Endless Blog Ideas!

In my last post I shared with you what exactly you should be blogging about if you want your business to be successful.  (Read it here).

In this post, I am going to tell you exactly how to ensure that you never run out of blog ideas, ever again.

This is how to generate an almost endless- supply of blog post material.

Listen To Your Clients.

It’s that simple.

What questions are your clients asking you? What questions are they asking the general public on facebook and social media? What do they email you with queries about? When you meet your clients in person, what is it they want to discuss?

So for me in my photography business, I get a lot of questions about albums- which album suppliers do I use?

I also get questions about how to structure a schedule, what to wear / bring to engagement sessions, what will happen if it rains on their wedding day, what to dress the baby in. I get questions about group shots, about my film photography, about using film.

I get questions from my mentoring clients (oh, endless questions from you wonderful people!I absolutely love this as I get a zillion and one more ideas for what to write about)! and usually they ask me questions about what colours should they use for their branding, how to gain a good profile photo, how to blog, how to improve their SEO.  Etc.

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One of my lovely mentorees and the profile photo I took for her as part of her mentoring program!

So I would use this information to go and write posts answering each question.  For example if an engaged couple email me asking – ‘What Should We Wear To Our Engagement Shoot?’ I would sit down and do a little brainstorm about possible blog post ideas from this one question.

It could simply be one post ‘What To Wear To An Engagement Session’

or it could be a lot more ‘What To Bring To Your Engagement Session For Shots That Will Be Pinned All Over Pinterest!’ ‘Should You Bring Your Pet To An Engagement Session?’ ‘How To Dress Your Kids For A Family Photoshoot’ ’6 Cute His N Hers Shoes Perfect For A Romantic Engagement Session’ ’10 Best Props To Bring To An Engagement Session’ ‘The Number One Thing You Must Wear To An Engagement Session’ etc. cheltenham wedding photographer

Spend ten minutes brainstorming each question you have ever been given from your clients and before long you will have an entire library of potential ideas, for useful content that will help your clients.

If you don’t seem to have many questions, get online.

What questions are people asking twitter?

What about in wedding forums? Forums are a brilliant resource to find out what questions clients are asking, even if they aren’t asking you directly.

Use their questions as a basis for your brainstorm to generate more ideas.

Listening to your clients also serves an extra purpose for you.  Not only do you have an almost endless-supply of content, you also have done yourself a huge favour.

If you can answer the most popular questions on your blog, when the next client emails you with the same question, you can direct them straight to the blog post/s.

Your client will be wowed that you have this amazing resource for her, and is likely to stick around on your blog for a little longer too- getting to know you.

As we have mentioned in previous articles, the more a client feels like they know you, the more relaxed and comfortable they are; and the more likely they are to come back and read your blog again, and to recommend you too.

Not just that.  You save yourself the hassle of having to rewrite the answers out all over again, or having to use a generic email template response.

Win-win.

Listen to your clients.  They are an endless resource of blog post topics for you and you don’t need to do anything other than listen. 

I hope this post has helped you? I would love to know if these posts about blogging have helped to inspire your blog.  I know you are busy, but nobody likes to feel like they are writing for themselves :) so if you have found these articles helpful, please do leave a comment! Thank you! :) x

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What To Blog About

What Should I Blog About?

I have a confession to make.  Last week, I really struggled with blogging.  No matter what I did, I always found another reason not to sit down and write my blog posts.

I had a migraine which lasted for two days.  Then I had to catch up on other work.  Then Rob decided on a last minute trip to a farm park with the girls, so I went because it was sunny and a nice day and because I wanted to get over my migraine trauma, and just because I could, basically.

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But then it was the weekend and I was running a photobooth (strictly a one-off to help the church I attend, before you ask)! and then it was Rob’s birthday so we had family over on the Sunday, and then Monday was his actual birthday and… you get the message.  I just found every reason I could not to blog.

I couldn’t figure out why, for a while.  I love blogging! I love writing and I love that I can help others through my little corner of the internet.  And it wasn’t for lack of ideas- I had tons of them!

