In this episode of Oh Shoot! Podcast, Cassidy Lynne and Danielle Johnson do a deep dive into blogging for photographers. They go over ways you can improve your SEO and optimize your website to rank in Google Search with blogging!
Danielle is a wedding photographer turned copywriter, SEO specialist, and blogging guru. She specializes in working with wedding photographers to help them improve their organic marketing through SEO-optimized blog content.
She started as a wedding photographer, but when 2020 hit she took on some virtual assistant work. Almost all of her clients were having her blog and they all hated it, but Danielle was kind of good at it. She eventually niched down to offering only blogging services and now two years later she still works with a lot of one-on-one clients. Along with one-on-one work, Danielle is also working on creating SEO and blogging education for photographers.
Learning About SEO & Blogging
Danielle learned about blogging and SEO knowledge from a variety of sources. She started with an SEO mentorship by Mollie of Between the Pine. She’s also taken Catalina Jean’s “SEO is Fun” course, Fuel Your Photos course, and a few other courses and memberships over the years.
Most of Danielle’s experience has come from working with all her one-on-one clients for the past two years. There’s nothing like putting the strategies into practice with a bunch of different types of photographers and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.
Why Blogging is Important for Photographers
A lot of photographers don’t prioritize blogging because it doesn’t give instant gratification like Instagram does. It’s much more of a long-term game. Danielle always says, “Long-term games come with more long-term gains”. That sounds cliche, but it’s very true. The lifespan of an Instagram post feels like it becomes shorter every week and an Instagram story is up for only 24 hours. However, the lifespan of a blog post is so much longer.
The goal of blogging is to be creating content that will help your website pop up on Google when a potential client searches something related to what you offer.
For example, Danielle was a Seattle elopement photographer. So she wanted her website to show up when people searched for “Seattle Elopement Photographer” or something like “Seattle wedding venues.” The goal of blogging is not just to blog for the sake of blogging. It is to actually get your website in front of the eyes of people who could be your potential clients.
One of the main reasons why SEO-optimized blogging is important and valuable is that it’s literally a free marketing tool. You’re overall going to see a bigger return on your investment because it’s going to benefit you over time and you’re not paying anything upfront to blog (unless you’re paying to learn about it). Your content is going to be valuable for so much longer.
Serve Booked Clients
You can also use your blog content to serve your booked clients and that’s a big benefit that photographers overlook. It’s kind of like email templates. If you’re answering the same question from your clients over and over, you can have a blog post about it. For example, if clients ask you for venue recommendations you can direct them to a blog post that gives them all the in-depth information. This allows them to continue to build trust with you and you’re continually reassuring the investment they made with you.
Blog Content for Client Experience
For example, Danielle recently created a Big Sur Elopement guide for a client. Hopefully, that blog will not only target people who are looking up searches related to that, but also any clients the photographer booked who are eloping in Big Sur. As service providers, photographers want to provide the best experience possible. Having a resource library full of free tips and guides is only going to boost your client’s trust in you and the same with couples just finding you through Google searches.
Repurposing Blog Content
If you’re writing blog content you should be repurposing it and getting as much as you can out of it. There are a billion different ways that you can repurpose blog content on social media. For the Big Sur elopement guide you could create 20 Instagram captions and 20 different TikToks. You could have one Instagram post or TikTok per location mentioned. You could post on why you should elope in Big Sur and best time of year to elope there. You could easily have over a month’s worth of Instagram content from that blog post.
The same goes for content you’ve already posted on your Instagram feed. You’ve probably written a lot of really valuable captions that you can pull topics from. If you’re struggling with what to write for a blog post, look back on your captions and see what you wrote about the session or wedding.
Blogging Tips for Photographers
#1 Create 3-4 Content Pillars
You might already have created content/brand pillars for your social media. You can also create content pillars for your blog content to revolve around.
Blog Content Pillar Examples:
- Washington Elopements
- Oregon Elopements
- General Elopement Tips
- Tips for Photographers
Having a few pillars that you can start off with can be really helpful in guiding the content you plan to blog. You can start with creating one blog per month for each of your pillars and then circle back and repeat the pillars over and over.
#2 Blog Galleries
If you would rather plan your content around types of blogs rather than pillars, the types of blogs I recommend photographers start with are galleries. Blog your favorite galleries at maybe three to five of your favorite venues or locations to shoot at.
Think of the couples, weddings, or elopements you really loved and locations you really want to keep shooting at and blog those first. Blog galleries for anywhere you really want to be targeting clients for and that you have content for.
#3 Don’t Just Write Fluff
Danielle recommends not just writing fluff about love stories. This is one common mistake photographers make. They blog a wedding and will just talk about how much Jill and John loved each other, but that’s not what people are looking for when they find you on Google. You have to put yourself in the shoes of what is going to be valuable to somebody who’s finding your blog.
