Anna Sawin opened her photography business in 2008 and since then, she has photographed hundreds of families and dozens of weddings. But all the years working as a media spokesperson and writing letters and speeches for CEOs turned out to be a handier skill set than she could have imagined for a photographer! Penning letters on a regular basis for her photographer friends and their sticky client situations told her there was a need for her first product, the Wedding Photographer’s Inbox Solution. Adding those email templates to her collection of photographer’s marketing materials, workflows, questionnaires and client correspondence grew into the launch of Pencil & Lens.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
- WordPress 4.5 is now out! Be sure to backup your sites before updating.
- Wordfence believes the Revolution Slider plugin is the cause of a major Panama law firm breach.
- WordPress 4.5
- Mossack Breach
- Moving From Squarespace to WordPress Is A Pain
- Blogging on Squarespace | Settings to change as a Photographer
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Yoast SEO
- WordPress for Photographers Facebook Group
Where to find Anna:
Scott: Welcome to Episode 13. My name is Scott Wyden Kivowitz and, I'm joined by my co-host Rachel from Fotoskribe. Hey, Rachel.
Rachel: Hey, Scott, how are you?
Scott: I'm doing well. Been a long week and it's already Wednesday, but been a long week. I'm ready for this episode. It's going to be a really good conversation, especially after writing, well, experiencing what I experienced and then writing the article that I wrote, and you writing the article you wrote.
Rachel: Yeah, it was really enlightening. We're talking with Anna today, of Pencil and Lens.
Scott: Yeah, we'll dig into what Rachel and I were just talking about in a second, or a little bit, but let's talk about who we're speaking with. Anna Sawin opened her photography business in 2008, and since then she has photographed hundreds of families and dozens of weddings, but all her years working in the communications industry as a media spokesperson, and writing letters and speeches for CEOs, turned out to be a handier skill set than she could have imagined for a photographer.
Penning letters on a regular basis for her photographer friends and their sticky client situations told her there was a need for her first product, the Wedding Photographer's Inbox Solution. Adding those email templates to her own collection of photographers' marketing materials, work flows, questionnaires and client correspondence grew into the launch of Pencil and Lens, which is a really, really cool website which we'll talk about in a little bit.
Rachel: Yeah. Well, the reason I went right into Anna's name and introducing and saying "Hi" is because her experience is so unique, because she's gone from a Squarespace site to a WordPress site with Scott's help, so we're going to talk all about that today, and I'm really interested to get into the nitty gritty, and what we've learned, and what she learned as a client, and moving back and forth.
Scott: Before we dig into that we have to do a little bit of news, as always. I've got 2 pieces of news. Today is Wednesday the 13th. Yesterday WordPress 4.5 was released, which we've talked about twice now on this show because there's really important image-related updates to WordPress 4.5, so be sure to go back and listen to the other episodes. We won't dig into it too much, but know that WordPress 4.5 ... We both can't say WordPress today.
Rachel: It's kind of a key word here.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. 4.5 is now out and make sure you do your back-ups before you update your site.
Rachel: Yeah, someone in our ... We have a WordPress for Photographers group on Facebook which we invite you to join if you are a working photographer. Someone said they upgraded and had to downgrade because it just messed with everything right now, so maybe when this podcast is out on the 21st it'll be okay, but right now as we're recording on the 13th they're still a little bit buggy. We always recommend waiting 7 days in that case just so you can get it all fixed.
Scott: Yeah, and it could have been just a plugin that didn't look for compatibility with 4.5, or it could have been something else, and we might see a 4.5.1 very soon. Either way, run your back-up ahead of time so that you can revert if need be. The second piece of news, this is very important, especially if you use Revolution Slider.
The WordPress security plugin Wordfence has discovered that Revolution Slider was most likely the cause of a really high-level, Panama law firm breach, where there was government documents or something that were leaked out and stuff like that because of this hack that was performed through the Revolution Slider plugin. Now the Revolution Slider plugin had a lot of known vulnerabilities.
I would say maybe last year, and they did updates, and they removed them, but apparently this law firm didn't run their update. This is really important for people to know because you want to make sure your plugins are up to date, and you want to make sure you have a security plugin in place.
Rachel: Which we recommend Wordfence, which is the article that we're linking to, talking about that.
Scott: Correct, so there's our news. Anna, what's going on with you?
