Saturday, 28 January 2012

My TOP 20 Reasons to use Google Analytics

Further to my recent post on ANALYTICS!, the following are the TOP 20 reasons you should install Google Analytics

1. Setting Goals – If you don’t set goals, Google Analytics will not really help you grow your business. If your photography business has you shooting events, your goal is probably to find newly weds. If your business is teaching and mentoring, your goal is a registration to your newsletter and booking new students.

Once you have your business goals setup in Analytics, you are able to unleash a huge amount of data about what’s working and what’s not in your marketing efforts.

2. Comparing Date Ranges – In the old Analytics, there was no easy way to compare how your site is doing relative to a different point in time. In the current version, Google analytics allows you to compare two different time periods and chart them. This will allow you to identify growth or decline in your web traffic.

3. Deep Geographic Data – You can also see how your site is performing in a variety of ways by city or country. For example, users on my site in my geographical area spent 39.25% more time on my site last month, while the number of new visitors from the United Kingdom decreased by 24%.

4. Local Conversion Data – If you setup “conversion goals”, you can also see how well your site is converting in different locations. For a photographer, this means you can adjust your offers based on how they are performing geographically, much like photographers that had store fronts have done for years.

You can also buy geographically targeted AdWords for regions that seem to be producing sales for you more than others.

5. Bouncing visitors – This is a fancy way of saying “where do users bail out of your website?” By knowing this information, you can attempt to fix the parts that seem to be scaring users away.

6. Navigation Summary – This report shows how users maneuver through your site. For example, you can see where users go from the first page they land on, or how most of them get to your contact page. If people aren’t following your desired navigation, it means you need to re-arrange some things on your website to force users click the right spots.

7. Complete AdWords Integration – If you advertise through AdWords, Analytics will provide you data on each campaign, group, and keyword. More specifically, you can look at each of these areas and see the number of displays, clicks, the cost, conversion, and if it results in a transaction or another defined goal. You will then be able to calculate your ROI.

8. Customize Your Dashboard – The old “Executive Summary” has been replaced with a totally customizable Dashboard where any report can be added and arranged via drag and drop functionality. For example, if you want to see how a particular goal is converting each time you login, you can move this report to the Dashboard for quick access by clicking the “Add to Dashboard” link.

9. Email Reports – If you focused on marketing, chances are you prefer to receive reports in email rather than login and track things down in your analytics program. One of the key features of Analytics is the ability to setup reports, and schedule when and to whom they will automatically be sent.

10. Keyword Source – Knowing how customers find you are one of the most important questions in sales and marketing. Google Analytics tells you what search keywords people are using to find your site. If certain keywords are proving hot, you might want to consider catering keyword buys, content, and offers to them. This feature can also alert you to news and trends; for example, the #2 keyword phrase searched on my site last month was “500px vs smugmug”.

11. Referring Sites – This is a feature of any basic analytics program, but with Google Analytics you can not only see traffic, but goal conversion on the sites sending you traffic. Thus, you can get a read not only on the number of visitors a link partner is sending, but the quality of the traffic.

12. Browser Capabilities – Does your site not support Safari? Do your photos get skewed in the latest version of Firefox? Better make sure you’re not alienating a bunch of your users. Analytic’s Browser Capabilities feature let’s you see what browsers people use to view your site, and again, let’s you drill down to see how well users of different browsers convert against your goals. If those 0.57% of remaining Netscape users are converting like teenager girls at a Justin Bieber concert, better make sure your site supports them!

13. Connection Speeds Data – Connection speed data helps you determine how to prioritize your site’s design. If you still have a fair amount of people on dialup in your area, you may want to make your site a little less load heavy than if your site is all broadband users. For photographers, that means compressing the size of your images to allow for faster upload times.

14. Exclude Internal Traffic – Chances are you spend more time on your site than anyone else, which can skew your data if it’s not excluded. To make sure it’s not counted, Google lets you filter out traffic from IP addresses that you specify.

15. Visitor Loyalty – How often to your visitors come back? Reducing the percentage of people that only visit once should be one of your constant priorities, and Analytics let’s you track this piece of information over a specified date range.

