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So. Like any photographer, you probably have your eye on a piece of gear, right? Even if it’s just niggling in the back of your mind. (If you’re not a photographer, insert something else you have your eye on for this example.) Now, tell me – why do you want that piece of gear?  How […]

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  • Paul Parkinson - It’s all about the distinctions between “features” and “benefits”. Features are about what you are buying/selling and benefits are about why…

    Feature – bridge – benefit.

    Our fire extinguisher is red (feature) which means that (bridge) you can see it more easily in an emergency (benefit)

    If you sell features you sell less than if you sell benefits.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Agreed – and thanks for pointing out this additional framing and labeling of this concept. Part of the reason I phrased it this way is that creative business owners often have a terrible time seeing the benefits *clients* are most concerned with and motivated by. A photographer might think that the best benefit is having your memories 50 years from now; even though that’s true, clients aren’t often motivated by what’s best for them 50 years from now (See: retirement savings industry), they care a lot about today though. Just one example of many. I see features/benefits framings used often in business books, but something gets lost in translation when some business owners try to do that – hopefully thinking of Amazon reviews will help them figure out what clients care about and have more success as they apply this idea. Thanks for your thoughts Paul!ReplyCancel

  • Kenneth Wesley McNay - I kinda noticed a point about the sales copy with the technical details: I found myself wanting those technical specifications and comparing whether my current lens stacked up well against it. The lens coating, the ghosting, the flare, the weather-resistance, and the increased aperture are all technical specifications that my current lens stacks up against, but not as well. If I really felt those were detrimental, I’d know immediately that I’ve got to consider the upgrade.

    In contrast to that, I totally agree that Amazon reviews are frequently great. In fact, one of my first behaviors in reviews is to look at the lowest ratings to see what the frustrations and painful failures have been for other customers. Even a few of those will give a better impression of whether I’ll really appreciate the purchase or find myself also unhappy and ready to rate low.

    I think my insight is that having aspiration and inspiration in the content is probably needed. I want to educate my clients that buying prints through me means they get protective coating, choice of paper finish, paper backing on canvas wraps, shipped directly to the home, ready to hang/already framed, and other features that are benefits–if they haven’t been thinking of those, I hope seeing those listed creates some aspiration for a client to have those features. Likewise, I want the testimonials to provide inspiration, such as, great choice of location for staging, advice for styling and clothing, friendly demeanor and trustworthy conduct, customer service and attention to detail, superb images, etc.

    With the technical details, I might seem boring, but hopefully clients feel informed and sense aspiration to have the highest quality–or at least know what to compare to recognize quality. With reviews and testimonials, I hopefully seem human and realistic, yet hopefully clients are also getting the inspiration for their own experience.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks for your detailed thoughts Kenneth! I enjoyed reading them.

      Part of this post that I wrote, then edited out just for length and not introducing too many ideas at once, was writing more about placement. If Canon’s description were sales copy, I wouldn’t suggest deleting the information about lens coating and glare. Just moving it further down, since it’s less likely to be the primary concern or the emotional motivator (focusing issues are probably the primary concern, and bokeh/portrait/low light performance are probably bigger motivators). The bigger point is this: When someone is searching for a photographer they aren’t typically comparing technical specifications upon first pass, so I recommend moving that information further down and drawing people in with what’s top on their mind, and once they feel understood and thoroughly amazed that someone is “reading their mind,” THEN moving on to that kind of education. (There are some people who would be impressed by comments on technicality and delivery, and if that person is your target client then run with it up front. Most people aren’t though.) I simply see too many people whose websites look like they’re written for fellow photographers rather than clients, and that’s the sort of thing I’m taking aim at with this post. Anyway thanks for chatting!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - I’ve actually done this with an email course I was offering my readers and it definitely helped me get them more excited about it. Thanks for talking about it in more detail.ReplyCancel

