Jasser Abu-Giemi is the the founder, host and business coach at the Canada Photo Convention. An event that started with just 89 Canadian Photographers one year in Vancouver and exploded to 230 photographers from around the globe the next year primarily due to the power of word of mouth marketing. Jasser is very proud to have been called an entrepreneur, a teacher, a caregiver, an animal lover, a disturber and photography’s Oprah.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
- WordPress 4.6 is here! It uses system fonts in admin instead of Google's Open Sans font. It also contains disaster recovery improvements and as you type, WordPress saves your content to the browser. A final notable feature is an inline broken link checker.
- SQL Injection Vulnerability in Ninja Forms plugin - Update immediately.
Where to find Jasser:
Scott: Welcome to Episode 22. 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: Doing all right. We're having a little bit of a technical difficulties with Skype here so we switched back to Google Hangouts for this episode.
Rachel: You should know that Google Hangouts is actually going away and becoming something on Youtube, right?
Scott: Yeah. Youtube has had Youtube Live for awhile now, but they're basically merging the two so Google Hangouts on air will become Google Live ... Youtube Live, sorry Youtube Live.
Rachel: Not WordPress related but very relevant to all photographers who do any video anything.
Scott: Yeah. The regular Hangouts are staying but it's just the on air that are being merged.
Rachel: Good to know.
Scott: Yeah. Today, we've got a really fun guest. I'm really excited about this, Jasser Abu-Giemi. I got that right, Jasser, right?
Jasser: Yeah, you did it perfectly.
Scott: Awesome. Jasser is the founder, the host and business coach at Canada Photo Convention. An event started with just 89 Canadian photographers in one year in Vancouver and it exploded to 230 photographers from around the globe the next year primarily given the power of word of mouth marketing, something that Jasser specializes in.
Rachel: Excels in word of mouth.
Scott: Yeah, so Jasser is very proud to have been called an entrepreneur, a teacher, a caregiver, an animal lover of a really cute dog.
Scott: A disturber and photography's Oprah so yeah.
Rachel: I love that.
Scott: Jasser also offers one-on-one consult calls with CPC attendees so I'm confident you have a lot to bring to this conversation. Welcome to the show, Jasser. We're happy to have you.
Jasser: Thank you, I'm happy to be here.
Scott: Before we get into what's going on with you, we like to talk about a little bit of WordPress, photography-related news. The first one of which being that WordPress 4.6 is now out and we said in the last episode that it's not a big one related to photographers but it is still a pretty ... It doesn't relate to photography specifically but it's still a pretty big update as far as what you would see changed in the software. The first of which being up until now for, I guess, since maybe 3.5 or 4.0 ... I don't know when it first started but the WordPress dashboard was using a Google font called OpenSource.
For whatever reason, maybe for performance reasons, I don't know, they switched from Google fonts to using native system fonts. They spent a lot of typographic testing in the dashboard and they got a really nice design of different font choices that is being used by default now. You should notice that slight text differences when you look at the backend. There's also a disaster recovery encryptment whereas before WordPress would only backup once every minute or something like that when you're writing a blog post or blog page. Now, it's as you type it's backing up for you. If you needed to recover, you could do that really anytime if you made a mistake.
Rachel: Now, for a technical question. Does that take up ... Because I've had the disaster recovery and it saved my butt but there's always that like one minute lag time. Does that do that ... Does that pull on resources in any way?
Scott: They're saying it's using your browser to do it so it shouldn't. It might slow your computer down slightly because of the browser but I don't know. I haven't really tested it that thoroughly. It could, I guess time will tell.
Rachel: Yeah. I guess my question is if a photographer is in there doing five in a row and scheduling them out like we tell them to do or advise them to do, are we then telling ... Like slowing their site if they're doing it at Monday at 10:00 AM and their site is getting hit with traffic.
Scott: If anything, it'll only slow down the backend I would imagine. Again, time will tell. We'll see. They're saying it's using the browser so it shouldn't slow down your site but we'll see. The last of which is an inline broken link checker. Now, this doesn't check your historical links. Basically what it is is while you're adding a link inline, in your content and you go to edit, it'll be red if the link is broken or blue if the link is okay. It's a nice feature.
Rachel: The plug-in itself pulled a lot of resources.
Scott: Yeah, the plug-in itself. Yeah, the broken link checker is a pretty resource heavy plug-in.