The more a person comes to look at your images and services, chances are you have a better chance on converting them to a buying client.

16. Visitor Type Contribution – This dynamic pie chart tells you the contribution your returning visitors are making versus new ones. My testing showed that my return visitors load more pages and spend more time on my site and they bounce less than new visitors.

17. Search Engine Traffic – Knowing which search engines are sending the most traffic and how well its converting can help you optimize your spend and SEO efforts or purchase keywords on specific search engines. While Google will likely provide you the most traffic, if Yahoo or BING converts better, you might want to see how you can get more visitors from them.

18. Top Content – For each page on your site, Google Analytics will tell you how many times it has been viewed how much time the average visitor stays there, and how many people leave your site after visiting. If you have a popular page that everyone leaves after viewing, you should think about adding something attention grabbing on it.

19. Top Exit Pages – Knowing your trouble spots tells you where you need to improve, and Analytics lets you see your top exit points over a specified date range.

20. Export to PDF – For a nice clean file with Analytics data, you are now able to export reports into Adobe PDF format.

There are my top20 reasons to ad Google analytics to your website and help you grow your business. If you have any more to add, please feel free to comment below and add to this list.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The importance of an analytical tool for a photographers website

Analytics… without a measurement “yard stick” how are you ever going to know what is working on your website and what is not working? Are you ever going to know who is looking at your photos? Do you know what visitors do when they look at your content on your website? Where are your website visitors coming from? Have you ever wondered why people are looking at my photos or services, but not buying anything from you? Are you posting the proper size of photos online to fill up a user’s entire screen? What programs are your users using to access the internet with, and is your site optimized for various web browsers?

If you would like to know the answers to these questions, you should consider an analytics tool to help you get those answers.

Let’s think of it this way… You take a photo and are proud of it. You blast out a photo to your Twitter followers, you then post that same photo on your Facebook profile for all your friends to see, and maybe you have a Google+ account that you want to share your photo on… OK, done, you did all that… now what?

If you are serious about photography as a business, you should know exactly how many people clicked on that link you put out on those three websites, what these people did on your site when there, and ultimately did they contact you to buy something.

Of course, the above paragraph is simplified, but basically, that’s what you want to be doing. I know that every time I post a blog entry on Twitter I get 8% to 9% of my followers coming to my website to read my BLOG. I know how long they spent reading, I know if they looked at anything else, and I monitor the questions or comments that come from this online traffic.

I also know that every time I post a link on Linkedin of a new BLOG post that I get on average of 30 views within the first day of posting it on LinkedIn. I then track the residual visits over the next 30 days. I see that every time I post on LinkedIn I average 100 people coming to read that blog post. Plus, I track what else they did.

Without going into a longer dissertation about all the places I post and what traffic I get to my website; let’s just say that I have it down to a science. I know, within a small margin of error how many website visitors I will get by throwing website content out into the internet on various places.

To add to this, every time I sell something, a photo, get a client for a workshop or a mentor program; I ask one simple question, “How did you find me?”

By asking that question I put the final piece of the puzzle together, my conversion ratio. By doing that I know what social media and what mass marketing initiative is working. It then becomes a numbers game. The more I focus on what’s working, the more money I make, the more camera gear I can buy, the closer I get to achieve my goal.

So how the heck can you get that kind of measurement on your website?

Google Analytics provides you, the photographer, a powerful tracking for monitoring your web presence. It's one of the most effective and free, web analytics solutions on the market today.

Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, where they came from and where they went after they visited your website. Through this information you will spot trends and you will be able to adjust how your content is displayed and inevitably enhance their visitor experience, ultimately improving your return on investment, increase conversion ratios, and make more money on the web.

As a business owner you will be able to understand (1) which marketing initiatives are being most effective, (2) what are the traffic patterns on your website and (3) which customer segments are most valuable to you for generating revenue. Throw on your marketing hat and you will be able to see where your visitors are coming from and what they do while they are on your website, help you understand how to convert more visitors to customers and which marketing spend is most effective in sending people to your website.