I keep a notebook going in Evernote, full of ideas stored up ready and waiting.  So why couldn’t I blog?!

I realised why.  It wasn’t through lack of ideas for what to write about, but that I had too many ideas.

Through my mentoring sessions, I have discovered that loads of you struggle with blogging, but for the opposite reason.

Mainly, lots of us get stuck with blogging successfully for business, because we don’t know what to blog about.

Or perhaps you do have things that you post on a regular basis, but barely anyone is coming to read your posts other than one or two stragglers from Twitter, the people mentioned in the post, and your family.

Sound familiar?

So I’m going to tackle this for you in two parts.  Firstly, let’s look at what exactly should you be blogging out as a photographer, creative business owner, or wedding industry professional.

WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT?

You’re a photographer (bear with me if you’re not, this has a point I promise).  You’ve just shot a beautiful wedding, it got featured on Style Me Pretty, you’re SO excited to share it with the world via your blog.

You write the post, super- excited.  You hit publish. You share it on facebook.  Some of your followers like your post.  But that’s it.  Nothing else happens.  No comments, no interaction, no sharing; other than a few facebook comments.

BUT YOU’VE PHOTOGRAPHED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WEDDING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! You can’t understand why everyone isn’t raving about it like you had hoped that they might. You decide you don’t care about people’s response, you just want to create beautiful work anyway, and so a few days later you publish another wedding in a similar way.  Lots of pretty photos, a bit of text, some good social media sharing.

Do you realise what your blog is doing for you?

The answer is… not nearly as much as it could be.

If you want your blog to

*drive traffic to your site

*to gain you bookings and super-clients

*referrals

*social media shares

then you can’t just continually post your latest work and hope that it is ‘enough’ to do all of this for you.

It isn’t.

This is why you need to know what you really should be blogging about.

How many other photographers are out there doing exactly the same thing?

Posting their most recent weddings, styled shoots, family shots.

Unless you are one of the absolute best worldwide in your field with a distinctly recognisable style, with clients queueing at your door,  trust me; posting your work on its own, is not enough.

Prospective clients will not come to your site to ooh and ahh over your work on a regular basis.  They will visit once or twice, if they happen to land on your site anyway.

But what we want to do with your blog is to get them there in the first place. And then we want them to return.

We want your visitors to feel like they know you so well and think so much of you and your gorgeous work, that every time they need a florist / photographer / planner, or get asked if they know anyone, YOU pop into their heads.

You want a blog that gets people coming to your website, that gets people talking about your work, that gets people engaged and sharing what you are doing.

There are 2 key ways to do that.

statement 'what to blog about'

 

1. Provide USEFUL content.

I get it, you want to showcase your latest work, and your blog is a great place to do that. However, your online gallery, testimonials page, and instagram feed are also great places to do that.

Talking just about what you have recently done online is a bit like walking into your own birthday party and just talking about your recent achievements, for the entire evening.

People will most likely come up to you and wish you a very happy birthday, but they probably won’t hang around to chat for longer than about five seconds.

So what should you be providing instead? What is useful content?

Useful content is information that your clients (and anybody visiting your site) might need.

So for example.  You are a florist.  What would your clients want to see from you, other than your most recent creations for clients?

Brainstorm a list of ideas!

You could write a list of top tips on how to keep the flowers fresh on their wedding day.  You could post about best floral choices for July weddings. You could post about the prettiest ribbons to wrap around your bouquets.  You could post about the hottest new floral trends for next year, quirky new buttonhole designs, or how to choose flower types for a bouquet and how to use flowers to decorate a cake for a birthday party.

You could do a how-to DIY floral baby flower crown.

Just a note here- DIY tutorials DO NOT take your clients away from you- most DIY’s are in fact inspirational.  Pinterest is proof of that.

Clients/ prospective clients will be much more likely to be in love with how creative and pretty and unique your work / flower crown is, and more likely to share it, and you are more likely to stick in their minds, than the type of posts which is purely self -promotional; hey look at my work! (again).

