The Blog Library
How To Write A Blog Post Your Clients Are Dying To Share
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 about “but my living room isn’t clean.” Imagine you’ve prepared for this, and both you and your house/yard are in top form, and you’re proud of it. You’re a little nervous, but mostly eager to have this person arrive.
The doorbell rings, you chat pleasantly, and you start. They are good at what they do. You feel at ease.
Toward the end of the shoot, their phone rings. They apologize for having to answer it. You’re actually kind of glad to have a moment to rest – you didn’t realize how long you’d been at this!
They step into another room and you can hear them talking. You can tell it’s not a private conversation though, they just stepped out to give you a break.
After spacing out for a moment, you realize they’re telling someone where they are, and what they have been doing.
Now, ask yourself: What would you be most flattered to hear them say?
Oh yeah, I’m just finishing a job. You should see this house – it’s gorgeous! S/he has photographs all over the walls of places s/he’s been, it’s really cool. The one in the living room is especially neat because….
These kids are hilarious, and smart! Let me tell you what one of them just said – …
It’s amazing to sit in her office and see how far she has come. She said that when she started out…
The youngest is so sweet. Every time Dad leaves the room, she looks a bit crestfallen, but when he comes back, her face just comes alive and she waves her arms like she’s throwing him a parade.
What would feel good to hear someone say about you, if they had just spent time with you?
Note that none of these things written above are flattering in an obvious attempt to be flattering.
They are simply true things that they have observed. They don’t care that they know you’re in the other room listening. It’s genuinely what they think, and they’re excited to tell someone else about it.
It’s especially flattering when they don’t just say “oh hey, I’m at someone’s house, and they’re really cool.” That’s nice, but you might not put much stock in it. It could just be a throwaway comment – obviously they wouldn’t say you weren’t cool when they knew you were listening.
What’s wonderful about this situation is that they’ve identified something that is important or special to you, and they’re elaborating on an example. It’s not even a particularly long comment. But they’ve scanned your home and life, seen something amazing, and talked specifically about it.
It might even be something you wouldn’t have thought to tell them about. They noticed just because it’s a part of you, and it shined.
Think of this story as an allegory when you sit down to blog your client work.
You are the photographer in the story – you have spent some time with your client. That time is almost up. When you blog, you’re really just stepping into another room to tell people about what you’ve experienced with them.
You know that client is listening, but they aren’t your only audience – you’re telling everyone about what you’ve seen and observed.
When you blog, you might see the primary purpose as just sharing your work to get traffic and new clients. (And you kind of want to get it done and over with.)
But what if the blog post could be something else too? What if the post itself was the final service you offer your clients?
What if, in addition to the work you’ve already done, you could crown it with a few lines that speak truth about the goodness and beauty you saw in them?
A written bouquet, of sorts.
All you have to do is identify a quality they have, and illustrate it with an example.
Before you write the post, just think – if you were to call a friend and tell them about what kind of person your client is, what words would you use?
Maybe, “they have an awesome sense of humor.” Okay, but how do you know they’re funny? How did they demonstrate that? Think of a brief anecdote. That little story is what your friend wants to hear.
Simply saying “oh they’re so funny/cool/awesome!” is not enough. Your friend or client might smile, but there’s not much depth there – “Oh, it’s their job to say that.” What makes it interesting is the example you give. Examples are indisputable evidence. Clients can’t shrug them off. That’s the secret.
That’s also what your blog readers want to hear. And that’s what your client – though they don’t know it – is dying to hear about themselves.
This applies no matter what kind of work you do, even if it’s not in person. If you’re doing creative work, then you’re going to spend hours (possibly weeks) delving into this person’s personality, mission, brand, and what good they do in the world. You’re in an excellent position to give specific examples of how strong, smart, and interesting they are.
No matter what kind of clients you serve, you have this guarantee: People are starving for recognition and appreciation.
We live in a world where we’re all primarily focused on ourselves, what we need to do, how we want to appear. When our attention is so self-focused, it means that we aren’t spending time appreciating others.