To sign up for Google Analytics, you should ensure you have an account with Google and visit this page, GOOGLE ANALYTICS SET-UP

Once you begin to register your website for Google analytics you must first ensure that you place your Google Analytics tracking code on your web pages. Between Google and you’re your website provider, they will help you. Google Analytics code is a small JavaScript snippet that needs to be added to each page of your site, either manually or through the use of plugins or tool.

For the more advanced web user, you want to install this code manually into your pages, copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the body tag of each page that you wish to track.

For a person that just read this previous sentence and didn’t understand what I just said; get your webmaster involved. However, sites like smugmug have a simple interface where you can just grab your analytics code from Google and paste it into a place on your smugmug account. It will not be immediate, but in a day or so, your account will be live and you will be tracking visitors to your site in a much more advanced and effective way.

To conclude, measurement is key to success. It helps you obtain goals, it aids you in creating a better user experience, and it will ultimately help you generate more income.

I hope this helps give you some direction with analytics and puts you on a better path for success. If you would like to hear more, please contact me on twitter @kpepphotography or email me on my Contact Me! page of my website.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How do you handle a "Negative Online Review"

So you are doing what I call, "Reputation Management". You are doing searches online for your name and company name. You want to find out what people are saying you and your company on all your social media websites, Google Place Page, blogs or forums that you might belong to.

In the process of doing this search you find a negative review posted somewhere online. Someone has posted a negative experience about dealing with your company… it’s out there for everyone to see and you are faced with what to do.

You have three decisions… (1) Ignore it and hope that no one sees the post online. (2) Try and get it deleted from the site it is on. (3) Address the negative review with a response as the owner of the business.

If you choose to ignore the post online you run the risk of it going viral and costing you business.

If you choose to get it deleted the person that wrote the negative review has not been dealt with. You run the risk of irritating them and posting negative reviews in even more locations.

But, if you choose to address the negative comment online in a straight forward and honest way, addressing their concerns, point by point, offering a refund or a discount you may just win over a client that was spreading negativity. Plus, others that see the original post and your response. They will see that you care about your clients concerns and want to make good to anyone that feels an injustice has been done.

I have seen examples of this all the time… addressing the concern head on and leaving it online is always the best policy.

Of course, you can choose to deal with a negative review online however you want. But based on my 10 years of experience, mentoring and teaching businesses to be successful online, point #3 is my suggestion.

Drive More Traffic to Your Website

I am here to tell you that it is possible for a small photography business to generate traffic to your website with a few simple initiatives.

The following are ten simple strategies to boost your visibility online.

1. Add a blog. Blogging isn’t just another task on your To-Do list; it’s a very effective way to attract more traffic to your website. When you update your blog on a regular basis (ideally once or twice a week), your site becomes more relevant with the search engines because you are updating the content often.

Each blog post gives the search engines another reason to find your site. Using photography as an example, if you were to write a blog post about how to find a location to shoot or a tutorial on style, the next time someone searched for that phrase, it is much more likely that the post would come up in Google. Not convinced? Try blogging regularly for 30 days, twice a week and then search Google for key phrases from your blog entries or website!

2. Share your blog posts via your other online initiatives. If you’re still wondering what the heck to share on your Facebook and Twitter, Google+ etc, your blog holds the answers. After writing a new post, share the title—along with a link back to your website—on your social media networks and watch the traffic rise! As your social media audience grows, so will the number of visitors to your site.

3. Feature other people on your blog. Consider adding guest blogs or interviews with people from your industry. Not only will you easily increase your blog content, your subjects will also share the news with their social media networks, thereby increasing your reach.

4. Comment on other people’s blogs. Adding a comment to a blog (like this one!) has many advantages. First, most blogs allow you to include a link back to your website, which readers can click to view your site. Believe it or not, you gain exposure with other readers of the blog.

It also increases your own website’s relevance in Google since Google gives favoritism to sites that have more incoming links, especially from high traffic websites.

5. Ratchet up your keywords on your web content. With each and every page on your website you have a chance to lure in visitors simply by using the right keywords. The goal here is to determine what keywords your prospects would use to find your site, and then incorporate them into your pages Meta tags and content.

For each Web page, add a key phrase (series of keywords) to the page title, page description, and page URL. Also repeat the phrase two or three times within the text on the page. Trust me; this will make a huge difference.

