By Skip Cohen – Illustrations by Shirley Hernàndez Ticona

You need a blog. And you need to know how to use it.

A guide by the best in biz on how to become the best blogger on the block.

Over this article series about Going Pro, we’ve covered a lot of ground; since we talked about your website in the last issue, it’s time to talk about your blog.

Everybody thinks they need a blog—what’s worse is how many people have them and don’t have a clue as to how to use them. People act as if having a blog gives them the right to talk about anything they want, at any time and without the slightest command of basic grammar.

Here’s a prime example: a female photographer interested in children and family work wrote a post about the “kick-ass time” she had the night before at some little bar in town with her girlfriends. It’s written like a bad diary journal and includes images of her doing shots with the guys in the band. It’s a fraternity party gone bad.

Shirley-Hernàndez-Ticona, Skip-Cohen, Going-Pro, how-to, professional-photographer, photography

© Shirley Hernàndez Ticona

OK, now put on your marketing hat… We know that 98% of purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer are made by women. For the most part, that means moms! So, how many mothers do you think will find this photographer’s story about her drunken binge appealing and will hire her to shoot the Christmas portrait she wants done for the grandparents?

If you think I’m missing the point here, you can stop reading and move on to the next article—I honestly can’t help you. But, if you understand what’s wrong in this picture, let’s get back to basics and come up with some solid guidelines so your blog can attract customers, rather than send them running to your competitors.

Shirley-Hernàndez-Ticona, Skip-Cohen, Going-Pro, how-to, professional-photographer, photography

© Shirley Hernàndez Ticona

  1. Post regularly. Whatever you’re doing, you have to be consistent. My suggestion is to post at least twice a week. The reason for consistency has two parts. First, you want to keep feeding the search engines with new material. Second, you want to build a following of loyal readers who are interested in what you have to say. The more you post, the more you feed the Internet and your fans.
  2. Keep your posts relevant. Remember who your target audience is, and write posts that appeal to their interests. Be helpful in the information you’re sharing. For example, a photographer interested in building a following of young moms could write about tips for better photographs of your kids, great places in the community to photograph, or events coming up that are of interest to families, just to name a few.
  3. If you’re going to post, then learn to write! At the very least have somebody proofread your posts. Read them out loud and remember punctuation and paragraph breaks.
  4. Keep your posts relatively short. All the research I’ve done suggests 300-500 words is the maximum length for a post. However, once you’ve established a solid base of readers, you can go longer as long as the post is relevant to your audience and their interests.
  5. Include images. You don’t have to show every image you took on a shoot, and you don’t have to post images of every client you work with. Vary your posts and include just a couple of images of the event or client you’re talking about. Don’t let your blog become a popularity contest with every client thinking they’re getting posted.
  6. Don’t respond to trolls! Every blog, no matter how good or neutral you think you sound on a topic, will eventually draw out a troll on the prowl to aggravate you and break your spirit. You’ll never win if you get sucked into the fray… Just let it go and don’t respond. Also, always set your blog up so you can screen the comments. Your blog is not a public forum; it’s your personal marketing and communication tool.
  7. Be helpful! As you build readership, you’ll start to get more serious comments about your work, or questions about a process or something you might have talked about. As my buddy, Scott Bourne, demonstrates regularly, be generous with your time.
  8. Build up your stash of posts. Everybody is busy and your best intentions might fall flat now and then, but don’t let that discourage you. If you can’t keep up with posting regularly, try this approach: lock yourself up for a few hours and make a list of topics to write about. Next, find a day to devote to just writing. This way, you will build up your stash and have a few pieces to draw from in your pipeline.

 

Now, here’s where it gets really sweet! If your goal is to publish a new post twice a week, then you’re going to write one fresh piece each week and pull one from your inventory. If you did your job and wrote twenty posts in advance, you can keep your blog going with fresh material for close to five months.

Your blog is a great opportunity to reflect your personality, but be selective. If you were meeting a new client for the first time and you wanted them to hire you more than any other client on the planet, what would you share with them? What would you do and say to impress them with your passion for photography, life, and documenting the human spirit?

Your blog is an opportunity to demonstrate more than just your skill set—this is about opening your heart to your clients and your community.

“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” Lee Odden

Shirley-Hernàndez-Ticona, Skip-Cohen, Going-Pro, how-to, professional-photographer, photography

© Shirley Hernàndez Ticona

About the author: Author of six books on photography, including “Going Pro,” which this article series is based on, Skip Cohen has been a fixture in the photographic industry for his entire adult life. He’s served as President of HasselbladRangefinder/WPPI, and in 2009 founded Marketing Essentials InternationalHis exciting new venture is SkipCohenUniversity.com, with a faculty that represents the “Who’s Who” in photographic education.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Resource, which is available online here.