Rachel: An awesome one.
Scott: Yeah. The last bit of news is that if you're using a Ninja Forms plugin. Now, this happened once before and we've mentioned it on the show. Ninja Forms is a form plug-in, I think there's a free and a paid version. They have a vulnerability which was fixed so make sure you update immediately. If you want to know more about it, we'll link to that in the show notes but yeah, be sure to update that.
Rachel: Yeah, awesome.
Scott: Yeah. Jasser, what's going on with you in Canada world?
Jasser: Well, currently I'm getting ready for our Toronto conference coming up in a few weeks really. It's not very far from now on October 4th to 6th which you'll be at Scott so it'd be nice to meet you in person.
Scott: Yes, for sure.
Rachel: Talking about WordPress, right?
Scott: I'm talking about image SEO actually.
Rachel: That's good, right?
Scott: Yeah, I'm really excited about that. I haven't been to Canada in years too so I'm equally as excited to go to Canada again but yeah, it's going to be a good time. It looks like ... I've been admiring CPC for awhile now, and I love how it's growing, and I love that you're keeping it intimate and ...
Rachel: Do you have an attendee cap?
Jasser: Yeah. For our Toronto one currently, it's a 145 people.
Rachel: That's good.
Jasser: Yeah and then going forward, it'll actually probably be pretty small or even smaller than that.
Rachel: Wow. There's the Toronto one and then, there's the Vancouver one. You really are trying to capture the entire sort of Canadian photography market.
Jasser: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We also now have a Calgary Boudoir Conference as well.
Rachel: Great. You're really branching out?
Jasser: Yeah, exactly. We're planning for ... In the future, we'll have a family and portrait division as well.
Rachel: I know we're a WordPress podcast but we talk a lot about photography and photographers. Since you have a unique perspective on the Canadian marketplace for photographers, do you think that there are challenges unique to Canadian photographers or do you see sort of ubiquitous challenges across ... That crosses boundaries of ... I don't even know what I'm saying, U.S., Canadian, Europe, even Australia?
Jasser: Yeah, I've had ... I'm fortunate because I've discussed one-on-one with a lot of photographers doing consultations and in our good mentorship and just in meeting with them at the conferences and stuff like that. I hear a lot of the same challenges among photographers and a lot of the same worries and a lot of the same thoughts and stuff like that when it comes to their websites or businesses or planning, all that kind of stuff. I think it's pretty universal. I think for Canadian photographers, they feel like it's a different scene than it is with the other areas. Everyone thinks that it's just their market.
I hear a lot of times people say, "My market is too cheap. People around here don't pay that money for photography," and things like that and that's universal. I even heard that from people that are based in Vancouver, I've heard that from people based in very tiny towns in the middle of the country and all over in different nations as well. I think that's always a concern for people when you're a small business. Obviously, you always wonder and worry that it's just your local market or your local economy but it doesn't matter where you're from. You're always going to face those challenges and it's about how you face those challenges and your creativity going into solving them that makes the difference of whether you'll succeed or not.
Rachel: Yeah. Going into that, how do you ... How does WordPress fit into your life and how ... What do you recommend to the people you come in contact with or what are you hearing from the industry?
Jasser: Well, I think it depends on the stage in their business. When a lot of photographers first start off, one of their challenges is how do I get a website, how do I even get started like it's a whole realm that they know not very much about when they first start. My suggestion to them is really just get a template. Honestly, just start with a WordPress template. There's lots of companies that do photography-based templates so just start with that. That's the easiest thing you can do and get help from them. If you don't know how to setup yourself, get help from the provider. It's not something that you have to always do yourself.
Scott: Yeah, it's funny that what topic that we see often is using a template or hiring out for a custom site. There's a big price difference between the two. I mean, you can get a template for $40, you can get a template for $200 depending on where you go. On custom sites, it's going to cost you probably $3,000 or more, mostly likely more. For photographers that don't have a website, I agree that a template is the way to go.
For photographers who are now in a business that is striving, that's doing really well, that has ongoing new clients, that has returning clients and so on, if you can afford to get a custom site and look completely different than everybody else on the internet, then that's the way to go. Again, big expense but really what it comes down to, and I say this all the time, is the website design doesn't matter.
It's really not that important; it's the content that's on the site. It's your work. It's how you're speaking to your clients. Me, my advice for even photographers who are already doing extremely well and striving is you don't really need a custom website. If you want it, do it but you don't really need it. A template would do just fine if your work stands out for itself.
Rachel: Yeah, I was going to interject and say that as well. Like I think that a lot of photographers are definitely okay with templates because there is some customization options that you can get in WordPress natively. I think the confusion that we often hear is the Squarespace versus WordPress or ... Because it's not the template, it's not how it looks, it's how you manipulate WordPress, the way you move around. Beginning photographers are not only learning their craft but they're learning how to run a business, they're learning how to deal with the clients and the last thing they want to wrestle with is HTML and CSS.
Not that you have to know that to work in WordPress but ... A couple of years ago, you did ... Like things are definitely changing quickly. We often have the discussion and we've had it many, many times about using a Squarespace versus using a WordPress and our default is often just get on WordPress and use a drag and drop like a Divi or a Beaver Builder to work with your theme and that way you can make it into a Squarespace because the transition from Squarespace to WordPress is hard. I wondered if that was sort of the same thing that you're hearing is "What do I do? I'm so ... " I know that especially new photographers like picking up a camera and learning exposure settings is obviously more important to your craft than learning HTML and CSS so what do you do first?
Jasser: Yeah, I hear a lot of people wondering about that Squarespace versus WordPress dilemma as well. I recommend WordPress just because I know hardly anything about Squarespace. Just by default I say WordPress. I think another thing that I see a lot of people go through is they go through this paralysis of trying to decide what template to settle on or what look to settle on or what logo or all those starting up with the business type of things. It can take so long to get through that decision process that you've missed the opportunity to have your business already three months in establishment or six months in or something like that. I've seen it take a really long time with some people. I think that's unfortunate when you're holding back your progress just because you can't make a decision. My encouragement to photographers is that you have to limit yourself with how much time you have to make a decision. Give yourself ... "I'm going to think about this for six hours and at the end of the six hours, I'm going to have a template and that's it."
Rachel: That's a really great way to phrase it and to say it because I do think this is where the artist of photography and the business of photography really like crash together because you wanted it to be perfect, you want to show your aesthetic when it's more important just to be out there. It's more important just to be getting the SEO, just to be building and showing Google that you're there and then making modifications as you go.
Scott: I will say that although I agree with everything that has been said, I wouldn't just go with any template only because you can go with a WordPress theme that's free, that may not be coded as well for various things like site speed and SEO and whatnot, it may not be responsive. If you go with a theme that was designed three years ago and it's not up-to-date with modern standards then you're actually doing yourself more harm than you're doing good. You actually want to just get yourself out there but you want to make sure you're also smart about it and choosing something that is modern and that is well-designed, well-coded. I know that photographers won't know if something is well-coded but look at reviews, look at demos, make sure that it's working the way that you would imagine your own photography website looking before you just choose a template.
Rachel: Well, so I think that this conversation is where the paralysis for photographers is. They talk to devs and they talk to people who are really web savvy and they say, "Wait. Yes, pick a template but with these parameters." I think that that's where the fear comes from so I really like what Jasser is saying like, "Okay, here's an amount of hours, pick it." Then if we can supplement that with make sure that it's mobile, responsive, make sure that it has good reviews, we don't love the theme because you don't necessarily get all of the good codes even though you may get better prices so yes, you maybe paying $200 for a theme versus $49. Again, those are the cost of doing business but I do, I see that paralysis all the time too and then, just the word WordPress. Like it's so scary because somebody may have used it before and then come back ... Had a bad experience and now, that it's sort of more user-friendly, still afraid of it.
Jasser: Yeah and I think if you're purchasing from a pretty reliable, reputable source that is constantly updating and upgrading and has a really good user base and stuff like that, I think that's a great place to start with. Where they think they got lost isn't just like, "Do I want the first page to have a really big photo or I want it to have scrolling photos?" or things like that. They get lost in the little design stuff that, I think, ultimately they don't matter as much as we think they do and I think that that just holds you back by struggling with that decision.
Rachel: I absolutely agree with that.
Scott: Yeah. There's always that ... It's funny, you said the scrolling. There's always a conversation in some Facebook group about why the ... What do they call those? Sliders or the scrolling sliders, why they're not good for usability.
Rachel: I think it's called carousels. Isn't there like [crosstalk 00:16:12]?