A few hundred people have said these things to me recently: Writing about myself is hard.  What do clients want to hear?  Do they care?  Do I sound dumb? Bleh.  This sounds like everyone else.  My life just isn’t that interesting. I’m a private person and I don’t want to share that much, anyway.  And […]

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  • laura - I’d love to receive the “write about yourself” class info. I don’t have a problem writing (as reflected on my website), but I do have a hard time as a photographer knowing WHAT potential clients want to hear about their potential photographer. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Hey Laura! Did you drop your email in? It’ll be on its way!ReplyCancel

  • Regina - Thank’s again. You have always seemed to know what I needed to know! It’s like you’re reading my mind.ReplyCancel

  • Gretchen - I’m so excited! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - Just finished it, Jenika! It was useful and just short enough to absorb quickly. Thanks for breaking it down for us so simply. I have Irresistible Website myself and this is a nice companion to it. ?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Woohoo! I’m so glad that it was helpful and speedy! Hope you do some great things with it, Daisy!ReplyCancel

  • Christian Lange - On the related topic: I’m always advising clients to “put a face on their business” because people want to know the person behind the company. The irony of that is that up to last week I didn’t have a photograph of myself on my studio’s website! So, I followed my own advise and it works! People contact me and feel like they’re not talking to a stranger!ReplyCancel

Let’s say I want to start a vegetable garden.  So I go out to the backyard, rip up some grass, and scatter seeds over the dirt. Then I water haphazardly (mostly whenever I have time or think about it) and wait. Many of the seeds get blown away by the wind. When plants start to come in, some bear a […]

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  • Daisy - Thank you, Jenika! You’ve given me stuff to think about. You’re right that I’ve never heard the second or third tip before! I’ve got some traffic but not anything major, motivated to work at it after getting some positive feedback.

    And I loved that garden analogy; really helps me see how ridiculous it would be to give up without practicing better gardening tips. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Glad the analogy helped! I thought of it while I was out working in my own actual garden, haha. Good luck to you and hope you can use some of these things to your advantage.ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea Hutson - Amazing post! I love love love the gardening analogy! I am working on refining my blog flow and after 1 year and a total scrap/rebrand am finally starting to hone in on my zone. Any advice for a photographer trying to reach BOTH local people for shoots and those out in internet-land? (i.e. ebooks/courses)ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Just be sure that the right clients know where to go to see what. If a potential photo client comes and all they see is stuff intended for internet-land people, they might get confused or the wrong impression. You could have buttons at the top that shows them only the one kind of post or the other. Filtering stuff that’s irrelevant to your target person is usually a good idea. Another thought is to have a newsletter but segment it so that you can send out new shoots info and course info to only people who care about those things. Just something to think about.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - Hi Jenika, do you find it necessary to show session photos? I photograph women and I know most of them are reluctant to find themselves in my blog, website or Facebook, especially for something they have paid good money for. I only have four articles on my blog: one about choosing underwear, another talking about a client who is also a singer and didn’t mind the extra attention, however I hope to create valuable content for my clients and to gain credibility from new ones. My clients can see what then can expect when they visit my facebook fanpage or my website and I feel reluctant to bombade them with more work on my blog. I know a lot of photographers use their blogs in this way, but I want to be more creative.
    I was given the advice to use my blog to create myself as the “go to” person and to steer away from using sessions as the base of each entry, as future clients (as you say) aren’t interested in photos of people they don’t know.
    What do you think?

    Cheers Dawn xxxReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Hi Dawn! When I did only families/couples, I blogged basically everything. Now I do mostly work for small business owners and I don’t blog those for various reasons, but I do have other ways of showing prospective clients my work in context. Anyway, for you I would just make consent to post a part of your contract. Some photographers have options – consent to put photos up, consent to put one image up that they can review that doesn’t show their face (like a detail shot of some kind that still gives you a chance to blog about the session), and no consent to post publicly. That way they can adjust to their taste. Some future clients *are* interested in photos of people they don’t know if you tell good stories, especially if those stories remind them of themselves – that’s one thing I go into extensively in Irresistible Words. Showing current work shows improvement, like you’re in-demand, gives the chance to tell stories, educate a little at a time at a rate that’s manageable for them. Anyway, I don’t know if this is getting at what you were asking but I think a blog can still help you if you want it to, and you can customize permissions to make it work.ReplyCancel

