We have vision. But sometimes not the words. How to master the world of blogging for photographers.
Does this sound like you? You pull up some images, open a text editor and wait for inspiration to strike. And wait. And wait. Argh!! It’s as if all your thoughts are wayward sheep and there’s no border collie in sight to round them up and get them on the page. Why is blogging for photographers so darn hard?
Or maybe you have the opposite problem. You can start writing but can’t STOP writing. If your thoughts were sheep, that poor border collie would be lying in the dirt, his tongue lolling out to the side in sheer exhaustion. Before you know it, you’ve got 1,000 words to go along with your favorite images. But upon rereading your text you start to second guess yourself.
“OMG. I can’t say that in a blog. It’s too personal. I’ll sound like an idiot.”
Or maybe you panic because what if someone hates your words? Hates you?
Delete. Delete. Select all. Delete.
You know why you should blog. Sort of. Just not how to do it or what to say. That ends now, friends! In this tutorial, I’ll give you a framework and some ideas for four different types of blog posts and ideas on how to customize them for your personality, genre and style! With some luck and a little bit of perseverance, you too can conquer the world of blogging for photographers and start growing your readership and client list!
Why is blogging for photographers important?
Blogging connects you with potential clients and strengthens the connections with your existing clients.
Your imagery may be wonderful, but people like words. Explanations. Content. It helps them feel connected to you as their photographer and assures them they are making the right choice.
Think about this.
Do you get on Amazon or Etsy and just look at the picture of what you’re going to buy?
No. You read the captions, too.
Think of your images like a product picture on Amazon and your blog content as the rest of the stuff that seals the sale. Your words round out the experience and add texture, motion, feeling, nuance and meaning to the image.
- Hooks new visitors
- Keep your website fresh and engaging
- Helps with search engine optimization (SEO)
- Lets potential clients get to know you
- Establishes you as an expert in your field
- Adds value to the client experience
- Is fun!
Okay maybe that last one is just me. But once you push past your own fear and insecurities and really connect with readers, it gets easier. Even fun. I promise!
How often should I blog?
An article I once read reminded bloggers that a blog is not a billboard. You can’t create just one piece of content and sit back while the traffic rolls by. A blog needs to be ongoing, with new content added occasionally.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules about how often you must blog. But marketing and SEO experts agree that more is better. Twice a month is okay. Once a week is better. Twice a week is only going to make things better.
Our advice at Cole’s Classroom is always to start with a manageable goal, maybe twice a month. After your first six blog posts are up and running, challenge yourself to three times a month. Then monthly. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard.
If it all seems too overwhelming, just remember…the more you blog the more opportunities you create for yourself and your business. Each blog post is better SEO, more connections with clients, more chances for shares, likes, views and conversions. There is a reward and a payoff at the end!
How do you blog as a photographer? Idea #1 – Write About Your Clients!
Let’s start with one of the easiest blog posts to wrap your mind around, the client session. Blogging a client session should combine some of your favorite images from the session and some great words about your client. Easy peasy. So we write something like this…
“This engagement session was so amazing! We had such a great time hanging out in this beautiful land. I mean look at the love of these two. Aren’t they sweet? And the light we had was to die for. We had a rainbow and everything, y’all! Didn’t these images turn out well?”
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with this. But it’s not very engaging. It won’t help my SEO and it’s not much better than social media post. There’s no substance. No heart. It is nothing but some adjectives strung together with lots of exclamation marks. Yes, the clients you shot will love seeing their images. But it lacks connection for future clients.
Instead, try this…
First, think about your blog post while you are shooting your session. Ask your clients questions about themselves and their interests. Create some conversation. Then, after your session, write down 5-10 memorable moments from the session. And I mean write them down. On paper. These will be your notes.
For example, after an engagement session, I write down stuff like:
- I loved how Brandon loved on Avery (his fiance’s dog) so much. The way to a man’s heart may be his stomach, but the way to a girl’s heart is through her dog.
- I loved how they have plans to get involved in the other’s interest. He wants get into pheasant hunting.
- Thank God for clients who don’t make fun of me when I get paranoid about bulls.