Anna: Hey there guys, it's great to be here. I'm pretty excited because both of my sites are now 100 percent WordPress. I have a photography business site which has always been WordPress, and then last year I launched my new company, Pencil and Lens. I had lots to learn, so in addition to writing all of my products and learning how to market to my clients, I also had to get a website up and going.
I took the path of least resistance and quickly threw out the Squarespace site. That's a tough one to say, too. It was a good experience. I had a very simple, easy-to-use site but I couldn't do everything I wanted to do with it, so I always knew that when I had a moment I'd be switching over to WordPress, and as you know I'm pretty thrilled to have them both on the same platform now.
Rachel: That's awesome. Now, we've talked about Squarespace before, and the situation that you're describing where you needed a website quickly that worked, that was beautiful. You know, that's where we recommend that you use it. I think what you did in the beginning, it got the job done, and then when you were ready for further customization you moved over to WordPress. We wanted to dive into the transition itself, because a lot of times we get asked, "Is it easy to move over?" Scott, is it easy to move over from a technical point of view?
Scott: No. I wrote an article about the experience, about how migrating from Squarespace to WordPress is a pain, but it was well worth it, obviously.
Anna: I think so.
Scott: Yes, yes, and aside from Anna being happy that she's now in WordPress with Pencil and Lens, there's other reasons which we'll get into of why it was worth it. One of the hassles of migrating was that Squarespace must be blocking the importing of images. Now there's multiple WordPress plugins out there that can import images from an external site, using the [X-feed 00:06:48], the file that needs to be used for importing.
Now on Squarespace you, can export your content, your post and, page content, to a WordPress import file. They actually do that for you. They create that file for you at Squarespace. When you import that content into the WordPress site the images are there, but they're still being called from Squarespace, which means once you take away the Squarespace site, all those images go away.
Rachel: Oh, so the URL pointing to the images isn't in the WordPress database, it's still on Squarespace.
Scott: There's plugins, multiple plugins, that can import those images into your own site, but none of them work, and if for none of them to work, my best guess is that Squarespace is blocking it.
Rachel: Did you try obviously more than one in this situation?
Scott: Oh, yeah. I tried every single one, and not one of them worked. Other people have had it successful in the past, so it's possibly just recently started blocking it. Anything's possible, but images had to be moved manually. The e-commerce parts from Pencil and Lens had to be moved manually, and we went with Easy Digital Downloads to run the e-commerce parts. Moving was not easy because of those 2 reasons, the manual process.
Rachel: We should mention that Pencil and Lens is a company that sells products to photographers, products that we both use and recommend, but it is not a photographer's site, so the concern is if you are using, if [in this 00:08:31] imported in your wedding site, all those images would then have to be manually, whereas with Pencil and Lens it wasn't quite so image-heavy as a photography site.
Scott: Yeah, but before we started recording I was telling Anna that I was quite lucky that her site was as small as it was, because typically at Imagely we don't do Squarespace to WordPress migrations for customers. We might in the future, but right now we don't. I was doing this for a couple of reasons, one of which being to see the process. I want to learn how the progress was, and ... I just totally lost track of why I was saying that, but anyway.
The site was so small. It was probably about 40 pages total and about 12, I forgot how many products. I think you have about 12 to 16 products or something?
Anna: 15 I think, yeah.
Scott: 15, so it took me about 2-and-a-half hours once I ... of the manual part. I did the import of the post and page content, and then it was the images and, then there'd be naming images and stuff like that, that had to be done manually. That took about 2-and-a-half hours for a small site, but if it was a photographer that has blog posts with 40 images on it or whatever, that's a much bigger ordeal.
Rachel: I guess the bottom line with a transition is if you are a photographer and you are using Squarespace with the intention of moving to WordPress, sooner may be better.
Rachel: Anna, how was your experience from ... You have your photography site on WordPress, and then having the e-commerce site on Squarespace and now on WordPress. What was sort of the end user for the migration and then again for using both platforms?
Anna: Sure. Well, I have to say my experience was completely different than Scott's, because he said, "This is a good day and, I think I'll get started today if this works for you." He checked to make sure I wasn't planning on updating a page that day, and then a few hours later he said, "Okay, well, you're all set," and I think I hadn't even gotten back to my desk. Not only was it all set, I had 3 sales that came in before I even had a chance to really dig into the new site.
