The first thing you should know is: There is no one size fits all answer to writing blog posts. Soz about that. But this is why you’ll find such different answers all over the web.
In my talks I give the advice that you should have at least 500 words as this provides enough content to be nice and juicy, usually supports the need of the reader (what query they have, and is it answered) and is pleasing enough for the reader to stick around and spend time on the page. Because 300 words is a bit short and doesn’t really provide anything more than the basics but search engines LOVE long content like 1500+ words BUT do your readers really want to read that much about whatever you’re writing about?
What I’d like to ask you to consider is – what is the goal of your blog post? Because I guarantee they won’t be the same each time.
Sometimes, they’ll be to push the sales of a particular product or service.
Sometimes it will be to increase the awareness of what you do.
Sometimes it will be to maximise on the PR around an event you were involved in (styled shoot, real wedding, pop up shop, party, etc etc)
How often should I blog?
You need to be blogging regularly. If you get a flurry of inspiration don’t be tempted to publish all at the same time, instead use the scheduling tool on your website . Whether it’s once/twice/three times a week or month, just do it regularly. Use the scheduler on your website platform to select a date and time to publish and use Facebook scheduler / Buffer to share your posts.
What should I blog about?
Sit yourself down and brainstorm the topics your clients ask about.
You should think about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.
Look in your inbox, what are the most common questions? What questions are you always asked by your clients? What are you asked by fellow professionals and peers? Write about those topics first. (Like I wrote this one!)
Address a specific question and you’ll get the readers in.
Read wedding blogs designed for your audience. Check out Top 100 Wedding Blogs for inspiration.
Share other people’s blog content. Do not copy and paste their posts, but instead write a couple of paragraphs about the topic, then link to the blog post and email them with a compliment about how much you enjoyed their work.
Write about what projects you’re working on right now.
Always feature your real weddings if you’re a wedding pro.
Keep a Google Doc / Word doc of article ideas on your phone so you’re never stuck for an idea.
Make a plan for 2018
Next you need to organise what you want to share in your blog posts and rotate:
Tutorial posts or “How to” posts. (They build trust for the reader and they’re great for SEO)
Resource lists (list local services and be thorough with your information, contact the businesses and let them know you’ve linked to them, they might link back! Call the posts things like “Top Ten Wedding Venues in London”
Checklists (yes, they’re prolific, but oh boy are they wildly popular, don’t dismiss them as they’re also potentially viral on social media including Pinterest). Make sure the lists are informative to your reader and in line with your business values.
Infographics – this relates to being helpful to your couples. They’re also hugely popular on Pinterest. Use a free tool like
PiktoChart to convey some useful information. Search on Pinterest and see what’s already out there.
Guest posts on your blog – featuring guest posts from other professionals in your field is a great way to share audiences, and to associate yourself in a particular area so that readers know more about you. Reach out to other pros and ask them if they’d like to write for your blog. Writing a few short questions for them if they say yes will help inspire them to be specific.
Guest post on other blogs – Publishing on other people’s blogs earns you a new audience, boosts your traffic as the link on the new site will earn you a great backlink to your site.
Interviews – interview pros you admire in your field, perhaps get their take on the current trends in your area, interview yourself so potential clients can see what you’re all about! They want to get to know you before they trust you to book your services.
Sponsored posts – if you choose the right blog for you and your audience, then purchasing a sponsored blog post can give you great visibility that generates good quality leads.
Is there a particular way I should format a blog post?
Whilst there is no set way, there is a format that I would recommend
Consider your title:
Write your title with your keyword phrase, then a detail about the topic then couple’s name
E.g. London Wedding Photography – The Ritz Wedding – Harry and Sally
OR if it’s a tutorial post keep it simple:
E.g. How to learn origami in 5 easy steps
If you want to be more creative with your blog posts then use the keyword phrase first, then the funny title afterwards. It’ll help your ranking by using the keyword phrase whilst also appealing to your target audience.
Introduce that proves you identify and understand the problem you’re about to solve for the reader (they don’t know about the range of your photography skills, they don’t know how to put together a particular theme, they don’t know about the skills you have to offer, the list goes on)
Share your expertise by understanding the problem. Show off great examples that demonstrate your expertise (the best images from that wedding, or great photography for a DIY tutorial)
Conclude with a purpose and call to action (what do you want them to do next?)