  • Sally - Amazing post, thank you! XxReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks Sally! Have a great weekend.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Kaufamann - Really insightful post. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks for this note, Stacy! I hope you can use some of the ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Richelle - Hi
    Thank you for this great blogging advice! I love the part about writing about clients concerns and how to fix them. I’m not much of a writer and never know what to write. Also, I never thought about sending out a newsletter about my blog. Good stuff!

    • Jenika - Awesome, Richelle! I hope you take these ideas and run with them! :-)ReplyCancel

  • alix - thanks for the nicely written post. sure I will want to see more :)ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - I have to say this article is awesome. I’ve read so many articles on how important it is to blog, some ideas on what to blog about, etc. But I feel so many of them are all the same…and hence everyone’s blogs are the same. I honestly love to write and think that writing a useful blog regularly would be a blast, but so far I haven’t found anything that isn’t already all over everyone else’s blogs. This gave me a lot of great ideas, and better yet, something personalized to me and my business.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - This is a GOLD MINE! I just made my list of 22 reasons and tried my first blog post using your tips. It made talking about the session so much easier than usual, and I can’t wait to keep practicing! Thank you for always sharing your knowledge and helping to make the photography world a more interesting place! :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - So many gems in this, as per usual !!ReplyCancel

Imagine for a moment that someone is coming over to photograph you. Decide for yourself why they would be coming – are they photographing your family together?  Are they doing a profile on you as an up-and-coming entrepreneur for a local magazine?  Whatever makes you feel excited. Pick a reason: ___________________________________ Banish any momentary panic […]

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  • Beth Herzhaft - I don’t shoot family portraits so I don’t blog with the same frequency as many of your readers, however I do shoot weddings etc.

    One thing I wonder when reading photo blogs is: do they seem so similar because everyone is trying to jam in the same content rich keywords and SEO rich phrases? Everyone knows what Google is looking for with regard to blog length etc and is trying to use that (understandably) to their advantage.

    The down side of this however, is that so many of the entries then begin to feel the same. It is more like I am looking at a math equation or a fill-in-the-blanks template rather than a highly personal or interesting story. (Often with a LOT of photos when a tighter edit would communicate far more effectively)

    My suggestion is to really try to look for anything that is a little bit different and doesn’t feel like blatant (or not so blatant) ego stroking. Whether it is a matter of “this person was so cool” versus “this person was so cool because of xyz” I would think people see through that if not authentic?

    In any case, I’d strive to fold something truly unique into the post, whether it is mentioning the history of the place where you shot, or how the session was particularly poignant because you talked about how difficult parenting can be etc. etc. etc. Anything more than “this person was just the cutest thing ever” in a predictable Google friendly number of words and trackbacks.

    I’m reasonably sure people can tell if a blog post feels more like trying to get eyeballs vs true communication. And even with specifics of how they were cool, pretty etc, to me there needs to be a little more depth.

    But again, although I have shot people and weddings for almost 20 years, I do not shoot families / newborns so my thinking on this might be completely off base.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - This is an interesting comment because it feels like you might be semi-responding to a point I was not trying to make. Which probably means I didn’t communicate it well? I agree that finding unique things is important. If it’s about the person, great. Or the setting, great – but even there it’s something of a comment about the person who chose it and their taste, isn’t it? I definitely agree that finding something like a conversation about the difficulties of parenthood is useful beyond just “they are so cute”.

      At any rate – authenticity is authenticity, and comes off as such. If you see something about a person and mention it honestly and kindly, I don’t think you can really go wrong. I also wouldn’t call that ego stroking because what I’m advocating is that people cultivate the art of finding true things. Truth is truth, and it exists whether you mention it or not.

