Why I Don’t Blog and How You Can Stop Blogging Too
I am a professional photographer, and I don’t blog. Do you wish you could say the same thing?
Many of my contemporaries create blog posts for every wedding, portrait session, or event they photograph. However, except for a few experimental SEO posts, I stopped blogging in 2012.
Even though I’ve stopped blogging, my business thrives, and I still rank on the first page of Google for some of the most competitive photography-related keywords in my area. The key takeaway from my statement is that you don’t have to blog if you want to maintain a successful photography business.
In this article, I’m going to explore the advantages and disadvantages of blogging. I’ll also discuss fresh alternatives to blogging that you can incorporate into your own business.
Blogs VS Websites
Blogs originally started as personal thoughts delivered via a basic content management system. In most cases, those blogs were often attached to static websites. Using that system, photographers could post regularly updated, time-sensitive content that supplemented material found on their static website. Over the years, blogs have evolved and are now incredibly complex.
Rather than remaining independent from static website content, that line between website and blog has blurred. Today, many photographers run their entire websites on blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger. On a related note, if you’re not completely happy with your website, you might be happier if you ran your website on Good Gallery instead. Yes, that would be better.
For the purposes of this discussion and to define what we’re talking about more clearly, a blog is an area of your website where you post fresh content regularly. The rest of your website is where you post static content. Examples of more static information might include your biographical information, your contact information, and your primary image galleries.
Other static content might also include articles and information. Some of that content can be referred to as evergreen content. The name evergreen comes from trees that retain their color year-round, but refers to the kind of content that stays relevant for lengthy periods of time—often for many years (or forever if you keep it updated).
Every year I teach hundreds of photographers about SEO and the business of photography. I’m frequently asked by students if they should blog more, start blogging, continue blogging, or give up blogging altogether.
Since every studio is different, I can’t provide anyone with a perfect, one-size-fits-all answer to those important questions. However, I believe I can share some thought-provoking information that might help you devise a blogging strategy that’s just right for you and your business.
Why Photographers Hate Blogging
It’s easy to find photographers who don’t enjoy blogging. Some of their most common complaints are that blogging is time consuming, retouching is laborious, writing is difficult, and that blog posts in general are no longer as popular they once were.
Creating a well-rounded, fully retouched, meticulously curated, SEO-friendly blog post is time consuming. This is the most common complaint of bloggers and content creators alike.
If you’re one of the few photographers who can create a substantive blog post in just a few minutes, then I applaud your skills. In fact, I’d like to sign up for your next workshop. However, if you’re like the rest of us mere mortals, there aren’t very many shortcuts to creating a powerful blog post.
Selecting, correcting, and retouching photographs is a tedious process. We’d all rather be behind our cameras. Unless you’re the folks over at Lavalu. They’re amazing and they handle all my selecting, correcting, and retouching.
If you’re a photojournalist who shares your work without retouching, then I’m admittedly envious. I’d also observe that you have a distinct blogging advantage over other photographers. However, if you’re like most photographers, you think that your straight-out-of-camera images need some help. And that’s where we all get into trouble.
How much time it takes you to adjust or retouch photos will vary, but for your next blog post, I’d encourage you to track how many minutes or hours it takes you to prepare your images. I’m confident that your results might be depressing.
Both good writers and poor writers have difficulty writing amazing content.
Even if you love writing, creating textual content for blog posts takes work. If you don’t like writing, then writing tasks are exponentially harder and less enjoyable. In either case, to create a good blog post, you need to put your fingers to a keyboard and spend some serious time and thought creating textual content.
Most experts suggest that you include a minimum of 300 words of unique, compelling, and keyword-rich text on every blog post. Others go a few steps further and suggest that you need to target 1,000 or more words to appear in the best positions for competitive keywords. That’s a bunch of words folks.
In addition to the amount of time it takes to write a solid piece of content, you may also say to yourself, “I don’t know what to write about for this post.” This kind of writer’s block isn’t uncommon. Although I teach strategies to create killer content, there's no easy fix to producing new topics when you’re always writing about the same kinds of portraits or events occurring at the same locations week after week.
Blogs are commonly considered to be the ideal method for sharing new content. Anecdotally, they’ve also been cited as one of the most popular areas of photographer websites. That latter statement may no longer be true.
