Saturday, August 16, 2014

Margaret Gould Stewart: How giant websites design for you (and a billion others too)

20 Reasons to Start Your Own Business by Mike Templeman (quoted from

Credit to the original author for the article below. This re-posting is for my future reference.

If you’re an entrepreneur you have heard the million reasons not to go into business: It’s too risky, you might go into debt, you’ll probably lose sleep, your social life is kaput, and the list goes on. But even with all these uncertainties, people are still attracted to the startup world. There are just as many, if not more reasons to take the leap and go into business for yourself.  Here are just a few:

1. Spare time. This one can take some time.  Initially you’ll work longer hours for less pay.  But if you do it right, you could start to master your schedule and the freedom that being an entrepreneur provides is awesome. 

2. A story to tell. Whenever I tell someone I run my own business, they always want to know what I do, how I do it and how it’s going. I always am able to provide a tale or two, and the best part is that I get to determine the story's chapters. (When working for a corporation, people most likely have less input.)

3. Tax benefits. For entrepreneurs (freelancers included), they have the opportunity to take advantage of some nice tax perks. Many can write off expenses like travel, food, phone bills, portions of car payments, and the list goes on. Also, certain startups qualify for government incentives. Make sure to ask your accountant about what tax benefits you may be eligible for.

4. Pride. When you build something successful, it’s a great feeling. You had a vision, were able to execute it and not can reap the benefits of saying "I did this." On the other hand, it’s tough to be proud of the zillionth request for proposal you fill out for your employer.

5. Your posterity. If you’re a doctor, plumber or bus driver it’s hard to imagine you passing your career on to your loved ones. But if you own your own business, that’s something you can pass on to the next generation. And be proud of it, because you created it.

6. Job security. Have you ever been laid off, downsized, or fired?  If you have, you get this. With entrepreneurship the security lies in the fact you are your own boss. You run the show and don't have to worry about getting let go.

7. Networking. Entrepreneurs are communal creatures.  We love to meet each other, swap stories, and learn from each other’s experiences. Your circle of friends and acquaintances always grows when you become an entrepreneur, as many founders need others to lean on to survive and talk about the challenges only known to them.

8. Doing good. While this isn’t exclusive to entrepreneurs, it’s definitely a perk. You control where your company profits go and if you choose, you can give allocate your financial gains to others. You can sponsor a charity, a non-profit or just personally give back to the community.  This is quite honestly one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur.

9. Novelty. We, as humans, love new experiences but rarely can you experience a host of new things from inside your cubicle. This all changes when you are running the show. Starting your own business will ensure you’ll always be facing new challenge and experiencing something new.

10. Mentorship. Having had mentors and getting to be a mentor have been some of the best experiences of my life.  Learning from the masters and getting to help those less experienced than you gives you such a sense of satisfaction. From my experience (and other's stories) the entrepreneurial community is very willing to give back and lend a helping hand.

11. Becoming an expert. This point goes along with mentorship.  Regardless of what you do as an entrepreneur, if you stick with it, you’ll probably become very good at it. And this gives you a sort of soapbox, so use it. You'll have the chance to be interviewed for your expertise, write about it and get to spread your message.

12. Skills. People ask me how I learned about SEO, social media, pay-per-click, PR and all the other marketing techniques I utilize. I tell them that I was forced to learn them, otherwise I wouldn't survive.  The same way I was forced to learn how to build a spreadsheet, how to balance a budget, how to negotiate leases and countless other skills I picked up because I was the only resource I had. While developing new skills can be tough and takes times, it can pay off in spades.  These skills will be invaluable throughout your life.

13. Determination. Everything I’ve done as an entrepreneur has affected me in my personal life.  I used to be poor at committing to changes. But having been an entrepreneur for over a decade has forced me to become dedicated and determined to causes. (Now I can stick to an exercise plan much easier.)  I’m also better at being a father and husband because of that determination I learned.

14. Recognition. There are literally thousands of local, regional and national awards that recognize entrepreneurs in every field and industry. This shouldn’t be your only reason to start your business, but it certainly is a great feeling when you receive this recognition.

15. Financial independence. Let’s be honest, this is probably the biggest reason people get into business for themselves.  And that’s a good thing!  You should want financial independence.  However you define financial independence – retirement stockpile, unlimited cash potential or having the money to buy what you want --  entrepreneurship can allow you to achieve it. Trust me, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does make finding happiness much easier.

16. Reinvention. I’ve started and sold several companies over my career.  And every time I sell a company, I’m presented with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again. On the flip side, if I had received my law degree, I’d be a lawyer (not a lot of room to recreate myself). But as an entrepreneur, I get to be whatever I want to be.

