Navigating Online Cliques

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Dear Kat
I’m a new blogger (hoping to launch my site soon) and I’m really struggling with getting my name out there… well, it’s not even that really, I’m struggling to get any kind of response from people. You see, I’ve emailed a bunch of people in the industry that I admire, sometimes to ask for a little advice, but mostly to just introduce myself and say hello… but no one is replying to me. I’m starting to feel invisible!

It’s so difficult to get a new blog or business off the ground as it is and I already feel like giving up. I feel like there are all these different cliques of people and I don’t fit in anywhere. I feel like everyone else is already in the club and I’m standing on the outside on my own. It just seems like they don’t want anyone else to join. What am I doing wrong?

I think this is something we all struggle with when we first start our businesses. We look up to people who we feel have ‘made it’ and desperately want to emulate what they’ve done or to ‘be in their gang’. It all feels very high school don’t you think?

Well, firstly, dear emailer, let me tell you one little known truth about said ‘cliques': they’re really not doing what you think they’re doing. There is no secret society or special handshake or initiation you have to do to get in. Generally, they’re just groups of people who probably started their businesses around the same time and became friends. You might see them as some kind of powerhouse of popularity, but I guarantee it’s nothing like that from the inside.

The most likely story is that they found each other online, met in real life, liked each other and then either started working together or began mutually promoting what their friends were doing. Collaborations are powerful after all (as you’ve clearly observed).

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How to Increase Your Organic Reach on Facebook

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This gorgeous sneak peek reached 67,000 people when I posted it on my Facebook page

There has been a lot of talk recently from small business owners who are having trouble reaching all of their Facebook fans with their updates. While I’m not planning to get into a debate about why this might be, today I thought I’d share some ways in which you can make sure your posts reach as many of your fans as possible.

The fact of the matter is this: Even if your overall reach is down, you are still being seen by the people who really care about your content. And no, I didn’t really believe this either until I did some serious nerding out and research for myself!

If you’re reach is down, it is most likely that the people who aren’t seeing your updates any more are just not interested in you (harsh but true). If someone isn’t engaging with your posts, pictures and comments, Facebook shows them content from other places instead. The Facebook network is phenomenally complex, and to put it concisely, they have a much deeper understanding of what each of their users is likely to enjoy than you do.

So just how can you ensure that your posts are reaching those people that do care?

Post when your fans are online

Facebook’s new Insights are brilliant and can give you a much clearer idea of who your fans are. They can tell you things like where in the world they’re located, their ages and what other pages they like. However, for me, the most useful stat has been the graph that shows what time your fans are online. It may sound obvious, but if you post something when more people are on Facebook, more people are going to see it! And you might be quite surprised at the results.

As my social media is linked to my business, I am mostly on Facebook during office hours, when I’m working. I assumed my fans were the same. WRONG! The people that like my page are mostly on there between 8 and 9pm UK time. So, if I have an important update that I want seen by as many people as possible, I post it during this time.

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Post frequently

The general consensus used to be that you should limit how many times you updated your page to avoid annoying your fans. However I don’t really think this is the case any more, especially as not everyone sees everything you post. You certainly should never post links to the same articles multiple times a day (that is spammy) but posting a few times throughout a 24 hour period is a good way to reach more people.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark is a Lot Like Blogging

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A little while back I discovered this making of documentary about Raiders of the Lost Ark. I studied film at University and one of all time favourite things is to see behind the scenes of movies that I’m obsessed with (random factoid: I actually wrote an essay about the sound used in this film!)

I devoured the hour long video despite it’s fuzzy visuals, hardly noticing the constant flickering screen and terrible sound quality. The film was clearly recorded on VHS when it was aired in 1981, left in a dusty box for 30 years and recently uploaded to YouTube, but I didn’t care one little bit.

I actually almost didn’t notice how terrible the quality was until Gareth turned around and said to me, “Ugh, how can you even bear to watch that?” because I was so enraptured with the story that it was telling.

Your blog should be the same.

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How to Host a Workshop or Live Event

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Last year I attended, spoke at and organised more live events than ever before. While hard work, they are also incredibly rewarding and so much fun to do. I’m thrilled that doing them is such a huge part of my business now. The Blogcademy, in particular, has changed my life so much!

The first live events I hosted were parties for blog readers and people in the wedding industry, I then moved on to doing small afternoon-long, in-person blogging workshops before launching The Blogcademy, with Gala and Shauna, in 2012. Needless to say I’ve learnt a lot of lessons about what does and does not work when putting on events.

You need an assistant

When we first started doing The Blogcademy we didn’t have assistants for every class, but oh boy I wish we did! Having someone to help you prep for the event, set up the space, break it down afterwards and make sure you get from A to B is so vital and makes the whole thing so much less stressful!

If, like us, you are hosting an event in a city you don’t live in it’s also great to have someone that knows the area who can drive you around and take delivery of and bring along any supplies (like goodie bags) with them.

Our assistant at the Melbourne class in November was a professional events organiser and she gave us some great advice. Since speaking to her we’ve created a document that we now email to our assistants before each class that lets them know what is expected from them. It also includes the timings of the day, our contact details and anything else they might need to know. Doing this makes all the pre-preparation and communication so much smoother and means we don’t have to repeat ourselves each time!

