Why deal with SEO when there’s more attractive solutions, like Instagram and Pinterest? Not only do you get to promote your work, but you can consume content also. Win, win. Plus, SEO is challenging. From meta tags, Google Analytics, keywords, plug-ins, and all kinds of tech, it can so overwhelming that you don’t even want to try it at all.
But in this blog, I’ll talk about 5 reasons why SEO matters to your local photography business. By the end of it, you’ll definitely want to give this powerful strategy a try to grow your own business.
When you optimize your website and blog posts for search engines, you’ll organically be discovered by your targeted keywords. If you’re able to rank well and maintain a high position for your keywords, you can regularly get discovered by your ideal clients without paying for advertising.
In 2018, Google’s search and ad tools helped with close to $3 billion of economic activity. In other words – Google is a powerful search engine that has the potential to boost your exposure and bring in profits. Naturally, being able to be seen on the first page of Google is worth a lot, especially in terms of ad spend.
If you’re able to rank well in search engines, you can build regular traffic. And when you have regular traffic, you have the opportunity to turn those visitors into people that send inquiries.
To optimize your page on Google, you’ll need to optimize your main page and you’ll also need to have all your blog pages optimized. To have your pages optimized, this usually means you’ll need to create quality content for your visitors, which helps build trust with visitors and bring in inquiries.
When you create content for your website you have the ability to control what information is shared and in what order. You organize and feature special blog content the way you want visitors to see it. Social media, on the other hand, you’re at the mercy of algorithm changes with only 30% of your followers actually viewing your posts.
This doesn’t mean you abandon social. This just means you need to diversify your marketing channels so you have multiple places to share your content consistently.
When you curate content for your blog post, you’re ideally creating content that caters to your ideal client. And when you’re able to rank well and get found by them, you’ll be able to attract the right clients to your business. This is powerful!
To help you get started, here’s a freebie to help you identify 3 common mistakes photographers make that prevent them from having their pages optimized.
If you don’t have a portfolio, you’ll want to practice with light. You want to practice in both natural and unnatural lighting circumstances. Practice, practice, practice and get familiar with settings. You don’t want to show up to a portfolio building shoot (free or paid) without having practiced. You want to put your best foot forward so you have plenty of choices for your portfolio. So, here’s how to build a photography portfolio when you have no clients to get you started.
Feeling comfortable with your camera is SO important before showing up to a shoot, because getting frazzled by settings can truly cramp on your creativity.
Invite a friend or family member you trust to a session and say you’d just like to practice and build your portfolio. This is a great way to ease into photography, because it should hopefully relieve any stress or expectation to “perform” so that you can photograph freely and creatively.
Learn from someone with experience, while also building your portfolio. When I was starting out and I couldn’t afford to go to workshops, I made friends with other photographers and offered to assist or second shoot. These were incredible learning experiences because I saw behind the scenes how they posed, how they played with light, made compositional choices and managed shoots.
Just keep in mind that every primary photographer has a different protocol for second shooters and portfolios. Not every primary allows second shooters to post photos they’ve taken. Some might allow photos to be shared on portfolios, but not social. Everyone is different. So make sure to clarify first before sharing any photos. Maintaining a good relationship with photographers is important for community, business and friendship.
If you’ve got your ideal client down and you know what kind of shoots you’d like to do, connect with vendors and share a vision of what you’d like to accomplish. Leave room to collaborate and invite professional stylistic opinion. But before going to vendors, you want to be specific with a clear vision, letting them know why you’re connecting with them, share what unique qualities you value in them that are also relevant to the styled session, and also share your goals. Goals include things like, “I want to reach this type of client by doing this type of shoot. I hope to get this featured on XYZ blogs so that we can expand our reach. This is why I think you’d be a great fit for this styled shoot…”
A styled shoot is a great opportunity to network, but also create a stunning shoot for your portfolio, market your work, and help other vendors with their own marketing material.
This is similar to inviting friends and family, but now you’re practicing with maybe not-so familiar people. You want to get into the groove of working with different people and different personalities.
Shoots aren’t just about creating beautiful images, but it’s about creating a positive experience. Plus, if you’re an introvert like me, getting experience with different people will help you shake away nervous jitters, especially when it comes to getting to paid experiences. You might still be nervous with paid experiences, because now they’re paid, but having more and more experience will help you feel more settled into the position as a professional photographer.
On another note, you should only do free shoots for a season. My recommendation is to do maybe 4-5 shoots for perhaps 3 months because you want to eventually make money. Be intentional about learning from each shoot, by asking yourself, “What could’ve been better?” Think about posing, lighting, composition, direction, location and more. This way you’re maximizing your “intern” time by investing in your learning.
