There are two ways to increase the revenue of your photography business: higher prices and more clients.
So which do we choose?
Why not both?
Here’s how you can not only raise your prices but also get more clients: build more trust.
If you want to build the kind of trust that gets you more clients and helps you raise your prices, you need to start writing.
3 Reasons Why Photographers Need to Write
1. Everything starts with writing
99% of this article is words.
And you’re reading them. Lines on a page and I’m able to communicate thoughts, emotions, and stories with you.
If you think about it, everything that’s ever been sold has been sold with words, even things that don’t seem to need them.
Even before television, people were using words to communicate over the radio.
Before the radio, people used words in print.
Before print, we just spoke… with words.
Words are hard-wired into us.
Look, you’re still reading. And as my friend Justin puts it, “that’s magical.”
2. Writing That Builds Trust
As photographers, we naturally assume that the best way to build trust with our clients is to show them our portfolio. Once they see our work, they’ll know that we’re great photographers and naturally want to hire us. Right?
Photos are fantastic for showing competency with our gear, but not for building the trust that gets us hired.
So we need to use words to sell more photos?
Yes, but no.
We have to use the RIGHT words.
There are words that you can write to achieve a sale, known as copywriting.
But there are also words you can use to build trust and provide value. This is called content marketing.
We need to have both, but before we can sell a potential client with copywriting, we have to use content marketing to provide value and build trust.
Why? Because people buy from those that they trust. When you provide value first, you earn permission to sell.
Keep reading and I’ll give you the ultimate formula to build trust with potential photography clients.
3. Writing = Google = Leads
97% of people who are going to book you are going to Google your services (or you!) first. As a photographer, you need to be there when that search happens.
When people search for services on Google, 42% of people click one of the first three results.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in San Francisco, and 250 people search for that service every month, 105 of them are clicking on the first three results and 68 of them are clicking on the first result.
That’s 68 people looking to hire you coming to your website every single month.
That’s 816 NEW leads per year that could be coming to your site.
This is why writing matters for photographers. Google does search for images and we can optimize those, but it mostly searches words to discover what a website is about and how well it covers the topic.
What’s awesome about this is that 99% of photographers are not going to write. They like taking photos (that’s why they got into this in the first place) and don’t want to have to write as well.
And that’s great for you because you’ll instantly stand out and achieve top search rankings.
Why You Don’t Write
We’ve already established three really important reasons why you need to write, but if it were just as simple as choosing to write, you would’ve done it already. After working with a lot of clients on marketing their photography business, I’ve found there’s really two big reasons that photographers are hesitant to write:
1. They Think They Aren’t Any Good
Think back to when you first picked up a camera. If you were to look back at those photos today, what would you say?
They’re terrible, right? But did the fact that you weren’t taking the world’s best photos stop you?
Think about when you first started your photography career. When people first paid you for your work. How are those compared to your work today?
Still terrible? I bet.
Photography is a process where you grow over time and writing is the exact same way.
Doing it regularly with small tweaks over time has a huge impact. If you aren’t willing to write poorly, you’ll never write well.
Be willing to be imperfect, at first.
2. They Don’t Think They Have Anything To Say
Lots of other photographers think they don’t have anything unique to say. Not only will we take care of that will the blog post formula at the end of this article, but we need to realize that it’s okay not to have anything to say at first.
You write to find out what you have to say.
When I first started my podcast (now downloaded over 170,000 times), I had something to say. But after about 20 episodes, I started to have even more to say because I was “in it.”
I was doing the work.
Just like podcasting, people prefer to read in a conversational tone. If you can talk, you can write.
Everything I write is very similar to how I speak.
You’re reading this, so I know you get it.
Here’s another example of a wedding photographer that does that really well:
What To Write About
We start to think about crafting our message; we have to make sure we’re firmly established in their mind as the go-to expert in our field.
Establishing ourselves as the expert requires that we think about a few things:
First, why would somebody want to work with us instead of our competition? With so many amateur photographers turning “pro” every day, why would somebody book you instead of one of them?
Second, what benefits does working with you have that they won’t get anywhere else? This isn’t talking about the features of working with you (those are things that are focused on you), but the benefits of working with you (what they get from your features).
