Blogging is nothing new, especially for photographers. Almost every photographer’s website has one. And many of my contemporaries create blog posts for every wedding, portrait session or event they photograph. But I hated blogging. So, except for a few experimental SEO posts, I stopped blogging in 2012.
Surprisingly, my world didn’t crash and burn. In fact, my business thrives and I still rank on the first page of Google for some of the most competitive photography-related keywords in my area. So, here’s my point: You don’t have to blog to maintain a successful photography business or social network.
Blogs vs. Websites
Just to be clear, a blog is an area of your website where you post fresh content regularly. The rest of your website is where you typically post relatively static content, like biographical information, your contact information and your primary image galleries. Other static content might include articles and information. Some of that content can be referred to as evergreen content, which refers to the kind of content that stays relevant for long periods of time—often for many years (or forever, if you keep it updated).
What’s Changed in Blogging Behavior?
To be honest, blogging isn’t very fun for many photographers. In fact, I feel that blogging is overly time-consuming, retouching is laborious, writing is difficult and blog posts, in general, are no longer as popular as they once were.
Every year I teach hundreds of photographers about SEO and the business of photography, and I’m frequently asked by students if they should blog more, start blogging, continue blogging or give up blogging altogether. Since every studio is different, I can’t provide everyone with a perfect, one-size-fits-all answer to those important questions. However, I believe I can share some thoughts that might help you devise a blogging strategy that’s just right for you and your business.
Blog posts are commonly considered the ideal method for sharing new content. In the past, at least anecdotally, they’ve also been held up as one of the most popular areas of photographer websites. I now believe that latter statement may no longer be true.
When blogs were considered innovative marketing, newly engaged couples, prospective clients and other photographers all flocked to your website to check out your latest blog post. Now, unless you’re a popular photographer with a loyal following, most blog posts receive a much smaller percentage of visitor traffic than the rest of your website.
With that in mind, it might be a bit harder to find the motivation necessary to write a blog post that in many cases will only be viewed by a few people.
There are dozens of reasons that could explain this change in behavior, but I think that it’s best explained by visitor behavior. I believe that your prospective clients want to first determine if you’re a good photographer—usually by viewing your most prominent image galleries relevant to their needs. Then they want to know how much you charge, or at least get a general idea as to your starting price. And finally, if they’re still interested, visitors want to contact you to find out if you’re available and how they can book your services.
For visitors seeing your work for the first time, I contend that they aren’t going to be looking at your most recent blog entry. Likewise, they won’t be digging into the posts you’ve published over the last several years.
This means that your portfolio, pricing and contact info are the most important pages to the most important people—your first-time visitors. To confirm this hypothesis, check your Google Analytics account to see if those traffic patterns hold true for your own website. (Note that your website architecture and clickable buttons may skew those results depending on how your blog posts are accessed and whether your image galleries are integrated into your blog.)
Is It Good to Blog?
It’s a known fact that fresh content is appealing to search engines, and there’s probably no better place to post your fresh content than on your blog. So blogging is good, right? The answer to that question is yes. And no. And it depends.
If you’re a photographer who creates unoriginal posts that aren’t optimized and that only include a sentence-long introduction, then you’re unlikely to be seeing large rewards from your efforts even if you’re posting every day.
Using fewer words will save you time, but if you’re hoping to see your post appear in important search engine positions, that kind of short-form content isn’t going to get you to the finish line. You must do the work.
And if you’re doing the work, why not do the work on your website where it will live forever rather than on a blog where it will eventually become less and less important as time passes?
Content is content.
That’s a stupidly obvious statement, right? Of course it is. Let me use more words to say the same thing.
Whether you create a perfectly SEO-optimized blog post or a perfectly SEO-optimized piece of evergreen content, you’ve still created something that search engines will love. Content can live anywhere and still meet the needs of your visitors and search engines.
With all things being equal, I think it’s easier and more effective to infrequently create amazingly awesome, long-form evergreen content than it is to frequently create short-form blog posts. And in business, I’m all about making life easy.
There’s no right or wrong answer to blogging or not blogging, but if you’re one of those photographers who really hates blogging, these ideas and alternatives might keep you from doing something that you really don’t want to do.
Top 10 Reasons Why Photographers Blog
- Encourages vendor networking
- Increases website traffic
- Signals that the photographer is busy
- Educates your visitors
- Appeals to client vanity
- Allows sharing of recent work
- Promotes dialogue with visitors
- Showcases work from certain venues
- Shares complete weddings or events
- Helps with SEO ranking
Of those top 10 reasons, writing blog posts to improve search engine positions is the most commonly cited reason. And that’s certainly true when SEO techniques like keyword research, content writing and image optimization are correctly and rigorously applied.