Scott: Carousels, sliders, yeah. Really in the end, it doesn't matter because what it does matter for really is, in my opinion, yes usability is good if people actually use it but most people will probably skip over it. What that part matters even more, in my opinion, is an SEO because if a slider or a carousel or whatever you want to call it is not coded well, it won't be good for your search engine results.
Rachel: Right. It's not even that, it's mobile so what was it? Two years ago, it was 50% of traffic. Now it's 70% to 80% of traffic particularly to wedding and portrait blogs on mobile because they're moms or they're brides and they're busy and they're not at their computer or when they are at their computer, they're at work so they're not checking or they're not supposed to be. I think more than any of this design stuff is yes, it can look amazing on a computer but if it doesn't work on a mobile like you're dead in the water.
Scott: Yeah. If you're going to use something that has a carousel or slideshow or a slider, if it's something that you can manually control on desktop, make sure that it has manual controls on mobile like swipability type of things. Very important. If it doesn't, then that may not be a good choice either. What are other things have you seen come up from attendees either during the conference or during your one-on-one sessions? What kind of topics, aside from what we talked about, have you seen come up related to photography websites in general? Maybe we can tie that into WordPress specifically.
Jasser: Sure. Yeah, so two of the biggest things I see people puzzled about with their websites is how to get the best SEO and then also, "Should I put my prices up on my website or not?" That's an ongoing debate.
Scott: That's so funny. Yeah, that's definitely what I hear a lot too. Let's start with the pricing one. That's such a good debate because you could really argue for both sides of the coin. To me, for me ... I think it depends on the genre of the photography. You wouldn't necessarily do that for weddings.
Rachel: You could do a range.
Scott: You could do a range and then, what you do is you get people to inquire through a contact form and then, you have this ... A beautiful PDF that you can then send to the lead with your packages or ...
Rachel: That can be automatic. If you use Gravity Forms, you can have someone come in to your contact list asking for your pricing and the pricing can then automatically go out to them but be accompanied by an e-mail around it. You really get to frame how the pricing is seen and it's instantaneous because I know a lot of the struggle for pricing is okay, somebody will reach out and then the photographer is shooting a wedding or editing or being with their family and so they take 24 hours to get back. While that may not seemed like a long time especially on like a Saturday or Sunday, that bride may have moved on and found someone else who did have pricing on their website. I think this is really where the struggle is is that, "Okay, if I don't have pricing on my website, then what's the response time?" WordPress and the technology is that you could still not have pricing on your website and still have an instantaneous answer when they respond. That's sort of the best of both worlds, I think. Again, we can argue on both sides.
Scott: One of my favorite parts about Gravity Forms in particular in this situation is you can have it so there ... If they're inquiring about a wedding versus an engagement session, you can have it conditionally send a specific PDF based on which they choose or inquired about.
Rachel: Even if they're inquiring just ... They're not ... You can have a drop down and they aren't even worrying about pricing yet per se, they just want to get to know you better. That would send out a different e-mail than someone who picks from the drop down that specifically want to know pricing. Again, like there are all of these options and Gravity Forms, I think, does a really great job on their support. Their documentation so that, again, you're a photographer, you don't necessarily know all the technology of how to do that. They're pretty straightforward and their support is awesome so they will help walk you through this.
Scott: I was just thinking what would be a cool feature for Gravity Forms and maybe I'll send it to them is a delay or you can call it a dripped reply. If somebody does say I want pricing, they're not getting the e-mail immediately, it's waiting an hour. It's making it look like it's more of an e-mail.
Rachel: [crosstalk 00:21:02] have that?
Scott: Yeah, it doesn't have that currently.
Rachel: Okay. I know the big thing for them, they just had the save and continue feature. That was a huge thing because all of the forms on the FotoSkribe site are built in Gravity Forms and if you have a longer form like a questionnaire for a bride and they start to fill it out and then, get interrupted, they've done half the work and so a big part was "I don't want to lose that but I can't finish it right now."
Scott: They also have a new feature which is an extension that allows you to, with permission, spy on the person filling out the form and if they don't complete it, you still can see what they typed in the form.
Rachel: That's interesting, I didn't know that.
Scott: The only thing it doesn't spy on is the password. If you did a password on the form but yeah. They do with permission by means of putting an alert saying, "We are tracking what you enter," and so on and so on.
Rachel: Well, HubSpun has one called Leadin. It doesn't matter what form plug-in you have on your website but it will tell you where they came in, what they visited on your site to get to the place where they filled in a form. That's been very interesting sort of for lead gen to be like, "Oh, this person came from this place so I should cultivate that more." If you're looking at like content management, this is a little bit more advanced than beginning a photography website but it's definitely a place for photographers to go is how to curate that content and make sure that it's really targeted towards their audience.
Jasser: A thing I was going to add there, Scott, that you mentioned that I really liked is sending them really beautiful PDFs with your pricing. That's something that I've seen a lot of people miss out on is ... Even not just beginners but people who have been shooting for years and years and years are sending out just this price sheet that was made on Microsoft Word, that's just literally ... It looks like just like a menu of prices and that's it. I think you can really get inspiration from other places that have brochures for other luxury items.
Like for me, one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to brochures is I really like cars. I had quite a lot. Even as a kid, I like cars. When you walk into a dealership and you'd get these beautiful brochures that would show you the color swatches and all the different kinds of leathers that you can get in the car and all that, all the options and stuff like that and it'd be filled with beautiful photography. I think that when photographers are building out their price sheets, we're such an image-base business that you should look to be doing things like that instead of just, "Here's my prices and that's what's included," and it's all just text.
Rachel: Yeah, I agree. There are templates you can buy. Design Aglow has beautiful ones, you don't have to be a graphic designer either. There are things ... There are resources that you can modify with your logo. Again, it's a paid service and I would caution you that if it's not paid, then you don't want it but yeah, I totally agree with that.
Scott: Speaking of Design Aglow, they're coming out the new product which I'll link to in the show notes. I think it's called ... It's called Print By Design.
Rachel: I think it's Proofed By Design.
Scott: I have it bookmarked, let me just quickly look at it.
Rachel: They have another service [crosstalk 00:24:17].
Scott: It's called Polished By Design.
Rachel: It started with a P.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. I got the link to it in the show notes. I think right after this episode, I guess, is when they're releasing it. I think they're releasing it like the beginning of September officially but basically, Design Aglow for anybody who hasn't seen them before ... I'll have a link to Design Aglow as well, let me just make sure I put that in the show notes. Design Aglow makes templates for anything in a photographer's business including pricing sheets.
That's usually as a PSD and I think maybe an InDesign. I never bought anything other than a PSD but I think they might offer multiple ... Polished By Design is going to be like a Canva-type service where it's a [SAAS 00:25:06]-based. It's offered as a service. It's a website where you go on and you can create your designs.
The beautiful part is, not only do you get the digital version that you've created using their interface, but ... That means no downloading of Photoshop files, it's in the Cloud, it's in the ... It's on their server and whatnot but they partnered with ProDPI so that you can actually order physical copies of these at the same time and it's printed custom by ProDPI. It's going to be a really cool service that ...
Rachel: Yeah. Especially for ... I mean, anyone in the creative business but again, I love how we're talking about tangible pricing sheets, PDFs or printed and we can sort of relate it back to your website. A photographer is getting stuck on the design, well if you're getting stuck on the design of your pricing sheet, then put it in a PDF where you have more control in programs like Photoshop and InDesign. You can't necessarily make it look exactly how you want on the web and still worry about SEO yada, yada but again, you have this third option of capturing their information and sending them the PDF later and the PDF can be beautiful. It can be whatever you wanted it to be with absolutely no restrictions other than the size of what you want. I think that's a really ... It's a good question because you're right, it always comes up when you talk about websites but it really should come up when you talk about anything. It's running the business. The pricing is the most important part in some ways.
Scott: Don't be afraid to spy on your competition. Look at your local area, see what other photographers in your area in your genre are doing. See what their pricing is, use pricing calculators as well, don't just go off your competition's pricing but see what they're charging, see how they're displaying it on their website versus doing it three now with the PDF, if they're even doing it through a PDF. Yeah, you could really go that far if you wanted to. I don't recommend going that far and actually ... In doing an inquiry but what I will say is while we may recommend that you do it where ... You do like sort of a range and then do a pricing sheet through e-mail, I will say that if all the photographers in your area are putting pricing on the website, your business might need to do the same thing. It really depends as well in your area because what is your target marketing demanding in that [crosstalk 00:27:39].
Rachel: I agree and I disagree. I think this is, again, where the pricing issue has so many nuances like yes, I think you should see what's out in there in your market but if your website content is really directing your target client in, it's almost like price is an afterthought in that case.
I know every photographer is like, "Yes, I definitely want to get there where they love me so much that it doesn't matter how much I'm charging." You have to get to a very specific point in your business but I think your website is the place where you really need to start to cultivate those discussions, who is your target client, who do you want in.
I don't know, I always worry about ... If you look at your direct competition, there is copying and you don't want to take someone else's style that's in the same market whereas if you're looking at other markets like I'm here in Boston, I can look at San Diego, I can look at New York.
It's almost I'm not in direct competition with those kind of photographers so seeing what they're doing and copying in some ways, adding my own flare, adding my own target marking, adding ... It's a little bit safer. I don't know, it's a hard balance.
Jasser: The other thing that happens a lot too is that from the client perspective, from the potential bride or whoever is looking at booking the photography, it becomes homogeneous. You see all these template websites, you see all the same wording, you see very similar styles of portfolio and it becomes really hard to decide who you want and it becomes hard to remember who you want. Like you may have seen a website at work, like you said a lot of people browsing at work. They see a website and then, they go and browse later on and they're like, "I don't even remember who that was because they all feel and look the same." The recall is an important part of this because the client will probably have to visit your site a few times before they decide that you're the one they want to [bug 00:29:34].
Scott: Let's talk real briefly because we're running ... I know we're getting a little close to the end here. Let's talk briefly about how do you stand out on a website. What are some things that you would recommend to your customers? Jasser, your photography customers for CPC, to do on the website content-wise, imagery-wise, what do you recommend for them to stand out above the saturated market?
Jasser: Yeah. Well, of course, I mean if your portfolio is unique and your style is unique, then I think that is a tremendously good starting point. Even though some people will feel very unique, the reality is that when you look at thousands of websites, they start to not feel so unique. One place that I think is a really good opportunity for photographers is in their About section.
Particularly, I've seen a lot of photographers lately book videographers to follow them, go on a shoot with them and do ... Almost shoot it like a mini-documentary about what it's like to have this photographer at their shoot or at their wedding. I think that really stands out because personality shines in a video. It's very easy to remember the person behind the business.
Maybe not necessarily the business name or the URL but you remember the look of their face and their laugh and smile and the things they talk about. I think videos are really hot and they're awesome and I think that ... Especially if you put it from the perspective of like a mini-documentary and show a testimonial someone at the shoot, what they're thinking or how it's working out for them, just even showing them enjoying themselves and the engagement session is a very simple thing that you can do.
Scott: Yeah. If you're a wedding photographer, you most likely have networked with many videographers or you have a partner who is a videographer so take advantage of that. I would say it would be better if it's somebody as an outsider and not in your own business because it'll give you a ... It'll give them a whole another ... Or it gives yourself a whole other take on your business.
Rachel: Also, shopping for a videographer can be an experience very similar to what the bride is experiencing when they're finding you. To go through the experience of being a client and finding someone whose style that you like and a style that you resonate with and who you want to work with. Like that's the same experience that your brides are having or your portrait clients are having or any photography when they're coming to you. It can be a really good learning experience. If you're going to do it like do it and really experience it.
Scott: I think I just had a cool idea for another episode that we'll have to talk about later on, Rachel. Talking about our own experiences hiring wedding photographers. That can be really cool from a photographer's standpoint talking about our experiences hiring, searching and hiring.
Rachel: My videographer went into labor so I don't have any pictures past the ceremony. Yeah. No, that's awful so I have a lot of good things to say. My question for Jasser that I've been dying to ask and I know that you get asked this a lot but to blog or not to blog, where do you land on the blogging question?
Jasser: Okay. This comes back to one of the biggest questions people always ask me about is SEO, how do I climb and stuff like that. I've hired SEO experts that were, at the time, I can only afford someone who is a few hundred dollars a month and then as my business built, I hired someone who is a few thousand a month. I never found that hiring ... In my personal experience, at least, getting someone to try and climb me up SEO really got me anywhere. The only thing that ever worked was consistent blogging as you guys, I'm sure, probably recommend.
I don't have the time for that kind of thing. There's a lot of things that happen in my business and for photographers, there's quite a lot of things they have to do like fit in time for their lives and their families and self-care and things like that. For me, I'm a big fan of outsourcing blogging. I can't stand it, I feel like it's like such a hassle to do it all so I think it's better to do that.