From their point of view it was as if ... They were actually all repeat clients and no-one said, "Why is everything so different?" Nothing was different. The sales went smoothly. I got notifications in my email box, so everything, it was seamless for me.
Rachel: Great, and you didn't have to reconstruct any content. Everything came over at once. Awesome.
Anna: I think there may have been sort of 1 or 2 little things.
Scott: Yeah, there was 2 little things that were easily fixed. I forgot what they were.
Anna: I don't remember what they were, but it took you seconds and, we were totally in business. There was literally no down time for me.
Rachel: That's awesome.
Anna: Yeah, it was pretty amazing. I wasn't expecting those 3 sales. I wasn't running any active promotions or anything, so it was a big surprise that they sort of all came in right in a row, and I was very glad that my door was open for them.
Rachel: That's great. Your photography business is on WordPress and has been on WordPress. Is there any things that you recommend for photographers specifically and now seeing, moving from Squarespace to WordPress, what is the benefit for you and for photographers do you think, being on WordPress?
Anna: Oh, well, it's huge in terms of what we can do for SEO, analytics and for marketing. That was actually one of the huge reasons I needed to move from Squarespace, but I think it holds true for photographers as well as we all try and sort of make our space known in a loud world. I had to come in and figure out how to find my clients. I knew my clients were, for the most part, English-speaking photographers around the world.
Truly that has been what I have found, and it's all been through marketing through Facebook ads, through Instagram, little bit of word of mouth, and little bit of affiliate marketing, but really it's been using the tools that we have. Facebook marketing, for example, is made so much easier with WordPress than in Squarespace. That might sound really specific to an e-commerce company, but not at all, because I think photographers are getting savvier every day about how to harness the ad capability in Facebook for their own businesses.
I mean, we have access to clients in a way that small businesses never have. It used to be that you had to be sort of a giant corporation to be able to really harness market data and put it to work for you, but not any more. On WordPress using plugins, using Facebook pixels, using things that, WordPress is just made for that, so we should all be using it.
Rachel: That's great.
Scott: Yeah, there's tons of plugins to be able to manage your advertising and [remarketing 00:14:00] pixels, so yeah, I agree.
Rachel: Anna, do you want to talk a little bit about what Pencil and Lens are, because the reason we're asking you these questions specifically is because you're a communicator, and what Pencil and Lens does is help photographers sort of find those marketing words.
Rachel: That's why hearing that from you, especially about Facebook and the WordPress, I think really carries more weight.
Anna: Sure, yeah. Well, as Scott said, Pencil and Lens started because I ... Well, I have a background in communications, and I had a number of friends, photographer friends, who would come to me with sort of a bridezilla situation, and I'd help them out by writing a letter. Then I had this stack of letters growing, growing, grow, and I realized that the same situations kept coming up either with my friends, or I'd see them in the forum.
As photographers we sort of do run into the same scenarios, so I created this first product in terms of ... which is email template, the Wedding Photographer's Inbox Solution, and it's a huge long list. It's more than 75 different letters, pieces of work flow, just communications to get you in and out of different scenarios, and do it with grace, and do it with a client that still loves you at the end.
Rachel: Yeah, which is hard.
Anna: Yeah, it's a hard place for us to be, because it's sort of like we're in the position a lot of times of having to tell our clients "No" and yet we still have to work with them, and we still want them to love us and say good things about us when it's over, because that's another way that we're getting future clients.
Scott: I think it's important to make sure everybody who's listening and watching knows that not only are these available for purchase, but you use these because you have a photography business.
Anna: Absolutely, oh yeah, I have a whole long list of these that I use all the time. Thanks for saying that. Then when I write a new one I put it in my folder for a future Pencil and Lens product, too.
Rachel: That's great.
Anna: Yeah, I've expanded it. I have some out for portrait photographers. There's more coming this year. I have a really well-oiled album process which is always a pain point for particularly wedding photographers. I have a great employee and, we have some great letters and questionnaires, so we're creating a new product this year, an album kit. There's a few other guides and just a lot of words to use for your clients.
Rachel: That's awesome, and that's why, again, what I mentioned, what you were saying about marketing, it just carries more weight for me because I know your product and, I believe in it. This whole Squarespace, WordPress, where do the words go? What is the best customer experience, even having multiple customers? You having the photography customers and, then you having a business where your customers are photographers and having WordPress be the best place for that.
