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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:
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: