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Turn Up The Heat On Lukewarm Audiences & Grab New Traffic By Writing This Post
Have you ever used a rubber spatula to grab ALL the batter out of a bowl, and been surprised by how much more you got?
Maybe you were tempted to hurriedly dump the bulk of the mix into the baking pan, then rinse – but by using a spatula, you were able to get another entire extra muffin or cookie out of that bowl?
Well, today, I’m going to hand you the rubber spatula for your web traffic.
Here’s something most creative people don’t think about enough:
Your audience has more than one segment. Each is valuable, but their interests are slightly different.
Your segments might be, broadly:
Group 1: Your huge fans.
Group 2: People who know and might be considering hiring you, but haven’t decided yet, or have no reason to do it now.
And then there’s:
Group 3: A large number of people, maybe the biggest chunk of your traffic, who stumble upon your blog – perhaps because a friend linked to their own family photos. Sure, they like what they saw on that page, but they’re about to click away and never find you again.
Most marketing teachers would say – and I agree – that you’ll get the biggest return by focusing on groups #1 and #2. And I’ve written a whole bunch of posts on how to get those already warmed-up-to-you people off the fence and motivate them to hire you now.
But that third group has value, too.
After all, they made it to your site. They like what they saw. Why waste their moment of interest? Keep them on your site a little longer, place a couple of targeted pieces into their path, and you’ve got a solid chance of pushing them over into Group 2, and eventually Group 1.
Enter the rubber spatula post.
By that I mean: A helpful post that relates a common concern to what you do. One that draws on your expertise, yet doesn’t directly relate to hiring you (yet).
Now, when you think “helpful post,” your first thoughts might be something like a wardrobe guide or “how to get the most out of your session.”
But the thing is, those are directly related to hiring a photographer – and Group 3 doesn’t care about that right now.
But find something many people DO care about, and you’ll draw a wide swath of interest. Rubber scraper posts help visitors see you as an expert, deepen their connection to you (we like and remember people who have helped us) and give you more chances to scoop up all the relationships and fans out of your traffic you can.
Plus, your regular audience will like (and share) these posts too.
Here’s how to write a rubber spatula post:
1. Identify one common concern where you can weigh in with expertise.
Good candidates are things that everyone ‘knows’ they need to do, but don’t get around to doing often, or aren’t sure how.
A couple of examples (feel free to use them!):
Issue a lot of people are concerned with: Parenting and child safety
Possible post: “Safety First: A Photographer Explains How To Take Clear, Identifying Photos of Your Child”
Why this works: The reality is, every parent needs a current, identifying photo of their child. You can explain how to create clearly-lit photos that do the job, and point out that this needs to genuinely look like the kid does every day. You can offer suggestions for getting into a rhythm of doing this regularly, or even describe how to make a game out of it for the kids. Even though the topic is serious, this post doesn’t have to feel ‘sad’ or sensational, you can write from the angle of empowerment. After all – these photos are great to have as records even if a parent never ‘needs’ them!
Here’s another one:
Issue a lot of people are concerned with: Local weather threats (tornadoes, hurricanes)
Possible post: “Be Ready: A Photographer’s Guide to Documenting Your Belongings for Insurance”
Why this works: This definitely falls into the category of “things we ‘should’ do but don’t ever take the time, but if someone made it seem simple and helped us feel smart by giving us tricks, we’d be more likely to do it.” Explain how to do a home walk-through and give a tip or two on taking clear photos and video indoors.
Other issues where your professional expertise may meet a common concern: Helping children keep in touch with distant relatives, how to photograph something to sell it quickly on Craigslist, managing challenging interactions at large family gatherings (wedding photographers can easily weigh in there), keeping printed photos safe from fire/weather/age. The list is quite long.
Once you have your topic, be sure to….
2) Grab interest by putting your expertise in the title.
Consider the differences here:
How To Buy A New Home vs.
A Plumber’s Guide To Buying a New Home
How To Save Money on Braces vs.
An Orthodontist’s Guide to Saving Money On Braces
When you add the expertise of the author, it makes people curious.