We know what it’s like at this time of year, the wedding season is over and you’re sitting for hours at your desk editing / admin-ning / working away on your business. Having a sore neck, back and shoulders (and everything else in between) doesn’t need to be a given when working from your computer. I know from experience on running a full-time online business that self care is important and gets pushed down the priority list *if only you could just send those final 10 emails already*. Phew.
I got the fabulous Team Shine together recently and we decided to share how we all take care of our minds and bodies when sitting at a computer for hours on end.
So here we are, we have 16 ways to take care of yourself when you work at a computer – there are quite a few reference links here for you to enjoy, and we promise, we’re not affiliates of any kind 😀
1. Get up and stretch regularly. Do you ever go into one of those work-time-warps and look up from your computer screen 5 hours later? Setting a timer in your calendar at hourly intervals can be a really great solution, even if that mini-break only means putting the kettle on, you’re still encouraging yourself to get up from the screen for a few moments, move around and think about something else.
2. Drink plenty of water. Now, I hate to admit it but common sense might be onto something here. We are made up of 70% water after all so it’s hard to expect our brains and bodies to be in tip-top shape if their constantly dehydrated! As a reminder to drink more (water… not gin) try having a big glass of water next to your desk when you sit down to work..
3. Drink herbal tea rather than caffeinated drinks. If you know me then you’ll know that I am a coffee and tea connoisseur, however the last 6 months I’ve been switching over to mainly decaf and I tell you, it really can make a huge difference to your concentration and energy levels. Many of the women on Team Shine also try to drink less caffeine and stick to herbal tea or decaf and have noticed it makes a difference too.
4. Starting off the day with a walk. I may be the least physically active person I know, so I try to start each work day by leaving the house and going for a stomp. I listen to a Spotify playlist called “Walking Like a Badass” which may amuse you. If you like rock music, you may enjoy it too, you can follow along here. Even if you walk around the block to get yourself a sneaky (decaf) latte, then you’re still ironing out some of those kinks before you sit down and get cracking (pun intended).
5. Writing an end of day review specifically for my work day. Call it an ‘end of day review’ or just a scribble in your diary, writing a few words about what you are grateful to yourself for today can be a really supportive practice. Here at Team Shine love to emphasise what we’re grateful for and have found it to be so supportive when it’s so easy to spend all our time dwelling on the negative / sh*t you didn’t get done that day!
6. Getting a screen that’s the right height for you. Do you find yourself slumping over or rounding your shoulders when you work? I had the worst posture but since I got a laptop stand to prop up my laptop it has stopped my neck being at such an awkward angle, highly recommend! I found it so supportive that now all of Team Shine have laptop stands for their work and we love using them achieve the correct height for our posture. It is affordable, portable, lightweight, easy to adjust, comes in multiple colours (including gold! If only they had a pink sequin one…
Here is a great (if not slightly grey, soz) image to show good posture at your desk:
7. Get a proper chair (your bed doesn’t count) We all know the temptation of not getting out of bed, propping up some pillows and working in your PJ’s but it really is the worst thing to do for your posture. Here on Team Shine we are big fans of this Ikea chair as it was voted within the top 9 ergonomic office chairs in April 2017 and really doesn’t break the bank.
8. Using an alternative/body-friendly desk and chair
There are so many different ways that you can work, and often it can be nice to be able to switch things around to give your body a break from one position. At Team Shine you can find us working at standing desks or sit down desks, alternating chairs, sitting on a meditation cushion and a low table or even the occasional yoga ball! It’s all about switching things up so that your muscles don’t get worked too hard in one position.
9. Your hands need looking after too. Whereas some people might be terrified of clowns and buttons (seriously, look it up, it’s a thing!), I’m terrified of carpal tunnel and RSI (repetitive strain injuries). Investing in a cool ergonomic mouse, for example this one named the ‘Penguin‘ is a perfect way to support our wrists. This is also a great website for ergonomic keyboards and other desk supports. Some of us love our gel cushion wrist rest (increase ergonomics of the keyboard), but a rolled up tea towel can work, too.
10. Not forgetting our favourite wobble cushion here
Now it may look like I’m recommending some kind of torture device to you, but I swear this is the real deal, I mean look, they come in hot pink! My spiky cushion supports my posture and eases back pain as I’m working and it’s way more comfortable then it looks, I swear. I’d really recommend you give this a try throughout your work day, even if it’s just for a few minutes here or there.
11. Listening to ambient music whilst you work.
Depending on the work, I like to listen to meditation talks or classical film soundtracks on Spotify, it really helps and is totally worth the few minutes you might ‘waste’ Googling the film trivia. I love music – it sets the tone and really makes work so much more fun, it’s quite often Rihanna or best of musicals playlist (esp Les Mis!) or lately I’ve been really into Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead. Here’s to dance parties with yourself on one of your tea breaks, it’s only going to get your body moving, what’s not to love?!
12. Take care of your feet/knees/hips and heating! I don’t have an adjustable office chair, so will often put a rolled up blanket under my feet to keep good hip/knee/foot alignment and I love to have a hot water bottle in the mix when it is even a touch chilly. It’s good to just scan your body from time to time, see which area might need a little help and make adjustments accordingly, it really is the ultimate in self-care.
13. Remember to streeeeetch. Going back to our suggestion earlier of taking short timed breaks, here is a program that you can use on your computer that will remind you to take a 1min break with stretches and movements – exercise videos included – it’s very funny, and you can set the timing to suit your needs which is really helpful!
14. Go outside for a few minutes. If you’re feeling like you need a breath, just do it! Go outside or open your windows and get some fresh air in your lungs. When anxiety, stress or tension comes up this can be a really great way to just refresh. We love to do this at Team Shine, especially when it feels like you really really need to hurry and get something done, these can be the best times just to take a moment, and breath.
15. Look outside the window. I have my table positioned so that I can look out the window whenever I can, this helps to relax the eye, as by gazing into the sky you will relax the muscles that continue to strain while looking at the screen. Being a global team that loves to travel, there are always different seasons and different countries to look around at whilst we’re working!
16. Go chat with someone in real life. I find that the best breaks – along with the dancing – can be catchups with friends. Real life connections really do bring fresh air into the brain and sometimes even new ideas and solutions! It can be easy for us all to feel like there is always too much to do, but prioritising socialising with dear friends is always a good plan – just don’t drink too much or you’ll have a killer hangover and that’s never fun when you’ve got to work! (Ahem.)
I know as much as anyone how much our work days can feel like a complete time-crunch, however, it really does pay off to take a few moments throughout our day to just relax and prioritise our mental and physical health as well!
On Wednesday 8th November, the fabulous Kate Cullen and I ran our first ever live Pinterest Love workshop at the incredibly beautiful Deer Park Country House Hotel near Honiton, Devon. I had met Mark, the managing director, at an NAWP seminar I taught back in April and was immediately enamoured with his passion and enthusiasm for his business and so I was delighted when he offered to host the Pinterest Love workshop at Deer Park.
A group of 12 wonderful businesswomen and men met to learn all about how to use Pinterest for their businesses. We had wedding dress designers, stationery designers, cake makers, a wedding directory owner and photographers in our creative mix and it was super fun to go through a wide range of topics all to support them to grow their Pinterest following and attract a wider audience.
What was great to see was that all attendees had established businesses and weren’t here to learn how to drive much-needed sales but understood how beneficial it can be in getting sales using the techniques taught by myself and Kate.
I taught the morning session where I taught the attendees about target audience and why this mattered for social media and Pinterest in particular, how by understanding the benefits of their product and service they knew more about what to post on Pinterest and how to draw in their target audience. We talked specifically about how to bring in your current fans from other platforms, your customers, and also about what to do with your boards.
After a delicious buffet lunch put on by our hosts, Deer Park Hotel, eaten in their incredible Orangery (tropical leaves wallpaper right up our street, bloody love it) and a quick pose with one of the beautiful classic cars they have available at the hotel, we then had the afternoon session with Kate.
Kate was an early adopter to Pinterest back in 2011 when it was an invite-only situation. Her marketing strategy has always been focused on Pinterest and as such she has 29,000 followers. She walked through the process of what makes an engaging image, how to set up rich pins and the advantages of rich pins vs regular pins and how to actually make bookings through Pinterest.
