It was just five years ago when the event filmmaking community came kicking and screaming into the world wide web of blogging. Many called it a fad. Well, now everyone and their mother has a blog, but it’s still somewhat of a mystery to some as to how to effectively use it. Photographers have been in the blogging scene much longer, but even there I see some photography blogs that seem to be aimless. Chances are you have a blog too. Do you feel it is effectively helping your business? Or do you feel it’s one of those things you do because you have to, although you have no idea what you’re doing? Hopefully this blog post can shed some light.
Here are five tips for creating a blogging strategy that you can feel confident will actually help your business. For each tip I’ll use my own blog as an example.
- Know your audience. Who do you want to read your blog? Brides? Art directors? Other filmmakers or photographers? Everyone? You have to answer this question first and foremost. If you don’t know for whom you’re writing, your blog will just meander. The primary audience for this blog is small business filmmakers and photographers. My secondary audience would be other small businesses not necessarily visual artists. My tertiary audience is past and prospective clients.
- Offer value. Once you determine who your audience is, offer them value. If your audience is brides, don’t just use your blog to show your pretty pictures or cool videos. Create a context whereby you can show your work and offer value to the brides. Talk about why you took the photos the way you did and how that adds to their day. Talk about the challenges you had on the shoot and how they could be avoided for their wedding. You can use your blog as a sort of evolving portfolio, but I think you’ll garner more traffic if in addition to your work, you offer real value. For this blog, the value I hope I offer is inspiration and education for fellow visual artists. Articles that will help you grow in both your craft, and your business.
- Know your objectives. Once you know your audience and the value you can offer them, know why you’re offering that particular audience that particular value. Is it to book sales? To network? To increase your SEO (search engine optimization)? I have five distinct objectives with this blog. 1) maintain my status as an educator and expert since I write for a number of publications, I’m on the speaking circuit and I offer coaching services to photographers and filmmakers (as well as do a number of photographer profile/promo videos each year). 2) Maintain my discipline as a writer, both for magazines, but also as a screenwriter. One of the reasons I’ve taken to having a blog post every weekday is to discipline myself to write, write, write. 3) To give back to the industry. I believe what goes around comes around. Plus it feels good to give. 4) To remind myself of what I need to do for my own business. And 5) To showcase my work.
- Be consistent. For any blog to be successful, it has to be consistent, both in topic and in timing. Stray too far off topic, and you’ll lose your audience. Fall behind in posting, and you’ll lose your audience. (I see huge drops in viewership if I’m off just a couple of days). There are many different schools of thought on how many posts to write each week. I think if you want to take it seriously, you have to have at least two a week, preferably three or more. I blog specifically about the art and business of filmmaking and photography. It’s as simple as that. 99% of the blog posts I write will fit into these categories one way or another. Every now and then I’ll write a more personal or introspective blog post because this is my personal blog. As far as timing, for the past few months I’ve had a new post every weekday, and some weekends too. How do I do it? I’m glad you asked…
- Block schedules. Set aside specific times during the week to write all your blog posts at once. For the majority of blog posts I write, they are written, posted, and tweeted days in advance. When I’m on track, I’ll write 3-4 blog posts in one sitting (usually saturday morning). I’ll schedule them to post over Monday through Thursday, then use bit.ly to create short URLs and Hootsuite to schedule my tweets. I’ll tweet links to the same posts (with slightly different descriptions) 2-3 times a day: morning, afternoon and night. I have enough followers who follow enough other people where I hope that my posts are spread out enough throughout the day that they don’t feel like Twitter spam. (Wow. That was a long and awkward sentence). I also make it a point to re-tweet other peoples tweets too. It’s all about giving back. [Special note: if you schedule a blog post then create a bit.ly for that post, do not change the post URL or you’ll break the bit.ly link. Once a bit.ly URL is set, it can’t be changed. If you must change the URL, create a new bit.ly. Also keep in mind that many blog sites incorporate the date into the URL, so if you change the post date, chances are the URL will change too and you’ll need to create a new bit.ly.]
The Pay Off
If you follow these five tips, I promise you will have a successful blogging strategy. Since returning to the world blogging last October, traffic has increased three fold and my SEO rankings have definitely improved. But, you have to commit.