For your images, go into the properties of the photo and ensure that every image is labeled with keywords that you want to be discovered under. Here is an example. You put up a photo of a “Bald Eagle”. Your keywords that you label this image with are as follows, (Bald eagle, British Columbia, Fraser river, autumn, kevin pepper, kpep photography, olympus e30, 50-200 Zuiko lens, Canadian landscape photographer, nature photographer, professional olympus photographer, bird of prey in flight, Haliaeetus leucocephalus) What I have done here is made sure that I labeled the image with location, subject, photographer and gear used to ensure I have covered all the bases.

6. Increase the number of web pages within your site. Since each page on your website can include a keyword phrase, adding more pages can help capture more visitors. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer that offers services in different cities, create a page for each city and include a phrase like “Wedding photographer in Denver.” You could take this a step further and create additional pages for “Hire a wedding photographer in Denver” and “What Can you expect to pay for a Wedding Photographer in Denver.”

7. Update your website with new information often. Have an event coming up or going on a trip of a lifetime? Announce it on your website. New workshop launched? Feature it on your home page. New phooto taken? Get it online. Your site should be updated often to give visitors a reason to return again and again. Repeat visits are just as important as unique visitors to generate more revenue through your website.

8. Find a partner and co-promote. One great way to generate new visitors is to leverage traffic from other sites. Find a partner who reaches a similar target audience and collaborate on a campaign. You could swap coupons and promote to your respective audiences. You might host a contest together or even a big event—one that requires registration on your website! The possibilities are endless once you make time to brainstorm and create a win-win situation for all parties involved.

9. Monitor what people are saying out there about you. It would serve you well to do some proactive research on what people are saying about you out there in the internet. Every month I Google my name and my business to see what is being said about me. I go on Twitter and search for comments made with my name in them and i also check who is following me and what is being favored.

You can never be too careful with reputation management. I actually recently found out some people I assumed were friends for the past three years, people who I believed to be trusted and went on photographic outings with, have been publicly discussing the validity of my claims of where I say I have been published. After talking to a lawyer, and showing him samples of my published work, I asked about my options. I learned it can be construed to be slander. It’s a slippery slope and a legal discussion you should have with a lawyer before pursuing, so think of the costs and ramifications before proceeding.

Personally I decided to post it on here. That way when they read this post, they know I am aware. It is far less expensive than hiring a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter and it leaves me open to launch a lawsuit at a later date if it hinders my ability to generate income.

I mean seriously, did they these people not think I would hear? Did they really think I would lie about where I was published? Especially on my website that I use to promote a business that I want to create a future with?

In my opinioin, its petty jealousy from people that wish they could put themselves out there, but lack the self confidence to do so. But I do wish them all luck in their own future endeavors, whatever they may be.

So my point here, you can never be too careful online. Even people you think you know may say things that could have long lasting negative effects on your ability to generate an income.

10. Social Media. It’s a common theme throughout the TOP 10 here. But it’s worth a point on its own. Twitter, Facebook, DIGG, Google+, all are social media companies that can easily direct traffic back to your website.

I would ensure you are doing what is called “Deep Linking”. Make sure your links on your social media site go directly to the content you are referring to in your post. Taking them to your home page will do you a disservice because they will click away. Driving them to specific and relevant content will lessen your bounce rates.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me by contacting me through my CONTACT ME! page

Friday, 20 January 2012

How Important is the Internet and Social Media for a photographers business

Here are a few stats that I wanted to share with you...

36% of consumers depend on social media to make purchase decisions

49% of canadians use social media every day

1/4 of consumers prefer co's that use social media

50% of active facebook users login every day

More than 250 million photos uploaded on facebook every day

Mobile already generates 7 - 10% of your web traffic without a proactive mobile marketing initiative

36% of people doing mobile searches online take action immediately, 39% within the hour

Today, one in seven searches on Google are on Mobile. Is your website optimized for searches done on smart phones?

85% of people using search click on a Pay per click (PPC) ad less than once a mth

Your clients are 4x more likely to engage in the sales process if you respond to an email in under 5 minutes

Monday, 16 January 2012

Positioning for Success

My hats off to Barry Baker, Director of Professional Services, Sun Media for this great information that I read on a white paper he created.