2. Talk About Yourself

Your blog is the one place where talking about yourself is good.  You have the most amazing opportunity with your blog to talk about who you are, what makes you and your work special and amazing and unique.  But don’t just tell your readers.  Show them!

Carrying on with our lovely florist- if you’ve been to Chelsea Flower Show this year, and I follow your blog or you on Twitter and so I know that you have been, you can bet that I am going to be dying to see your snaps of it! Not just your photos, but just with this one show alone you probably have at least 3 months worth of blog material here!

I want to know what you loved, what displays were prettiest, I want to know your top 3 tips for visiting the show (and the best place to grab a bite to eat) I want to know all about your visit, through your pretty floral eyes!

I want to know about the flowers that you personally grow in your garden.  I want to know about how to grow a windowbox (and how you grew yours).  I want to know what your favourite flowers are.  I want to know about your recent garden visits.  I want to know about the books that inspire you and the inspirational / beautiful notebooks that you keep.  I want to know about your flower studio or your kitchen table workspace.  I want to see the pretty screensaver on your laptop and I want to know about your vases that are special to you and where I can buy them (because that is both personal and useful, a double win)! I want to know which flowers your husband bought you for your anniversary and why you dislike carnations (but did you know they’re on their way back in for a renaissance)? Tell me about how you became a florist, about your favourite flower-filled memories and about how you made the leap from working in an office to full-time florist. I want to know every single thing about you and your pretty, flower-strewn life!

Target luxury clients? I want to know your thoughts on the floral arrangements in the window of Liberty, or in the lobby of The Four Seasons. Tell me about your latest Smythson notebook purchase.  Quirky, rustic style more your thing? Tell me about your quirky little cafes where you sit and work and do your admin!  Based in The Cotswolds? Tell me all about your country style and your inspirations! Or the old stone barns that you love and inspired your palette this season!

What can you tell me about yourself, that shows who you really are? Brainstorm another list of ideas.

I hope this post has given you some useful info on what, exactly, you should be blogging about.

If you liked it, make sure you sign up to my updates here.  We have part 2 of this post coming on Wednesday, and if you want to never run out of ideas for your blog ever again, you won’t want to miss it.

Have a great day!

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5 Tips To Beat Your Business Arch Nemesis

Happy Monday lovelies!

I hope you had a gorgeous weekend, I was SO pleased that the sun crept back to us yesterday! We had friends over for the entire day and the day was all about food and friendship in the sunshine.

We made pizzas from scratch, whilst the girls tucked themselves away at the end of the garden and formed the most adorable band ever.

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Today, as always after a sunny day full of relaxing, I’ve struggled to get back into work mode.  Generally, I don’t usually struggle with discipline or getting on with my workload, because I love it, but there are definitely things that I do struggle with in business.

So today I’m talking to you about how to beat your arch nemesis.

Ah.  The arch nemesis.  We all have one.  I, actually, have several.

A business arch-nemesis is a task you are relatively familiar with, but you do battle with it on a regular basis.  No matter what it is, for some reason you would rather do anything than do this one particular task.

Mine, for example, is creating my business newsletter.  I have been intending to send out my newsletter for about 12 months now!  But for some reason, I hugely procrastinate and find reasons to not do it.  I know why- it’s because I think sending out a newsletter is scary.  But it’s my own silly, totally unfounded fear.

And I know this because last week I send out my first ever newsletter + loads of you read it + replied + this made me so super happy and thankful that I can’t wait to do my next one! (sign up here if you want to join too, I don’t spam but I do send out lots of lovely business advice goodness + early bird discounts like the one for my new book coming up soon).

Some of my mentorees really struggle with blogging.  They know that they should be doing it, and most of them even quite enjoy it, but they still aren’t doing it.

What is it that you know that you should be doing, but keep finding reasons to avoid doing it?

Is it your filing and tax returns?

Is it blogging on a regular basis?