For example, a Kindle Paperwhite has the feature of battery life that lasts for weeks. The benefit of that feature is that you can spend time reading and not charging it.
We have to make sure that our writing sets us up at the expert. Most people who hire us can tell how we may differ stylistically from our competition, but may not be able to tell the fine technical details that make us the obvious choice.
“Always be premium, Brendan.” – Chase Jarvis
One of the coolest parts of the internet is that you can get in touch with the people who inspire you. I’ve gotten a few messages back from Chase on Snapchat and when I asked him about how much to charge, that was his response.
Being premium means you need to do great work, but it also means you need to build a lot more trust.
A CEO has to trust you a lot more to pay $10k for photos than she does to pay your competition $900.
Here’s how to build that trust…
The Photography Blog Post Formula
Remember, the goal of writing blog posts about our work is to be found in a search, position you as the expert, and to build trust, not to make a sale. This section literally breaks down the way that I teach my clients to write and how I write for them. It also includes the most important parts of seo for photographers.
1. Title – In our title, we want to use the keywords that we’re targeting (portrait photography, wedding photography, etc.) and the location. This lets Google know what kind of photography session you’ve done and where you did it. Google is fantastic at context so don’t be robotic about it.
Bad: “Brad and Misha’s Wedding”
Better: “Wedding Photography – Navy Pier, Chicago”
Best: “Stunning Sunset Wedding Photography at Navy Pier”
Rookie Mistake: I still see a lot of photographers using their client’s names in the titles. Unless you’re trying to rank in Google for their first names (i.e. “Tina and Tim’s Wedding”), we’re far better served focusing on keywords and location.
2. URL – In our URL, we can be a lot more robotic.
Best: randomphotographer.com/golden-gate-wedding (Google will know it’s in SF).
Rookie Mistake: Trying to cram everything into the URL. You don’t need adjectives or details in the URL. The more succinct it is, the better.
3. Content – This is the most important part of the post, so we’ll further break the content down into a few sub-areas.
Subject – Briefly talk about the subject of the session and your relationship with them. It lets your reader know that your relationship with clients is extremely important to you and you’ll be fun to work with.
Obstacles – I’ve never met a photographer who didn’t have something go wrong the day of a shoot.
Highlights – You can feel free to include these before and after the ‘Obstacle’ in order to sandwich it a bit, but finishing your article on a high note is important. We want to share some of the most amazing parts of the session/day with the reader, so they start to imagine themselves in that same successful position.
Link – Once your site visitor has finished reading your content, they may want to learn more about you so including a link to do that is super convenient for them. This link might be to sign up for your mailing list, a link to your contact page, or your phone number. On mobile devices (where most people will be seeing your site), the phone number will be clickable making it super simple for them to get in touch with you.
Photos – I always advise photographers to only include their five best photos from the session. If you aren’t able to convince them to hire you in five photos, including all 70 of them isn’t going to change their mind. If you’re using WordPress (which you should be), then inserting a gallery here works perfectly.
Link – But, Brendan, didn’t we already include a link to get in touch? Yes, we did. But the combined effect of your writing and your photos is going to be a one-two punch that will leave your reader wanting to get in touch or learn more about you. Make sure that you’re phrasing things differently than the first link in the post (don’t copy & paste, now isn’t the time to get lazy), but link to similar destinations (phone, services page, contact page, list signup, etc.).
Here’s what that looks like:
How It Works
You’re a surf photographer based in California, and for every session, you follow the formula above. When you’ve photographed 30+ surf events, and hundreds of surfers, who do you think is going to be found in Google when a major publication wants to license a photo? Who is going to be found when a startup surf brand is looking for somebody to shoot their next look book?
Remember that organic traffic from Google is driven by authority. Showing Google you’re the authority on a topic and then using content marketing to turn those leads into clients is the best way to increase your revenue this year. Learn more about Search Engine Optimization in the PhotographySpark SEO Cookbook.
Bonus: Because your post is much more optimized for conversion, you can use Facebook ads to drive traffic to it. Target your demographic that lives in the location or likes the venue you were at, and you’ve got a great start to an overall marketing plan.
I’d love to see the Photography Spark community take action and start converting that valuable website traffic into clients!