Instead of writing about the couple’s love story, which you can totally still talk about, also include information about:
- the venue
- the timeline, how the timeline went
- where the couple stayed
- what activities they did
- what vendors they hired
Write about the things that a couple would actually want to know that will help them plan their own wedding.
#4 Blog Venue Lists
Aside from blogging galleries, you can also blog venue lists. If you have a couple of main areas you photograph in, like if Boston and Chicago are your two main areas, you could create two blog posts on the “Best Chicago wedding venues” and “Best Boston wedding venues”.
You can also create specific location guides for your favorite locations like a Mount Rainier Elopement Guide or “How to get married at Yosemite guide”. You can also include sections like:
- how to travel to this park or area
- why you should elope there
- permit information
- the best places for ceremonies
- the best hikes
- the best activities
- where to stay nearby
- the best time of year
- information about your packages and pricing at that location.
That is just a quick list of ideas!
- Blog a few of your favorite galleries at your favorite locations
- Blog a couple of venue guides for your area
- Create a few location specific guides for specific parks or cities or venues.
#5 The Power of Venue Blogs
It’s great to target not only photography-related searches but also venue searches. Often a couple is looking for their photographer around the same time they’re looking for their venue. For example, Danielle has a client who photographs weddings in Oahu. She has certain venues she loves and she’s ranking within the top 5 for almost every venue she loves to photograph at. When you think about couples searching for their venue and coming across her blogs, they’re immediately finding her brand and building trust. They’re finding information about that venue as well as a photographer, so they’re looking to get as much information as they can in one spot. If you can be the one that’s providing all that information that is so so powerful.
How to get started with blogging:
Set-up Google Search Console
As far as getting started with your blog, you should definitely be setting up Google Search Console. It’s basically Google Analytics, but only for organic traffic. The goal with SEO and blog posts is to build your organic traffic, and this will start tracking all of your organic traffic (not from social, etc.). It’s totally free and you just put the code into your website header.
Whether you think you have it set up or not, double-check! It’ll tell you things like which pages are getting the most views and how long people are spending on your blog posts.
Learn Basic SEO Terms
It’s really important to get to know the basic SEO terms. If you start trying to dive into blogging without an actual grasp on what the parts of an optimized blog are, chances are you’re going to be confused. You might do it wrong and you’re just not going to get the most benefit out of your blogging. Danielle has a free guide with all the most basic terms and definitions.
Get her free SEO guide here!
Start with One Blog
As far as actually starting with your blog content, start with creating one blog for each of your content pillars. Or create one of each type of blog that I mentioned earlier.
You don’t have to be perfect
It’s really hard to get started and a lot of people think that every blog has to be perfect in order for it to rank. Know that any blog is better than no blog. You can always go back and change it! It doesn’t have to be perfect the first go around, so don’t let that stop you from actually publishing something because a half-assed blog is better than every other photographer who has no blogs.
SEO Edge App
If you want to do more keyword-specific tracking, SEO Edge is a great free app for your phone.
It’s the most basic keyword-tracking app you can have. If you want to get started with seeing how your ranking for “Seattle wedding photographer” changes over the next few months as you start blogging, download it! It’ll tell you where you’re going up and down, and what page of Google you’re on. SEO Edge is another great and free tool you can start with right now!
What is SEO?
For any beginners, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. It’s just a really fancy and over-complicated way of optimizing your content in a way that makes Google happy and follows its rules. Danielle has been saying Google because that’s the search engine most people use, but it covers any search engine. How optimized your content is for SEO is going to affect how Google places your website in its rankings.
SEO looks at the way a website receives organic traffic through search engines, not through visits from social media or paid ads. The ultimate goal of SEO optimization is to follow along with Google’s rules in order to get to the top of search results that your clients are typing in.
Google ultimately wants to provide the best of the best resources and content to its clients. So you do have to work to please Google and be creating content that Google thinks is relevant. Google will place you up higher if it thinks you are solving a searcher’s problem and if it thinks your website is delivering more high-quality content than other websites.
The goal is to get on page one because nobody looks at page two. A variety of things go into how Google positions your website including how long your website has been up, what competing websites look like, how much Google trusts your website to provide good content, and how long people have spent on your website before.
How to Improve Website SEO
#1 Download the SEO Edge App
Use the SEO Edge app mentioned above to start tracking your keywords.
#2 Keyword Research
For each of your content pillars, come up with five searches related to that pillar that your couples might be typing in to search. For example, if a content pillar is “California Elopements,” step in your client’s shoes and think through five different things they might be typing into Google that are related to California elopements. For example: places to elope in California, how to get married in California, best wedding venues in California, best wedding vendors in California, permits for a California elopement.