- We had a rainbow, y’all! I’ve got to be able to leverage that into something! Stand a little rain song by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band maybe?
- Both grew up on farms, are teachers and have amazing sense of humor.
- It’s always a good sign when there’s a dog waiting for you in the pickup with your clients.
When I’m ready start blogging the session, I pull up those notes and review them. And boom, I’m instantly back in the moment of the session feeling all the feels and laughing with my clients. I use these ideas to blog instead of vapid, uninspired generic stuff.
My lead paragraph then might be something more like the following:
The way to a woman’s heart? Treat her dog well.
That’s just one of a thousand reasons why I loved watching Brandon and Katrina during our absolutely crazy Goshen County Engagement Session earlier this summer. He loved on Avery the wonder dog as much as Katrina did. Occasionally Brandon would stop to rub Avery’s ears or make sure she didn’t have a cactus in her paw. In those few moments with the beautiful silver lab, I could easily understand how Katrina fell in love with him. He was patient and sweet and a great caretaker. All the qualities you want in a future husband.
I’d add other details to our session story of course and round it out to give my readers a story of words and images to describe the session.
The idea is to add value to the session itself through what you say about your time together afterward. Start using those funny moments, ideas or thoughts you jotted down earlier to shape a story about the session.
Remember to add details not just for your existing clients, but to show future clients what a session with you is like. Your writing should demonstrate that you don’t just take pretty pictures. You get to know and adore your client, the love of his life, their hopes and dreams and pets and secret ambitions.
So be sincere and heartfelt. Write authenticly. The client featured on the blog will feel amazing because you took the time to write out something so incredibly personable. And your future clients will think “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. I want someone to write about me like that!”
If you’d like to see how I blog a client session, check this one out.
Your posts don’t have to be 1,000 words (although SEO recommendations tell you to shoot for at least 300.) But I hope you can see how adding personal touches to what you say about a session is so much more engaging for your current AND future ideal clients.
Need more nuts and bolts on HOW to write? Read Kelly’s 5 Steps to Skillful Blogging
How do I write a photography blog? Idea #2 – Write About Your Expertise
But what can photographers blog about if they aren’t blogging about clients? Blog about being a photographer!
Blog posts are an awesome way to establish yourself as an authority on all things photography. You don’t have to teach them about the exposure triangle or back button focus (although you could!). Instead, choose topics that establish yourself as an expert in your field. Write posts that answer questions a client might have about their photography session or the booking process, how to get ready for a session, how to order prints, how to choose a paper for their prints. Focus on teaching, sharing and helping. The options are practically endless.
These types of posts also work really well for e-mail newsletters and or sign-up bonuses.
Ideas for family photographers:
- 5 tips on getting your family ready for a session
- How to choose your wardrobe
- The best time of year for family pictures
- Rock the 1st day of School Photo
- 10 family portrait locations in your area
- 4 offbeat boutiques for classic kids clothes
- Find your family photography style
Ideas for wedding photographers:
- Should I hire a wedding planner
- 5 places to have your wedding in XYZ county
- 6 reasons to have an unplugged wedding
- Florist roundup in XYZ town: Your guide to beautiful wedding flowers
- Thinking about bridal boudoir? Read my tips!
Ideas for senior photographers:
- 7 Hidden Spots for amazing senior pictures
- Choosing props for your senior session
- How to rock a graduation gown
- 4 reasons to hire a professional photographer for pre-prom images
- 5 go-to senior girl poses
Ideas for landscape, wildlife or nature photographers:
- My three favorite places to see birds in winter
- How to stay warm shooting in the cold
- 5 places to see the starts in XYZ area
- How Not to Die! 10 tips for staying safe when you’re out on the trail
- Behind the Scenes: See the gear I use to capture wildlife!
- Take better shots of the moon
- Improve client trust with updated headshots
- Still ordering prints from Walgreens? STOP! Use a professional printer for heirloom quality instead
- 3 tricks to get authentic smiles out of your family
- 15 ways to use photos in home décor
- What’s your print style? How to choose paper and mounting for your images
- What’s a mini session and why should you try one?
