How to Improve your Blog Interactions - 5 Tips
If I weren't a photographer, I'd like to believe that I would currently be a writer of some sort; whether it be a columnist, a blog contributor, or a freelance writer, that field of work has always been of great interest to me. Writing has always sort of come easy for me, as long as I am in the right mood, and it's always been something that I've enjoyed to do. If you weren't aware of my obsession with "journalism" as a kid, just ask my neighbourhood where I used to distribute monthly newsletters & journals featuring local talent (i.e hockey players from my class), jokes, and "made up" extreme weather forecasts hahah. I even created a journal publishing "company" (which was named "Unknown"....how original), and was diligent with ensuring to distribute a copy to all of our neighbours the minute they rolled off the press (Thanks for letting me print so many copies dad! haha). I also spent a good part of my childhood writing, directing, casting, and filming my own movies....but this isn't a post about my weirdly creative and hilarious childhood, but one about improving your blog interactions ;)
Blogging is something that a lot of people struggle with; I've talked to a lot of my photographer friends who would rather just take photographs and not have to worry about keeping up with a blog, or who find it too much of a chore to try and write about things that will keep readers entertained and engaged, which is the perfect way to lead right into my first tip:
1. Don't force it - I get that writing isn't for everyone, and I understand that it might not be the primary driving force behind your business, which is why I want you to know that it isn't something you should have to force yourself to do. If you struggle with words, find other creative ways to fill up blog space with as little text as possible (see example below). If physically putting your thoughts on paper isn't your forte, that is O.K; you're not alone. You'll just have to start brainstorming various ways to make your blog unique to YOU & fill it up with other creative mediums. If writing is something that you enjoy, but you sometimes have trouble creating sentences that flow or actually verbalizing everything that you're wanting to share, that's alright too. Just don't force it. More often than not, I'll try to blog something, and will end up leaving it for later simply because things aren't flowing; I always need a certain atmosphere to write properly, so if it ends up being too noisy in my house or if the music/feeling isn't just right, I'll leave it until everything is suitable to the surroundings that I feel work best for myself. For the 5% of my life where I don't have to be surrounded by the ideal atmosphere to find passion in my writing, I'll often get ideas for posts or formulate the perfect sentences while I'm doing something mindless like taking a shower or going for a run; this is why it's always crucial for me to either have a small notebook (or my phone) handy, so that I can be jotting down ideas as they come in.
Here's an example of something that you can do to fill blog space that requires little to no text; I've done this before when I want to blog but have run out of ideas, or simply want to share what I've been inspired by lately. This image is a grid of some inspiration I've been digging lately; I've been on the hunt for the perfect model for an upcoming boudoir session in the mountains that I'm hoping to put into motion within the next couple of weeks; these images really reflect the feel I'm going for:
2. Don't be afraid to SHARE - Whenever I talk to other people about blogging, they're often curious as to how it's possible for me to share such personal things on my blog; and I do get it, I know that it's not easy for everyone to share something super personal with everyone who reads their blog, and that is also O.K. You by no means have to share super personal details or situations with anybody, but from my experience, the blog posts that engage the most readers and create the biggest interaction are those that share personal glimpses into my life. Let's be real, we're naturally snoopy & inquisitive humans, so why would we NOT love to take a peek into someone's personal life? I'm by no means stating that in order to have a poppin' blog that you have to share every personal thought & detail (by all means go hard if you're comfortable doing so!) but people wouldn't be ON your blog in the first place if they weren't curious to know MORE about you; if they want to see the "all business" side of you, they can do so by hanging around your website, or by inquiring over the phone, they've come to your blog to get to know you aside from the business version of yourself, so don't ever be afraid of getting too personal.
**TIP**BE RELATABLE---If you're a busy mom struggling to balance your photography & home life all the while raising three kids, write about THAT because you are not the only one going through it; I promise you that you'll gain responses and create conversation because you're RELATABLE. We all love to know that we aren't the only ones going through something :) Your "readers" will give input or interact with you if they see similarities in their everyday life. Don't you EVER be embarrassed about the raw honesty (& chaos) that happens in your life, that is what makes YOU so incredibly unique. ***Are YOU READY to take that next step and share something personal on your blog? I CHALLENGE you to share something non-business related on your blog within the next two weeks and leave the link down below in the comments! It can be something as simple as a new outfit you bought, or some rad items that you just thrifted, or even a hilarious story about one of your kids (or pets!); I'll be watching for the posts ;)
Below is just an example of some pretty personal thoughts that I've shared on my blog in the past (they've honestly garnered the greatest amount of verbal responses from any of my blog posts), you can find those posts HERE & HERE if you'd like to give them a read.
