Keeping In Touch – Utilise Your Clients

It has been said before on many episodes of The Ready Steady Pro Podcast that you should be keeping a database of your past clients. Having the contact information of all of your previous clients (or, current clients rather) allows you to reach out and contact them directly. After all, you’ve worked with them already and you are now a known quantity to them – You already have that relationship with them and they will be more open and receptive to you than they would be to a generic marketing email from some other photographer. Just because you’ve shot their wedding and it’s been and gone doesn’t mean the door is closed to opportunities. There are so many ways and chances to reach out to those clients once again and leverage more business and continue the relationship.

Keeping In Touch

A good example of this is what I do around New Years: I would usually reach out to clients via email – a personalised message written specifically for them, referring to their wedding day, containing a few images and basically thanking them for allowing me to photograph their wedding or event that past year. I would tell them how much fun it was to be their photographer and how much I enjoyed it. In previous years I have also included a 10% referral discount at the bottom of the email (usually a code for them to pass on to a friend or family member) and also a discount for them if they would like some other photography doing (family shoot, lifestyle, portrait etc). There would be relevant links to the website for each of these services as well. The email of course makes it as easy for them to get in touch as possible – email, telephone numbers, links etc are all included everywhere within the email it’s appropriate.

Some photographers and business go as far as to send chocolates or flowers and gifts at Christmas time too. If you think this is more appropriate then go for it! Whatever you feel works for you and would most successfully achieve the goal of getting more business.

It all sounds like a lot of effort though…

It may sound like a lot of work having to type out personalised and individual emails for each client that past year, particularly if you’re already fortunate enough to have had a fair few clients, but this year was slightly different for me…

I was so unwell over Christmas and New Year recovering from Pneumonia and then having to put up with a condition called Pleurisy that I was just drained of energy. I didn’t have the get up and go to type over 20 individual emails to clients. So instead, from my sick-bed, I simply sent them all text messages. Nice and simple.

I wished them a wonderful New Years, told them to have fun if they were out celebrating, stay warm, stay safe and all the best for 2015. The messages were very short and sweet (it was a text after all). It didn’t need to be much – just enough to let them know I was around and thinking of them at this time of year and sending them a pleasant little message. I’m sure none of them expected it.

So, when one client told me her sister was getting married and that she will pass on my details I was very pleased. Then another client replied to say that she would be getting in touch in the new year about making an album.

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Bonus!

Extra Tip

Remember – when adding links to emails etc use Bitly. You can create custom links for each email (if you want) and track the clicks to see if your campaign is actually working. It’s well worth doing and having some visibility over the success of your efforts.

Now It’s Down To Me

Now, the ball is back in my court of course – I have to chase these up and see them through, but for 15 – 20 minutes work (from bed!) I’ve got 2 solid leads that could make the business some money in 2015.

It was an exercise well worth my time if you ask me.

And hey, even neither of these leads come off – I’m still the nice guy who wished them well and reminded them I still exist. It’s a win/win.

It’s a Timely Exercise

This sort of exercise is timely though. If you’re going to reach out to clients and wish them well for the new year you’re going to want to do it soon. It’d be odd if they received a message late in January as it may seem like an after thought. Just do this now. If their numbers are in your phones just take some time to message them. If you store details in files sit down on the sofa tonight and get in touch with them. Better still if you’re making use of a system such as LightBlue all of the contact details you need should be to hand

Join The Conversation On Social Media

Come and join the Ready Steady Pro community over on Facebook. It’s thriving and all of these topics and more are discussed in great detail by the almost 400-strong group.

Happy New Year!

So, happy new year from all of us here at Ready Steady Pro. May 2015 be a successful one and if you’re aiming to transition to full-time, may 2015 be the year you do it successfully! Good luck everyone!

Targeted Marketing

On The Tube in London, and other city undergrounds you will see adverts pasted inside the trains. Adverts for:

  • Headache relief
  • Hair loss
  • Holidays
  • Flu & Cold Remedies

There are more than just the above categories of adverts of course, but isn’t that list above some of the most targeted marketing available?

Thousands of people commute via the tube each and every day. The commute can be long, hot and cramped. It can be exhausting, it can give people headaches and stress people out. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. It’s enough to make you think ‘I need a holiday‘ – the solutions to all of these things are advertised mere feet away from the people in need of them. The adverts are placed strategically knowing that people will need them, or, at least be open to suggestion when they see a solution to a headache.

When thinking about marketing are you trying to get your brand in front of as many people as possible or are you targeting your advertising to your future clients? The positioning of the marketing is arguably more important than the reach of the marketing.