In 2007, Dr. Oldroyd of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) published a ground-breaking study which revealed that when following up on sales inquiries, the ”… immediacy of response far overshadows (other factors) in its effect on contact and qualification ratios” (Oldroyd & Elkington, 2007). Leads age rapidly, such that that the window of opportunity to successfully contact and qualify prospects diminishes within minutes. In fact, “… the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times.” Further, “The odds of qualifying a lead increase by 21x if attempted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes.”

Prompt responses often face little competition. The reality is that many small businesses don’t respond at all! In 2010 Cobalt reported that 39% of service leads never received a response (McCann & Kahn, 2010), while more recently it was revealed that, “55% of top companies” in a variety of industries “don’t respond to web leads” ( Research and Analytics Division, 2011).

But response time is just one critical element contributing to online sales success; the content of the response is also a contributing factor. Oftentimes people overlook even seemingly obvious verbiage, such as inviting the customer to the store, or answering a Price Quote lead with a price. And with the advent of comparative shopping services online, customers have become increasingly empowered and well-informed, pressuring small business owners to provide information and engagement that was not necessary when the customer just came to the store.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Creating an "Email Signature"

One of the most overlooked ways to increase traffic to the information you have online is the "email signature". You send out dozens, if not hundreds of emails each week; to family, to friends, business associates and clients.

You should have an email signature on every email, and not just your contact information either, you should have deep links to relevant content that you want to expose.

This post is going to show you how to create an email signature that is designed to increase click thru to your online content.

My email signature looks like this.

Check out the new website... Visit KPep Photography's website!

See some of my Recent Photos!

Read a recent interview with Canadian Professional Photographer Kevin Pepper!

Looking to become a better photographer yourself? CLICK HERE
Follow Me On Twitter @kpepphotography
Do you like our work or are you already a happy client? Please write a review on our Google Place Page

The intent is to link someone to specific content, not just the homepage of your website. So give it a try and see if it helps drive more traffic to your business.

To create a link, please see the example below. In this example the link will open in a new window and ensure when someone clicks on your embedded link the original email they received stays open. This would be important for someone using a web based email service like "hotmail" or "yahoo".

To set up this kind of link use this HTML coding found on w3schools website

Thanks for reading and good luck,


Monday, 9 January 2012

Clients habits have signifigantly changed

I thought I would simply put up a graphic to illustrate how much our clients buying habits have changed.

I hope it helps you understand just how much the internet has effected our business.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Have you ever thought about joining a photography club?

So you are a photographer, maybe it’s a passion and you want to learn more, or maybe you feel like you want to take the next step and don’t know how. What are your best options?

Photography clubs are a great way to learn more about photography and allow you to meet a group of like minded people that share your passion. Generally photography groups are people that come together to share their interest in photography. Whether these people are professional or amateur photographers they meet to teach, mentor and inform local area photographers.

For those are members of a club, you are already enjoying the benefits, for those who are not yet aware of the benefits that photography clubs can bring; the following three points are some insight into the advantages of joining a photography club.

1. Acquire additional knowledge in photography
One of the best things about joining a photography club is that people who have a passion for photography have the opportunity to gather in a group to learn new things concerning photography. The advantages of doing this in a group setting are (a) economies of scale. Clubs bring in guest speakers for their meetings and you pay a small fraction of the cost to listen to an expert speak. (b) you will be in a group and be able to hear a variety of opinions and suggestions from other members on the speakers subject. This will allow you to formulate a better informed opinion.

2. New friendships
Like any club or organization, photography clubs also provide you the opportunity to forge new friends that share your passion in your local area. Right now you may have forged virtual friendships through photo sharing sites, but a club will allow you to meet photographers that you can actually go out with and talk to over coffee.

3. Financially advantageous
If you into photography and you would like to know more about photography, you just need to join one of clubs. The downside is that there is an expense, albeit minor. I have heard of clubs that charge as much as $100 for a year, but most are around the $50 mark. Most clubs that I know are non-profit and are not out to extract money out of your pocket book.