“What does that person know that I might not have thought of? I think I know what I would look for in a new home, but hmm – what would a plumber look for? Gosh I bet they can avoid expensive problems…”
A good rubber spatula article will play well on social media and get lots of repins and reshares BECAUSE you’re able to add an angle that people might not have thought of yet. So be sure the title shows your angle of expertise. Something like:
A Photographer’s Guide to _____
______: A Photographer Weighs In
Need _____? Here’s How A Photographer Would Do It
3. But don’t be shy about emailing or calling another expert for a quote.
You probably don’t know everything there is to know about what type of photos are most useful to local law enforcement, or what all the best practices for insurance are. No worries. Let another expert have the floor for a moment!
Email someone, ask a couple narrow questions, tell them what you’re doing, and explain how you will use their quote. Local law enforcement may love the free PR of being quoted about child safety, and I guarantee there are insurance agents out there who will love to see their name in print giving advice on keeping your home safe.
Looping in experts has multiple benefits. Not only are you offering others a chance to look good, you look more responsible and thorough for doing it. Plus, the other experts may share your resulting article, opening new streams of traffic to you (where there’s little to no competition from fellow photographers).
You may also show up in Google searches for those experts, so people who weren’t even searching for a photographer are suddenly looking at your site thinking “Hmm, you know what, I’ve been meaning to have photos done…”
Rubber scraper posts winning again!
Tip: Be sure to be respectful when contacting someone. Do a little research first to send the request to the right place (your local police department may have a specific spot for media requests), ask 1-2 clear questions, explain clearly how it will be used, and make it as easy for them to participate as possible. A round of polite follow-up never hurts if you don’t hear back within 3-4 days – people are busy.
Defining clear steps isn’t just good explanation – it helps people imagine themselves doing it.
Research shows someone is more likely to take action if they can see themselves doing something. Your reader will have an easier time picturing themselves walking through your list of small steps than if you ask them to read a post and make their own mental list. Consider even adding a printable checklist at the end.
In your explanations, consider adding in what not to do. If you’re offering a tutorial on how to take clear photos, take a couple photos that illustrate bad lighting, or shows why you need a photo that looks like the child does every day. It helps people identify when they’re making a mistake and builds their confidence to try.
This article will be sturdy enough to re-share every year and link back to in other posts, so don’t be afraid to put in a pinch of extra effort. You’re going to get a lot of mileage out of this post!
5. Include at least one tiny technical or practical secret that you’ve learned from your profession that they might not know.
This doesn’t have to be overly technical. Just a little secret that makes them feel smarter and happier they read the article.
If you’re talking about photographing a child, give one or two secrets for getting them to hold still (like using a whisper voice, which nearly always gets kids to pay attention, lean in, and hold still for an extra second.)
Or if you’re talking about photographing or videoing the contents of the house, you might give tips on the best time of day, or point out that if they’re videoing their rooms, they should shut the blinds because their phone will be constantly adjusting to bright window light, and lag time can create problems. Everyone has experienced that “lag” moment when trying to take a photo, but you know how to anticipate and correct it in this new situation, so they will appreciate the heads up.
6. Link to your rubber scraper post from regular posts.
Remember which segment of your audience this post is aimed at: Keeping not-currently-interested folks around long enough to build more of a relationship with you.
If someone comes to your blog to see a friend’s family photos, and all they see at the bottom is links to more family photos, they may just click away because they aren’t interested in seeing photos of strangers. But if they see “A Photographer’s Guide to _______” – that’s when they stay on the blog.
So rather than only having a “previous/next” navigation at the bottom of your blog, consider using a plugin that can pull up suggested posts, and include your rubber scraper post there. That way you can catch people before they go. You can also get in the habit of saying “Hey! First time here? You can get to know my work here (link to info about you) or you may be interested in these posts (links to 2-3 rubber scraper posts).”
Rubber scraper posts establish your expertise, lead to a more engaged audience, and can even surprise you by garnering you shares and interview requests of *you* from bigger outlets.
Jot down a few ideas for one today, and schedule a time to write it!