Photography workshops are an incredible way to learn how to grow your business, network with other growing photographers AND grow your portfolio. Usually at a workshop there is some kind of styled shoot or posing session. This is a great way to grow your portfolio and learn from other photographers.
The key takeaway here is that even though you might not have clients now, there is still a HUGE opportunity to learn and develop your skill. This stage of business is still crucial and important, even if you’re not seeing revenue right away. This investment of time will pay off well in attracting your ideal clients, getting inquiries and establishing your brand – all of which are crucial to your growing business.
If you’re curious about how to book clients while building your portfolio, make sure to check out my freebie where I talk about how I went from no clients to 22 paying wedding clients in a year.
As a creative professional, it’s hard for a lot of us to think of what we do as both a business and an art. Sometimes photographers only want to acknowledge the art side and just hope that it’s sufficient enough for them to make it by as a business.
But even if they’re super talented, this type of thinking will only take your business so far. The reason artists compartmentalize business and art is because how they might feel about business. Business feels like an isolated venture, centering around profits, greed and no genuine concern for the consumer. As a result, some artists won’t charge enough or market enough, fooling themselves into thinking that it’s all a slimy cause. What’s worse is that a lot of artists say, “Well, if I’m really passionate about what I do, does it matter if I get paid?”
At the core of all of this thinking is excuses. They’re excuses to understand what business actually is. And it’s excuses to do hard work.
There’s a quote by Adam Smith, a Scottish economist and philosopher during the 18th century, that says, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
What does this mean?
He’s saying that while the butcher, the brewer and baker are making product for others, they’re making it out of self-interest. But Smith goes on to explain how this self-interest actually turns into a relationship that’s collaborative and provides MUTUAL benefit. When you think about starting photography, you’re doing it because you find passion in it. That’s a self-interest, but your passion and skill also happens to be something that benefits others.
The byproduct of this collaborative and mutually benefitting service or product is profitability.
Without profitability, you can’t care for yourself, you can’t care for your business and you can’t care for the very client that seeks your services. Profits help pay for the costs of doing business so you keep running. Profits help pay YOU so you can focus on what you do well AND focus on what clients love about what you do. Profits will also help you continually make products that improve the lives that use your services.
Essentially, you can’t have a profitable and meaningful business without genuinely caring about the specified needs of the consumer and yourself.
So, how do you have a meaningful and profitable photography business?
For you as a photographer, this means that in order to create a business that’s meaningful for you and your clients, you have to understand their needs really well.
When we think about why people think sales are gross. We think about telemarketers, door-to-door salesmen and car salesmen. They either come unannounced or they’re selling something we never asked for or need. What’s worse, they’re usually pushy, can’t take no for an answer and just won’t leave.
Part of the problem with this type of sales is that they fail to understand the genuine needs of the client, and are only concerned about the sale and profits. To create a business that’s meaningful, you want to understand your clients well. This means understanding what they’re looking for and what their concerns are.
You’re not going to force photography on people that don’t ask for it.
A profitable and meaningful business is something that is collaborative and mutually beneficial at the core. It’s not one-sided and only driven by profits. Instead, it’s people-centered.
This goes back to what artists like to say about “passion”, which is, “If you’re really passionate about what you do, you wouldn’t care about being paid.”
But no one says this to doctors or lawyers or car mechanics or office managers or Walmart or whatever. This is because, deep down, artists are insecure about being paid because they don’t know if others recognize the same value as they do.
The truth is that there is value in art, including photography. So, recognize that your meaningful work should also mean getting paid.
Artists often feel guilty about sharing their work with others because they don’t want to come across as pushy, but remember the example I gave about telemarketers and door-to-door sales people? Those folks arrive unannounced, sharing products we never asked for.
Communicating your value should not be the same way. You’re not going door-to-door and you’re not going to cold call random people. If you did – then, yes – you’re absolutely being pushy and annoying. But you’re not going to do that.
Instead, smart and meaningful marketing is about sharing the value of your services to people that genuinely want it.
When you identify your ideal client, understand them well and communicate your value and purpose well – you will have a business that is not only meaningful but profitable as well.
Look at you. All ambitious and wanting to conquer SEO. Well, you’re in for a treat, because in this blog post I cover 10 SEO basics you should know as a photographer.
Understanding this will provide you clarity on what’s needed to optimize your page, but it also help you become familiar with important terminology.
There are SO many benefits to optimizing your page. This includes organic discovery, attracting the right clients, and building your exposure. Below are some of the ways to help you get started with the process.
Unfortunately, your 1.2 GB image shouldn’t be uploaded into your online portfolio, no matter how beautiful you think every corner of your image is. What this does is slow down the load time of your website and search engines penalize this.
Optimized images are typically less than 2-4 MB. Fortunately, can reduce the filesize of your image without losing the quality of the photo. You could do this by using services like Optimizilla (https://imagecompressor.com/) or with the WordPress Plug-in WP Smush if you have WordPress.
Alt text is how search engines read your images. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and search engines want to know which words, because pictures can potentially fall into a number of different categories.
Alt text is how you help search engines understand the image your posting. When you create alt text, you want the alt text to be related to whatever keyword it is that you’re trying to rank for.
For example, if you’re making a post about “Bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles” the alt text should be “bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles”. You can place alt text when you’re editing the image within your blog site, where ever it says “alt text”.
If you’re feeling super techy, find the image html and add alt=”text here”. So example would look like this:
<img src=”IMGURL.jpg” alt=”bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles”>
File names are another way to let search engines what your image is about. Like the alt text, you want the file name to be the same as the keyword you’re trying to rank your page for.
So, going back to the previous example, if you want to rank for “bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles” your file name should be something like this:
Make sure to put dashes (and not underscores) to separate the words.
Keywords are essentially the words and phrases in your content that help users find you. Typically, they’re words or phrases that they use to search for content. For example, “bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles” is a long tail keyword that users may specifically type in to search for to get inspiration.
Short tail keywords are phrases that are less than 2 words and are VERY competitive and challenging to rank for. For example, “photographer” would be very challenging to rank for. And if you pay ads to try and rank for it, it can also be very expensive.
Long tail keywords are usually easier to rank for, but are also more profitable because it helps you reach your ideal client more effectively. If you’re hoping to shoot more boho-like weddings, trying to rank for “bohemian inspired wedding photos in Los Angeles” is not only relevant, but efficient and effective.
The Flesch Kinkaid readability test measures the difficulty of a piece of writing by ranking it from very easy to read (like elementary) up to college level. Generally, search engines rank content that has a readability that’s no higher than 9th grade, but also has proper grammar.
Search engines tend to favor content at this reading level because they want to encourage content that is easy to understand and quick to consume.
A responsive layout is just another way of saying “mobile-friendly” layout. But a responsive layout doesn’t necessarily mean that your mobile layout is exactly what you see on a desktop.
Instead a responsive layout is something that is able to translate for mobile devices, and it could look pretty different from your desktop website. Search engines favor layouts that are responsive, because they recognize that over 50% of people that consume content online are mobile users.
So you want to make sure that your content is something that is easy to access via mobile, but is also something that loads quickly on mobile.
In addition to your blog’s title, blog’s images (with the proper file names and alt tags, and keywords (within your blog post), you want your link to also contain your keyword.
A permalink is a static hyperlink that leads to a specific blog page. Blogs will have a number of different ways to automatically create links for your website. Sometimes this is a randomly generated number. Sometimes, it’s based on the year and month you’ve created the post. But the option you want to look for is the one that’s created based on your blog’s headline, which will also happen to be your keyword.
So, going back to the example I’ve been using with boho weddings, an appropriately optimized permalink would be:
By definition, an internal link is a link on a blog page that leads to another blog page within your website. Hence, internal link. Having internal links also help optimize your page for search engines.
Search engines reward websites that have visitors that stay and consume content. This shows that the website has valuable content that people actually enjoy. Internal links help visitors navigate from related topics, but also stay within the website longer.
Backlinks are links that link from a website to your own. For example, on your Instagram page, you have the option of including your website in your biography. This link that you create on Instagram is considered a backlink.
The more backlinks from quality websites you have, the more Google recognizes you as a website with value, because you’re a website worth referring to.
However, it’s not enough to just have your link on your social platforms. You want to try to get your links on other websites with a lot of traffic. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you want to try to get your work featured and have your website backlinked.
An XML sitemap is a XML file that includes a map of your site, like a list of your links. By creating a sitemap, you’re helping search engines crawl through your website easier.
You could create a sitemap on WordPress by downloading plug-ins like Google XML Sitemap or Yoast. If you have Squarespace, one is automatically created.
If you have neither of those platforms, you’ll want to search, “How to create a xml sitemap on (website platform here)”
If you’re not sure where to start, make sure to check out the 3 common mistakes photographers make when they try to optimize their page and how to fix them!
From there, you can go through each SEO basic to make sure you’re implementing them on your blog pages.