(Psssst...Click here to read Week 1 if you haven't already!) Just like your favorite cocktail, a blog post has a recipe (of sorts). And also like your favorite cocktail, it’s definitely not set in stone. You can add and omit ingredients as you see fit, and adjust ratios as needed based on what works for you and your palate. This is the makeup of a blog post (not necessarily in this order):
- Relevant links
- Call To Action
A blog post title is sort of like the name of the drink - without it, people will have no idea what’s in it. As a matter of fact, Google uses it to verify whether it matches your content. Humans want it as the summary of what yummy info they are going to be reading. The more compelling you can make the title of your blog post, the more interested people will be in reading it.
Keep in mind though, the title also needs to be relevant as to what content is included within it. Otherwise it’d be like calling a drink a White Russian when really the ingredients are Jack and Coke. It’s misleading; anyone who orders that would be disappointed because they weren’t getting what they thought they were.
Same with blog posts: if you’re going to title the post “How to Prepare for An Engagement Session,” it better contain info about how to prepare for an engagement session. (Though maybe a more compelling title would be, ‘What you should never do before an engagement session.’) You can find more info and tips here about how to title your blog post to help boost web traffic.
This is the info that’s contained within the post, and for the purposes of this post I’ll consider ‘content’ to be any written parts of the blog post. Technically, you don’t have to have any written content for your blog posts, you could do a blog post with just images.
But that’d be sort of like having a Bloody Mary but omitting the pickle, celery, cheese, beef jerky, and olives. It just…wouldn’t really be the same, and the blog post wouldn’t really work to its full potential.
This is because of SEO. The more content you have in your blog post, the better time Google has of understanding what the blog post is about.
As a result, Google will be more likely to show your blog post in search results when someone searches for information related to what’s in your blog post. Ideally, it’s good to have at least 300 words of content with any blog post. More is better too if you can manage it. If you can’t think of what to write about, think about telling a story about something that happened during the day of the session or wedding.
Maybe it was something funny that happened, or something really touching, or talking about the personality of one of your clients; whatever it is, really try to hit that 300 word count.
Images are another key piece of what makes up a good blog post. Like written content though, you can technically have a blog post without any images. Technically. But again, it’s like having a Bloody Mary without all the trimmings - just boring and dull. And that’s what everyone will think about your blog post if it doesn’t have any images in it. (Well, most likely anyway.)
Images are a great way to break up the text in a blog post, and gives your readers a few seconds of mental break between sections. And when they’re done right, images are also good for SEO. They’re also a great way to showcase your most recent and best work. For the sake of SEO, all images must include an ALT Tag! This tag represents many things but for Google it tells them what the photo is about.
I like to have my alt tags as the name of my blog post so that when someone pins it, the description is filled out properly for them. There's more to SEO than this, but we'll get to that in week 4.
When you're selecting images for your blog post, keep in mind that you'll want one that's formatted and sized correctly so it displays well as the 'featured image' of your blog post. The featured image is the thumbnail image that's shown on your main blog page with/above/next to the title of the blog post. It usually also displays at the top of the blog post article as well, though some website themes allow you to check a box which won't display the featured image at the top of the blog post (but will still show the image on your main blog page).
For the featured image, it's also a good idea to make sure it's Pinterest-friendly. Portrait-oriented (tall) is preferred on Pinterest over landscape-oriented images. The more visibility you have on Pinterest, the more you can use that to drive traffic to your site. You also want to make sure you put the title of the blog post ON THE IMAGE. You can use apps like Canva to create these blog post photos. This way whenever the image is shared, viewers on Pinterest will know exactly why they need to read it.
A pretty picture with no words may get repinned but it won't drive traffic to a blog post. Imagine you wrote a blog post called "5 Tips To A Non Stressful Wedding Day". It's perfect for your bridal niche. You know it will draw in viewers & get them to reshare. But how do you make it go viral on Pinterest? Just a pretty picture from one of your last sessions may get repinned, BUT will it drive traffic to the blog post? No. The reason is simple. It didn't tell them that there was a blog they needed to read. You gave no reference to why they needed to click through.
So instead, create a Pinterest-sized image that has a great photo AND the blog title right on it. A good call to action is beneficial as well such as "click here to read". You can see an example of Pinterest-optimized featured images on our blog here, and at the top of our blog posts.
Relevant links in a blog post are sorta like the olives in a martini. With or without them, the drink is still basically the same; they don’t make or break the drink. But they can be a really useful tool for providing your readers with more information that may help them. For example.
If you wrote a post about preparing for engagement sessions, you might include links to your Pinterest board that has a bunch of outfit ideas on it, or maybe a link to a blog post you wrote about styling and clothing choices for an engagement session. Those links are both relevant to the main topic of your blog post, and they’re also helpful to your readers as well. You could also link out to other vendors, which is really common when photographers blog their weddings: they’ll put in links to things like the venue, church, dress shop, floral shop, etc.
Calls to Action.
This is like the booze in every cocktail. Without it, it’s pointless. If you’re not familiar with what a call-to-action is, it’s basically an instruction that points the reader in the direction of the action you’d like them to take next.
This could be anything from directing your readers to read another blog post that’s relevant to the one they just read, to directing them to get in touch with you to start planning their perfect engagement session just like the one featured in this post. Or it could be to join your newsletter to be informed of when you have new featured sessions.
Regardless of what it is, you want to direct your reader to take some action - ideally, you want that action to guide them into contacting you and scheduling a session with you (or at the very least, joining your newsletter so you can email them on a regular basis and stay relevant in their mind so when it comes time for them to book a photographer, you’re the first person they think about).
Without providing a call-to-action at the bottom of each post, readers won’t necessarily know what to do next and they may end up navigating off of your website and on to another photographer’s website - which is not something you want! You want to hook their attention and keep it focused on your website instead and encourage them to get in touch with you.
That’s a blog post, in a nut shell (or a martini glass).
So there you have it. Blog posts aren’t too over-complicated, and the bottom line is that as long as you’re providing some sort of value to your readers that’s relevant to you and your business, you’re probably going to be just fine. The next post will cover everything you need to know about images in a blog post - why they can be great for SEO, how to code them for SEO, and how to size them for web. You can read it here.