If we go to back again to your point of view as a photographer, how long have you been on WordPress and what's the evolution been there for you?
Anna: I've been on since Mommy Blog days and, I had a WordPress.com Mommy Blog with in the early days before everybody was out there, so there was this tribe of us and, I was posting daily, definitely. If not 7 days a week, definitely 5 days a week, and there were a lot of us out there doing it. That was my first experience with WordPress. That was probably back in 2006 maybe, 2007.
I've been using it since then. I've always used it for my photography business website and gone through so many iterations of what I can do with it. It seems like there's always a season for something. I'm learning Yoast now, and that was something that I had but didn't really use before, and that's obviously an invaluable tool for all of us photographers.
I've used different gallery tools and all kinds of different ways to show it. I'm always so sad when I see sort of a starter template site for a photographer because they can do so much with it. They don't have to have a site that looks like everybody else's.
Rachel: Right, in terms of customization, yeah.
Scott: I noticed today that you actually started customizing the color on your Pencil and Lens site from the basic [crosstalk 00:18:40]
Anna: I could, yeah.
Scott: Actually, I think it's that green color.
Anna: You know, it is. I was noticing that green. Now I'll have to compare our hex colors.
Rachel: Everybody, for those of you listening, Scott has a WordPress sticker on his microphone and, that's what he was pointing to. Even though the WordPress color is blue, he has a green one.
Scott: Yeah, I actually don't know why. Oh, this was Philadelphia, so they were ... That's the Philly color.
Rachel: Oh, okay.
Scott: That was at WordCamp Philly.
Anna: Soft, mossy green.
Scott: Yeah, yeah.
Rachel: Well great. Moving back towards some of the Squarespace WordPress migration stuff, Scott found some specific stuff that we wanted to talk about and then there's a blog on the Imagely site about moving. Then I actually jumped in and wrote one on the Fotoskribe site about specific metadata issue. Scott do you want to jump into that about what-
Rachel: If you are on Squarespace, and you're continuing on it, these are some of the things that we've found that you should change sort of immediately, or move to WordPress, [whatev 00:19:45].
Scott: It's really interesting, this first one. There's really 2 main issues. There's 3 but one we already talked about, about the blocking of importing images. The main issue on Squarespace is, that I've found, and this is intermittent because it's not everybody. It's happening, I'd say, 80 percent of the time if not more. Images are being renamed to static and, a number .Squarespace.png or .jpg, and the number is the number of images on that page or post.
For example, if you have a post about this wedding you've just photographed and, you have 6 images, there's going to be static1.squarespace.jpg, static2.squarespace.jpg, all the way up to 6. It repeats; it starts over again on your next poster page. Each one is going to have the same file names over and over and over again. Why does it say static and a number.squarespace.file name. It should say whatever your file name was when you uploaded it.
Scott: You should be optimizing your images for search engines when you upload it, having your key word in the file name and whatnot.
Rachel: Because in WordPress when you do that, the file name, if you name it as a wedding photographer, name of venue–photographyname.jpg, that automatically goes into the [alts 00:21:13] tags unless you manually change it. What Scott is saying here is that they totally strip whatever the file name is as you upload it. Now I think we ... Scott and I did some experiments where, if you're writing a blog post in Squarespace, and you rename the file name in the blog post it does rename it.
Scott: Correct, yeah.
Rachel: There is a workaround to that, but that means you have to manually go in and rename each file name. If you're a wedding photographer and, you upload 40 blogs, right? I mean, 40 images to one blog, you have to then manually go in and, there's no ... I think you can copy and paste into the field, but you have to touch upon each image to be able to do it.
Scott: Yes, so ...
Rachel: It's very different than WordPress in that respect.
Scott: Yeah, so I mean, first thing first, Squarespace should not be renaming everybody's images, no matter what. The fact, yes, you can edit them before you republish a page or post, but you shouldn't have to have to do it again. You're already doing it once, right?
Scott: That was a little frustrating. When I was migrating Pencil and Lens I had to rename every single images.
Rachel: You had to rename them before they actually even got into WordPress because they were named the same thing?
Scott: No, I didn't have to, but I did it for Anna's sake. I wanted to have at least one important key word in them. I did that just because I'm a nice guy.
Rachel: Anna was letting the dog in, but he said we did it because you're you.
