Friday, May 26, 2017

Going Pro: Unapologetic Construction

Some time ago I read  that you should never apologize for inactivity on your blog.  You don't owe your readers a post; there's no invisible contract.  And I agree, though it's awfully hard to do sometimes.  Like not returning a phone call from a friend, you feel guilty.

So what's up with the last three weeks?  In a word: crazytown.  I've been creating a sound design for a theatre festival, shooting and editing a commercial for one client and a Kickstarter video for another, wrapping up that other pesky job, and building a small production studio in our yard.  The last was a job that was supposed to take 3-4 days but took two weeks.  Two weeks in which I couldn't efficiently set up my equipment; two weeks where everything outside my home was covered in dust.

The interior floors and paint still need to be don; plus whatever small photo/video studio elements need to be built it.

It's been 90 hour weeks.  With the studio unavailable to me I missed my Kickstarter video deadline by two days and the still images for the video commercial by five days.  It's the first time I've ever missed a deadline.  So when do you apologize for inactivity?  I sure apologized to them for missing the deadlines.  I provided an encouraging update on what had been accomplished thus far, explained my situation clearly without annoying details, set a new deadline for the final delivery.

Hopefully I'm back on track now.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Going Pro: Ceci N'est Pas Mon Blog

This is not my blog.  Not Hurricane Images’s blog.  The blog belongs to Hurricane Images, but it is not our blog, which you can find here in its nascent form.

Why isn’t this my blog?  Because you are not my client.  My number one rule for posting on Hurricane Images’s blog is that the content is for my clients and potential clients.  So many photographers and videographers post info for their peers—which is great, and often more enjoyable for the writer… and it can even help with raising your website’s SEO.  But it’s not an effective marketing approach.  If you want your blog to be a marketing tool, write for your clients.

Blogs aren’t simply a marketing tool, though.  They are the product that needs to be marketed.  There are tens of thousands of photographer-bloggers.  Maybe thirty of the top writers are easily discovered via search engines and the like.  The bottom thirty-thousand writers feel like they’re toiling in obscure darkness, read only by trolling bots.  If you’re going to go to the trouble of writing, promote your work.  Cross market your blog.  Announce it on your website, Facebook page, Twitter, or whatever other social media platforms you use.  Visit forums and (when appropriate) let people know you’ve talked about that issue on your blog.  List your blog on your email signature. 

Keep track of which posts get the most visits (almost all blogging platforms offer this).  Let the most popular items guide your blog, but not dictate its direction.  Gear review is often the most read posts on this blog, but I use them sparingly because that's not what I want to be known for.  From time to time, re-publish your top posts.

A few tips to keep in mind.
  • Content is king; make good content
  • Reference and link to your web pages often
  • Link to other folks good works, too.  You can summarize if you credit and link.  
  • Don't have your image right at the top of your page.  It looks great but search engines can't read them.  
  • When you link, use the title of the page as the link (rather than writing “here”); it’s better SEO optimization
  • Optimize your images; they should have titles and company name
  • Post frequently – twice weekly or more in the beginning
  • If you post infrequently (less than weekly) disable the auto date function. 
  • Never apologize for not posting frequently; you don’t owe your reader anything beyond good content
  • If someone engages/comments, engage back.  Immediately.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Going Pro: My Two Rules of Marketing

Levi Strauss Volunteer Day

Personal contact is immeasurably better than any form of virtual contact.  Personal is face-to-face, not over the phone—which is still enormously better than email, mailer, or social media.  Personal contact is hard, that’s why it’s effective.  Fewer people are doing it, which is one of the reasons its more productive.  More importantly, big ticket items like video—which start as intangibles—require a lot of trust.  You may be able to build that through your website, but only if they get there.  By email it’s virtually impossible.  

So how do you make personal contacts?  Visit your local chamber of commerce.  Participate in Meet-ups.  Go to conferences if your niche has them.  Cold visit rather than cold-call businesses.  If it sounds terrifying it’s because it is.  No pain no gain.  Keep track of who you contact and the outcome; spreadsheets are great for this.

My second rule of marketing applies to the virtual contacts: Do less well.  Don’t engage in all of the platforms unless you you've got a marketing team (in case, why are you reading this blog?).  Pick three.  This goes for blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Flickr… but also newsletters, forums, and your website.  Choose a medium that you actually enjoy and commit.  I’ll get in depth on what it means to “do well” in next couple of posts.

But by now it should go without saying that whatever platform you choose you should engage in it from your audience’s perspective.  In other words, don’t join a forum for cinematographers; join a forum for wedding planners, or new entrepreneurs, or colleges.