The concept of “content marketing” isn’t new by any means. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a buzzword in the business world, however most of the education on the topic usually revolves around B2B (Business-to-Business) and online products/services where the goal is to “lead” a prospect into an email sales funnel. The rules are a bit different for B2C (Business-to-Consumer) companies and especially for photographers in specific. Unfortunately there is very little conversation about content marketing as it directly relates to the photography industry and so I thought I’d be one of the first to write a specific, how-to and mechanical look at content marketing for photographers.
Content marketing, as defined by the content marketing institute is as follows:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
There are many resources on the web (and off) about content marketing, why you should consider it, tactics, techniques, examples, and so on. Here are a few that I have found useful:
- Marcus Sheridan
- Mark Shaefer
- Ryan Hanley and his podcast Content Warfare Marketing
- Joe Pulizzi and his book Epic Content Marketing
- Content Marketing Institute
Why content marketing?
I have defined 7 core reasons why you as a photographer need to consider content marketing as a big part of your marketing efforts:
- Build credibility with prospects who may not know you or what you do.
- Show authority to new and existing clients.
- Establish trust and build confidence with your prospects.
- Create value first instead of coming across as “sales-y”.
- Give people a reason to bookmark, connect with and re-visit your website.
- Talk about more than just your most recent photos.
- Guide prospects to the “next step” in your sales process.
In typical Sprouting Photographer fashion, in this article, I am dissecting the topic of content marketing, breaking it into all it’s pieces and then putting them back together again, while giving you some real concrete examples for implementation.
The four types of content for photographers
Content marketing is just education, but this is often where photographers struggle the most – they don’t know what to write or talk about! Let me help. There are essentially only 2 variables that affect what your content is about:
- Whether the content is in the context of what your prospect is looking to hire you for or not.
- Whether the content is about professional photography or not.
If there are only 2 variables that affect your content, then there are ultimately only 4 types of content for you to think about. I’ve listed them below, and beside each of them I give a specific example for a wedding photographer:
- Content that is in context and is about photography (i.e. tips on hiring a wedding photographer).
- Content that is in context but is not about photography (i.e. types of wedding flowers).
- Content that is not in context and is about photography (i.e. the styles of photography editing).
- Content that is not in context and is not about professional photography (i.e. how to take better pictures).
Content marketing ideas for photographers
Your “context” is defined as the overall “purpose” in which your prospects are inquiring about. If you’re a wedding photographer, the “context” would be the wedding. If you’re a newborn photographer, your “context” would be an expecting. If you’re a commercial photographer, your “context” might be an advertising campaign.
Once you define your context, you can easily start to come up with educational ideas for each of the four types of content. Here are five examples for each of the four types of content in the context of a wedding photographer.
Content that is in context and is about professional photography:
- Tips to book your wedding photographer.
- What to look for in a wedding photographer.
- Wedding photography styles explained.
- How to look your best in your wedding photos.
- How to prepare for your engagement session.
Content that is in context but not about professional photography:
- What to look for when hiring a florist.
- Tips to make your wedding day go smoothly.
- Referral list for the best vendors in your market area.
- Interviews with other vendors in your market area.
- How to plan the perfect honeymoon.
Content that is not in context and is about professional photography:
- My retouching styles.
- How I pose couples.
- Behind-the-scenes of me in action.
- What it’s like to work with me.
- Testimonial video from a past client.
Content that is not in context and not about professional photography:
- How to take better pictures outside.
- What camera is best to buy for beginners.
- How to take better family pictures.
- Making the most of your iPhone camera.
- Using flash without it looking like a deer-in-headlight.
Frequency for the different types of content
It’s one thing to understand the four different types of content, but it’s another to know when and how often to use each. There is a fine balance that needs to be achieved that will keep your content interesting, engaging and educational all while not being too self-promotional. My suggestion is to have the following breakdown of content:
20% of your content that is in context and is about photography
35% of your content that is in context but is not about photography
5% of your content that is not in context and is about photography
40% of your content that is not in context and is not about photography
Essentially, I am recommending that 75% of your content be not about professional photography, that 20% of your content be in context for your audience and about photography, and that only 5% of your content be more about you than your audience.
Content marketing program
If you’re developing a content marketing strategy, my recommendation would be to map out a 20-week program where you put out one new piece of content per week. This could be a video, an audio clip, a short article or an infographic. Over the 20 week program, based on the frequency recommendation above, I suggest that you adapt the following quantities for each type of content:
A proven content marketing program:
20-weeks @ 1 piece of content per week
4 pieces of content that is in context and is about photography
7 pieces of content that is in context but is not about photography
1 piece of content that is not in context and is about photography
8 pieces of content that is not in context and is not about photography
Content marketing implementation
The application and implementation of your content marketing strategy is just as important as the content itself. There are essentially three “spaces” that you’ll want to have implementation through:
- Social Media
The order is important, as one implementation should lead to the next.
Treat email as the ultimate “goal” in content marketing, because this is where you truly own the audience, the platform and the engagement. You can build a very intimate relationship with a prospective client in their inbox and just the act of gaining access to their inbox shows the ultimate sign of trust. Use email as the added-bonus, extra-tip and conversational pieces of your content.
The step before getting into a prospects’ inbox is having them enjoy your content and establish trust through your blog. Use your blog as the “meat” of your content, and as a means to get their email address when they’re ready.
You can bring people over to your blog through social media. Put teasers and small pieces of content on social media and introduce the content that you have on your blog on social media.
Content marketing template for photographers
Even if you are on-board with content marketing, you have the right strategy and even the right content, often the implementation is the biggest challenge. There are many templates, resources, themes for email campaigns, blog posts, and so on, but one that recently came available that is highly relevant for wedding photographers is called the Wedding Photography Conversion Kit. It was created by my good friend Scott Wyden from Photocrati, and it basically gives you an entire template to use for your content marketing, designed specifically for wedding photographers!
I am signed up as an affiliate for this product, BUT … I am choosing not to use an affiliate link above. I want you to know that I mention this product solely because I believe in it and I feel it’s a great resource for you, and not because I am making any money from it. To clarify – the link above is not an affiliate link, and I benefit in no way from you purchasing this product.
In summary, content marketing is an incredibly effective way to market your photography business. In fact, I would argue that it’s one of the best ways to market your photography business. It’s builds credibility, authority, trust and confidence in a value-first approach. It’s also a great mechanism for encouraging prospects to re-visit your site and connect further with you. Lastly, it gives you a justifiable and valuable call-to-action where you can guide prospects through your sales process.