Photography clubs were created for the benefit of every photographer. They have their own purposes and, they are, to provide career guides to people who may want to turn pro, but also to provide a comfortable learning environment for those that just want to take better family photos.

What events can you expect your new photography club to do?

The common event will be scheduled meetings. During these meetings club executives will bring in identified experts to discuss their area of expertise. You will be able to see examples of photos and ask the expert questions during and after the meeting.

Most photography clubs will also have what’s called “outings” or “photowalks”. A series of outings will be set up for all members to take advantage of. Most clubs will strive to spread out these events to cover as many genres of photography as possible.

Clubs will also give you the opportunity to enter into competitions. Competitions can be inner club competitions and multi club, or national competitions. This gives you the opportunity to have your images judged be template criteria to see how you measure up with other photographers.

Last, but definitely not least, clubs will run hands on workshops where you will be able to learn a variety of things in a classroom environment.

To find a photo club in your area just search for Photographic clubs in “insert your city or area”.

If you want to see an example of a photo club, go to This is a not for profit photographic club that I run near to where I live. We have over 170 members and meet every couple of weeks from September to May each year.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Have confidence and benefit from the rewards of your individuality

Why is it that photographers are so insecure about their photos? The answer may be different for each of you, and if you self reflect only you know your reason. You may not be formally schooled and learning with each click of the shutter... or is it that your photos, or your art, are your personal interpretations of a scene and you lack confidence in your abilities to produce an appealing image?

Whatever the reason, being insecure doesn’t mean you are an incompetent photographer! Being an insecure photographer means you are human and you have consciously made the decision to probably put yourself out there where others will have the opportunity to judge your work.

Inevitably you see another photographer’s image that you deem of a higher caliber and start to have those feelings where you don’t feel worthy of that praise your loved one and friends bestowed upon you. It’s easy to look at some pros work and compare it to yours, its all there online for you to see and compare. What you are seeing is a difference between your work and the images from someone else from your personal point of view.

Let’s face it, we all do it. Inside your head, you silently compare one image from a photographer with yours. You end up being so self critical of your own work, while at the same time you are putting the other images on a pedestal. But all you are really doing is sabotaging our own success…

If you don't agree, let me ask you this; what happens when it’s time to go to work at your next photoshoot? Do these self-doubts in your head creep to the forefront and possibly affect your creativity? Yes. Do these thoughts then affect your work product? Absolutely. Will these thoughts then hurt your opportunity to make a living at photography? I cannot see how it wouldn’t affect your income potential.

One way out of this is to emulate another photographer’s style until you master it. If you succeed in really copying another photographer’s art, you can then hang it on the wall and be proud. Voila, you will have successfully managed in subverting your creativity and becoming a photographic drone destined to mediocrity… congratulations!

Stop it! Your personal style is your creativity and that is what makes you unique and your art desirable and original. The difference is, and always will be you; after all, you are the brand, and your brand is what you sell.

The only comparing your need to do is with yourself, where have you come from, how are you maturing, and where are you going on your personal journey.

Celebrate yourself as photographer, be proud of your work, mature as an artist, believe in yourself and reap the rewards of your individuality.

Photographers ~ Learn How to Write a Traditional Press Release

In my last post I discussed sending out press releases. I was thinking that I should dig a little deeper into the subject because people often over look the value in a "press release" and may assume that it is not even something they would want to consider.

When your photography business does something newsworthy, you really should inform your local media; daily and weekly newspapers, local and regional magazines, radio and television stations, corporate clients and business associates. That way, these outlets have all the necessary information they need to make an informed decision on whether or not to inform their audience on your company’s success.

Press releases offer free publicity for newsworthy events, but really should not be treated as “advertisements in disguise.” The legitimate uses of press releases are many, however, and can include announcements of: new products, new services, awards given, awards received, special events, speaking engagements, office move, survey results, sponsorship of events, contests, and more. If your releases are well-written and speak to the needs of the publication or radio/TV station’s audience, editors are more likely to use your material. If not this time, repetitive successful announcements will, at some point, make someone stand up and take notice of your company.

