In the late 80s, with the popularity of chat shows on the rise, television producers would always have ‘go to’ standby guests in case somebody pulled out at the last minute. After a while it seemed that any time this happened it would be Christopher Biggins who filled in… I guess because he was always available (aww)! Biggins swiftly became known on the circuit as a ‘professional guest’, and needless to say, was a bit of a running joke.
When I heard this story this week, I immediately started thinking about guest blogging and whether it’s a good thing to be so readily available all the time…
Write for the right blog
Writing attractive guest posts can be hard work and you really need to make sure you’re pitching the right content to the right blog. It’s imperative that the blog you’re being featured on has a large and engaged audience, but more than that, attracts a similar niche of reader to the one you want to. There can be great benefits to getting a solid guest post featured, but it is important to be strategic about what you write and where it’s published.
You really only want to be writing for another blog that has a larger audience than your own and who’s readers regularly engage and respond to guest posters. Some blogs survive with the majority of their content being guest submitted, whereas for others it’s a rarity. If you’re pitching to the latter, I would imagine this to be a less successful strategy as the readers won’t be used to engaging with writers who are not the owner of the blog.
Guest posts are a great way to promote your product or services to a brand new audience but you need to be clever about how you pitch yourself and not come across as over salesy or spammy. That’s a sure-fire way to put people off. Think about what you’re going to write about but also who you’re writing for.
However tempting or flattering, signing up for a regular column without testing the water first is a bad idea. Never over-commit yourself (especially if you’re not getting paid – which you rarely will). There’s nothing worse than having a column that your dreading writing because it never gets you anything in return. Yes, I strongly believe that regular and consistent presence somewhere is the best way to convert casual readers into loyal fans, but before you commit to anything long-term, dip your toes in the water.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure” – Oprah Winfrey
What a whirlwind! First up thank you so much for allowing me to take a few weeks off the Green Room while I was away. I had good intentions to get some guest posts up, but when it came down to it I just didn’t have any in the pipeline that I thought we’re strong enough… and so I figured, quality over quantity, and let it go.
A moment of honesty – the few weeks running up to me going away were tough. I was seriously lacking inspiration and my blogging mojo was waning. The endless treadmill that can be running a blog full time, with the constant pressure to update daily (or in my case multiple times daily) was starting to loose it’s sparkle. Don’t get me wrong, I am forever in love with my job, but I was just feeling like the posts I was publishing were only okaaaay. Like I was just going through the motions and that the standard of what I was writing was slipping.
I needed this break. Badly. We all know that those moments where you’re sat staring at your computer screen just willing the inspiration to come are the least productive. Then add immense tiredness and a crap load of deadlines to that mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.
So as the time for me to leave got closer I made the decision that enough was enough and I was going to give myself a proper break from it all. No blogging, no emails, limiting my social media use – a proper digital detox. I wanted to re-find my passion, re-find some inspiration and re-find my blogging mojo!
Photography Credit: Celina Kenyon
As this is my last Green Room post before I jet off to New York, I’m feeling a little apathetic. I’m sure I’ll be coming home with a truckload of post-Blogcademy inspiration in tow but right now I’m just… tired.
Keeping up with life and work, getting things organised before I leave, it all piles up and sometimes it can feel like it’s becoming too much. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m knackered and in need of a holiday. Badly. I can’t be the only one who’s feeling like this either. It’s probably a lot to do with the time of year, and if you work in the wedding industry you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The Summer season can be rather mental all-round, and it’s swiftly followed by the usual October wedding fair circuit and new collection launches… AKA it’s exhausting.
But, I digress. What I really want to talk to you about today is gratitude. Or more specifically the purposeful act of being thankful.
I was actually talking to Gala & Nubby about this just last week. We’re all a bit overrun with work – our usual commitments compounded with preparing for The Blogcademy has all three of us resembling (perfectly accessorised) headless chickens. But then, through it all, came the moment of clarity that I so desperately needed. “You know what though,” I emailed, “We all have the actual BEST job in the world. We get to do what we love and hell, we could be working in McDonald’s!” And right then and there I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet.