17. Change the world. Everyone jokes that every entrepreneur says they’re going to change the world. It’s difficult to imagine how a cell phone accessory kiosk in the mall is going to change the world.  But there are those that do succeed.  Take a look at Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, and the countless other entrepreneurs who really have changed the world in some small (or major) way.

18. Create jobs. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you’re responsible for the success of your employees.  Your ideas provided them the opportunity to earn a living, provide for their family and fulfill their own dreams.

19. Your brand. Being known for something is awfully enjoyable.  People may start referring to you as the marketing guy, or the retail maven or the software guru.  Whatever it is you’re recognized as, it’s fun to build that brand and earn that recognition.

20. Your reason. I’ve given you a list of why I think you should get into business.  But all that really matters is your reason to start your own business.  So, what is it?  Tweet out this story and add your reason.  Comment below and share with us why you did it.  I know it will be a good one. 

7 Simple Ways a Blog Can Get You More Photography Clients by Ramsay Taplin (quoted from DPS)

Credit to the original author for the article below. This re-posting is for my future reference.
Are you a photographer who dreams of taking your photography business to the next level?
Well, one of the things that creative people (like artists, writers and, yes, photographers) forget is that you grow a business by marketing it – not necessarily by just being good at what you do. There are plenty of good photographers out there.
So what’s the problem?
Not all photography businesses have a huge budget to spend on marketing.
And that’s where a blog comes into it.
In this post I’m going to talk about how you can start a blog (or use an existing one) to get you more clients for your photography business. I don’t run a photography blog but I’ve got a bit of experience with helping small businesses grow using content marketing.
I’ll use a few examples from photographers I know as well as taking some sweet ideas from similar small businesses doing the same thing.

Not all blogs/websites are created equal

For the purposes of this article I thought it would be important to make a few distinctions.
And let’s start by highlighting the fact that a regular “brochure” website is not the same as a blog. Not by a long way.
What’s the difference between a blog and a website?
So what’s the difference? Well, a website is something that generally has static content – pages like About Us, Services, Gallery, Contact and so on. A blog is something that you update regularly with new content. The newest posts usually appear at the top. This comes with a huge set of advantages – some you might never have considered.
Can the two work together?
Absolutely. In fact, that is the ideal situation. The best way to set your photography website up is to make sure it has a blog integrated seamlessly with the rest of the website. Having a blog on a separate domain name is good but not nearly as good as building one under your main brand name. I’ll explain why later.
Where do I get started?
If you don’t have a blog (or a website) and want to learn more I’ve done a video and a full walkthrough on blog hosting that helps you understand how it all works together and how to get started the right way the first time around. You can alsocheck out this Wiki later on for some hosting alternatives.

So how can a blog bring you more photography clients?