- How to find great light in your house for food photography
- Want a new camera? My top recommendation for a great beginner’s kit!
- 3 ways to keep your pet cool in record setting heat (think pet photography!)
- How to Own those vacation pictures – my 3 go to poses!
- How to narrow down photo choices
- 8 things your photographer wants you to know
Blog posts like these not only give you content, but also credibility and trust. Potential clients read these and think “Oh wow. She really knows what she’s talking about!”
Some photographers have done such a great job at becoming an expert in their field, and built such a blog following, that they spend less time shooting and focus almost exclusively on teaching. Think Jenna Kutcher, the LawTog or Chase Jarvis and you’ve got the idea.
Blogging for Photographers #3 – Work with Other Experts
Maybe you aren’t an expert in all things, but I bet you know someone who is. Use your blog to build relationships with others in your field or community!
How you write the blog depends on your goals and style. Conduct it as an interview, ask them for five tips, work together to solve a problem, or take photos illustrating a solution. Or really get collaborative and do a styled shoot together. Whatever can serve you both!
As an example, if you’re a wedding photographer, partner with a makeup artist to create content BOTH of you can use for your blogs. If you’re a senior photographer, partner with a hairstylist. If you’re food photographer, reach out to local restaurants.
Here are some other folks to consider partnering with:
- Wedding planners
- Venue managers
- Dress designers
- Limo drivers
- Makeup artists
- Boutique owners
- Ice cream shops
- Family fun centers
- Local fashion entrepreneurs
- Local artisans
- Agriculture tourism centers (pumpkin patches, apple orchards, sunflower fields, etc.)
- Food bloggers
- Interior designers
- Real estate professionals
- Chambers of Commerce or Visitor Welcome Sessions (become a resource for NEW clients in the area!)
- Veterinarians, animal care experts or trainers
- Successful alumni from your high schools (inspire those seniors!!)
There are probably very few photographers in your area doing this. It definitely takes some time and effort, but the results can be huge. You are creating content, building relationships and cementing yourself as an expert in photography. It’s an easy way to begin forming partnerships with other professionals in your area.
As an example, I approached a local makeup artist about how I can help clients keep makeup on in the God awful heat we have this summer. She gave me a few suggestions. I decided her tips were so helpful, I asked to use use the advice and quote her in my client welcome guide along with her contact information. That led to us brainstorm a list of 5 blog ideas we can both use to build clientele. We some collaborative meetings this fall to start creating the content.
Oh and did I mention this makeup artist is now a client and has referred two other families to me?
This is powerful, powerful stuff here! You are serving your business, serving a fellow business owner and serving current and future clients, just by blogging!
More ideas on writing for non-writers!
Blogging for Photographers Idea #4 – Write About You
Now comes the hardest part when it comes to blogging for photographers – writing about yourself.
Sharing a little bit of your personality and own life helps clients connect with you a more personal level. They relate to you and feel comfortable around you, even if they’ve never met you. A client will look for commonalities because then you feel familiar. Our ultimate goal is to create opportunities for clients to know, like and trust us through our blog.
But what can you write about?!? Anything that might connect you to your ideal client on a personal level. These posts are less how-to and more a conversation between friends.
Click here to see how I get personal about my experiences in a pottery class.
Here are 12 ideas to get you started:
- Five facts about me
- The first time I ever…(saw a concert, met my husband, let down a client, traveled abroad)
- My number one struggle is (balancing work and home, feeling confident, tasting new foods, letting go of hurts)
- Behind the scenes of a working photographer (share about your office space, classes you take, location scouting, etc.)
- What makes me happy
- My Why (why you’re a photog, why you photograph weddings, why you photograph babies, why you quit your full-time job to be a photog, etc.)
- Why I became a photographer
- My photography bucket list
- What I pin
- The weirdest thing I keep in my purse (or bag or truck, if you’re a guy!)