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Refunds and cancellations

Whatever your event, you need to have a solid refunds and cancellations policy. This must be clearly explained on your registration and FAQ pages. Include things like if you offer refunds, if there is any cancellation fee, by what date cancellations will be accepted and if tickets can be transferred. You should also include information about what happens if you need to cancel the event.

Over-communicate

I am a massive over-communicator and like to keep everyone in the loop at all times. As soon as someone signs up to your event, be sure to email them letting them know that you have received their payment and what, if anything, they have to do next. We have a document which we email to our Blogcademy sign ups with more information about the class and private forum.

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The Magic Wand

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The New Year… already? How did that happen? Have you noticed a dramatic increase in enquiries now that the festivities are over with? If you have done your marketing homework like I suggested in this Green Room article on getting your New Year marketing in place, then you might be all set up with a prime ad in a juicy spot on a blog and are just scooping up all those panic bookers, right?

What? It’s not quite working out like that? Really? But didn’t you book the Magic Wand Ad where all you have to do is make it pretty, pay the rate and then it all magically happens? I’m sorry to break it to you but marketing your business takes a bit more effort than that.

At Photography Farm, we spend quite a bit of time talking about marketing. We form strategies and look at the different advertising options available for photographers. Quite a few folk think that I’m going to tell them exactly how I do my marketing and then they can just copy that… but there are a few things wrong with that. First up, you are not me and you do not have the same business as me. I have a very specific ideal client and I only want to shoot 20 weddings a year in a certain price bracket. Therefore I have a very specific marketing plan that reflects exactly this. This is going to be a very different plan to someone just starting out, charging a lot less than me and wanting to shoot a lot more weddings. Your market is different, so is your ideal client and your goals for any one year. The other difference between me and the people who attend the farm is that wedding photography is only 50% of my business and income.

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From the outside it might seem that all I do is run an ad on Rock n Roll Bride and I am all set up with a bevy of potential clients that I can pick and choose from. Now it is true that the only place that I currently advertise is here and it is a large part of my marketing. I choose to run an ad all year so that couples can always find me on the homepage. It works really well for me because my very specific target market will be inspired by reading Rock n Roll Bride. They trust Kat and her judgement so are way more likely to click on an ad and book their photographer, than Google ‘alternative wedding photographer’ and book whoever ranks highest.

With all the SEO trickery that goes on, a lot of us no longer trust that Google will provide us with a good match for emotive services such as weddings. You wouldn’t marry the first man that match.com throws at you, would you? By going through a blogger that they trust, it is like going through a matchmaker instead.

But like I said, this is very far from being a magic wand and it amazes me how time and time again photographers will book an ad on a blog, pay good money and then fail to make the best of it.

Here are some tricks to getting the best out of your marketing campaign:

Where to put the advert

An ad on a wedding blog can be fantastic, clients only have to click through to your site and Bob is your photography uncle… right? But you could be chucking your money into the wind if the blog has too many sponsors, especially all from the same type of businesses. I had an ad on Style Me Pretty for three months and it sure did cost me a pretty penny but I got bugger all from it. Not only was my ad lost in a sea of many others, they also flashed in rotation so you were never guaranteed to be on the page at all.

If there is a feeling that any old company can advertise on a site, again the trust goes down. Look for a well curated collection of ads that are visually appealing and don’t look as if they are just thrown together. As an advertiser, it is preferable not to be competing with lots and lots of ads and to not be lumped in with some badly designed ones.

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The design of your ad

That gets me onto the design of your ad. You are nearly always limited to a super small amount of pixels and it’s easy not to make the most of it. Kat has some awesome tips here that will help you get this bit right.

Make sure the blog is appropriate for your target market

Is it a good match to your style? Does it appeal to you? If you connect with the design of a blog then so will your ideal client. If you don’t want to shoot all over the UK then a national blog may not be right for you. There are several county specific wedding blogs now and they will be pretty accessible on cost because their traffic numbers are lower and their readers more niche.

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The Blogcademy: New Dates in London & DC and a Palm Springs Live Broadcast!

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It’s official, The Blogcademy is a whirlwind. A giant, turquoise, glitter infused whirlwind! I am so pumped today because I have some news that I’ve been struggling to keep in for weeks. I’m glad I finally get to let rip and share it with you today!

So the big news is that our London class this year has already sold out… and it’s not until July! Insane. So, we’ve decided to add a second date, the weekend before, on July 19th and 20th. Again, it’ll be taking place at the beautiful Curtain Road Studios (I know we shouldn’t have favourites but…) Just click here to register.

After many cries from our Facebook page for another East Coast date, we’ve also added Washington DC to the mix. We’ll be there on October 4th and 5th. None of us have ever been to the city before so we’re super excited to explore! Again, you can register here.

And finally, because it seems like FOREVER until we’re teaching next, we’ve decided to do a FREE live broadcast from Palm Springs on Sunday 9th February at 11am PST/ 2pm EST/ 7pm GMT!

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