Documentary photographer and photo book connoisseur Dan Milnor spoke with…
If you have a blog, then you probably already understand the advantages of blogging: beyond just being a means to drive visitors to your photo website, blogging is a good way to engage your followers, attract new clients, and even become a “thought leader” in the industry.
But after we’ve spent the time and effort to start a blog, it’s often hard to keep up with it. Many of us leave blogging for when we have free time – which is a hilarious concept, I know. But there are some time-saving strategies that you can start utilizing today. Grover already did a post on 11 Content Ideas For Your Photo Blog, and to supplement that resource I’m offering you 9 ways that you can do more blogging in less time.
1. Lock down your blog editorial calendar
One of the biggest hurdles in maintaining a blog is figuring out what you want to or can write about. Building out a blog editorial calendar before the month begins is a good way to commit yourself to writing new posts. Decide now how feasible it is for you to post every day – if that’s not an option, then think about your schedule and how often you can realistically post.
If committing to a calendar isn’t an option, then try putting together a topic “backlog”, which is essentially just a list of topics that you wish to write about at some point. Build a simple spreadsheet with the topic, a working title, and some notes on what you’d like to cover. Then refer to this spreadsheet whenever you’re ready to sit down and write.
2. Reach out to guest bloggers
Guest blogs can very easily be a mutually beneficial situation: as the blog owner, you get contributors to write posts for you; in turn, guest bloggers get to do some self-promotion. It’s common practice to let your guest bloggers link to their own websites within the post – do this out of courtesy and give thanks to the blogger for his or her contribution. Plus, it makes the blogger more likely to brag about the post and get his/her audience to check it out (thus driving traffic to your blog).
You might want to start by reaching out to friends and colleagues, and ask if they would be interested in guest blogging. Explain the benefits (promotion, link to their website) and brainstorm topics together or offer something from your topic backlog. You can also check out sites like My Blog Guest, which let you browse people who are looking to guest blog on various topics.
3. Get motivated by the importance of fresh content…
Most of us have heard the saying, “content is king”. Well now, fresh content is king. Last November, Google announced that it has updated its search algorithm to rank the most up-to-date relevant websites highest in its search results. In the words of Google: “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven, are best when they’re fresh.”
So what does this mean for you and your blog? Creating and publishing new posts is a major player in where your blog ranks in Google search results. So if you want to increase organic traffic to your blog, posting on a regular basis is super important. Keep in mind that it usually doesn’t make sense to update your photography website on a continuous basis, so your blog is your best bet in making the most “fresh” content.
4. …and the opportunity to improve SEO
You already know that including keywords on your website helps your overall SEO and makes it more likely that people will find your work online. The same goes for your blog. So next time you’re struggling to think of a blog topic, consider what keyword terms you’re trying to rank for and fashion a blog post around them.
For example, if “Cleveland wedding photography” is one of your keywords, write a post about the state of Cleveland wedding photography and how it has changed over the years. The same goes for “Rocky Mountain nature photography” or “Los Angeles fashion photography” or whatever keyword is relevant to your photography business.
5. Stop writing novel-length posts…
Ever come to a website that was full of text as far as the eye can see? I can almost certainly bet that you left that site within a few seconds. That’s because most people have a relatively short attention span, which has only shrunk with the proliferation of the Internet. People don’t want to read tons of text. Period.
So stop thinking that you need to write a novel every time you want to post. Limit yourself to under 500 words, and include lots of imagery (should be pretty easy assuming you’re a photographer with shareable work, no?).
6. …and break your posts into series
Simply put, endless paragraphs of text is just not sexy on a computer screen. Instead, think about putting your thoughts into easily digestible chunks. An easy way to achieve this is to break your topic into a series. Grover did The Price of Prints on the PhotoShelter Blog, which was a 4-part series to help photographers figure out what they should be charging for prints.
The series broke down a very comprehensive topic into four posts, making it easier and more enjoyable to read. Plus, he got four separate posts out of it, which took off the pressure for creating more content that week.
Also remember the bottom line in content creation: if you’re bored writing it, your visitors will be bored reading it.
7. Share industry news
Chances are that you spend a fair amount of time reading news websites and other photo blogs. Next time you come across a particularly thought-provoking article, put together a short blog post to share the news with your readers. There should be four parts to this type of post:
- Start off with a little introduction to the news story (where it’s from, what’s the basic premise)
- Provide a link to the article or post
- Include a short excerpt of the most interesting or your favorite part
- Write your reaction or opinion
This is also a good place to ask for your readers’ response – request that they leave their thoughts in the comments to better engage your audience.
8. Conduct interviews via email
While phone and in-person interviews are more personal, they can also be more time-consuming. Next time you want to do an interview with a fellow photographer, industry leader, or whoever, considering conducting the interview via email. It actually might make life easier for your interviewees, since they can complete the questions on their own time.
Once you receive their responses, the majority of the work is already done. Just clean up their answers to fit your blogging style, check for typos, and you’re good to post.
9. Respond to readers’ or clients’ questions
If you’re a blogger that frequently gets comments on your posts, then it might be a good idea to skim the comments for general themes or questions. Perhaps your readers have asked how you set up the lighting in your shots, or want to know about the equipment you use. Look for these kinds of common questions and respond with a dedicated blog post on that topic.
If you’re just starting off and your posts aren’t getting a lot of comments yet, try thinking about common questions from clients. Maybe past clients have had questions about fulfilling specialty prints or creating a Lightbox. You can also answer these types of questions in a post, and include screen grabs so that readers can easily follow along.
Now tell us! What are your time saving tips and tricks for blogging? Share your tips and link to your blog in the comments.
Blogging is a constantly evolving entity, but the overall techniques and tools remain the same. Download our Photography Blog Handbook for more blogging tips and advice from the pros.