      There is no one way to write a post but this is a good way to break out of the typical mold I personally see, which is less SEO oriented and more:

      “This person is so cool! I loved photographing them!” That tells us exactly nothing. Any good writing teacher will nudge you to learn to give examples instead of making claims, and that’s mostly what I’m advocating here. Maybe that’s what you were saying too. I do think speaking positively about unique client traits is a smart business move, and it doesn’t have to be fake, and it also doesn’t have to be the entirety of what you have to say.

      Personal, specific stories will spread farther because they are inherently more interesting. We like characters (and even successful writing about places usually turns the place into a character). When done truthfully these aren’t tabloid fodder to “get eyeballs” but the kind of thing that resonates naturally and thus tends to spread more. Obviously there’s a lot more than can be covered in my 1500 word blog post here. That’s why I wrote a course on how to do more than this, and why I linked to it at the end. That course goes into how to actually remove your commentary from stories but shape them to let a reader decide for themselves. It’s more advanced than I can cover here…. If people want to engage more deeply they can, this is just to provoke thought in that direction.

      Thanks for your thoughts!ReplyCancel

      • Beth Herzhaft - Great points. “Ego stroking” might not be the best word choice ? But it isn’t inherently bad: I feel that it is bad when it is not authentic. Appealing to that (ego) part of someone without it being genuine not so good. It works in the short-term but not in the long term. People do want to feel noticed and appreciated, it just is better when the observations are genuine.

        I might have been confusing your post topic with other things, so sorry about that if that was the case. I just see so many blog posts that seem to be designed for getting noticed by search engines more than having genuine feelings / content, so I was responding to that.


        • Filip Konecny - You’re right. Sometimes I feel like people are copying/pasting the content and just putting the proper names, locations etc. And sometimes I feel guilty for doing almost the same :)ReplyCancel

  • Jillane - I love this! I’ve always heard this and tried (it takes intentionality) to do this conversation. Listening and asking other questions about their life is always a sure fire way to a friend!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - Another amazing post, Jenika! You always have such a great perspective that I find myself nodding along to & saying “That makes sense! I never thought of it that way before!” (Is this my appreciation gesture for you? ;D) Thanks for sharing & will definitely keep this in mind the next few days. Have a great week!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - I appreciate your kind comments. Thanks for taking time out of your days to extend a kind hand to others.ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - It is interesting how you put into words such basic elements of kindness. I try to find a more interesting way to state or question the obvious and you nailed it in such simple terms. Thank you. I do not have a blog, but when I do I would take your course. I do write short articles for different newsletters about catching someone doing something good. Thanks for the additional perspectives I will practice.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - People like stories about people. We automatically engage. Let me know how it works out for what you do! I would love to hear more.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica S - I absolutely love this! I’m getting ready to start my photography business blog and was just looking for a way to differentiate myself from the typical post. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Tavia - Brilliant! You did a wonderful job explaining this, thank you for your insight :)ReplyCancel

  • Leo - Blogging is by far the hardest thing for me. I’m naturally shy and not the best with words. So I hesitate posting. Often times I’ll write out an entire post and then delete or hide it because I feel it’s stupid. After reading this I finally feel I can write something that will come naturally. Even if it’s just a few brief sentences.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - The cool thing about blogging is that it provides infinite chances to try again. So what if a post is bad? You can try again tomorrow. I don’t know a single blogger who doesn’t look at their early posts and have a good laugh at their early efforts. But you get better by doing. Hope this nudges you to start again! You can do this!ReplyCancel

  • Wayfaring Wanderer - Great post! Irresistible Words is such an awesome tool to help find the right words that aren’t generic. I enjoying writing thoughtful posts for my clients and it’s easier with the approach that you outline in the ebook!