Anna: Oh, thank you. Sorry, I heard her at the door.
Rachel: It's all right. The cat's not meowing this time.
Scott: That's issue number 1. Issue number 2, and by the way, both of these issues only matter if you care about SEO, search engine optimization. If you don't care at all, then it doesn't matter.
Rachel: Well, and they're related to images, so they are specific to photographers, too. Again, if you have a small business that isn't image-based, it may not be as big of a deal.
Scott: Correct, correct.
Scott: The other issue is that Squarespace, by default, you have to actually turn this option off, or rather turn the option to retain excess data on, is that Squarespace actually removes all excess data from your images during upload. Now they probably do this to bring the file size down. Now WordPress in 4.5 also strips out a little bit of excess data, but not any important data.
Rachel: Oh, that's interesting. What does it strip out in 4.5?
Scott: Things like, anything that's just not important. For example, if you have a software that added an edit, one edit it did, into the metadata somewhere, for example in Lightroom you can switch over to 500px and add in metadata about 500px if you used that plugin. If you were to export that image and retain all metadata, that 500px information is in the file, when it doesn't need to be for WordPress.
Rachel: I have an issue with WordPress doing that too, because this article that I read about EXIF data ... To back it up, EXIF is the EXIF, all capital letters, that your camera, especially the big ones that we photographers have, automatically kicks out. Then when you're editing in programs like Lightroom or Photo Mechanic, you can add copyright information.
The articles that I read about why it's important is that Google may reference it, they probably already do, there's no specific information anywhere, but I mean, by stripping it you're totally taking away the option for that SEO benefit later on or even now, just because we don't know.
Scott: Yeah, so Squarespace is stripping it by default, all of it, every last bit of it, even the title you add, any keywords you add, any description. WordPress does not. Even now, they do not. What they're stripping is unimportant data, not EXIF data, unimportant metadata, because metadata can be a variety of different things, like the 500px data that you add in Lightroom
Rachel: Right, which is just extra information.
Scott: It's extra, yeah. It's not EXIF, it's not IPTC, it's just extra metadata that doesn't need to be there in WordPress. That's what WordPress is removing, not a big deal. Squarespace's however, is a huge deal, because it is removing exit data, the important stuff, by default.
Rachel: You can turn it so that it brings it in.
Scott: Correct, but it won't bring it back from previously uploaded, only for future. Now, what you were saying before about search engines and EXIF data, yes. Matt Cutts who, I think he's on leave of absence or a sabbatical type of thing at Google, but he heads the Webspam Team at Google, or he did until his sabbatical. He went on record, and I think I have this on the Imagely blog somewhere.
Rachel: Be nice to do it on the Fotoskribe blog, too.
Scott: Okay, good. He went on record saying that EXIF is looked at but not currently used. This was 2 years ago or so, but I recently shared a video on the Imagely blog about a new feature in Images, in the image search, and it looks like they're starting to use EXIF data.
Rachel: I mean, why wouldn't they? It's definitely technical data. All right, that was our technical side note. Why don't you talk to Anna about some of your recommended WordPress plugins and/or themes? You sort of talked about Yoast, and we've talked about that before, but I think it would be really interesting being as a photographer, what do you use Yoast for?
Anna: Well, I'm in the early stages of learning, so I'm probably the last person to talk about it.
Rachel: I think that's good, because I think there are people out there just like you that are like, "What is Yoast?"
Anna: Yeah, well, search engine optimization is what we're using it for, and it's about, it really guides you, which is what I like about it. I feel like you do what you can to get that green light, which is, for those of you who haven't used it, if your keywords, or your string of information that you've added into the back end is favorable you get to a green light status. I don't know if I explained that right.
Rachel: It is color coordinated, so green is good and yellow is bad.
Anna: Yeah, so it sort of helps you think about keywords, descriptions, strings of text and so on, and just really helping you to optimize what you're putting out there for the search engines to find, and that's my understanding of it. I'm really liking what I learn about it, but I also can't imagine doing it without a tool like this.
Rachel: Yeah, no, I agree. As sort of a writer, marketing communicator, do you find that the Yoast, as you use it more and more, the meta part of it ... You can specify within Yoast what you want Google to read, right?
Anna: Yeah, Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rachel: What do you recommend as a writer-communicator for putting in there? Are you learning certain ways to say things better, work better than others?