When blogs were considered innovative marketing, newly engaged couples, prospective clients, and other photographers all flocked to your website to check out your latest blog post. Now, unless you’re a popular photographer with a loyal following, most blog posts receive a much smaller percentage of visitor traffic than the rest of your website.
With that in mind, it might be a bit harder to find the motivation necessary to write a blog post that in most cases will only be viewed by a few people.
There are dozens of reasons that explain this change in behavior, but I believe the foundation principles are that your prospective clients want to first determine if you’re a good photographer—usually by viewing at your most prominent image galleries relevant to their need. They then want to know how much you charge or at least get an idea as to your starting price. And finally, if you pass those tests and they’re still interested, visitors want to contact you to find out if you’re available and how they can book your services.
For these visitors who are seeing your work for the first time, I contend that they aren’t going to be looking at your most-recent blog entry. Likewise, they won’t be digging into the posts you’ve published over the last several years.
This means that your portfolio, pricing, and contact info are the most important pages to the most important people—your first-time visitor.
To confirm this hypothesis, check your Google Analytics account to see if those traffic patterns hold true for your own website. Please note that your website architecture and clickable buttons may skew those results depending on how your blog posts are accessed and whether your image galleries are integrated into your blog.
Why Photographers Blog
There are dozens of reasons why photographers blog for their business. Let’s look at some of the top reasons why maintaining an active blog is beneficial.
- encourages vendor networking
- increases website traffic
- signals that the photographer is busy
- educates visitors
- appeals to client vanity
- allows sharing of recent work
- promotes dialog with visitors
- showcases work from certain venues
- helps visitors connect with photographers
- blogging is enjoyable
- showcase multiple photographers
- sharing complete weddings or events
- advanced storytelling
- peer pressure
- helps with SEO
Now that you have a basic idea why many photographers blog, let’s explore each claim and determine if there are alternative strategies that can yield similar or even superior results to regular blogging.
Blogging is one way photographers can recognize the work of other vendors who were involved in a wedding or event. And creating a strong vendor network is one way to help generate new business.
For photographers who create blog posts about recent events, mentioning and then linking to vendors involved in the project offers several benefits. First, the post provides a convenient platform to share work. It’s for this reason that watermarking blog photos is particularly important when you expect your images to be shared.
Blogging events also encourages reciprocal engagement by the vendors who were mentioned. This often involves a link back to your website. Since the authority of most vendor websites is low, those backlinks will only yield a minor SEO benefit. However, over time, the cumulative value of those backlinks can be beneficial.
Alternatives to Vendor Blogging
Although blogging may be the preferred method for sharing photos, vendors who have blogs themselves or who are active in social media may want to use only those photos that they perceive as being helpful to their brand rather than all the photos the photographer thinks are important to the event.
In this situation, an alternative is for photographers to provide watermarked photos directly to the vendor and then require those vendors to provide backlinks for every usage on every platform—whether it be Facebook, blog, or website.
With that approach, photographers can still achieve the same kind of traffic and SEO backlink benefit without creating a blog post.
Creating unique, powerful, informative, and shareable content is one way to help drive traffic to your website. Although every post you make may not go viral, if you develop great content, then it’s much easier to improve the traffic characteristics of your website.
After creating an original blog post, photographers should drive traffic to that post by promoting it through their social media channels or via active email lists. Whenever possible, the subjects or companies featured in the post should also be enlisted to help share their link and get the word out.
Generating Traffic Without Blogging
Promoting informational blog posts becomes more difficult every day. Due to the sheer volume of shared content, only the most extraordinary posts drive a notable number of clicks.
As an alternative, posting important photographs directly to social media platforms and then linking to a website in the description of each photo can yield similar traffic responses. This practice assumes that the images you post are powerful, unique, or interesting or the content is valuable.
Similarly, if you can create evergreen content easily accessible to your website menu that is also relevant and powerful, you may have spent your time more wisely than you would have if you simply created a blog post that is only going to be relevant for a relatively brief period.
By creating evergreen content instead of blog posts, photographers can use the same strategies to drive traffic to important web pages just as easily as they can to time-sensitive blog posts. In fact, a mention on social media is probably why you’re reading this article right now.
Blogging frequency can be a success indicator for photographers. For example, if a photographer creates substantive content 3-4 times per month (or more), visitors may see this as a sign that he or she is a busy photographer. And since a busy photographer is good or popular or both, that kind of perception can influence visitors and lead to more work.
