Hands up who wants more bookings?
What a ridiculous question, right?
Everyone wants more bookings.
Not necessarily MORE bookings but very definitely more bookings OR more bookings at the right price working with the right clients.
And you know what you need to do to get this! Or at least, you think you do.
You need to get people landing on your site. Actually, you know, SEEING your work.
So you’re working your ass off on your SEO, on blogging your latest sessions so you always have fresh work for people to look at, you’re busy like a bee optimising your keywords, using long tail and short tail and any-other-tail keywords inbetween and OH MY GOSH SOMEBODY PLEASE KNOCK ME OVER THE HEAD because that would be infinitely more fun than trying to figure out something that doesn’t freaking matter anyway.
When is this obsession going to END?
Because you think that doing things ‘the right way’ is what brings you clients?
I tried a little experiment today.
I wanted to find one of my favourite film photographers online.
So I did a search for her.
I wanted to see if one of the world’s top photographers really gave a flying flip about SEO.
I thought she would be most likely to come up on the first page of Google search for her local area (south carolina).
not on page 2.
Not on page 3 either.
I didn’t go beyond that, because I couldn’t be bothered. (Your clients most likely won’t either).
So I tried again, searching for her by genre this time (fine art photographer). Nope. No results on the first 3 pages.
Then I tried fine art film wedding photographer followed by her area.
Then I tried female wedding photographer.
Then I tried about 7 other different searches including other combinations of the above.
SHE DIDN’T APPEAR IN ONE SINGLE SEARCH RESULT.
First page of NOWHERE.
You see, this is weird because
For an absolute age
I was on the first page for my own photography business. I was TOP of page one too! (Nothing beats me. Not even Google. I’m a bit determined like that).
Getting on to page one isn’t difficult. Getting to the top is slightly harder, but not really if you blog consistently and USEFULLY and your posts get shared and read.
That’s not too hard to do, is it?
But this is the thing
Getting to the top of page one and even just getting on to page one
DIDN’T BRING ME CLIENTS.
It got me a ton of people landing on my site, and the main page they LEFT my site from was my pricing page.
(Find this out for yourself and your own site by using Google Analytics if you aren’t already).
What did this mean?
People leaving my site at my pricing page?
It meant that the MAJORITY of people who landed on my site simply didn’t want to pay what I was charging.
They had a smaller budget.
And I certainly did not have the time or inclination trying to persuade those clients who were not my dream target clients otherwise.
(I had people lining up for my services that WERE prepared to pay what I charge. And only ONE of them had found me via Google. ONE).
So I know – you want to know what this means for YOU- and it’s coming.
But first let’s just summarise that-
One of the world’s most incredible and highly-sought after photographers, whose work graces magazine covers left right and centre, who shoots everything from celebrities to the campaigns of high profile designers
Clearly doesn’t care about SEO.
And from my personal experience
being on top of page one of Google
Bought me lots of views but lots of people leaving my site at my pricing page
i.e – MY TARGET CLIENT AREN’T USING GOOGLE TO FIND ME
Quite clearly and obviously means the following
a)- it’s easy as pie to get to page one of google search for your area if you know what you’re doing (read the above)
b)- IT DOESN’T FREAKING MATTER!!!
*you want to compete with other photographers
*you want to aim for a low-end client (there is NOTHING wrong with this if this is the end you want to aim at, it just wasn’t for me because I’d rather shoot less and earn more and have a ton of time to do other things like be with my family, than shoot all the time at low end. I’ve done both low-end and high-end, and neither client base is problem free).
*you are happy to potentially be price shopped / compete on price
*you are more likely to be valued based on what you charge, rather than as an artist and creative. So your work is valued as a product, rather than a client buying you and valuing you as, I don’t know, say- a talented human being?
*you’re certain your clients aren’t going to find you any other way.
So if you tick any of those boxes- do spend the majority of your time that you allocate to growing your business dedicated to improving your SEO.
But if NONE of those resonate
There is a better way for you.
One not quite so mind-numbing or frustrating (Lord knows how long I spent banging my head against a brick wall in frustration that I WAS NOT ON PAGE ONE AND WHY ON EARTH NOT AND DEAR GODDDDDD COULD SOMEONE PLEEEEEEEASE HELP ME BEFORE I GO MAD BECAUSE IF I DON’T GET TO PAGE ONE MY BUSINESS WILL JUST DIE
Back to that photographer up there.
My heroine (one of many).
Has fifty two THOUSAND followers on Pinterest
One Hundred and Nineteen THOUSAND followers on Instagram
Fifteen thousand followers on facebook
and MORE than just social media
Do you know what this world-class photographer was doing back in 2012?
Writing articles for the Huffington Post.
Let me repeat that.
This TOP LEVEL LUXURY HIGH END NO DOUBT MILLIONAIRE PHOTOGRAPHER
WAS WRITING ARTICLES FOR THE FREAKING HUFF POST!!!!!
So here is what this photographer (Elizabeth Messina, in case you’re asking) knows that you don’t.
That there are far more powerful ways to share your work, your creativity, your inspiration, your entire heart and purpose- with the world
If you don’t want to be price-shopped
If you don’t want to compete
If you want to aim at a market that isn’t low budget / low-end
There are now far more powerful options available to you than SEO to reach your target clients, and get your work seen.