Anna: Well, it seems that they don't like it when you repeat things too much, and as photographers we sometimes have trouble with that. I feel like I'm making a bigger effort to use different phrases. I mean, because there's so much that we're trying to describe that we actually do want people to find, those are things that are repeated. We talk about venues. We talk about attire and décor. We talk about styles, rustic, fancy, elegant.
Anna: Vintage, and so what I'm finding is that I'm making an effort to sort of use different strings of terms together because it seems that it doesn't like it to be repeated over and over again like you're just cutting and pasting. It's that organic language in the blog that seems to be what comes up as most appropriate.
Rachel: That's really interesting, the perspective of ... yeah, they don't love, and that's what they call keyword stuffing, right Scott?
Scott: Yeah, Keyword stuffing is when you overuse a keyword on one page or post, not multiple, but you can in theory over-optimize if you're using the same keyword all over the place.
Rachel: Yeah, I think the venue part again for wedding photographers, but even as family photographers or nature photographers, we've talked to a couple of photographers who do a lot of landscape stuff. You want to talk about the location so you have to talk about it differently every time. You could do Boston wedding, or weddings in Boston. You have to think about it in different ways.
Scott: A good technique would be to have a page or post about Boston weddings, and then you write other posts that are sub-categories of Boston, right? You have this venue in Boston, and it's only about that venue. You have this venue about Boston, and it's only that venue, and this wedding you photographed in Boston. It's only that wedding, and you're focused on key words about those specific things, and then on the main page or post about overall Boston weddings, you're linking back and forth into each other.
Rachel: That's interesting. I don't think a lot of photographers have that structure in place. I know for the ones that I blog with we focus on the venue and then just saying the venue in different ways, so what you're saying is to have a overall venue or location post, and then start linking back and forth when you do the individual wedding?
Scott: Yes, so as you're doing the wedding you want to link back and forth.
Rachel: That's great. Well, we recommend compiling posts. If there's one venue, I know with Anna you shoot down in Stonington near the vineyards a lot.
Rachel: If you have a overall post about the vineyard and, then you put your favorite images and, then you can, I guess what Scott's saying is link back to the individual post about the client's story. That's a really interesting ...
Anna: I think I'm going to try that, yeah.
Rachel: [inaudible 00:32:07] to your world.
Scott: By doing that you're telling search engines that all of these pages and posts or whatever they are, are connected. They all intertwine in some way, and you should look at those together.
Anna: I see.
Rachel: Do you ever think about client experience when you create blog posts like that? If it's just a bunch of links obviously a prospective bride isn't going to necessarily care, but if you're putting images in and text around that, I could see the client benefit of it, right?
Scott: You're talking to Anna or to me?
Rachel: To you.
Scott: Oh. Say it once more.
Rachel: When I hear things about SEO, like what you were saying about linkings, and I always worry about the client experience. If a client comes upon a blog post of links to other blog posts, is there a benefit to them from a client point of view unless you're putting images and other wording around it?
Scott: You say, a call to action could be, "Hey, if you were interested in this venue in Boston, you should also check out other weddings I've photographed at this venue and this venue," or "Check out my overall Boston wedding photography page and see everything I've done." You had a call to action and, that call to action is also your internal linking to relevant pages.
Anna: Ah, right, Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rachel: Awesome. See, this is why I love Yoast, because every time we talk about it we go in a different direction about what it's related to, not only just SEO but the content and how to display that content and how to talk about it.
Scott: Let's skip over Easy Digital Downloads real quick, because I know that's on your recommended, you're now using that for Pencil and Lens. Real quick for anybody who's listening, watching, Easy Digital Downloads is a general e-commerce plugin for selling pretty much anything you want to sell, general products like PDFs or things like that, MP3s, or whatever you want, but what other ...
Yoast is also on their course. What other plugins have you found beneficial for your photography business and Pencil and Lens?
Anna: I've just started using the LeadPages plugin. If you're not familiar with LeadPages, let's see how they describe it. It's just sort of a way to help you collect email addresses and other information from clients or prospective clients. It's also a way to serve them out information that you can sort of display to them in different landing pages and different things.
It works really beautifully with WordPress. Why would that be interesting to photographers, because I certainly use that in Pencil and Lens? For example, you might be trying to market to engaged couples, because you're going to throw maybe a seminar for all engaged couples, and you're trying to sort of bring all these engaged couples to you and, you want to collect information from those.
Maybe you're advertising on Facebook with a Facebook ad, and you're targeting that. You might use that LeadPages function to offer them something, like maybe a guide to engagement sessions or some tips on what to wear, so it's just sort of a way to bring them into your world and start communicating with them, and sharing blog posts with them, to maybe share email messages with them.
I don't see a lot of photographers using tools like this yet, but I think they should be. Again, it's sort of like depending on who you're trying to find and where they are, but we can get such a leg up on Facebook to find those people and to put yourself in front of them, but it's more you need to give them something to click on and something to act on and serve them with something. You need to give them something so that they maybe become interested in you.
Scott: LeadPages is a service that also has a WordPress plugin component, but another plugin that you have on your list of recommendations, it's a 100 percent WordPress based, it's very similar in some ways and very different in others, but there's a free version out there that anybody can use and that was PopupAlly. Are you using that one on your photography site?
Anna: No, I haven't and I'm thinking about how that might work. It's another, for those who haven't heard of it, we certainly know what pop-ups are. We can all say that maybe we don't like pop-ups. This particular plugin, this company likes to bill itself as the very polite pop-up. It's if you want to associate yourself with a pop-up, it's the one to have.
You can do some really subtle things, like you have a teeny little pop-up in the bottom of your page that is not really bothering anybody. We're just going to hang out down here. You can have a round pop-up. You can have a pop-up that is cued when your reader is about to leave the page. Perhaps you had a reader that found you, found that engagement session in your location, and you want to be able to send them information about what you suggest to wear for engagement sessions, because you're trying to prove your worth as a photographer, right?
Maybe as they're about to click away from that page, that pop-up is going just to give them a little wink and say, "Hey, do you want some free content from us? Do you want some free information? Just put your email address in here." Now you have a way to communicate with these potential clients that's all you, all through your own, you know, using your emails, using your blog.
I'd be interested to try it with my photography page, and I think other photographers should think about that as another way to bring those people closer to you, and give yourself a chance to offer them some content.
Rachel: Yeah, I've seen both LeadPages and PopupAlly, or pop-ups in general used well in the boudoir situation, where someone writes an e-book about boudoir, and then it allows them to sort of walk them through the process a little bit, because I think you expect a little bit more hand-holding in the boudoir, because it's very vulnerable in the actual studio situation. I wonder if you think of any of these photography situations like families.
Even newborns, moms who have just had a baby, there's a lot of vulnerability in all of that, and this is an opportunity for you to sort of nurture those leads and become their trusted photographer.
Scott: That's for sure, yeah. Providing a valuable free product to a website visitor, someone who is interested, it's a very powerful way to create a lead, and even a qualified lead. If you really go about it, you can create someone who's already not even just a standard lead, but somebody who actually shows interest in your product or service, and it's very valuable. I had a product for wedding photographers that walked through that whole process of doing this, so yeah, it's very valuable.
Rachel: Anna also, and we'll get back to ... I think you have one more plugin, but again I think as a communicator or a writer, how do you recommend photographers go about a process of creating something that they can give away for free. I mean, I know even for Fotoskribe sometimes I struggle with it. How do you find the time? How do you incorporate that? Do you have any tips or tricks for that?
Anna: I do. I feel like the first thing is just to keep it simple. It doesn't need to be a book, an e-book or a video or anything grand. In some ways I think there's probably a lot of value hiding in everyone's blogs, and there's nothing like re-purposing your own content. If it's not a blog post already, what about the email that you write to the new mom who gets in touch with you and wants to know when the best time to do a newborn session?
Most portrait photographers have probably already written this stuff, or if not they should get in touch with me, but they're probably already providing great content to the clients they have. They just need to think about taking that, making sort of a . .. Think about containing it to one sheet of paper. It's a checklist. It's 10 tips, or it's 5 ways to get your kid to be happy to show up to that family session.
All of us photographers, we know this stuff. If you just think about how can you spin it to make into a situation where it's a really valuable piece of information. I don't think it would take photographers too long. You could get to the bottom of a cup of coffee and, they could have a list of 10 things that they could be creating. It's the stuff that we know that our clients don't know.
It's our job to sort of bridge that and make them comfortable in front of the camera and make them comfortable with this very custom, often the luxury experience of being photographed.
