a sub directory, what did you mean? Are you referring to the "old" blog that existed before you moved your blog to your main url or do you mean archive in the sense of the monthly archive like "june 2008" ?

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  12. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Sharon

    http://www.autoloans101.info

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  13. You may be getting 5000 hits, but if they're coming mostly from other photographers and curiosity seekers, or following links about blogging or looking for the person with the same name as you they went to high school with, IOW, anything but mostly brides-to-be - if you need brides-to-be to run a photography biz then 5000 hits means nothing.

    Tell me you get only 300 visitors, but out of which 60 brides-to-be contact you, and now we're talking.

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  14. I would like to ask one thing. After reading this, as well as thinking pretty hard about this anyway, I've simply redirected my domains to my blog. Is that the same thing, or do I need to do something more drastic like change my index.php to be the main page of my blog?

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  15. Anonymous -- I have a pretty uncommon name, so most of my traffic that is name based are people legitimately seeking out my photography work. And most aren't following links about blogging or anything else.

    I get a high volume of bride traffic. More importantly -- MUCH more important to me, and the part I tried to emphasize here -- is the *CONNECTION* that they all comment on when they meet me. So for every contact that I turn into a meeting, I have a very HIGH rate of conversion from meeting to booking. And the vast majority of them comment on how they liked me before we even met, thanks to the blog.

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  16. Anonymous (why be anonymous?) - I think that's why it's important to TRACK where your hits are coming from with an application like google analytics or StatCounter. We have a tutorial on this blog that shows you how to use a stat application to gather information about your visitors. Christine is a pretty savvy girl - and she dabbles in a lot of different things. One of the things that makes her so successful is that she doesn't limit herself to simply targeting brides. You never know where your next lead is going to come from - but it's almost always going to be a stronger lead when it comes from a personal referral. So- the more people who know you, the more people who will recommend you to your next potential gig!! And yes, that includes photographers, because I've received some of my favorite leads from other photographers.

    "Your Network is Your Networth" - Tim Sanders.

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  17. Great point Anne, and so true! Networking with other photographers has been an amazing asset for my business, and the blog helps with that as well!

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  18. Hi Ladies,

    I've got a question. I'm not particularly computer savy and so I don't understand how you put your blog on your website instead of a splash page ??? I use Portfoliositez and I do have a splash page which links to the website or to my blog. So can you tell me, exactly, how I put the blog link there instead??

    By the way, I LOVE this blog! I've only been in business a little over a year and have so very much to learn. What I've read here has been so helpful and so easy to understand.

    Thanks so much!
    Sandy
    S Keys Photography

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  19. Sandy, I've never used a Portfoliositez site -- do you host it yourself? Or do they host the site for you?

    If you host it yourself, the splash page is normally named index.php or index.html -- that can be replaced with a blog. If they host it for you, it may not be an option.

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  20. Hi Christine,

    It's hosted by Portfoliositez, so perhaps it's not an option. Oh well.... :)
    Sandy

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