- My favorite holiday and why
- The best part about being a mom (or dad or sister or dog mom or coach or teacher)
Not enough? Here are 12 more ideas on blogging for photographers:
- The hardest lesson I learned about being a mom (or dad or brother or aunt or daughter)
- My most precious childhood photography and why
- How I feel in front of the camera
- My favorite thing about love
- The greatest love stories I know
- My top 12 mistakes (in love, life, school, your wedding, business…whatever will resonate with your ideal clients!)
- What I did on summer vacation (or Christmas vacation, Easter break, etc.)
- What I’m reading
- The greatest moment in sports history according to me
- My sports hero
- My favorite wildlife encounters
- The first time I saw an eclipse
Endless possibilities!! You just need to brainstorm ideas on what connects you with your client! It just takes opening yourself up and being a little vulnerable. I know it’s scary, putting yourself out there. But when you share of yourself, clients will respond likewise.
Is there such a thing as Too Much Information?
Very rarely do I read a blog and find it too personal. But it happens, occasionally. If you’re worried about sharing too much, ask a close friend to read it and see what he thinks. More often than not, what you feel is an overshare people find honest and refreshing.
The best compliment I ever get on my blog or writing is when a new client says “Oh my gosh, I feel like I already know you from reading your blog.”
If you’re stuck on what to write, I suggest reviewing who your ideal client is and what’s important to them. Then find some ideas above that will connect your experiences to those of your ideal client. If you’re a family photographer, find connections about family. Are you pet photographer? Then draw on your love of animals for connections! It really is that easy!
If you’re still having trouble, review the blogs or social media accounts you love. Why do you read them? What makes them stand out? Do you feel connected on a personal level to the writer? Why?
Jot those reasons down and see if you can duplicate some of those feelings in your own blog.
Blogging for Photographers Idea #4 – Write About Your Brand
If being personal is a little too scary for you at first, take a step back and write about things that are related to your brand. Use the topics above but instead write them from the perspective of your brand, not necessarily your personality. You’re still writing, but you might find it’s easier than being so personal.
Other Tips on Blogging for Photographers
It sounds stupidly easy. And it is. But reading more and different things makes you a better writer. Reading teaches and inspires. Read fiction. Photography blogs. Auto-biographies. Business books. All of it will help, not only for the actual content but simply because reading good writing teaches you how to be a better writer.
Learn how reading Hemingway helped me with some lessons about my photogrpahic style!
I like to keep a page in my planner where I list possible blog topics. That way when I’m stuck, I have a huge list of topics to work my way through. My own planner has a page for potential topics for Cole’s Classroom, my business blog and my other client’s blog.
Schedule writing time.
Set aside time each week to dedicate to writing. It’s too easy to put off otherwise. Pick a time when you can be uninterrupted and feel positive and optimistic. Personally, I’m a night owl. I get in a groove about 10:30 at night after my family is asleep and can knock out some great content while the frogs sing in the background.
Try setting a deadline, too. Put a timer on for 25 minutes and force yourself to write until time runs out. Then give yourself 15 minutes to wrap up, proof and publish.
Use a writing calendar.
Try planning out a few months worth of blog posts and putting them on your to do list. It will hold you accountable. This step also makes the actual task of writing seem much more manageable. Sort of like how it’s easier to make dinner each night if the menu is planned out a week ahead of time.
Pinterest has some great ideas on topics and headlines. Take a few minutes once a month to browse ideas and jot down notes.
Buy a book of ideas.
If ideas are your biggest struggle, buy some! Amazon has some great resources, like “1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2.” You don’t have to come up with the idea, you just pick one you like and start writing.
Take a writing class.
You didn’t become a kick-ass photographer overnight. Nor without help. So get help from writing professionals. Take a course in creative writing or blogging at your local community college. Sign up for a class on Udemy.com or CreativeLive.com. Or find a photographer you admire online and take their writing course. You don’t have to figure this all out on your own!
Blogging for photographers doesn’t have to be drudgery. It shouldn’t induce fear and panic. With some time, effort and practice, it will become more comfortable and easy. And that’s when the magic happens.
So sharpen your pencil. Grab your best blue pen and a fresh pad of paper and let your creativity flow. And most of all be brave and be you. You won’t be disappointed!