If you plan to blog frequently, consider adding an editorial publication calendar to your planning process. This document should outline suggested topics for each week throughout the coming year.
Although the topic you choose to write about may vary from your publication calendar based on the work you photographed that week and timely happenings in your life or studio, when you have a document in place that outlines your goals, it’s much easier to stick to the plan.
For those of you who are more ambitious, consider creating three or four completed blog posts that you can hold in reserve for the likely event that you’re unable to create a new piece of content on any given week.
Alternatives to Frequent Blogging
As you can imagine, it’s no easy task to create new content every week. It’s also not easy to book enough work that is both notable and sharable to keep your publication calendar filled.
And with 36 to 48 posts expected of you as a minimum for each year, what initially seemed like a reasonable goal can soon become dreaded work that hangs over your head every week.
If those demands get the better of you and you fail to maintain a frequently updated blog, that part of your website may appear stagnant. And so, the blog that once served to make you appear busy, can then mark you as a failure—regardless of the truth behind the situation.
If you’re able to meet a frequent blogging schedule all year long, then by all means keep blogging. However, if you can’t maintain that kind of continuous schedule, it might be more productive for you to put your work and efforts into different kinds of content generation.
There are several ways you can accomplish this goal. The first is to create a “Recent Work” image gallery on your website. Let this serve as the way to show that you’re still working and provide a way for repeat visitors to quickly see your latest masterpieces.
Similarly, if you tend to be more verbose and informational in your posts, create a “Recent Articles” section of your website where you can post your evergreen content.
And finally, if you can add evergreen content generation to your schedule instead of just posting fresh blog content, that will typically yield greater long-term SEO benefits.
Developing and posting informational blog content can help educate visitors and potential clients and may influence conversions. In turn, that content can serve to make a photographer’s job easier or allow for the discrete framing of the photographer’s unique selling proposition.
One way to educate visitors and customers is to post helpful and informative content as a part of your normal blogging schedule. Over the years, I’ve seen many examples of this kind of content. Examples of some commonly repeated subjects include:
- Making Your Family Photo List
- Printing Photos is Important
- Getting Ready Tips & Tricks
By sharing this kind of information, you not only establish credibility as a photographer, you are also providing information to make your job easier, your deliverable better, and make your client’s role more comfortable.
When you’re thinking about creating and posting information that’s perpetually useful to customers, I contend that it probably makes more sense to post it as evergreen content on the relatively static portions of your website.
Since that kind of educational content is going to be useful to clients now and in the future, it’s a perfect candidate for evergreen content—just as this article is a good example of evergreen educational content.
Everyone loves to be recognized. And featuring photographs of a product, a client, or an event, photographers can show appreciation for their clients as well as make their photos more sharable within a client’s sphere of influence.
Even when clients are featured on something as mundane as a photographer’s blog, they’re going to feel flattered. And when a client is flattered, that’s likely to make them feel better about you which in turn can lead to referrals or mentions in social media.
When your blog features new clients every week, there will likely come a time when you won’t want to feature a certain client or event on your website. Invariably, that client will question why you didn’t feature their project or event. And that’s going to be an awkward conversation even if you reply with the old, “I’m so busy that I can’t feature all of my projects on my website.”
If you don’t have a blog, then you won’t ever face that issue. And you can still share photos of your clients, but instead of sharing 5 or 10 or 30 images, you can share 1 or 2 in your primary image portfolio. For maximum results, you can frame your discussion with a statement like: “I loved your wedding so much! The photos were so amazing that I added one of your images to my ‘best of” portfolio gallery. Isn’t that awesome!”
You’ve heard the phrase, “You’re only as good as your last photograph.” Or your last job. Or your last success. And for that reason, photographers are often well served by making recent work accessible.
Best Foot Forward
As photographers, we like to be recognized for our achievements. And although it might appear self-serving, blogging about our favorite photographs is one way to help gain recognition for our work. Blogging is a wonderful way to put that work forward quickly and easily.
You Hate Old Work
When you blog a project or event, you’ll eventually find yourself unhappy with many of the photographs you previously loved. One way to avoid this common phenomenon is to select and post no more than your favorite five photos from your project or event. I call these photos your Fabulous 5 and I speak about them at great length during my classes and workshops.
Here’s the theory. If you select only your best images, then those photos are less likely to work against you as your skills improve. You’ll also achieve better conversion results with five amazing photos in a blog post instead of five amazing photos and three good photos and two average photos. Always remember that as photographers, we’re often judged by our weakest work.
