I'm Dolly — a Nashville based branding photographer for small business owners & a systems + workflow educator (and Podcast Host) for creatives who want to be more streamlined and organized with Systems, Workflows & Dubsado. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about workflows!
I have been blogging for my small business (Dolly DeLong Photography) since 2012. However, I did not start blogging strategically until 2019. Why am I sharing this random information with you? Well, it may seem obvious that blogging is a key way to share visual content with clients and future clients, but I did not know that blogging could be a strategic form of content marketing! 😲 (let me break it down even further, I did not realize that a blog post had a longer shelf life over social media, and I did not realize that people were still finding my old blog posts from 3,4,5, even 6 years ago!)
When I started dipping my toes into the world of systems & workflows, aka when I actually stepped into the role of acting more like a CEO of my business (and I wasn’t treating my business like a glorified hobby), it is like a veil was torn open and I saw so many pieces of a puzzle that were missing from my business. Puzzle pieces I had assumed I was “too dumb” to handle because I was “only a photographer”.
But oh boy, that mindset was wrong and I was wrong! I am so happy I was pushed to dig deep into my strengths in running my business because I discovered I not only loved running a creative business, but I also loved putting all the systems puzzle pieces together in order to better automate and streamline my business (since I was running the show on my own).
In 2019 when I decided to merge my love of systems and workflows into Dolly DeLong Education, I decided to truly double down on my SEO efforts just to see if I could rank on Google (because I had been wasting so much time blogging with no clear direction). It took some time, but 6 to 7 months of consistent, optimized blogging helped me rank to the first page of Google for several keywords I had been vying to rank for SO many years. In 2020 I started to see the actual fruit of my labor, and nearly two years into my workflow & systems journey has been a lot of fun (no seriously, it IS so much fun seeing how all the puzzle pieces fit together for the systems of my business)!
I am proof that if you put your blinders on, stay focused, and actually optimize the content you have, you CAN make a difference in your rankings in Google AND you can actually start attracting your ideal clients to your website!
In this blog post I am going to be breaking down several steps I took for each and every blog post (my pillar content) to be truly optimized for Google and for SEO purposes! Scroll down also to access a FREE resource I have created just for you, the reader! Enjoy! (*estimated read time = 15 minutes)
This is the part that many new (and even seasoned) business owners neglect because this part takes the longest. Actually sitting down to strategically map out the offers is a long, drawn-out process and it takes time to see how your free downloads can potentially connect to other offers you have available in either your product or service line.
📌Yes, I said CONNECT, meaning your Lead Magnet should not be a random opt-in that just is there as a “fluff” way to collect email addresses. It should be there to SERVE your potential clients who WANT and NEED an answer to a specific problem, and once they download that freebie from you, that in turn helps them experience a quick win & it gets them into your world (into getting to know you and your offers and services)!
*****Also, this is an evolving process and to put pressure on yourself that you need to have it all figured out in a day, is very unrealistic and that puts a lot of unnecessary agitation on you as a small business owner.
✅My advice ➡️ give yourself some space and time to think at least once a month to jot down ideas for freebies (lead magnets) and how they can actually LEAD into your specific core offerings and services.
Interested in learning what a Lead Magnet is? Check out the Lead Magnet Mini-Course here!
If you need a specific example of what a mapped-out offer looks like for me at Dolly DeLong Education here is my chain of offers from FREE to PAID services when it comes to Pinterest (since Pinterest is like…my jam!)
(EXAMPLE OF PINTEREST📌)
–Lead Magnet (Freebie) = My 3 day Pinterest Optimization Challenge (Free and a great way to draw attention and awareness to the fact that I teach other business owners about how to use Pinterest in their small business)
–The Ultimate Pinterest Checklist (a small offer that aligns with my services) = the next step up from the 3-day challenge which invites business owners to take a deeper dive into optimizing their Pinterest profile (and this was specifically created for the DIY business owner who wants to do everything on their own)
–The Pinterest Foundations Mini-Course (mid-range offer) = the next step that is a go at your own pace course which helps the business owner understand the foundations of Pinterest so that they can start driving traffic from Pinterest to their brand (complete with a private Facebook community, bonuses, and bi-weekly trainings and resources)
–A Pinterest VIP Day (an exclusive 1:1 service) = a 5-hour intensive where I work with business owners and help them craft a strategic marketing plan using Pinterest to drive traffic to their business.
And since I am a systems + workflow educator & photographer, I have several other CORE services which come with a variety of offerings that all interconnect and can meet a client based on where they are in their own journey (aka different levels of getting to work with me).
So, in sharing that entire process, actually sit down and write out ALL of your services/offerings and then map out how they will connect with each other and how you can create content that fits on the various levels of that client journey in getting to know your business and your brand.
You may discover that you have ONE main lead magnet which can tie in with several of your offerings (instead of you creating a new Lead Magnet for each service). OR you may discover that there is one service you want to take out because it not only drains you, but it takes away from the overall mission of your business.
So give yourself grace and time to map this out, also, revisit this at the beginning of every year as a way to assess what is happening in your business!
Again, check out my LEAD Magnet all about how to get started with creating Lead magnets for your small business here
Now that you have mapped out all of your offers and you know exactly what you have to offer to your ideal client, it’s time to write out all of the keywords that can potentially be attached to that service or offer.
Why do this? Well, you can then begin creating CONTENT that will help your ideal client FIND you!
If you are hitting a wall with keyword research, then think about it this way; how would your ideal client SEARCH for your type of service in either Google’s search bar or Pinterest’s search bar? Like, if you were looking for an answer to a question, how would you type it into the search bar?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and start fleshing out some ways they would be searching for your type of service.