    Wayfaring WandererReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks, friend! I hope your life and travels and days are going beautifully. Sending a hug!ReplyCancel

  • Francesca Bliss - Thank you for another brilliant article, Jenika! Not flattery or ego stroking, but noticing true beautiful things that others do and telling them about it – how simple is that? But what a powerful impact it makes! I’m typically a lurker, devouring and studying every article on your blog, but I decided that it was time to come out and tell you how much I appreciate what you do, Jenika. Thank you!!!ReplyCancel

  • Marzia - You are so right with this. I should do so much more and better… but I feel quite ridiculous at writing. Oh well.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Well written! Amazing advice!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - Hi Jennika! Thank you for this wonderful post. I think this is such a valuable take on blogging and fulfilling clients wants and needs, really simple and really helpful. I have had a site for a while but just started actively blogging (I will be posting my third blog post today!) so this post came at perfect timing.
    Loved your positive take on calling people out on their best traits – the world needs more of this!
    Thanks again!

  • Albert Palmer - What a great post, thanks for sharing J – this is incredibly useful :)ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - Great article, I really like this. But I’m left wondering, where do you draw the line between saying nice things about your client, and sharing their personal life with the world. For example, my last session involved parents, two children, and a grandfather visiting from another country. I feel like I’d be crossing the line to mention that in the blog (i.e. that he was visiting from another country and was due to fly out two days later), but it was the reason for the shoot. Thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - I don’t think it’s possible to draw a line since every person will be comfortable with different things. The good news is, 1) you can ask permission before you blog and give reasons, 2) you can share *your* personal experience with the day – like I shared once that I was nervous to do a shoot *in a full-on snowstorm* when the client wanted to proceed, understandably because she’d worked really hard to set it up. I saran-wrapped my camera and we made it work and got some really fun results that basically no one else has in their family photos….anyway you can get personal without talking about the client and still educate/interest prospective clients. In the case of the grandfather, I personally would be really proud of that and wouldn’t mind a photographer mentioning, but you’d have to just judge the rapport and then ask the client. You can always frame it like “oh hey, I think it’s so cool that we’re doing this, do you mind if I mention when I post the images that he was visiting from far away and you wanted to get these? The reason is, it might make others realize that they could take advantage of these special visits to take these kinds of images. It’s ok if you don’t want to.” If they seem uncomfortable, no problem. Many people are cool with it, especially if you say why.ReplyCancel

Think of the best and worst boss you’ve ever had. What made them the best and the worst? I’ll give an example (and I’d love to hear yours):  Fresh on a high school pizza place job, I became acutely aware that I was holding up the line.  All the pizzas were finished differently – some were topped […]

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  • Nathan Tsukroff - What a wonderful article! And just when I am addressing my self-doubts! Thanks for this great guide to finding balance as my own boss.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thank you, Nathan! I hope that something here helps you moving forward. Keep clicking!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Begley - Jenika – You hit this one out of the park! LOVE everything about this!!ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Thanks Nicole! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it :-)ReplyCancel

  • Chrissy - What a great article. I enjoyed it greatly. and I love your content.ReplyCancel

  • Juan Martin - What a wonderful post, Jenika! It actually hit me hard and made my eyes wet. Most of the time it is so clear for us that we do not let anyone, specially our bosses, to mistreat us but not so often we reflect on how we treat ourselves. Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Misty Bradley - Jenika, another great post! I shared it with the Being Boss podcast FB group (almost 10,000 members) and lots of photographers. I’m also going to share it with our “we are the REVELERS” podcast listeners. You will be helping lots of bosses today! You’re brilliant!ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - Jenika, this is so good! When you asked us all those questions, never would have thought this was the angle you were going for. Saving this to reread. :)ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - Oh boy! This really helped me think about what I’m doing as my own boss and recognize areas of improvement and affirm areas of strength. Thank you for this enlightening article!ReplyCancel

  • moi du toi - VERY well said! I seem to be such a hard taskmaster to myself, all criticism and no appreciation for how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved. Thank you for the wake up call Jenika and those gorgeous daffodil images.ReplyCancel