If you have the passion and the love for blogging yourself and you're someone who likes journaling and writing and things like that, then I say let that shine. That's a talent that you have in you, that's a gift that you have or care about but if it's not your gift, then get someone else who is gifted at it to help you with it. It's a lot better than ignoring it, it's a lot better than just leaving your blog getting, tumbleweed collecting on it. If what it takes to have an active blog and a source that other vendors are referring you through is to hire it out, then hire it out. The time you save will make you money.
Scott: Yeah. We've said a few times, many times I think is photographers should look at Rachel's company, FotoSkribe. That's what they do. They're an outsource blogging company. That's one option. Another option ... Sorry, Rachel, we got another option. Photographers who can afford to outsource blogging and want it sort of close to home and not just to another company is find an assistant that you can eventually hire either part-time or full-time, an assistant that obviously likes photography but has a knack for writing. Now, you have a photographer who is close to you, working with you on a regular basis that can actually write for your company as well.
Rachel: Yeah and I think that's true with any outsourcing. I think the first step of outsourcing is to partner with a company, partner with a trusted business who does this. I mean, you can talk about editing, you can talk about blogging, you can talk about client's albums. There's a whole bunch of different areas in which you can outsource parts of your photography business but ultimately, if you could ... Can get a studio manager assistant-type person in, the biggest part of blogging is to find your voice. Your voice, as a photographer, usually it's just you. You're really trying to capture who you are as an artist and share that through your blog so perspective clients can either connect it or not connect with it and both are equally important.
Then, the other part of blogging is to blog on a schedule. We talk a lot about SEO, you are talking to Google robots when you blog on a schedule so you're telling them to come reference your site if you blog at the same day and the same time. You need to find a person who cannot only capture your voice and really in a way that you can communicate what you want to communicate but then also who has the diligence and business acumen to understand that it has to be done on a schedule.
I think FotoSkribe is one option and I only work with photographers so I understand the photography business but there are local writers but then yeah, I think a studio manager and if you're at the point when you can hire someone internally, I think that's always the ultimate goal for all business tasks, not just blogging but a person to be there next to you and to really understand your uniqiue challenges and your unique target market. The important thing is to really do it on a schedule and to treat it as a business task versus this emotional artist. This is, again, where the artistry of photography and the business of photography clash. It's a task. Blogging is a task, your WordPress ... I mean, your website is a task but how do you make that new.
Jasser: If it feels like a chore but that chore is something that brings you in business, then get someone else to do it for you. Your time is so valuable and if you were to spend a day to come up with a blog post and sometimes that's what it took for me, I literally sit at my computer, I can't come up what to say instead of this was fun. Great. Lovely. I have no words for it and so I would rather take that time and liberate it to go do something else that's going to bring in another business.
Rachel: Right. I have a client who is a personal trainer and she would rather do 500 burpees than one blog post. I think she's crazy but she thinks I'm crazy because I would rather do 500 blog posts than one burpee. I think you really need to understand your pain points. Again, we talked about blogging, we talked about website but it can be editing, it can be album design, it can be client communication and sales to a point. I mean, some of that needs to be you but I think really understanding, taking stock of what you love to do in your business and hopefully it's photography because that's what you're doing and the things that you hate to do in your business but understand that they're important and that's where you find like, "Okay, I'm going to get someone else to do this." Like for me, it's money. I can't do it, nope.
Scott: All right, so let's close up with what product you recommend? Now, usually we say WordPress plug-in or theme but the one that you're recommending is neither of them, but it works with WordPress and we'll talk about that. What is the product that you recommend for photographers to check out?
Jasser: I think it's under utilized and a lot of photographers don't have this but I think it's essential for running any small business is a scheduling tool where your clients can look at your calendar, peek into your calendar, pick a time and day that works for them, that they know already works for you and it synchronizes everybody's calendars and sets of notifications. My recommendation for that is ScheduleOnce.
I think it's about $5 a month so anyone can afford this no matter what stage of the business you are in. The reason why I recommend this is I actually recently was just talking to a photographer. I've always used these scheduling tools, I love them for my business. I was recently talking to a photographer who lost out on a job, it was a wedding.
That the clients already loved her just looking at her website and wanted to book her but the photographer, through communication back and forth, had said to her, "Okay, I'll check my calendar and get back to you," and then never did get back to them and that client went and booked another photographer [crosstalk 00:40:03].