Is it learning about how to use social media, properly?

Is it your accounting?

Is it creating a proper schedule so you can manage your workload?

Is it creating your marketing plan?

Everyone has a business arch nemesis. 

Accounts is another one of mine.  Like many creatives, good Lord, I hate doing my accounts.  Yes, I know, I should find it exciting.  But I just don’t.  

Toting up columns and making charts just doesn’t float my boat.  I’d rather be… well, just about anyplace else really.  Thankfully, I now have Rob at home with me to do that part.

And for some reason entirely unfathomable to me, he loves doing accounts.  Lucky me!

But we don’t all have a partner that can defeat our arch-nemesis for us.  So whatever it is that you struggle to do, here are five top ways to defeat procrastination, and beat that pesky enemy- that one that you know you should be doing and that niggles away at you on a daily basis.

5 top tips to defeat your business arch-nemesis


 

1.  Equip Yourself For The Battle

Knowledge is power my friends!  By educating yourself in area that you struggle with, you are defeating one of the biggest excuses for ‘not doing’.  The reason that many of us avoid doing something is because we are irrationally afraid that we might, somehow, mess it up.  Buy a course, pay for mentoring, book an hour long session with a specialist in that area, watch a youtube video, read a book.  Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to defeat the fear of ‘I don’t really know what I am doing here sooo… I’m just not going to bother’.

2.  Create A Battle Plan

You know what isn’t going to defeat your arch nemesis? Sitting down to work, and then finding one hundred and one other more important things to do instead.  What will work, and gets you halfway there, is scheduling time to get this specific task done.

You need to put a time in your diary, phone, calendar, filofax, notebook- whatever it is that you use- and write the time down, followed by the specific task.  Monday, 2pm-4pm;  Write a blog post.

Setting that concrete, separate time aside will help to ensure that you can’t bury yourself in busy-work and avoid the task.

3.  Weaken The Opposition

Every single one of my mentorees has exactly the same issue with distraction.  That distraction issue has a name.  Do you know what it is? Facebook.  Followed close behind by Whatsap.

Only have one browser window open while you work.  Be mean.  Slay your enemies! Your enemies are the internet, alert messages, open browser windows, and popups from programs.

TURN THEM ALL OFF! Yes, I’m shouting at you like a girly sergeant-major.  Seriously.  Unless you learn to manage these time-wasters, you won’t defeat your arch nemesis.  You might once or twice, but you definitely won’t be able to on a regular basis.

I often hide my phone away in another room while I’m working.  Really.

4.  Put On Your Armour

Get dressed! Seriously.  I love working at home in my PJ’s (in fact I consider it one of the definite perks from working from home), but when I need to get shizz done, I get dressed as though I’m going to work in an ultra-smart office.

Haha, who am I trying to kid! :)  I have two toddlers!  Sharp suits would stand no chance of survival in my house.

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I’m usually found wearing a baby

But what I mean is, I don’t just loaf about in my yoga pants and one of Rob’s hoodies.  I actually make a bit more of an effort if I want to get a bit more ‘stuff done’.

Do you feel like there is a mental switch that happens if you make a little more effort, dress up a little more?

It’s as though by wearing something more work-like you send signals to your brain that you are in work-mode, making the actual work itself easier.

4.  Prepare For Battle. 

Make sure you have prepared anything and everything you might need to complete the task, set out in advance.  You need a cup of coffee to start work because that’s your ritual? Make it before your allocated work time we set out in step 2 so you have it there to hand.  Set up your laptop, stationery, paperwork that you need.

Do any necessary research beforehand.  Grab a cardigan if you know your office gets cold.  Water your plants, go to the toilet, call your parents- do whatever you need to do that is pressingly urgent before you sit down to work.

When your work station is ready to go, and you have eliminated pressing distractions, it is harder for you to not do the task at hand.

5. Fight Fight Fight

Sit down, and just do it. Honestly.  Once you get into that state of ‘flow’, it’s really not too bad.  You might even actually enjoy it. Maybe.