Elizabeth Messina has a huge social media following, has written I think 4 books at the last count, and has written for the Huffington Post. She has also done a ton of collaborations with high- end and big name industry professionals.
And this is where most of us think in reverse.
We think- we truly BELIEVE- that we must be a big-name photographer before launching mentoring sessions, books, writing articles, or even writing our very own BLOG POSTS!! that we must have a trillion followers before we are truly worth listening to.
How screwy is that?
Because we somehow change what we are passionate about, good at, or love, ONCE WE HAVE ACQUIRED A TON OF FOLLOWERS???
Some of us will love fiddling about with SEO.
And that’s fine.
But it is NOT a magical wand for suddenly gaining new clients – (and if you think it is, you’re stuck in 1999. Which I won’t bore you talking about how since then there have been a ton of google updates named after various zoo animals that will basically prevent you from reaching that ever- elusive page one unless you spend time day in day out perfecting your SEO anyway, and even then you’ll struggle)
If you want a magical wand?
You need to take note of what somebody else in the industry has done before you. Because in business, if you want to do something well, it’s SO easy now! You simply take what has already worked gloriously well for someone else and THEN YOU FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT BETTER.
So you know why Elizabeth Messina sprang into stardom, other than the fact she creates beautiful work?
Don’t tell me you think it’s because she has a unique vision, because yes she does, NOW, but that vision will have been refined and developed over time, and it’s not actually that which has brought her fame and recognition at all, hence why she was still writing articles for the Huffington Post in 2012.
If photography success was all based on our unique style and vision well then we wouldn’t need to do very much at all would we? And we would all be mega-successful, because we ALL have our own unique vision and perspective (or are working on it).
5 things that can launch you and your success into the stratosphere?
1. Launch something. Books, courses, workshops, a blog, a newsletter, something that communicates to your target clients – I have knowledge in this area and am worth listening to – something that gets people talking about you.
2. Build your audience via your newsletter. I can’t talk anymore about this for a while. I’m newslettered-out. If you’ve missed my emails or my youtube video or have questions about this, either join #shininglights where you can watch my massively long video on the subject which will teach you how to grow your list and what to do with your newsletter, or watch my youtube video here to start with. The reason this works is because you’re actually USING those people that land on your site and CAPTURING them, to be able to continue COMMUNICATING with them, and when they’re constantly reminded of your presence and fabulousness then who do you think they will be MOST LIKELY to book and recommend? Someone they have grown to know and trust or some random on Google?
3. Use somebody else’s audience. Why bother building your own via the super-slow process of SEO and very slowly moving up the page ranks to try to gain the odd visitor for your site, when there are WAY more effective uses for your time that can result in THOUSANDS of people seeing your site? There are a billion and one ways to do this from writing for somebody elses’s blog or site as a guest poster, speaking, even running a facebook ad. If your client ISN’T searching on Google then go and figure out where they ARE most likely to be, and GIVE something to them that brings them to your site!
4. Make friends. Colleagues in the industry are vital for support, encouragement, booking, and referrals. They are also likely to share your work and your latest blog posts / social updates.
5. Use social media. Though this is also arguably dying as all areas are flooded, and people are so bored of seeing promotional statuses and updates, done in the right way – to build relationships, to help encourage, inspire, and educate others- social media can be a valuable way to drive traffic to your site.
6. Create something that makes people give a damn. I tear my hair out at the same boring blog posts I’m reading lately. It’s why the tone of the FPA has completely changed since this started out. I got so bloody bored of even my own stuff!! Who cares about 5 of the top XYZ or my latest shoot?
Stop being so bloody polite and inoffensive. Stop worrying about who you might offend or upset. Stop censoring yourself. Start sharing your message. Whatever that looks like. Just write every single day about whatever is on your mind and heart and your IDEAL clients will most likely be so aligned to your viewpoint and worldview they will most likely SHARE it anyway and if they don’t well hey, all PR is good PR, right?
What matters is that you’re creating content that is USEFUL and ENGAGING and here is the kicker
When people LOVE what you write –
they will read and read and read
which means that lovely little magical signals are sent to Google which say ‘this person’s site is WORTHY OF ATTENTION and THIS PERSON IS CREDIBLE IN THEIR FIELD’
You rise up in the ranks of Google search.
people share and share and share
and those social media wizards
also then send magical smoky signals to Google which says
THE EXACT SAME THING!!
‘THIS WEBSITE IS WORTHY OF ATTENTION’!!!!!!!
Which is why The FPA appears on page 2 of the search for ‘grow photography business’ and page three for ‘photography business marketing’ out of 58 million results and 97 million results, despite me putting ZERO effort into SEO!!
I barely EVER alt tag my images, I never input keywords consciously, I don’t really think about long tail or short tail keywords and I rarely ever use my built in site SEO checker!
So when are you going to GET IT???
You need to blog
You need to write
or do SOMETHING
Embrace the NEW ways of marketing
Of course, you don’t have to.
You can sit and moan about how everyone has a popup or optin nowadays (maybe because it WORKS?!?! like only a handful of people every had a BUSINESS CARD???
Or you can go back through this post, use the info in it, and start making a BLOODY DIFFERENCE IN YOUR BUSINESS!
What can you take action on TODAY, right now, when you leave this post?
Oh, and one other thing.
If you like this post-
Can you please Share it for me using the buttons below?
Because Google likes that 😉