Press releases are written and presented in a very specific format. Your press release, also called a news release, can be written on your normal letterhead, with a heading added to indicate its function as a “news release.” Conventional press releases place the contact name and phone number on the upper left and the press release date of writing and requested date of information release on the right of the page, under your company name and “News Release” heading. If your news relates to something that has already occurred, you can say “For Immediate Release.” If you are announcing an event in the future, you can indicate “For Release After (specify date).”

A concise informative headline a few lines down—double spaced, in capital letters tells the editor your news “in a nutshell.” Your first paragraph describes the whole story in brief terms, covering the 5 W’s — who, what, where, when, and why/how in two or three sentences at the very beginning, in case the publication has limited space to print your news. Then follow with relevant quotes, interesting tid-bits, benefits to the reader and the reasons your news might be of interest to them.

If it is a joint release, that being a release you put out and including another party pertinent to this release, more information from the other party should be included.

The contact information of the other party should also be put in your release.

You then “End” your release with all the ways interested readers can contact you for additional information.

Convention again dictates inserting “–End–”to indicate the ending and “–More–” to show that your release continues on the next page.

Before you do send out any press releases, may I suggest you do a GOOGLE search to see some samples of press releases for small businesses. This will help you structure your announcements.

But wait, that is not all yet…. In today’s environment, successful public relations needs to incorporate social media.

Social media can enhance your public relations efforts because of the potential of word of mouth and how quickly and easily conversations can spread online.

Social media has changed how you write and send out a press release. The purpose of an online press release is to increase the visibility of your news, improve your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your website or a particular landing page. In addition, you also want to encourage online media and bloggers to pick up the story and blog about it, tweet about it, etc. in order to spread online word of mouth.

Some Best Practices For Social Media Press Releases:

Title: The title of your press release should be about 80 characters to ensure that the full title is displayed in search results. Think of the keywords that you want your press release to rank for and be sure to use them in your title.

Body: The body of your press release should always be under 500 words. This means that your press release needs to be concise and to the point. Think about what story you need to tell and what story the media or your corporate clients will care about. What’s the primary story? What’s the secondary story? Again, use the keywords that you want to rank for in search engines.

Links: Make sure to include a link to where you want people to go. Do you want people to go to a specific landing page? Your Facebook page? Your homepage? Your BLOG? What is your call to action for your press release or where can readers get more information? The link should also be near the beginning of the press release. Some websites will only post the first few lines of your release, so getting it up in the first few lines will maximize the number of people that see the link to your content that you want to promote.

Sharable Content: Include content that is easily shared, like a corporate video, logo image or photos. What can bloggers use if they decide to write about your news? Make it easy for them to share your story and your brand.

You also might want to consider creating a media or press page on your website where you can direct the media for more information as well as provide content they can use. A blog page is easy to do… a new one, or use your existing BLOG for this purpose.

Distribution: You could pay to distribute on various services, but if you are just starting out, the extra $200 +/- may not be something you want to invest in just for press releases.

Instead, promote your press release on all of your social media channels including your company blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Promote it wherever interested parties are likely to be looking for news.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Tip For Photographers... How to Build A Brand.

So I am just going to throw it out there and duck and cover in case I offend anyone…

Many of us photographers start their business at the same time they’re starting to learn to be an artist. We expect to create beautiful images people will want to buy at the same time we are launching a new small business. Yet, on occasions we often lack the skills necessary to do either, and end up failing miserably.

If this is you I do not mean to offend, I am actually trying to help. Ideally you would have gone to school and got a degree in marketing or business, or received the necessary work experience to run a small business. Then learned how to take fantastic photos that people will consider art.

But hey, if life was perfect we would all be hailed as a modern day Ansel Adams and be living the dream… :-)

So let’s work on getting you one step closer to that dream and help you build a better brand… and a more successful photography business.

“Branding” is a word that often gets thrown around quite a bit in the photographic community; but what does it really mean?

Generally when people think of branding, they think of a great logo, a memorable website, or business card. While these are all parts of a successful brand strategy, they aren’t the whole picture.

What you should be thinking about when you consider “branding” your business is actually building a brand around “YOU”, the talent and your own photographic style… or should I say “your own Art”.

In other businesses we would be describing the way a person feels about a product or service. But in a photography business this feeling is about you and your business. You will influence their purchasing decisions. You will determine whether or not they trust you and, you will ultimately determine whether or not they hire you.

