Cultivating Audience Connections with Content You Can't Google
My oldest daughter is currently obsessed with Google. She’s constantly asking me to look up things: the biggest river fish in the world, the tallest building, the biggest thing you can see from space, the smallest insect in the world. She’s really into superlatives, and Google is really good at delivering those answers immediately. We don’t even have to click on anything to find the answer most of the time.
But as soon as she has a deeper question, it’s not as simple to figure it out. We have to click on articles, read through them together, and find the answer she’s looking for. Which got me thinking about all the content that’s out there - billions of articles, some good, some bad, but all just sitting there, waiting for the right person to read them.
When you can find anything within a few seconds on Google, what’s the point of publishing a blog post? Surely it’s been done before, right? What more could you have to say on a topic that countless others have likely already written on?
If those thoughts are some of the things that run through your head and keep you from making blogging or your email list a priority in your business, then this email is just for you. I want to show you a different way of looking at content, and see why it should be a cornerstone of your marketing efforts.
Give yourself a personal voice
The one thing that random online articles don’t usually do that great at is creating a genuine sense of connection between the real person who wrote it, and the real person who’s reading it. And I think that in that gap is where you can shine. People want to connect with real people. So going beyond “five things you can do to prepare for your next photo session” and tackling something like “the one photograph I’d run into a burning building for” is a great way to set yourself apart from something that can be Googled and answered by anyone.
Solve more meaningful problems
I think a lot of times photographers get hung up on just sharing sessions or photography tips. It makes sense - we’re a pretty logical, analytical bunch. In order to master the technical side of photography, you have to be pretty straightfoward and tech-oriented. But think about your photography journey, and when the magic really started happening - chances are, it’s when you stopped being quite so technically minded, and allowed the art of what we do to shine through. If you can make that same jump in your content, from simply sharing sessions to telling stories, you’ll find that there is magic in that, too. And often this is where you can solve more meaningful problems for your clients, in a way that Google simply can’t.
Seth Godin says “ People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” Take that to heart, and don’t be afraid to share stories from your personal life. Not everything you write needs to be tied in a linear fashion to exactly what you do. You’re selling relationships, connections, and stories: you’re selling a little bit of magic in an ordinary world. Entertainment and a sense of connection is a powerful marketing element, and serving an audience through those things is going to foster a deeper sense of connection to YOU, than simply sharing the surface level things.
Create micro-commitments that foster connections
Of course all this ties back to your main goal: which if you are in business, is going to be to book clients who love what you do, and understand the value in it. But before you can get to the booking part, you need to work on creating micro-commitments that foster a sense of loyalty to you and your brand. This allows you to naturally move people through the steps in the process between new follower to paying client.
It’s unlikely that a stranger who just discovered you and what you do is likely to immediately make the jump to booking a session. They need to feel more connected to you, and better understand why they need what you do. One way to do this is by asking them to make micro-commitments to you. What does that mean? Asking them to follow you on social media, and then asking your social media followers to engage through what you post. It means setting up an email list, and asking them to opt in - and then following through and sending things out that they can connect with. And so on. It extends further into how you set up your pricing, but that’s a topic for another day. Right now, just focus on creating those micro-commitments through connection, by asking them to follow you, and then engaging them with thoughtful content.
And this ties back into the Google thing with my daughter I mentioned at the beginning - the information that was easy to Google didn’t require us to click on anything beyond that initial “search” button. Not much of a commitment there, micro or otherwise. But the deeper things, those made us click through. And every time we did so, subconsciously we were making a commitment to find out what we wanted to know. A click is a form of micro-commitment - and it’s one reason why website and social media analytics pay attention to them. They matter, because they are the very first, tiny step in creating clients.
I know what it’s like to look at a blank page, and think “oh my gosh, what am I going to write.” But sometimes we just need to have a bigger understanding of the greater purpose behind the blog post we’re dragging our feet on. And I hope that these three bits of insight help you see how you can start creating more powerful content: the kind of content that isn’t really served with a quick Google search, but that fosters connections and helps make you a welcome resource to those you serve.