Give that some thought get the next time you post fliers around your local area, or the next time you take out an ad in a local shop. Perhaps try looking at the most affluent area available near you, perhaps look at advertising in baby and children’s magazines (if that’s your thing).

Think specific. Then perhaps you’ll have less of that ‘they’re not my kinda client’ thing going on if you’re marketing to ‘your kinda client’.

Where do you market yourself and what have you found successful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast 15 – Gear for Photographers: What’s in our camera bags?

We’re back! Let’s get back into the swing of things with this really apt song!

It’s been far to long I know! But The Ready Steady Pro Photography Podcast is back! Episode 15 see’s us returning with a show recorded back in mind January. I was once again joined by the old guard (old as in they’ve been on the show before, not actually old) to talk about what gear we have in our bags. My guests for this episode include Rob Grimes, Lel Hurst, Neil Graham and Lee Jones.

Each of my guests today views the gear in their bags in a slightly different way and put emphasis on different items too. We talk about lenses and bodies, of course, but also other items and accessories you should have along with you on a wedding day. The subject of third party lenses comes up too when Rob touches on why he uses Sigma. I also ask my guests to talk about what items they easily could have done without when they first started and also to talk about the items they absolutely could not do without if push came to shove.

There are also lots of news and announcements at the end of today’s show too, including lots of ways you can too can get involved with Ready Steady Pro such as Photographer In Focus, Photography Q&A and how you can apply to appear as a guest on the show!

It’s good to be back! So get ready for another cracking episode. Notepads to hand!

Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast


This weeks Topic

Round Table Discussion: “What’s in our camera bags?”


Today’s Little Gems

Rob Grimes: Focal Lens Calibration Software
L
el Hurst: BoredPanda.com – Beautiful, Artistic & Fun. Check out this website
Neil Graham: SLR Lounges Complete review of Canon Lenses: Which lenses are best?
Neil Graham: Gordon Parks (found through Ted Forbes) – Check out his work
Lee Jones: Ready Steady Pro Facebook community – come along and join the Facebook community
Michael Rammell: One Camera One Lens by Paul Griffiths


Show Notes / Links

Sigma Lenses
SquareSpace


This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Lee Jones
Lel Hurst
Neil Graham
Rob Grimes

Add extra Analytics to your Links with Bitly Link Shortener

Knowledge is power. Knowing how many people hit your website and which pages they are viewing is one thing, but actually seeing which links are being clicked and having a set of statistics for each link – that’s pretty useful!

Today I want to talk about the power of Bitly – a link shortening service that offers you so much more than just a shorter URL.

bitly_logo

Bitly Link Shortening

First and foremost Bitly is a link shortening service, which in itself is very useful for use with Twitter. A URL such as http://readysteadypro.co.uk/2014/02/17/seo-tips-photographers-blogging/ is 71 characters long – it’s huge! So, when you’ve got a limit of 140 characters this URL is just too long (It takes up over half your character limit!). It would only leave you 69 characters to compose your tweet. So, take your URL and paste it into Bitly and you end up a far more Twitter-Friendly URL: http://bit.ly/MrG7PW. This is 20 characters long.

Link Archive

Okay Okay, so Twitter does actually perform some shortening on your URL – but with Bitly it will save all of your shortened URL’s for you to re-use. This means that rather than pasting odd and random URL;s over and over you can delve back into Bitly, grab the shortened URL you made before and paste that to your blog, tiwtter, facebook, Google+ etc. Re-using the same link also gives you some wonderful advantages:

Bitly2

More than just a shorter link

Having access to re-use the same shortened URL means you can track the clicks and the source of those clicks. So, when you write a new blog post and share it all over the internet on all of your social media presences, rather than scratching your head, wandering where all the traffic comes from, all you need to do it take a look at the clear and coherent analytics on Bitly:

Clicks on a link

See below: You can see here how many clicks each link got and on which days. Beneath that it will even tell you how the link is performing on various, connected Social Media accounts.

Bitly

Link Summary

In this screen grab you can see how my links have been performing. As a bonus it also shows where the links were clicked in terms of Geography.

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Bitly4

A Powerful Tool

So, in conjunction with Google Webmaster tools and the in-built analytics for your website (such as Squarespace) you can easily get a feel for exactly how each link you share, is performing.

Try it today. Bitly

Get Involved with Ready Steady Pro

Ready Steady Pro isn’t just a podcast and a blog. It’s a community of photographers who are all looking to learn and help each other out on the path to photographic success. Whether you’re looking to build a successful business or just improve your photography; Ready Steady Pro aims to be the resource to help you towards those goals.We want to help give back to you – the listeners of the Podcast, the readers of the blog and the contributors to the ever-growing and wonderful Ready Steady pro Group. So, here’s how you get involved with Ready Steady Pro and get yourself some more exposure out there on the World Wide Web:

Photography Q&A

In 2014 we launched the Ready Steady Pro Q&A Series. A simple, weekly feature on the blog where we ask 5 questions and share your answers with the world. The questions are always the same and excessive typing is encouraged!