Rachel: Yes, and then LeadPages and PopupAlly help you to do the technical side of it.
Scott: Great, so there's one more you had on your list which we've also mentioned. Actually we mentioned this in the news.
Anna: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, you guys installed it for me and, I love it! I love it because I can see exactly what's going on with log-ins on WordPress. In fact when I was working through moving my email over, I could actually tell because I would write to Support, and a few minutes later I'd see a log-in on my site. I'd get an email back from Support and the problem was solved, and so I could sort of see it happening in real time.
Rachel: We should mention the plugin is called Wordfence, the one we talked about ...
Anna: Yes, Wordfence.
Scott: What's really nice about Wordfence, is there's a frame premium. Even the premium's not too expensive, but the free version is still powerful in itself. A lot of security plugins will actually hard-code changes to your server. What I mean by that is, it will actually change the files on your server to implement security measures, and while this could be good for security, it can actually cause issues with plugins and themes writing to specific folders and files like they need to.
I never recommend any of those security plugins that do any hard-coded changes. Wordfence does not hard-code changes, but it scans on a schedule. It scans your site, both themes, plugins, and even ... It's not done by default, but you can specify it to scan folders outside of the default WordPress folders. What's nice is it will send you an email if problems are found, whether it's a change that needs to be made or some file that looks weird.
You can review what it's supposed to look like and what it does look like. Now Wordfence, there's 2 things that every person who's going to use it should know. 1, it has caching. If you, depending on your host, you may not need its caching, and if you have another caching plugin on, don't turn Wordfence's caching plugin on, or only use Wordfence's. You've really got to do your own research on what you need to do with that.
Rachel: We should probably explain what caching is because it's like the dirty word.
Scott: Caching, what caching usually does is it takes the your page and post content and stores it as a static file, because WordPress is dynamic. It stores it as a static file that's invisible to you, invisible to everybody who's even looking at it, but the page that you are looking at would be a static site to help it load faster. Pretty much that's what it's doing.
Rachel: Right, and when problems arise is when you make these changes, and there's caching on, and then it doesn't cache in time, so some people see the old version, some people see the new version, and then things get all confused.
Scott: The other thing that Wordfence has is, it has a live scanning, so it will actually scan every live person on your site. I turn that off by default because it's a performance hit. If you have something scanning your site at 24/7 every single time someone's on your site, your site will run slower, so I turn that off by default. Sorry, I turn that off when I install, but a lot of-
Rachel: You turn off the manual one?
Scott: That you have to turn off ... Well, it'll still scan on a schedule, it just won't scan every single person that's on your site in real time if you turn that feature off, which I do recommend turning that off. Wordfence is fantastic. As you can see they're on top of security. They've found some major things, and they're constantly finding major things, so I definitely recommend them, too.
Scott: Anna, we're going to have links to your sites and social media and whatnot in the show notes, but do you have any final thoughts you want to share with everybody before we close up?
Anna: Oh, I think just to reiterate how happy I am with this process. It's gone smoother than I could have imagined. You think about new websites as being major, major pain points for us photographers, and for the first time ever this has not been the case for me, so I'm really pleased. I'm just really happy to have everything on the WordPress platform because it just makes me more efficient.
I'm not having to remember where something is on a different dashboard, so that's been a huge thing. There's not too many people, I guess, running more than one site, but if you are, this is the only way to do it.
Rachel: Now where can we find you on the web?
Anna: My photography business is annasawin.com, which is a short name that's easily misspelled, so it's s-a-w-i-n, and Pencil and Lens, a resource for photographers is at pencil and lens, and I spell out the word "and".
Scott: Great, well, thank you, Anna, for joining us today, and thank you, Rachel, for being an awesome co-host.
Rachel: Same to you, Scott.
Anna: Thank you, [inaudible 00:46:47].
Scott: Yes, and you can find the show notes from today's episode at imagely.com/podcast/13.
Rachel: 13, lucky 13.
Anna: All right, fantastic.
Scott: Yeah, and today's my daughter's 15-month birthday. You can [send out 00:47:03] a birthday? 15-month.
Scott: It's a good day.
Rachel: That's awesome.
Scott: Thank you, and until next time.
Anna: All right, bye-bye. Thank you.
— Imagely (@imagely) April 28, 2016