Most of us enjoy the more difficult tasks, once they are actually being done.  A bit like how some of us feel when going to the gym, right.  Getting there is half the battle, but once you’re there and working out, it isn’t so bad.

I really hate hoovering, but when I am hoovering (which isn’t that often, frankly; Mr CKB is also awesome with a hoover as well as at accounts.  What a gem) I actually find it quite therapeutic.  Don’t tell Rob I said that.

*         *       *       *       *

I hope these tips have been useful? What tasks are you putting off that you know need to be done, but you keep avoiding?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to know!

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Filling The Blank Page

There is almost always a breeze that welcomes you here, and the cows and sheep wander freely amongst the wildflowers.

 

 

How often do you get overloaded with work? How often do you get swamped with your to-do lists, caught up in daily routine, or so absorbed in being busy that sometimes you forget to fully nurture your creative spirit?

This post here hit a chord with so many of you that it really made me stop and think.  

As creative business owners, are we so caught up in being our business – and the busy-ness of it- that we are in danger of almost forgetting the creative element altogether?

Sometimes we are so buried in our work, that we neglect to feed and nurture our creative spirits and souls.   We think that getting ‘crafty’ for a child’s birthday party, or taking the dog for a walk, is all the creative ‘food’ we need; but actually, it’s not.

When we neglect to feed our creative spirits, creativity itself becomes forced. Our own creative outputs, -whether you’re a photographer, blogger, stylist or florist- whatever you do for a living- become stilted and stuck. Your work feels more like, well, work- and at worst you become unoriginal, spending hours on Pinterest for ideas that you can borrow directly rather than occasionally reference or use as spark points. Your blog runs dry and empty, not due to of lack of time but because writers block has crept in whilst you weren’t watching. You share your latest work but that’s all you can think of to share at the moment… And then you start to feel stressed because you’re not blogging (but you know you should be) you’re not being creative (you can’t think of anything to create). We begin to procrastinate and bury ourselves in busy-lists, to hide from the gnawing, nagging fear of the blank page, of the uninspired pose, of the same ‘already pinned 500 times’ styling ideas.

When we make time to refresh and feed our creative desires we are closer to making work that is original, to creating a unique voice that is our own. We are suddenly inspired and see potential all around us. We feel uplifted, invigorated, inspired. Creating content becomes so much easier, and exciting to do.

When I want to nurture my own creative spirit, I go for a walk.  That’s where I find my mind is free, problems untangle, solutions propose themselves, and my creative wings are free to fly.  It’s when I connect with my creator, and pray and ask for advice, help, and guidance.  It’s when I can talk things through in my own head from another perspective.

When your mind is free, your creative spirit is free also; free to come up with ideas outside of everyday routine and everyday thoughts.

Have you read Hurakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running? It’s one of my favourite books, I have read it so many times.  He runs for the same reasons; the discipline of his body over miles and miles of the same tracks enable the freedom of his thoughts. I highly recommend you read it if you want a beautifully written, thought-provoking, philosophical guide to business.

When I walk, and my mind is wandering, I usually find that I come up with a load of fresh new things to write about.  I have new ideas for my blog posts and for my books.

How do you nurture your creativity? Do you do it enough?

I’m so lucky living in the Cotswolds that there are a thousand and one beautiful walks on my doorstep.  This is probably my absolute favourite place to walk; it is a butterfly reserve that sits high on the hilltops, 2 minutes away from my front door.  Up there on the reserve, the peace literally surrounds you as you look down on a bustling, busy town, feeling like you could reach out and touch it yet a million miles away from it at the same time.  There is almost always a breeze that welcomes you here, and the cows and sheep wander freely amongst the wildflowers.

 

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How do you free your mind from the daily grind? Are you making enough time to nurture your creative spirit? Or are there signs that you might not be- eg running out of post ideas, or spending too long on Pinterest rather than actually being creative?

What one thing can you do today to relax, unwind, and nurture your creativity in the process?

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