We’ve all done it. Sat down to blog a client session and stared at that blinking cursor with equal parts panic and frustration. What in the world should I say? What if they hate it? Do I really NEED to blog? Can’t I simply connect with customers through my photos?
Writing is hard, y’all. For many of us, it feels downright daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Today, I’ll cover why client blogs are important, how to set yourself up for success, and give you tips and tricks on writing photography blogs that connect with clients.
Why client photography blogs are important
Client photography blogs help grow your business in a number of ways.
- Make clients feel seen and appreciated
- Provide new content for your website
- Provide SEO opportunities for your website
- Strong writing skills improve your trustworthiness and credibility
- Create shareable content
- Set you apart from other photographers
If you aren’t blogging your sessions, you are missing out on a serious opportunity to improve the customer relationship, grow your business, and separate yourself from the rest of the pack of photographers.
Client blogs are a very visible way to demonstrate the care and attention you give to your clients. Potential clients will never see the carefully crafted email you send before a session. They don’t know about the cute pack of bubbles and snacks you bring to every session or your gorgeous “What’s Next” cards. They don’t know you send hand-written thank-yous after the session or custom camera cookies with your print orders.
But they can see and read your blog. And if you write it well, they’ll feel the personal touch you added. They’ll know how much you love your job and your clients. And they’ll want that same kind of relationship from THEIR photographer.
The Key is Connecting with Customers
Here’s my secret: writing a great blog isn’t about the quality of your writing skills. It’s about how well you are able to connect with customers. If you can connect with a client, get them talking about themselves, and then translate those connections into words…that’s a great client blog.
So breathe easier, friends. This article isn’t going to cover subject-verb tense or dangling participles. Instead, we’re going to talk about a few simple ways to improve those client connections and convert those moments to words.
Tip #1 – Start With a Great Questionnaire
The first tip I have to write a great client blog is to start with a great questionnaire. Use it as an opportunity to clarify expectations of clients, but also as a way to get to know them. Ask for names, ages, interests, hobbies, and activities. But go a step further. My two favorite questions are “Why are you taking family photos right now? Are you celebrating a milestone, documenting an event, etc.? and “When you look back at these photos in ten years, what do most want to remember about this season of your life?”
Send this questionnaire to ALL your clients, even if you’ve been shooting them for years. They might not give you any new answers. But then again, they might!
I review the questionnaire when it comes in, then again the night before a session to keep that information fresh in my mind as we shoot.
But I don’t only use this questionnaire to guide what and how I shoot, I use it to build a rapport with my clients. If a senior client mentions he plays football, we talk football during the shoot. Get a client talking about something they are passionate about! You can connect with customers during the session and glean information to share on a session blog.
Tip #2 – Connect with Customers Through Multiple Touchpoints
The more time you spend with your clients, the better you can get to know them. It’s hard to build rapport if the session is the first time you’ve ever spoken. Build multiple touch-points, or personal connections, into your workflow. A questionnaire is one idea for a touchpoint. You can also add a face to face consultation, a video chat, or a simple phone call. You can even schedule a follow-up call if you have some holes to fill in for your blog!
Don’t forget about connecting with clients outside of your client-photographer relationship. Where are your clients spending their time? Are their opportunities to see them and visit with them? To see them in their element, doing what they love?
Don’t just sit behind your desk editing. Get out and get in your community. Find community-based touchpoints for current and potential customers! Attend a fundraising dinner or trade show popular with your clientele and see them in action. Volunteer in your kids school or a service organization popular with your clients. All of those interactions help strengthen the relationship and help clients know, like, and trust you. And when that happens, they open up to you!
Tip #4 – Take Lots of Notes
On my way home from a session, I pull up Google Keep or Otter and use the voice recorder to make notes about the session. What happened, funny moments, observations, ideas, etc. Don’t edit or worry about if what you are writing is perfect or not. If you don’t like using a voice recorder, keep a small notebook in your camera bag to write those thoughts instead.
Here are a few of my notes from a recent family session with a single mom and her four kids under the age of 7. My client went through an ugly divorce just a few months ago and the goal of her session was new photos showing how life has changed but there is still joy.
Just jot down thoughts, ideas or phrases that come to mind.
- So much love!
- They are a great team. They work together, pick each other up when one is sad, make each other laugh, share whole-heartedly.
- Love simply pours out of this mom. When she looks at her kids, the love is right there for anyone to see. It’s in her eyes and on her face.
- Mom has worked to build a home for these kids and surround them with touches of how they are loved. Photos on the wall, items with their names on them, artwork hanging on the refrigerator.
- Mom had all of the kids special blankets laid out for photos. She even had hers from when she was a kid. What a cool legacy of love to start.
- Carrying the love. Mom had nothing when he left her. She had to buy beds, furniture, etc. So much of their home is new. But she carried the love with her, and in her, for her kids.
I also keep ongoing notes on my clients in their file in my CRM. If I read something great about them in the paper (awards, promotions, election to a board, new product launch), I make a note about it in their client file ask them about it at their next session.
