To Blog or Not to Blog?

September 21, 2012

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*.

The most important tool for me is Facebook. I always upload my previews to Facebook and encourage my couples to tag themselves and share the images. To me, that is far more powerful than a personal blog. All their friends are on Facebook so once they’re tagged in the images they’ll share them with their network of friends. That’s powerful viral marketing. Let me give you a couple of scenarios…

Bride One:

I’m Clair, a bride-to-be and I am at home looking on a photographer’s lovely shiny blog. I may even leave a comment… but who will know about it? How do all my friends know that I am looking at this photographer and that I have left a comment? Unless I tell everyone everything about my life about it (doubtful).

Bride Two:

I’m Jo, I am at work checking out photographers (naughty) on Facebook and I have commented on an image that I love or ‘liked’ their page. Now all my friends can see that I have commented or ‘liked’ this page which might intrigue them. “Oooh Jo’s looking at wedding photographers, I’m going to see who she’s thinking of booking” they might think. They too might like it and leave a comment… and then their friends might do the same…etc etc.

You see, with Facebook the reach goes beyond the immediate person. This is perfect when it comes to sharing wedding sneak peeks. If I posted my sneak peeks to a blog and not to Facebook first I may get hits on my blog, but the reach ends quite quickly. If I load them only to my Facebook people then are then encouraged to send other people to my Facebook page, people who might ‘like’ my page or leave a comment. This increases my reach and the number of people who will then get my updates automatically in their newsfeed.

Here’s yet another example of the power of Facebook, this is a true story that happened to me recently. I took a booking for a destination wedding where the groom saw a photo I took of his friend who was a best man at a wedding I had previously shot. The couple had tagged the best man in the photo, the best man commented on it and his friend (the destination groom) saw it. Perfect.

Putting it simply, I want people to continue to get updates without needing to do anything different to what they do personally with their friends. For me, not having a blog hasn’t detrimentally impacted my business. My advice to anyone wondering if a blog is right for them would be that if you want to write then go for it, but it’s your choice. Don’t feel pressured to have one because everyone says you have to. There’s surely nothing worse looking to potential client than going to a photographer’s blog that hasn’t been updated since 1986. It will look like you’re not working… which is probably far from the truth! You’re probably working so much you’re finding it hard to keep up with updating your blog… they won’t assume that though, they’ll think – no updates, they must have nothing new to share. But no matter how busy you are, I bet you still find time to go on Facebook! Why not use that time to help your business instead?

Be wary of trying to do everything and spreading yourself too thin. Work out what you prefer and concentrate on that rather than giving in to peer pressure and trying to do it all.

Liz of Eliza Claire Photography loves blogging, and uses it to showcase her latest work as well as sharing her personality with potential clients

Photography Credit: David McNeil Photography

Sometimes I come across another photographer on twitter, and I check out their site. I land on their home page, and the first thing I do is look for a blog link. If they don’t have one, I may look at a few shots in their portfolio, I may look at their ‘about me’ page, but then I’m off. They can’t hold my interest. I can’t see a whole wedding story, I can’t see how they tell that story, and I can’t get an impression of them as a photographer, or as a person.

I started blogging pretty soon after I launched my business. I had a very basic website, but I had a wordpress template, and I soon learned how to customise it and make it tell a story. I’m able to show, in words and in images, how I work and how I see a wedding day. I’ve had amazing feedback from clients ever since. One recently said to me that after narrowing down a shortlist,

We trawled the blogs of the photographers to get a sense of their personality. The way I see it, your wedding day is a hugely personal thing and when you book a supplier you are essentially inviting a stranger to share that experience. As such, it was really important to me that we picked some one we liked, someone we thought we would get on with. Your personality shone through in your blog posts and I loved the way you talked about your clients like they were old friends. You clearly had a passion for what you do, not just the photos but the love as well. There was also one post that really stuck out. It was a personal post with pictures of your children. I think it made you seem really ‘human’ and real {if that makes sense?}, and convinced me that you were the right woman for the job. I think we booked you within 24hrs. The rest, as they say, is history….

This is what a blog can do – it can allow you to become a real person to your clients – not just a supplier that they’re ticking off their list. I think it also acts to show your clients your consistency, throughout the stages of the day, and throughout the entire season. This instills confidence from clients about your work. Another past bride once told me,

Your blog documents your work so clearly, and each entry glows like a perfect, clear little wedding filled snow globe!! I saw it and (along with your very pretty and well designed website) wanted to be one of your happy couples.

Of course, all social media is important – I have a twitter account and a facebook page – and all of these things are important to my business. But it’s only on my blog that I can create relationships with clients even before they book me. I use facebook and twitter to direct people to my blog.

The other thing to note is that blogs rank highly for SEO – the constant stream of new content is something that google loves, and the ability to write good content can’t be overstated. I must admit that I’m not great with the words – I’d rather let the images tell the story – but I have had clients find me by googling their wedding venue and discovering my images. It’s a great way of allowing your clients to imagine themselves in your images!

It also allows me to write about the job of being a photographer – a recent example of this was when I decided to do a video tutorial about how I use Blogstomp and LR/Blog to speed up my blogging process. This was a huge hit with other photographers, and brought me to the attention of my peers. This is vital for my business, because the links that I make with other photographers bring me referrals when those other photographers are already booked for dates (and vice versa!)

Finally, it allows me to build relationships with other wedding vendors, and with the wedding blogs and magazines. Bloggers and magazines can keep an eye on my blog, and can contact me when I publish a wedding that they’d love to feature. Other vendors get a mention in the blog post, and that builds further relationships which are essential in today’s industry.

I wouldn’t be without my blog. I’m not the most prolific poster, I try to sneak peek every wedding that I shoot, so that the bride and groom can see a few of my favourite images straight after their wedding day, and I try to blog at least once a week on top of that. I know I should do more – I’d love to write about venues that I love, about new season dresses and (my passion!) great caterers. I’d love to be a source of information to my clients, a first-stop-shop for advice before their wedding day. Maybe in the winter months, when I have more time, this will be higher on my to-do list, but for now I’m busy shooting, blogging and connecting with new clients.

All Photography Credit (except where stated): Assassynation Photography & Eliza Claire Photography