Once you've comfortably managed to create a blog atmosphere that is unique to yourself AND you've managed to share a hint (or more!!) of your personal life, the key is to: 3. Be Consistent! The biggest rule (for myself anyway) when it comes to operating a home-based business, is to BE CONSISTENT. It's easy to get "caught up" in the business of life, but the worst thing you can do when it comes to building up a community within your blog is to blog once in January and then proceed to neglect your blog until you get the urge to blog again 6 months later. Blogging schedules is 100% your prerogative, so don't ever feel like you have to blog every single day--especially if you're first & foremost a photographer--a blog is simply there to provide extra insight into who you are and what you believe in. This point has to do more so with social media in general as opposed to strictly blogging. If I see one post from a business in my newsfeed and then don't hear from them again for 4 months, I'm not going to go searching for their page because frankly there's too many rad business & friends that I follow along with to spend time checking if you fell of the face of the earth (or went out of business for all I know). Yes, there is a fine line between continually giving updates and spamming everyone constantly, but that's up to you to find the balance that works for you. Even if you're going through a quiet time with the business and aren't doing much physical photography work that you can share, just give us a status update, a favourite editing playlist you've been loving, an instagram of the road trip you're on, just always give us little reminders that you're still here, and you're still killing it.
4. Make connections -- There is nothing negative that can come from connecting with other people. Creating blog series & collaborating with like-minded individuals is the BEST way to not only change up your blog content every now and again, but it's also an amazing way to meet new friends in your area. This point doesn't need much explaining, so I'll just leave it by saying that only good can come from putting yourself out there and meeting other people; over the past 10 months I've been making a conscious effort to get out and get in touch with new people, and trust me when I say that it's one of the best things that I could have done not only for my business, but for my mind & soul as well. Another way that you can very simply make connections is by answering all the comments that get posted on your blog posts/facebook page/instagram/etc. By responding to everyone shows not only that you've read what they had to say, but also that you're a presence in your own online community, and that you enjoy interacting with everyone who joins in on the conversation. ***TIP*** another great (& simple!) way to make connections is by posing questions or asking for advice within a blog post. A lot of people like to read and think about the posts that they've read, but it will either take a deep connection or a posed question to get somebody to verbally respond or comment on a post. Give people something to comment on; give them a reason to leave you a response :)
I like to change up my blogging routine by trying to come up with different ways that I can incorporate local talent. Especially in the winter months when shooting is much slower, I want to always try and bring fresh, new content for you guys! So far I've done a long series where I featured someone new once a week for 8 weeks, and I'm still in the process of shooting for my "Dwelling Place" series that I've started as well.
5. Stay true to YOU -- This should be something that goes without saying, but nowadays we get so much influence from everyone around us that we forget to stay true to ourselves. If you only take one thing from this blog post let it be this: DO YOU. Blogging comes easiest when you stay true to who you are a person, and share/talk about things that are relevant to yourself, your brand, and your message. Just because everyone else is blogging about photo techniques or DIY projects doesn't mean that you have to too. The beauty of having a blog of your own is that it's YOU that gets to create the content, it's YOU who gets to infuse it with creativity and personal quirks. This is a place where YOU have the complete power to showcase how incredible and unique you are as a person and/or a business, and to create a community who values your vulnerability, embrace your struggles, celebrate in your accomplishments, and support all that you have to share.
How do you find the blogging aspect of your business? Is it something that you enjoy to do, or are you currently finding it to be a bit of a struggle? AND all you blogging pros out there, what is ONE tip that you could share with those who are just starting a blog or seeking advice on blogging?
P.S Don't forget about the challenge that I mentioned earlier in this post, I'm keeping my eye out for your personal posts! ;)