Think about it – if everyone spent less time thinking “man, no one appreciates me” and actively looked for ways to appreciate others, we would all get more external recognition, and we’d all feel better.
It takes intention to do that. And may I suggest that you start with your blog as a place to begin such a practice of noticing things about others, and expressing them.
If you use your blog this way, two things will happen:
1) Your clients will be spellbound with gratitude and joy – and secretly can’t wait to share.
Yes, your family photos will bring tears to an overworked mom all on their own. It will also bring the waterworks when she reads a few words about how exactly you saw her tenderly working behind the scenes to make her family more comfortable.
How you saw her packing extra sweaters and speaking soft words to a stranger-shy child. How she has a knack for turning anything – down to sticks and rocks – into a game that gets squeals. How she tucked them carefully back into their carseats and put favorite toys in sleepy arms for the ride home. How you saw her forging their childhood memories right in front of you, and you know they’re going to be full of love and security. You can pick any one of these things.
Because this is what she does day in and day out, and too often, it’s unnoticed.
When you give an example and tell your readers about it, for her it’s like getting an unexpected award. Specific, positive, unexpected praise will feel rare and priceless. To her, it’s indisputable evidence that her best qualities ARE, in fact, visible and valuable to others, though she’s been desperately scared they aren’t.
Do you see how powerful a little recognition can be?
She will treasure the images but probably save the post as well. Come back and re-read it anytime she feels frayed.
And sharing your post will take on a whole new meaning for her. She’s not just sharing the art, but your kind words about her. (And she can do this without feeling like she’s bragging – “here are our family photos….oh, and this photographer is too kind.”) We all want to appear good to others, and you’ve just upped the ante.
This is no different if you work with business owners. Small business owners are overworked and spend much of their time dealing with the tail ends of a spectrum. They see letters from superfans, yes, but they also have to deal with an emotional barrage of grumpy, demanding clients and/or random negative commenters. The vast majority of even satisfied readers or clients are pretty silent, preoccupied with their own lives.
A little recognition from you about how kindly they treat their employees, how they respond to crises, or the unseen legwork they put in to make sure clients are well served? Could be the best thing that has happened to them this week. Month. Year.
2) By doing this regularly, you sharpen one of the most important skills you could give the world.
I was inspired recently by the Every Branch podcast (episode 21). They talked about how we have all the information imaginable within reach – except information about ourselves. You can’t Google yourself and pull up clear definitions of all your skills, abilities, potentials, and purposes. It takes a long time (often with many missteps) to find these things out about yourself.
They mentioned this in the context of kids, and how it’s important to observe things about your kids and tell them what you notice. Helping them see qualities, tendencies, and strengths arms them with the most important information they can have.
I think we can apply this to clients too. Noticing people’s strengths, and telling them with examples, gives them new perspective on themselves.
That perspective is valuable. Even if it’s about something they already know (e.g. they know their yard is beautiful, or their kid is funny), hearing it from someone else’s mouth is always helpful. Not just because the small dose of appreciation helps them thrive and flourish – but it also helps them refocus their energies on what they care about. When someone offers kindness and recognition for something, it makes you eager to more of the thing that got the recognition.
Do not underestimate how much a few kind words – with a specific example – can draw people to you.
It costs you nothing. And it’s what everyone craves, what they need, and what they never think to ask for.
Try it out. Let me know how it goes.
P.S. Need more help identifying and telling perfect anecdotes? Want to make your blog feel less repetitive and sell more of your work?
Learn more right here:
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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!
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!
I appreciate your kind comments. Thanks for taking time out of your days to extend a kind hand to others.
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.
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.
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!
Brilliant! You did a wonderful job explaining this, thank you for your insight 🙂
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.
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!
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!
Thanks, friend! I hope your life and travels and days are going beautifully. Sending a hug!
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!!!
You are so right with this. I should do so much more and better… but I feel quite ridiculous at writing. Oh well.
Well written! Amazing advice!
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!
What a great post, thanks for sharing J – this is incredibly useful 🙂
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?
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.