A tool like a scheduling tool that they can just say, "Go to this link and pick a time for yourself," and it gets into everybody's calendars and everybody knows when to show up to the meeting. That would have gotten her that booking and probably would have paid for ScheduleOnce for decades to come. I think it's so affordable, and it's a must.
Rachel: It does connect to WordPress, right?
Scott: There's no plug-in but ... We'll link to this in the show notes, ScheduleOnce has what they call a schedule button and it's basically just an iFrame-type button that you can embed in a widget or in content in your blog post or blog page. They instructions on how to do it so just basically, you would follow instructions and you can add it wherever on your website that you would like to.
Rachel: I love that it puts the [inaudible 00:40:51] on the client to find time with you versus you finding time with them because, again ... Again, what you just said was like, "Do you want to lose clients because you're doing other tasks but [crosstalk 00:41:05].
Scott: You get to structure when you're willing to do things like maybe you only want to take consultation meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays so the only time it ever opens up in your calendar are Mondays and Tuesdays and maybe the only time you want to do engagement sessions are on Sunday nights. It'll structure the calendar to fit perfectly to what will work and then your clients just pick a time that works for them.
Rachel: I think that they like that. A lot of photographers are afraid, "Well, if I'm not constantly available then I'm going to loose a client." Maybe that isn't the client that you want anyway. Like if they want you to come on a Friday at 2:00 PM and stay until 8:00 PM to cater to their needs whereas you may have a family and you have dinner and blah, blah, blah, whatever. Sometimes it's not the perfect fit. I do like that it really is very clear about your expectations and their expectations and if the two will fit.
Scott: Yeah and it shows that you're not just like a sticky note business that has notes everywhere. It shows that you have some organization, and so they're going to ... I think that builds up your trust, which they know that you're going to show up to your meeting because there're reminders built into it.
Jasser: For sure.
Scott: Cool. Well, anything that you like to close with? Any final thoughts, any advice you like to give to our listeners?
Jasser: Wow, okay. My advice to you is to be persistent in your business. Always work hard. Think of where your customers are coming from. The customer is your best resource for how to make any decisions in your company. If you can put yourself in the mindset of your customer, you'll know the right thing to do for your company and any of these decisions and you won't be paralyzed by them.
Rachel: I love that.
Rachel: Now, where can we find you on the web?
Jasser: Sorry, what's that?
Rachel: Where can we find you on the web?
Jasser: Okay, so I'm at www.canadaphotoconvention.com and then on Instagram, I'm Photoconvention.
Scott: You happen to score one of the coolest Instagram handles of all time.
Jasser: Yeah, I grabbed that one pretty quick.
Scott: Yeah. Well ...
Rachel: It took forever.
Scott: Yeah, yeah. We'll be [inaudible 00:43:15] to all of Jasser's sites and social media handles in the show notes so you can follow him everywhere. Just no stalking.
Jasser: [crosstalk 00:43:26].
Scott: You'll get to see his really cute dog so yeah.
Rachel: Yes, do it. It's worth it.
Scott: Thank you, Jasser for joining us today. Thank you, Rachel, for being an awesome co-host.
Rachel: Thank you, Scott.
Scott: You can find the show notes from today's episode at Imagely.com/podcast/22.
Scott: Yes. One final note, we're starting a new series that's Rachel and I decided upon yesterday tentatively called Snap. It's going to be a miniseries within the WordPress Photography Podcast. It's going to be every five episode so it's going to be 25, 35, 45, 55 and so on.
Rachel: [crosstalk 00:44:08] on the 10th, we'll have our Q&A sessions which we are still getting in and we're still really enjoying the feedback from that and then, every five is going just to be a little nugget from Scott about something you can listen to and take away.
Scott: Yeah, it'll be about five minutes or less depending on the item, but it'll be one item per episode in those so expect the first one on episode 25, and if you have a suggested name other than Snap, please let us know. We like to play on words so right now we're tentatively called Snap.
Rachel: Yeah and well, I think the feedback came that 45 minutes is great to ... For this kind of format but sometimes you guys just want to hear something quick about WordPress and photography so we're trying to fill that need. As always, feedback is always appreciated, you love it, you hate it, let us know.
Scott: Yeah. Thanks and until next time.
— Imagely (@imagely) September 1, 2016