Now that we’ve got some of the preliminary stuff out of the way let’s jump into the meat and potatoes of the post.
1. A blog helps to build trust
The first thing to note about a blog is that it helps you build a lot of trust with your potential customers and clients. This is an extremely important part of growing a business these days because a huge amount of your customers will research you before they engage your services. In fact, some people say that one in three people look at the website before engaging the business.
Part of this means having a well designed website that showcases your work and part of it means showing your personality. This is especially important for things like wedding photography where your client will want to have a good relationship with you as it is such an important day for them.
Tasmanian photographer Lisa K does this extremely well by having her blog as the homepage of her photography website. The articles she posts are about her daily life and family but always showcase some stunning photographs that would, no doubt, help to create an initial “buzz” and trust with a potential client.
2. A blog helps to increase your reach
The most important part of marketing a business is reach – you need to get in front of new people as often as possible.
This can be quite a difficult concept to understand because we are usually told that loyalty and repeat customers is the most important. Well, if you have five loyal clients who bring you the majority of your business but one drops off then you’re in trouble. A better scenario is to reach new people regularly and then convert them into loyal customers by providing a quality service. Reach is always more important than loyalty for growth.
So how does a blog help to increase your reach?
Well, it gives people something to share and a platform for you to promote all the cool intricacies of your business. People are very unlikely to share around just a portfolio site (unless it’s incredible!) but if you publish a quirky or unique blog post that’s different to your regular material you might find it makes the rounds on Pinterest or Twitter and brings you some new clients.
For example, let’s say you have some hilarious wedding photos of brides trashing their dresses. They’d look look good in a portfolio but imagine the difference it would make if you combined them into one blog post called 10 Hilarious Photos of Brides Ruining their Expensive Dresses. Much more entertaining and shareable.
3. A blog can get you more exposure locally
Google is now giving a lot of weight to local listings. What this means is that if someone types in “photographer” into a Google search they are going to get result from their local area. Here’s an example:
Screen Shot 2013 08 01 at 1 17 37 PM
As you can see, in South Australia I get a Wikipedia result and then the next few are all local South Australian photographers.
Now, a blog can help you take this to the next level in a few ways. The main one is that every blog post you publish will increase your visibility for local terms. For example, if you do a blog post called 25 Beautiful Landscape Photos from Around Sydney you are more likely to rank for terms relating to those photographs to people in Sydney.
Or, you might do a blog post about every photo shoot that you do with local businesses. When people see those photos on those businesses websites or marketing materials and then look it up on Google you’re more likely to appear. So you can piggyback off the success of your client and your quality photos to get more business.
4. A blog gives your website multiple new points of entry
This point strongly relates to the previous one but is worth mentioning on it’s own.
Every time you publish a blog post it (if set up correctly) publishes with it’s own unique web address called a permalink. For example, let’s say you do a post called5 Interesting Photos from New York that post’s permalink would be something like
The great thing about this is that Google will index each post like this in the search results separately depending on what people search for, and how authoritative your website is. This is quite a complicated field we’re getting into now so if you’re interested you can read this SEO for blogs article or this list of SEO tips from Darren.
The main point, however, is that for every blog post you publish you’re creating a new set of keywords through which people can enter your blog.
A great real-world example is my mate Tim from SA TECHFLOOR who told me the other night that since he started blogging and posting photos of his flooring jobs he’s getting more and more phone calls every day. As each one has a different set of keywords (carpet, concrete, bamboo, timber, etc.) he’s got a lot of entry points he didn’t previously.
5. A blog can help your website rank higher
Now, one of the cool things about the previous few points is that if you do them all within your own website you can cause that website to rank higher on Google for important terms like “photographer in [your city]“.
Google likes to show results that are both fresh and of the highest quality. So if you have a small five page website with not much changing, Google might not think it’s all that useful.
If, on the other hand, your website has an active blog with lots of new posts, people sharing it on social media and so on, Google is likely to think it’s more useful for their customers (people searching) and thus rank it higher.
Organic ctr by search position 1 20 png
A graph of the click through rate of the top search results thanks to Search Engine Watch.
As you can see in the image above, this can lead to an immediate increase in business because the first result in Google gets over 35% of the traffic for that page. Worse still, the first page gets over 95% of clicks so if you aren’t in the first few results you’re getting overlooked.
6. A blog can help you form new collaborations
A good online friend of mine, Jamie Swanson, runs two photography blogs. One of them is embedded in her main business website and acts as a promoter of her main services. Her second blog, however, is called The Modern Tog and it’s all about running a photography business.
I wanted to mention her second site because it is a great example of someone who has set up something slightly out of the box and created a lot of new connections because of it.
For example, Jamie contacted me through Blog Tyrant about a year ago and I put her in touch with the content editor at ProBlogger. This lead to her writing a hugelysuccessful post about Pinterest that, in many ways, has lifted her reputation online as someone who knows about photography and the marketing side of photography.
It wouldn’t have happened without the blog.
7. A blog can help reduce client friction
Client friction is what happens when they visit your site, like your stuff but for some reason don’t make contact. It could be because they don’t like your prices or it might be something a little bit more intangible like not really “feeling the vibe”.
James Field runs one of Adelaide’s best wedding photography businesses and has a great little video on his website that is a cool example of something you can do to get your clients to know you better.
Now, James’s video isn’t on a blog but it’s the perfect kind of cross-platform content that a blog is perfect for. For example, you could do a series of these types of videos showing how the wedding day pans out for your clients. These could then bring you traffic from YouTube as well as reducing client friction on your blog.

Tips for your photography blog

So now you’ve got some reasons as to why you might want to have a blog on your photography businesses website. But once you’ve got the blog what are some things you can do to make sure it succeeds?
  • Be personal
    People will love your photos (if you’re good) but they might not like you. Try to figure out who your audience is an, if possible, make sure you are personal and friendly.
  • Know your brand
    Know who you are targeting and what keyword they might be looking for on Google. This will help you craft the right content.
  • Make sure it loads fast
    People are getting less and less patient when it comes to websites. In fact, a one second delay can affect conversions by up to 7%.
  • Find a way to be different
    Don’t just publish the same stuff everyone else is. Take a leaf out ofBuzzFeed’s book and use content we’ve all seen to come up with something fun, shareable and relevant.
  • Make your blog your “home base”
    In my guide to social media I talk about the fact that your blog should be your base for all your social media activities. This way, all the Tweets, Pins and Shares that you get go towards growing your blog’s traffic and rankings.