RSP Q&A

Appear on the Podcast

Anyone can appear on the show, either as part of one of our great round-table discussions or for a one on one interview. If you’re up for a chat for all the world to listen to just fill out this form here: Appear on the Show

Ready Steady Pro HQ
Ready Steady Pro HQ

Write for Ready Steady Pro or Re-blog one of your posts

If you would like to Write for Ready Steady Pro It’s really easy to do – Just head over to the ‘Get Involved’ page and click ‘Write for Ready Steady Pro‘. Complete the form and we’ll send you all the details you’ll need.

Photographer In Focus

Each week we choose a photographer from a list of applicants a shine a light on their website and their work! It’s our way of saying thank you for joining the community and taking part! Apply here to appear as the ‘Photographer in Focus’

Photographer in Focus

Ask a Question

Or, just contact us if you have any questions

phone booth

SEO Tips for Blogging Photographers: Part 1

SEO can seem like a mystery to some. You may find that some of your more generic posts are climbing up the results ladder, whilst others are sitting in an abyss, getting only a few seldom visitors.

Well, there is a science to SEO. It’s not guess work at all. So today I want to share with you Part 1 of my top SEO tips for photographers that blog! (and let’s face it, we all blog!).

If truth be told these SEO tips are applicable to all, but we’re going to use photographers as our example, as that’s what Ready Steady Pro is all about!

1: Post Titles – What are people searching for?

Where possible, it’s important that the title of your post has some of the keywords in it. This very post for example has the words ‘SEO’, ‘tips’, ‘photographers‘ and ‘Blogging‘ in it. Already Google know that this post is giving SEO tips to photographers. More than that though, you should look for a title that people are searching for. Again, this post is likely to be found by photographers searching for tips on how to boost their SEO when blogging. It may sound obvious, but if I had called this post something like ‘Get blog posts found on the internet’ it’s not as likely to have the same success rate. Sure that title may still be relevant to you and I, but we’re writing posts not just for consumption by the reader (by humans!) but we’re also writing for Google too. Remember that.

2: Keywords in Post URL

Keywords are of, erm…Key…importance. Not just in your post title, but also in your URL too! By actually including the keywords in your URL it helps Google to find your post. I’m not talking about just listing your keywords or as many keywords as you can. For a bad example: “readysteadypro.co.uk/blog/Post104-photography-business-weddings-tips-seo-photographers-berkshire-marriage”…I’m talking about an actual readable post URL, much like your actual post title. A URL such as this would be far better: “readysteadypro.co.uk/blog/SEO-Tips-Photographers-Blogging”. Remember, we’re writing for Google as well as the human readers. This URL is digestible, understandable and clear.

Keywords are important. Be precise and use them wisely

3: Title Tags and Heading Tags

Have you ever seen the <h1> & <h2> tags in html?Or in WordPress blogging you may have seen the ‘Heading 1‘ & ‘Heading 2‘ options in the font format section in the toolbar:

Make use of Heading Tags when blogging to gain SEO Benefits

Well, these heading options are more than just a convenient way to consistently format your headings and sections. Google Search Robots scan through your post and pay particular attention to these <h> tags (the heading option in the drop down sorts out the html-behind for you). Imagine if you were looking at someone else’s screen and they scrolled quickly down the post are your eyes more likely to catch one of the larger titles or are you more likely to pick out a random piece of text from one of the many paragraphs? Okay, some may say random text from a paragraph, but the point I’m making here is that Google loves these headings. The headings represent another opportunity to highlight your keywords. Don’t go formatting your entire post as a heading, but instead use the headings throughout your post to throw in a few keywords here and there.

Perhaps if you’re blogging about the most recent wedding you photographed could have a paragraph about the venue with a heading tag to start. In that heading tag write the venue name so that searches for the venue could also return your post to the searcher. For example: “Wonderful Wedding at The Ritz Hotel”

4: Tag & Title all of your images (Alt Tags)

Google loves text! The more text you have the more Google can make sense of what it is you’re writing about. Photographs and images however can often present Google with a problem as it can’t crawl the pixels and deduce what the photograph is. However, you can help Google out by giving the pictures you insert into your posts proper titles and descriptions. Depending on the blogging platform you’re using, you should be able to look at the properties of the pictures once uploaded and give them a title and an alt tag and possibly a description or caption. If you can do this – be sure to do so! It really does help Google to make heads & tails of what the image is that you’ve just uploaded. You may also find that photograph will then be returned in Google’s Image search, which of course will link back to your site also.