Those are five quick things that couples might be searching for. With each of those keywords type it into Google and scroll down to the “people also ask” section. See what comes up in the related questions and write those down because those are more keywords. Use those to build ideas off of ideas. Google is really great at providing you with what people are literally searching for, so you have to go to the source to see what people are typing in.
Also, look at the autocomplete when you’re typing in California elopements. Google literally tells you what people search and that is what you should be blogging about. Google wants to position content high in the results that is answering the questions people are coming to Google with.
#3 Optimized Headings
One easy thing you can do is add optimized headings. Headings are the big text on your website. They’re different fonts, sizes, and colors. Headings are the text that stands out that you use to title each section. But they’re not just for aesthetic purposes. Google actually pulls information from your website from the headings before it even looks at your body text. Google pays attention to your headings to try to figure out what your website is about and what a blog post is about. That’s how it’s going to put your website into the search results. You really want your headings, whether it’s in your blog post or your website, to include target keywords.
For example, as a Seattle elopement photographer, I want to be targeting the term “Seattle elopement photographer” with my website. I would be putting that into not only my body text but into two to three headings on my home page because Google is looking at your headings before it even looks at your body copy. For each of your website pages add a couple of target keywords that you’re trying to rank for to your headings. You don’t want your headings to just be like “Hi, I’m Cassidy.” You want your headings to say, “Hi! I’m Danielle, a Seattle Elopement Photographer.”
You should have your location on your website in your headings to help the client know where you are.
Mistakes Photographers Make with Blogging
#1 Waiting Until A Blog is Perfect to Publish
The number one mistake is waiting to publish a blog post until it’s perfect. Google is very smart and it recognizes high-quality content, but it’s not crazy picky. Your blog doesn’t have to look aesthetically amazing. If you just have text and a couple of images, publish it. You can always go back later and make a few changes. It won’t mess anything up. So don’t let that get in the way of you actually hitting publish! Especially if you hire a copywriter and they give you copy! It’s very common that that copy just sits in a draft and you never actually put it into your blog. Don’t let that hold you back.
#2 Blogging Fluff
Another big mistake people make with blogging is blogging fluff. Like Danielle mentioned earlier just talking about a love story, you really need to be stepping into your client’s shoes and thinking through what value they could find from this wedding or this article.
#3 Trying to blog too often
Trying to blog too often is another mistake photographers make. They get fired up from an Instagram post, so they go and blog five times one month and then don’t blog again for six months. Google really values consistency and quality over quantity. Even if it’s blogging once a month, set a realistic goal that you will be able to hit and keep it consistent. You can totally create five blog posts a month and schedule them to be published once a month instead of all at once. Google is going to see you as a consistent person creating consistent content.
#4 Thinking Blogging is One Size Fits All
Another mistake is thinking that blogging is one size fits all. Yes, at the beginning you’ll start off by following strategies and following what Google is telling you, but you do have to get into the practice of adapting and recognizing what your unique goals are and what your unique audience is looking for right.
#5 Caring Too Much about Keyword Volume
Keyword volume or search volume is a common term taught with keyword research. So if you go to a keyword research tool and you see those terms, it’s going to tell you an estimated number of searches that that word gets. People place too much value on that. A phrase like “Olympic National Park elopement locations” is a super specific search that might only have 10 searches a month. That’s not a bad thing. You do want to be looking at these numbers, but don’t place too much value on them.
You know what your clients are looking for and you know that maybe this tool is telling me that search volume is really low, but you are only looking for like 10 clients. You’re not looking to book a thousands people. It’s the balance of trying to figure out how niche to make your business and your offers. You want to be broad enough that you’re reaching enough people, but you want to be niche enough that you’re reaching the right people.
You know your clients best and you know your work best. There is a formula and there are strategies, but don’t let that stop you from hitting publish on something that you think is going to be valuable.
#6 Different Purposes with Blogging
Even if you publish a blog that doesn’t have the most optimized keywords, your clients are still going to find that valuable. There are different purposes to blogging. One blog post might be with the goal to rank. One blog post might be for your booked clients. You don’t have to put the same amount of effort and energy into optimizing the one you just want to send to your clients. Set a goal for each blog post and know where you need to put your energy for that goal to be met.
Blogging and Pinterest
Danielle thinks that Pinterest is such a valuable tool to use in tandem with blogging because if you are blogging it really doesn’t take much effort to incorporate Pinterest into your workflow. You’re creating blog posts with the beautiful images that people are looking for on Pinterest. All you need to do is create a couple of graphics for that blog post. Like if it’s a Big Sur elopement guide, create a pretty Pinterest graphic and pin the link and use your same blog post title and description as the pin title and description. Or pin the images with the little pin button on your blog post.
Pinterest, while it’s not organic traffic, is such a powerful tool for getting traffic to your website. The more traffic you get to your website, the more Google trusts your website and wants to position you higher. Pinterest is really powerful and it’s really easy to do if you’re already creating the blog content.
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