Growing An Audience

The-Big-Shift

Someone asked me the other day about whether or not they should share links to pro-related industry sites where they have been featured or contributed. Or if it was even good idea to write for the sites at all.

I had suggested sharing a logo for a site where they were featured, but this person was hesitant about sharing content they had done on other industry sites for professional photographers, because they didn’t want clients seeing it.

They felt it conflicted with their client work and seemed ‘unprofessional.’

It’s a concern that I hear quite often, and since there are some misconceptions about it I thought it would be a good topic to address here.

Because it could be hurting your ability to drive traffic to your site, and to get new business.

Many photographers who specialize in high school seniors struggle with this topic especially because they feel like teens don’t read blogs and feel it’s pointless to even bother having a blog.

That may or may not be true, however that’s beside the point. There are a lot of great reasons to have a blog, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be about seniors and day-to-day client work.

The thing is though, if you are blogging because you think the phone will ring every time you publish a post, you’re going to be disappointed.

Right now there are a lot of photographers who are struggling to get the phone to ring.

To get the phone to ring, you need an audience. To grow an audience you need to build your brand and recognition online – which requires creating content both on your site and on other sites.

Which brings me to the answer for “Should you write about professional topics on your site or on other industry sites?”

tl:dr

  • Yes, you should if it’s something you’re interested in and enjoy talking about.
  • Yes, it’s a very effective way to grow your audience
  • No, it’s not the only way to grow your audience, but it’s an effective one
  • No, it’s not unprofessional.

Here’s why.

Search engines really aren’t that complicated.

Google (and others) favor brands and businesses that are known experts in their industry and craft.

When a prospective client is looking for an answer to something, the first thing they do is type it into Google. Google wants to provide the best answers to people’s questions. It does that by showing a page of search results that are “answers’ in the form of links to brands and sites who have built up authority within their niche.

Here are some ways that tell Google you are an authority on a particular topic.

  • The topics and content on your site. Whether it’s blog posts, pages, links images or video.
  • Links from other related sites that mention or link to yours. If you want to establish yourself as an expert in Senior Portrait Photography then sharing content about that topic on related quality sites is a very effective way to do that.
  • Content shared on social media around your expertise can also be a factor
  • Fresh, frequently updated content
  • Adding logos or graphics of sites or magazines where you’ve been featured show your clients and potential clients that you are a sought after expert in your field. This increases both your credibility and value for your services to potential clients.

I believe a lot of the concern about writing or sharing content around professional topics seems to be a fear around sharing knowledge because the competition may see it. Or that clients will have no need for your services.

You don’t need to write about photography or business strategies if it’s not your thing, in fact you don’t have to write about photography at all.

I think creating a brand and content that is a combination of your specialty and something you’re passionate about is one the best ways to build an audience, and most importantly differentiate yourself.

Professional chefs do this all the time. They create cookbooks and share cooking tips which is what helps them build their brand.

Recently I was looking for a personal trainer and I visited a few websites after doing a search. These sites had workout tips, healthy eating tips and other information related to health and exercise.

They also had features where they had written articles for magazines and other sites. One site had a couple of books in addition to their services.

Which is why they showed up on the first page of Google when I was searching for them.

Could anyone just take those workout tips to use on my own rather than work with a trainer?

Yes.

But people looking to hire a personal trainer aren’t going to that.

Some people cannot afford a trainer, and others don’t see the value. People go looking for advice and knowledge all the time.

That’s ok.

That same content is also attracting people who can afford and want those services.

Working out isn’t a mystery, nor is it hard to find information on how to do it or how to get in shape. There are thousands of sites, videos and books out there with all the information anyone could need to successfully workout and get into shape.

People hire a personal trainer for emotional reasons and to get results. Maybe they want the best, or accountability or maybe they just don’t have time to figure it out. It’s not because they can’t figure out how to find the information for using dumbbells.

Photography is the same way. There are no secrets. Everyone has a camera and calls themselves a photographer. The need for a professional isn’t because people don’t have a camera of their own.

Creating good photography is hard work, and very few have the skill or eye to pull it off. Something pros take for granted because they do it everyday.

Not everyone is your client. Not everyone can afford to hire a photographer.

That’s ok. Focus on those who can afford it and who value your work.

Your ability to stand out, get noticed and book more clients depends on how well you establish yourself as an expert, and grow your brand around something unique.

Creating content for industry sites does not look unprofessional to your potential clients. Quite the opposite. It helps attract them to your work.

the-big-shift-2

Trends show small, independent businesses are being sought out over mass produced big box stores. There is still a demand for good photographers, and in fact there are photographers doing extremely well. They do however seem to be the minority, and that is sometimes lost in the noise of those who are still operating with outdated strategies.

There’s been a HUGE seismic shift in the industry over the last couple years. Everyone feels it and nobody wants to talk it about. Well, not honestly anyway.

But that’s a topic for another time.

3 thoughts on “Growing An Audience”

  1. Hey, Nardi:

    Enjoyed your article. Straight forward, cogent, simplifying what others seem to want to make hugely complicated. Would enjoy reading what you have to say (honestly) about the seismic shift. Hope y’all are doing well.

  2. Thank you for the information, Definitely things to think about. My problem is finding things to write about and the time to write it. I am one of those busy photographers with always too much to do.

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