Over and over again I hear the same tired excuse from people that they just don’t have enough time… “Oh I’d love to blog more but I just can’t find the time…”, “I can’t possibly reply to all my emails, I just get too many…”, “Yeah I’d love to take a holiday/work on a personal project/spend more time with my loved ones, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day…”
Now forgive me as this is probably going to irritate you but seriously? Let’s cut the crap. Yes when you run your own business free time can be a luxury, and finding extra time is difficult, but if you really really want to do something then you’ll find it. Be honest with yourself now – is it really lack of time or lack of effort that you’re suffering from?
No one is telling you that you have to blog/reply to all your emails/take a break/do a personal project/edit a wedding in two days/turn around design commissions in a week etc etc, and if you don’t want to then fine… so let it go and stop making excuses. But if you do want to make some changes then stop blaming the imaginary time stealing fairy, take some responsibility and prioritise!
OK so now I’ve beaten that out of you, how exactly does one regain control and get things done? Well, in a nutshell, to feel in control of your business you need to keep on top of your work as much as possible. That may sound totally obvious and easier said than done but honestly, it really doesn’t have to be that hard. It’s easy to be in control if you create a system and stick to it. Set up a process for anything and everything that needs constant attention. Emails, social media, editing, bookkeeping, blogging… basically anything that you have to tackle on a regular basis.
Who do you think are life’s greatest teachers?
In a way it’s pretty obvious to think of all the things we can learn from the more experienced people in our industry, but today I’d like to encourage you to think about what you can learn from your peers… or even people will much less experience than you.
Nature, nurture, experience… we are a mash up of all our external influences, and because of this every single person on this planet has a different way of viewing the world. A more practiced photographer/blogger/stationer/designer might have industry knowledge that they can pass onto you, but someone unfamiliar with the norms of an industry will undoubtedly be able to offer a completely different perspective on the same situation.
Passion and enthustaiam are contagious so don’t ever disregard an inexperienced professionals’ opinions due to lack of experience. Sure, you might not want to take their ideas as gospel, but don’t dispel what their untrained eye might pick up. It’s all very easy to become bogged down with ‘the way things are’ when you’ve been doing something for a long time.
Blogging. If you’re in the wedding industry you’ll be hard pushed to avoid it. Still a relatively new medium, the first blogs (called web-logs back then) were launched in the late 90s. The wedding industry quickly adopted this format as their own with many wedding suppliers now using a personal blog to promote their work and to connect with others in the industry as well as potential clients. There are even people (like me!) who make a full time career out of blogging.
There are currently a reported 164 million blogs in existence, so how do you make yours stand out? Is blogging even right for yomu and your business? Two UK wedding photographers battle it out…
Sassy of Assassynation Photography doesn’t have a blog, preferring to use Facebook to preview her images to her clients and fans
Photography Credit: Lisa Jane Photography
Before I start I should say that I am in no way saying that it’s bad to have a blog, but it just isn’t for me right now. I have never ever had a blog and I can’t see me getting one any time soon. For me, I just can’t see how they will add value (not just workload) to my business. I know all the reasons that people give as to why I should have one (SEO, showcasing your personality, sharing your latest work etc) and I have basically been told that I am a total idiot for not having one. It is probably even more shocking for me to be of this opinion because in my previous life I was marketing manager!
Everyone seems to think I am breaking rule number one by not having my own blog. When I launched my photography business I wrote all the content on my site. I managed the whole thing myself, and being able to update my site as much as I like (I don’t have to go through a developer or anything) I am basically able to update it as much as I want. So instead of blogging, I constantly update my gallery with new weddings. For each of the weddings that I feature in my gallery my couples write a little bit about their day. I’m also very lucky that a lot of my work gets picked up by the big UK wedding blogs (thanks bloggers, I love you guys!) from my Facebook previews or when I submit weddings directly to them. These blogs have a much higher readership than any little blog I could write. I am not a writer, nor do I have any desire to be one. I want to tell my stories through imagery, not words, and having a blog would mean people would have to listen to me prattle on *yawn*.