Attendees commented that it was very meaty, that it made them think more closely about who it was they were trying to attract and that they left the workshop with plenty of ideas.
“I just wanted to thank you both for an excellent course yesterday. My head is still buzzing with all the information you kindly gave to us. To have me sitting and listening to every word spoken is a big credit to you. (And I don’t say that lightly). As soon as I have sent this email to you, I will be getting started! Thank you for a wonderful day, in wonderful surroundings.” Sally, Aylin White Designs
All in all a great day! Huge thanks to Venetia Norrington Photography for snapping through the day and huge thanks to Deer Park Country House Hotel for looking after us so well.
This week I’m talking about hashtags, they’re a bit of a marmite subject, aren’t they, you love them or you hate them, and you’re never quite sure where to use them or how to use them or when to use them!
I wanted to break it down in simple steps for you:
What are hashtags?
To the uninitiated, using a hashtag on whatever you’re posting on a social media platform groups together what you say with everyone else who’s used that hashtag. When you click on a hashtag, you can see who else is using that hashtag, nifty, huh?
Why is this useful to me?
We all want to feel connected, right? No more so than in running your own business and in wanting to join in conversations. You may have seen hashtags for particular news threads, for events, for topics, for scheduled conversations. By using the designated hashtag, you get to join in that conversation and add your tuppence worth. #ValuableFreeMarketing
How do I include hashtags in my updates?
You can either write a sentence for your update and then add hashtags afterwards like this:
I love cake so much. #cake #love
or include the hashtag in your sentence (but this can read poorly):
I #love #cake #so #much
If you want to add lots of hashtags, please make sure you delete the spaces between words. I cannot tell you how often I see wasted opportunities due to the spacing issue! e.g. #Marketing #SEO #YeahBaby
Notice I’ve deleted spaces between the words of multiple word hashtags e.g. #toomuchtodo (for ‘too much to do’)
and also make sure you add spaces after the final word before starting the next hashtag.
Should I be using hashtags? How?
That entirely depends on where you are. I’ve broken it down by social media platform to help:
Whilst Facebook confirms they technically help search results, the hashtags used aren’t generally the terms searched and they’re not actually clicked on or used to any large extent. I think the hashtag use on Facebook does help with branding (for example, with a particular campaign) or in a humorous way.
Verdict: No need to really use them on Facebook if you’re looking to improve engagement this way. But using them humorously if you know your audience will enjoy them does work! Example below ;o)
With only 140 characters in each update, the power of the hashtag can be used here to group your tweet with other tweets talking about the same topic. When you click on a hashtag, you see who else is using that hashtag. You may want to connect with these people by retweeting them or favouriting them. If you and others who are geographically near you all use the same hashtag then you can make it start trending, which essentially means it appears more in your feed, and the feeds of those who are also geographically near you or otherwise follow a lot of the people who are using that hashtag (for example, I get trending hashtags about wedding discussions that I’m not necessarily a part of).
Verdict: Yes, use them! But sparingly – one or two maximum.
Instagram, how I love thee. The hashtag here is gold. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but let’s face it, that’s a bit much to look at and it will take up way too much space on your followers’ feeds. To get round taking up that much space, comment on your own posts with all the hashtags so that as soon as people start commenting on your posts, your hashtags disappear in the feed because previous comments are hidden, BUT the fact that they’re there does not and so your post is still searchable!
Make sure you put hashtags in your first comment and not your caption – watch the likes flood in!
Verdict: You should be using these! But which ones? Scroll down to get the freebie list of hashtags for your business.
Hashtags do not make the blindest bit of difference to search results or anything else. It’s a shame because I’ve seen Pinterest gurus out there telling people that you should use them, but I’ve heard it directly from Pinterest HQ.
ANY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERWEBS
You can of course use hashtags anywhere you like, like I’ve done throughout the this blog post, but they won’t work anywhere other than social media if you want to join your conversation to the masses. Sorry!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Just for you, I’m offering a free copy of the Shine 10 Golden Rules of Using Hashtags if you sign up to my mailing list right here. You’ll also have the opportunity to download hashtags of the category of your choice, but you’ll only be able to see those from a link I’ll send you in an email.