Skip The Problem
If you’re not interested in blogging, you can achieve comparable results by creating a section of your website titled Recent Work. If your website platform (like Good Gallery) allows you to optimize those recent images with keyword-rich content, you can achieve the same results on gallery images that you would if you had blogged those images as a group.
Feedback received by visitors, clients, and other photographers can influence perceived popularity as well as SEO. The commenting functionality afforded by blogs offers a convenient platform for sharing feedback and promoting dialog.
If your website visitors appear in enough volume and are an active and vocal bunch, then it can be extremely gratifying to see people comment on your posts. Frequent comments on posts are also considered to be a quality indicator for search engines.
Nothing But Crickets
When blogs were young on the Internet, creating a dialog with website owners through blog comments was common. However, in today’s world, it’s much harder to get people to engage your website though blog comments.
Therefore, when you have comments enabled on your website, but most of your blog posts have only one or two or no comments, which makes your site look less popular than your traffic might indicate. And less popular blogs tend to receive less traffic and less engagement. Likewise, that lack of comments might be a negative quality indicator for search engines.
If you have a comment feature available on your website or blog and it’s not engaging your visitors, I would recommend that you either find a way to encourage comments with your content or disable and remove the feature entirely from your blog.
Event photographers typically work at area venues. Blogging about those venues is a frequent practice that can often yield positive search engine results.
Venues are often the first stop for clients planning an event, so establishing a strong relationship with those venues or at the very least appearing in search results for those venues is helpful when booking new clients.
Blogging in depth about venues is a sure-fire way to create content that search engines will love.
Although blogging about venues is one alternative, you don’t need a blog to achieve positive results to optimize your website for people searching for venue photographers.
One option that commonly provides reliable results is to develop a section of your website with substantive evergreen content about area venues. Since you’ll typically only see one page of your website ranking for a particular keyword phrase, optimizing a single page of your website for a venue can be just as effective as blogging about it one time or five times or ten times.
Posting personal information or lifestyle details on a blog can help some visitors connect to photographers on a deeper level.
In the best situations, the photographer can become a lifestyle influencer whose popularity becomes a driving factor for conversions. For this reason, some photographers choose to share details about their daily life in their blog. For photographers who can do this organically and who have a lifestyle that might engage most potential clients, this might be a powerful online marketing strategy.
Do They Care
To be a lifestyle influencer who can command a large following, you need a strong personal brand. Although it’s certainly helpful and even important to include personal details on your website, using personally oriented blog posts as a part of that strategy can introduce several potential issues.
First, some clients may view those kinds of posts as narcissistic and react negatively. Since you can expect to turn off a certain number of potential clients with a lifestyle influencer brand, you must be certain that your personal brand will appeal to an exponentially larger crowd.
For me, I prefer to express my personality through my biographical photos, my About Me page, and my writing style in general.
Some photographers blog because they love to share stories. That’s certainly a beautiful thing and I’ll never question someone’s passion—whether it be blogging or knitting or drag racing or stamp collecting. Do what you love and love what you do.
Although I don’t hate blogging, I have so many other things that I need to do during my business day that continually working on the next blog post just isn’t high on my list of fun things to do. So, for me, I’m not going to be the person who says “I love blogging.” But I promise not to judge you if you’re that photographer.
For studios who offer the services of several photographers under one brand, blogging affords an opportunity to highlight jobs completed by individuals.
Featuring different photographers in different blog posts allows visitors and potential customers to evaluate the work of individuals before making their hiring selection. This is also likely convenient for the studio manager who wants to quickly post new work from each photographer.
I’ve met dozens of photographers over the years who have run successful studios with several associates. In every case, each one of them has a terrible story about a nasty break-up with one or more of their photographers.
When that kind of situation occurs, blog posts that were promoting the amazing associate photographer can then become a problem for the business. The studio owner then has a choice. They can delete the blog post and lose the benefit of that content—some of which might be ranking well for SEO. Or they can leave the content up which means that the old associate can point to that work in their own marketing as they get started. That decision could also open the studio up for unwanted questions in the future.
There are also a dozen other issues that can complicate this uncomfortable situation. However, if you choose to remove the personal aspects of the photographer as the primary part of the content marketing, it’s much easier to make a change if the unthinkable happens.
For example, if you instead feature the work of individual photographers in galleries of their own, it would be a simple matter to move those images into your master “best of” portfolio.
If you need to remove certain photos, you could then also use 301 Redirects to point visitors and search engines to similar photos without losing any SEO that might be associated with the photo you were forced to remove.
When sharing a blog post featuring an event, photographers can highlight a wide range of photographs that reflect their overall style and approach.
Showing photos from a complete event or even a highly curated grouping within a blog post is helpful for visitors who are trying to determine the skillset of the photographer in question. As photographers, we all know that it’s easy to hide behind a “best of” portfolio.
Although I’m 100% behind the idea that showing a complete event is a great idea, if you’re like most photographers, some your event photos are better than others. And even if you’re blogging, you’re going to only pick those events that reflect the best of your work.
Instead of using blog posts to share complete events, I instead recommend that you create several evergreen galleries that show a curated collection. If you add one or two of your best events to that category every year, you’ll soon have an easily discoverable area for visitors where you share large bodies of your work.
Many photographers enjoy telling stories through photographs. Posting a series of photos on your website is a wonderful way to conveniently share that story.
I have a master's degree in English so I’m allowed to make up the word found in the heading of this section. I think this new word should apply to blog posts that focus on telling the complete story of the day. Although storytelling is certainly a valid reason for creating a blog post, I’d encourage you to limit yourself in the number of photos that you use to not overwhelm the viewer.
I’ve always said that the perfect number of images to tell a wedding story is ten photos. The perfect story would include one photo of the bride getting ready, one of the groom getting ready, the first look, the bride and groom perfect / epic portrait, the processional, the first kiss, the recessional, the first dance, the cake cutting, and the bouquet toss. With those ten photos, you’ve nailed the wedding story. The rest of your photographic storytelling photos supplement those magical moments. See, 10 photos are all we need to deliver. Right?
Albums Tell Stories
Instead of posting a series of photos to showcase a complete event story your blog, I’d instead encourage you to create event albums instead and then post album spreads as individual sections within your event photo galleries. Not only will the album images be well curated and retouched, they will also theoretically be organized in a way that tells a better story.
Some photographers feel pressure to blog because they see other photographers blogging or because other photographers or experts tell them that they need to blog.
Do It, Do It, Do It
Although peer pressure is sometimes harmful, in this kind of situation that pressure is being applied with the best of intentions. People have learned that creating content regularly can have positive effects on your business and your SEO and they’re just trying to help.
Just Say No
Just because everybody says you absolutely, positively must blog doesn’t mean that you need to listen to them. Lots of photographers, myself included, have a spectacular business without any blogging. So, if peer pressure is your primary or sole motivation, don’t let yourself get sucked into doing something you don’t want to do.
Writing blog posts to improve your search engine positions is the most cited reason people blog. And it’s certainly true that when SEO techniques are correctly and rigorously applied, photographers can realize positive results from search engine optimization.
It’s a known fact that fresh content is appealing to search engines. And there’s no better place to post your fresh content than on your blog. So blogging is good right? The answer to that question is yes. And no. And it depends.
It’s Not That Simple
If you’re a photographer who creates unoriginal posts that aren’t optimized and that only include a sentence-long introduction, then you’re unlikely to be seeing large rewards from your efforts even if you’re posting every day.
Using fewer words will save you time, but if you’re hoping to see your post appear in important search engine positions, that kind of short-form content isn’t going to get you to the finish line. You must do the work.
And if you’re doing the work, why not do the work on your website where it will live forever rather than on a blog where it will eventually become less and less important as time passes?
Here’s the big takeaway from this ridiculously long, 5000-word article. Content is content.
That’s a stupidly obvious statement, right? Of course, it is. Let me use more words to say the same thing.
Whether you create a perfectly SEO-optimized blog post or a perfectly SEO-optimized piece of evergreen content, you’ve still created something that search engines will love. Content can live anywhere and still meet the needs of your visitors and search engines.
With all things being equal, I think that it’s easier and more effective to infrequently create amazingly awesome, long-form evergreen content than it is to frequently create short-form blog posts. And in business, I’m all about making life easy.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, there’s no right or wrong answer to blogging or not blogging. But if you’re one of those photographers who really hates blogging, I hope that I’ve given you a few ideas and alternatives that might keep you from doing something that you really don't want to do.
May the force be with you, always.