For the successful photographers, they are the brand. Everything they do, from how they respond to inquiries, to how they act at a photo shoot, to how they have refined their art to differentiate themselves communicates the character of their brand.

So how can you get the most out of your brand and your art?

Have Confidence
Its gut check time… let’s be honest with ourselves. At one point in all of our photographic journeys, we were insecure about our abilities; we questioned whether or not you were as good as more recognizable names.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but if you cannot get over this hurdle you will never be successful. If you do not believe in your own abilities, how are you ever going to convince a client of your talent?

So get over it, start to build a brand around your name and images and move forward without looking back.

Be Social
What you say and write has a direct effect on your clients’ opinion of you, which has a direct effect on your business and will decide what your bottom line looks like. This is an important thing to remember in the age of social media. Before you send out a tweet or a blog post, consider if it will build your brand or stick a fork in it. Your voice should be consistent across your client communications – blog posts, emails, social media and printed materials. Is your brand friendly? Formal? Flexible? How do you want people to feel about your business? Your voice should match who you are in person when interacting with clients.

Think of it this way… lets take a moment to look at a few of the blogs you follow regularly. Without looking at the header, can you tell which one is which? If they have a unique voice, a certain tone, one that’s personal to them, you should be able to identify the author.

Be Consistent
Building a brand means being visually consistent. You should have the same logo on your website, your printed materials, and your business cards. It takes people several impressions before they remember something and seeing the same logo repeatedly will build recognition and create top of mind recall.

This is why Nike is able to use their swoosh graphic without the name – after years of seeing the logo, you don’t need to see the name anymore to know that it’s Nike. If a client is looking at several photographers, they should be able to tell which material is yours at a glance. Every impression the client has from you should reinforce your brand. When they pick up your business card and go to your website, it should be immediately obvious that those two things belong to the same person. Make sure everything that you put out there reflects your brand.

Building your brand also means being consistent in the way you deal with clients – how they book you, change an order, or set up meetings. If I refer you to a friend, I should be able to tell them what kind of experience to expect. You want clients to feel that when they come to you, from start to finish, they know who they’re dealing with. They know what sort of service and quality they can expect from you.

The most important part of your branding is you and your product: yep, that’s right, your photographic skills and the “Art” you produce.

Ideally, prospective clients should know it’s your “Art” before they ever see the logo. Define your own style of shooting, and identify what makes you different from your competition.

I would encourage photographers to find their niche in any industry. If a client is looking for a wedding photographer, would they be more likely to hire someone who only shoots weddings and is really an expert in that style of photography or someone who shoots a bit of everything?

This isn’t to say you can’t shoot more than one subject. There are people who do so very successfully. Hey, look at me… a landscape and nature photographer at heart that also likes to shoot urban landscapes.

I learned that in order to be successful with my art I had to market my different art as completely separate businesses.

So if you want to shoot weddings and fine art landscapes. Just remember that the audiences you’re trying to reach for each of these are very different, and the branding and marketing for each has to be approached separately.

Toot Your Own Horn… and toot it loudly.
No one is going to do this for you… so do it for yourself.

Become a publicity animal! Unless you’ve got potential clients standing at your front door right now, then you have to do what it takes to get them there. In past posts I have addressed many ways to do this. I encourage you to go back and read these posts. For this post I want to mention press releases… the purpose of a press release is not only to promote your “Brand”, its also to reinforce all your efforts in a neatly structured letter to people in your local and extended community.

Whenever you have a significant advancement in your company, send out a release. When you do send out a press release, try to include a photo of you involved with somebody in the community that’s relevant to the topic. Plus, don’t forget to send it to companies and organizations outside the local paper. For example, Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders, corporate clients etc.

Deliver, or should I say “Over Deliver”
Clients won’t book you, or refer you to their friends, if you don’t deliver. Your brand is a promise to the client. Trust comes from meeting, and exceeding, the expectations you’ve set up for your client.

This is the single most important step in your branding, because the best marketing in the world won’t get you the job if the work isn’t there.

I hope this post helped you think of one or two more things to help build your photography business.