Tip #5 – Mirror Your Clients Words Back to Them
Most of the time, your clients will tell you exactly what to write about them. Or their friends and family will. You just need to listen to what they are saying and use it!
- Listen to what parents say about their kids. How do they describe them? What words do they use?
- How do siblings describe one another?
- What do friends say about your client? If you bring up a client’s name in conversation, how do other people respond? What words do they use?
- Ask your client questions about their lives and use their own words in your blog.
- At weddings, listen to the words others use. What does the pastor say about the couple? How do they speak to one another in their vows? What do the toasts tell you about the couple?
Tip #6 – Start With One True Sentence
One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve received was to start with one true sentence. When you’re staring at that blank page and you have no idea what to write, go simple. Start with one, true sentence.
I thought my writing mentor was a genius after using that advice. But it turns out, it wasn’t even his advice. He borrowed it from a guy you might know, Ernest Hemmingway.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway
When I’m struggling on what to write or how to say what I want to say, I always come back to this. Instead of getting hung up on an entire post or essay, I write one true sentence.
What’s the truest sentence you could write about that wedding you attended? The author you worked with on personal branding photos? The adoption ceremony you photographed?
I find that one true sentence often becomes the theme of my session post and helps guide me in what I want to write. Sometimes that sentence isn’t even my words, it’s a quote or a song lyric that perfectly sums up what I feel about my client or their experience. It’s okay to borrow those words and build a session that quote (properly attributed, of course!). Use that quote as your thesis and your words as supporting details.
Tip #7 – Write the Story, Not the Superficial
A great client blog tells a story, and your client is the hero of that story. Always be on the lookout for that client’s story. Who are they? What are they passionate about? Have they overcome or beaten something to get to this point in their lives? What drives them? Is there a major theme in their life right now? Who are they, on the inside? You can even learn more about them on social media.
People love to read stories.
What they wore or how pretty the light was can be supporting details that add to the story. But to truly write blogs that connect with customers and provide an amazing client experience, you need to see and tell the client’s story.
Pull all of those details and observations you’ve been gathering over the course of your relationship with the client into a compelling story, where the client is the hero.
Not sure what I mean? Below are two examples of what I could write to describe a twin senior session I recently shot. Obviously, part of their story is that they are twins. But what does that mean, to them?
These boys are fraternal twins. Sawyer has dark hair and slightly angular features. Hayden is blond with curly hair and stands an inch or two taller. They might not share looks, but they share a love of sports like basketball and football. Both are talented, multi-sport athletes.
But when I force myself to dig deeper and tell a story, this is what I have.
“So do you have that twin sense that I read about?” I asked Sawyer and Hayden. “Where one feels the other’s pain?”
“No, only he gets hurt when I punch him,” Hayden told me, elbowing his brother. Then they both laughed, grinned, and shrugged at the exact same time. Then they realized what the other had done and they both laughed again.
These boys are fraternal twins. And at first glance, you might not guess they are brothers, let alone twins. They don’t wear that connection on their sleeve. But their connection is powerful. Subtle, but deep-seated and something to behold. It’s a brief meeting of their eyes when one gets asked a question or how they both immediately think of the same inside joke and laugh at the same time. And on the basketball court? It’s almost unfair to their competitors. I’ve seen these two deliver some of the most amazing no-look passes to one another for spectacular spectacular scores. They intuitively know where the other is on the court without having to see him.
The first paragraph tells details. The second paragraph helps tell a story.
Tip #8 – Read More
The more you read, the better you’ll become at writing. Reading inspires us and helps us grow our own language skills. Make it a point to read more. Read fellow photographer’s blogs and see what resonates with you. Read fiction. Mysteries. Biographies. Poetry. If there’s a passage that inspires you, stop and break it down. See why it drew your attention, how it’s used. Every book or blog you read can teach you something! You’ll be inspired and absorb all of that language and nuance and it will eventually become part of your own style.
Tip #9 – Write More
And finally, try writing more. Writing is like any skill. The more you work at it, the better you’ll become. We didn’t just pick up a camera one day and start taking award-winning photos. No. We work at it. Practice. Take classes. Ask for feedback. Why should writing be any different?
If you truly want to be a better writer and write better client blogs, approach writing the same way. Practice. Buy a prompt writing workbook or install a writing prompt app. Take a class. Keep a journal just for you. Join a writing group online or in your community and let others help you improve your work! Challenge yourself to write for fifteen minutes every day for a week. Or set a goal to write four blog sessions a month. Have goals and work toward them, in your writing and your photography!
You Can Do Hard Things
I said it to start this post and I’ll say it again. Writing is hard. But it can be every bit as important to your outstanding customer experience as beautiful images. Your words matter. They matter to your clients and your future clients and your community.
Start by strengthening how you connect with customers. Improve your touchpoints. Listen. Take notes. Then open your heart and write a heartfelt, thoughtful blog. Your clients and small business will love you for it. I promise.