Getting Started – How did you transition from working for Intel to doing web marketing for photographers?
After starting my career 10 years ago at intel.com I helped a hundred or so small businesses and organizations with my SEO consulting. When a good friend asked me for SEO tips to get her photography business off the ground I jumped at the chance to showcase the knowledge that bores my wife to sleep.
My friend’s site made gradual progress up the ranks as I made recommendations through email and phone conversations. In a couple of months she ranked #1 for multiple niches and locations and her business flourished. She started to notice photographers everywhere wanted information on SEO – they were asking for it in forums, paying top dollar for training classes, and hiring experts to implement it. With her recommendation, I created an ebook (then later a few more) to document and expand upon the process we used to build her business.
Advice for Others – Many photographers struggle to keep up with rapidly changing photography tools and trends. How do you stay abreast of changes in web marketing and what can busy photographers do to keep themselves informed?
I have several RSS subscriptions that stream into my Google homepage (something I use regularly). I follow the Google Blog, Graywolf’s SEO Blog, Kiss Metrics Blog, Copyblogger, and Social Media Examiner.
I like the RSS factor because I can skim headlines every time I go to my Google homepage, and if there is something interesting, I take that time to learn. You can do the same thing with Twitter by following the same sites above. I try and aggregate all this into the stuff photographers would be interested in at my site: Photography Web Marketing. Photographers shouldn’t get caught up in all the minor changes and details. The foundation of search and social is pretty constant, so work on mastering those things first.
You emphasize designing for usability – what’s the most common usability mistake you see photographers making?
How much time do you have? I love this question. Besides having an all Flash site that is invisible to Google and mobile devices (which constitute over 10% of your potential traffic)… Or perhaps not letting the user control the web experience by popping up full screen windows or auto-playing music and slideshows? Those ones are a bit obvious, so let me offer something more thoughtful.
We’ve been seeing a trend progressing for a long time – potential clients look for information in tinier bits and bits. Mobile usage has exacerbated this trend. It means potential clients spend 2 seconds skimming a Facebook post or Google search, then 30 seconds on a resulting webpage. They don’t click around or watch long slide shows anymore.
Enter the marketing term “conversion” – the one thing most every photographer misses. Once a potential client reaches your page, you have to convert them to call/contact/follow to get the sale. Someone from Google or Facebook will read your post but not take the time to go to your other pages: about, testimonials, pricing, contact, etc. So include those things at the end of key pages that will be ranked or shared. At the end of a blog post tell a little about yourself, a testimonial, and how/why they should contact or follow you. When you have only 30 seconds to make a sale, what will you tell them? Hopefully not an abrupt end to a summary about your latest project. Convert the reader to complete your desired action.
What’s your advice for photographers trying to build an audience for their work? Many photographers spread themselves thin trying to create content for their blog, twitter, Facebook fan page, flickr, tumblr, LinkedIn profile, etc. How should they can prioritize?
Blogging is #1. It produces content that can be found in search and shared in email or social media. I write a weekly blog (every Tuesday) that gets emailed to my subscription list and shared on Facebook. A photographer can grow a business substantially with that simple process. It keeps your message fresh, visible to search, and doesn’t waste time thinking up newsletter content. So, spend 2 hours a week writing a well-thought blog post that conveys value to the reader. Sure, blog about your latest project but add in some stuff that a potential client would care about. For example:
- Why do prints cost so much?
- What quality photo paper does for your photos
- What to wear
- Do it yourself tips
- Portrait hanging ideas
- How lighting and equipment make the difference
When you have a “hook” to get readers to subscribe to your updates (like do it yourself tips, discounts, or a free download) it is easier to build your list.
Nostalgia Time! What was your first camera?
I think I purchased the first digital camera ever made. It was in 1997, and took horribly small resolution, dark photos. The thing seemed like the size of a Kleenex box! Now I have a Canon Ti1 dSLR, although I’d barely call myself an amateur. I mostly focus on the marketing stuff.
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