5: Links, links, links!

Google Search robots are like Lemmings – they’ll just follow the paths you provide for them. So there are a few ways you can leverage links in a post to your advantage. First of all, be sure to include plenty of links to content on the same site as the post. That’s right –  link to other pages and posts on your own site! Google robots will scan through your post, see that it points to your ‘contact me’ page, or links to another post and go off and have a look at that too. Think of it as self-promotion. There is nothing wrong with that.

Secondly, linking to other, reputable and popular websites is also another way of gaining kudos with Google. Websites that provide links to other places on the web are connected sites. Google loves this. If you’re linking off to an article you wrote on a wedding magazine’s blog, or linking to a florist or dress maker Google will look upon this favorably. So be sure to use links throughout your posts

Top Tip for Linking:

Do’s:

  • Use links within text and on appropriate words. For example: ‘It was a wonderful wedding at Grafton Manor

Dont’s:

  • Do not use place links on generic text or on the words ‘Click here’. For example: ‘To contact me click here‘. (place the link on the words ‘Contact Me’ instead. It gives context to the link. Google likes context)
  • Do not link too many times to the same content: A few, well placed links in a blog post is sufficient. Google may think you’re a dodgy site if you just have articles filled with too many links. There is such a thing as too much.

Again this is all about keywords – if your links contain words that are key, such as ‘wedding‘ and ‘Grafton Manor‘ you’re doing yourself, Google and your reader a favour. First of all you’re not having to type extra, pointless words like ‘click here’. Secondly Google like to see the keywords in the link, as we’ve discussed. But thirdly, as mentioned, you’re writing for a human reader too: including the link within the text itself makes it a more natural read and cuts out those extra words. It’s just cleaner! And when it comes to linking too many times, those blue words that are underlined can also get annoying for the reader too. Remember who you’re writing for. Strike a balance between SEO-optimized and reader-optimized.

Bonus Tip 6: Post length is important!

As mentioned, Google looooves text. Google can get it’s little robots all over your post, picking out the heading tags, the links and the keywords and is able to form a profile of what it is you’ve written thus allowing Google to better return your post for matching search queries. Well, the more you can tell Google (or, the more you can write, rather) the better this whole process works. Articles of less than 500 words, even those that are pretty well setup for SEO, won’t perform quite as well as those with 1,000 words or more. So get writing. But as I’ve said throughout this article don’t forget you’re writing for the reader too, so don’t just write any old words down. It has to be all-killer and no-filler. You could try writing in a conversation style. You could add a summary to the end of the post for a little bulk, you could add quotes. There are lots of ways to increase the word count if you’re having a hard time, but don’t write for the sake of writing. 1,000 words of more would be nice though.

(Word press blogs have a little Word Count that updates as you go. I can’t say the same for every blogging platform out there, but another way to check your current word count is to copy all your text into a word document and use the word count function there too:

Another means to count the number of words in your post would be to paste the post itself into a word processing tool that has a word count function

Well, that’s it for part 1 of this post. Next week I’ll be sharing another selection of top-tips with you, including:

  • Google Maps for business
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • The importance of the ease of sharing and social media
  • Categorizing your posts on your blog
  • Back Links

Try applying these top SEO tricks to your next blog post and see how you get on – do let us know if you implement any of these suggestions!

Podcast 14 – An Interview with Valerie Jardin

In Ready Steady Pro fashion: Episode 14 see’s us returning to an interview. Following on from the success of interviewing the likes of Frank Doorhoff and Andrew Hellmich, we’re back with another very well known photographer in our hotseat – Valerie Jardin of Valerie Jardin Photography.

Valerie Jardin Profile Pic-1

Valerie is a surprise package: being most known for frequent appearances on the massive ‘TWiP’ Podcast and of course being synonymous with street photography , Valerie was kind enough to share all sorts about herself including have been a studio owner, shooting weddings and not liking the experience, and making a living from shooting photographs only for herself.

This week Valerie and I also get into discission about the importance of family members and the role they can have on your success too!

Valerie Jardin Photography -Street photography-4

So, be sure to get comfortable and enjoy a delightfully educational listen.

Sit back and enjoy this episode of Ready, Steady Pro! Click the link below to listen / download the podcast.


View In iTunes
Click here to listen to the Podcast


This weeks Topic

An Interview with Photographer Valerie Jardin


Today’s Little Gems

  • Contact at least 5 potential customers every day! (more in the show, listen to the end!)

Show Notes / Links

Valerie Jardin
Digital Photography School

This weeks Hosts

Michael Rammell
Valerie Jardin