An example of this could be: if you are a Branding Photographer based in Seattle, WA some keywords for you could be:
-“Seattle Branding Photographers”
-Seattle Branding Photographer
-Seattle Washington Branding Photographers
Like, again, how would your ideal client type in their question into Google?
Open up a Google document, a Trello board, or even a notepad and start grouping your keywords with your specific service and offerings.
Now that you have a word bank of KEYWORDS, you have a place to start when it comes to content creation!
If you are hitting a wall with content creation, I have 10 ways I create fresh content every single month and I share it in my Strategic Content Creation Masterclass! You can access that masterclass here
With your keyword ideas in place, start creating various forms of content (with those infused keywords in your blog posts) that could help your potential client get to know you and your business.
Again, creating the actual content takes time, but having keywords is a GREAT starting point because you now have things (or topics) to write about.
Let’s continue the example of the keyword of “Branding Photographer in Seattle, Washington”
If you decide you are going to use that as a starting point, here are some blog post ideas you could write on:
–Branding photo location ideas for business owners by Seattle Branding Photographer ______________ (in this blog post you can give insight and ideas on where to photograph some branding photos esp if the business owner wants to think outside of the box in Seattle, Washington)
–“The Top 5 ways to prep for a branding session in Seattle “ (this can be used in any city/state) but it can be very specified to Seattle since the Washington area has very unique weather
-“What To Wear To Your Branding Photosession by Seattle Branding Photographer ________”
(okay you get it the picture, infuse the keywords in searches your ideal customer is on the journey in finding through Google Search and Pinterest Search)
If you want to take a deeper dive into the Client’s journey from start to finish and how to create content around your ideal client’s journey check out this blog post here.
Optimizing your blog content may seem a bit daunting and overwhelming, but if you are a WordPress user, you have a FREE tool available to you called “YOAST” which is a plugin that can assess what items on your blog need to be truly optimized for SEO purposes (cool right?)
I have the premium version of YOAST SEO only because I blog twice weekly, but if you are starting out with content creation, I would recommend starting with the free version of YOAST SEO.
Now if you don’t blog, that’s okay but let me ask you this; what platforms are you using to present your PILLAR content? And if you are only showing up on social media with no strategy, then you need to remember that social media is all borrowed land. It’s essentially you putting out content to the algorithm gods (which no one likes), but if you have a definite place to post your actual CONTENT in places you own (like blogging, or podcasting, or even video form) you have more control of it being evergreen.
On the plus side, if you blog, you have more control of the SEO (that’s search engine optimization) and you can optimize your blog posts to have a longer shelf life!
I have a whole list of items you can go down to optimize your blog content when you are about to hit “publish” and you can access it for free here:
➡️”Growing your online presence takes TIME. Immediate SEO growth does not happen overnight…it happens over time. But the great thing about strategic content planning is this; you can gain traction for your business with strategy.”
Let me repeat myself, this is a LONG process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. And this is why many business owners miss out on ranking on Google because they are looking for a quick fix (the “easy button”) to rank, when the reality is this = it takes putting together so many puzzle pieces for you to start gaining traction over time.
The majority of small business owners are SMALL one-man (or one-woman) shows who are wearing all of the hats. There is no marketing department. There is no professional copywriter, graphic designer, accountant, SEO expert, etc. Literally, there is ONE person. And the undertaking of figuring out how to map all of one’s offers out can be extremely overwhelming.
Also, let me just say, I am NOT a copywriter in any way, shape, or form (I mean you can prob tell by my long run-on sentences in half of my blog posts) but the fact of the matter is, I decide to show up every single week for my readers and viewers because I know I have a lot of amazing content to share that is both systems/workflow and photography related and I want to genuinely help others. If I waited until “all the stars were aligned” and I waited to be a professional copywriter myself, it would never happen. It just wouldn’t. So done is better than perfect, and I am committed to showing up every single week since that is always a yearly goal of mine.
Because I made that my personal goal in 2018, I have been able to rank in the first pages of Google for several specific keywords that lead to my services AND I have been able to have Pinterest and Google be my top traffic drivers to my website.
It is not because of a quick fix, it is because of strategy over time and lots of patience. I will continue to have that patience as I continue to grow my own business, but I just want to end on this note: if I can do it, you can do it. If I can have patience as a small business owner, I know you can do it. I know you can play the long game. I know you can be strategic. I know you’ve got this.
Remember, stay in your own lane as you continue to build the business of your dreams and stop always figuring out the “easiest” way to get to the top. Sometimes (and most times) the long game (filled with strategy, patience, and perseverance) have the best results.
So my advice? Take a deep breath. Literally, take a breather and know you cannot build Rome overnight, so you should just start with optimizing ONE at a time – because when you focus on one thing at a time, instead of being super scattered with 10,000 tabs opened you will accomplish more than you think in 30 days of time! I promise!
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family & branding photographer and a creative business owner who educates on all things Pinterest & Dubsado (and how to use these platforms as systems in your business)! Dolly loves serving families, and business owners with her timeless, radiant photography. And, she also loves educating other business owners on how to set up systems and workflows that will ultimately help them save time in their business.
She has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Pinterest, Dubsado, Email Marketing, and Business Systems with new creative business owners & family photographers in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that even muggles can become automating wizards. Plus BONUS: Systems is where the MAGIC happens!
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong Photography LLC, fill out her contact form here.
Interested in learning how to best automate a part of your business but you have no clue where to begin? Check out www.dollydelongphotography.com/automate to begin your automation journey today!
(*Click on the banners to get started! It’s super easy to work with Dolly DeLong & it’s super easy to automate your business today!)
Or maybe you're not really sure how you'd use your new collection of branded images? Download my free planning guide to learn how to plan an elevated brand photography session to impact your business!