This is a guide covering inbound and content marketing tips.
While this guide is tailored to photographers (since I am a photographer), the concepts and core principles apply to all artists and creators.
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to:
- Define inbound marketing
- Know why inbound marketing is important
- Define content marketing
- Know why content marketing is important
- Understand important content and inbound marketing tips
- And more
Let’s dive in.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the method of attracting customers through valuable content and experiences.
With the growth of the Internet where users can more actively search and engage with companies, inbound marketing has increased in popularity for good reason (Source):
- 90% of searchers haven’t made their minds up about a brand before starting their search
- 87% of buyers give more credence to content that’s shared by industry influencer
- 76% of marketers use inbound marketing as their primary strategy.
In contrast, outbound marketing is the method of attracting customers through more traditional approaches such as radio ads, cold calling, direct mail, ads, and telemarketing.
Pros of inbound marketing include that it costs less, builds relationships, can help, teach, or engage the audience. Cons include that it can be more competitive since it is organic and not paid.
Why is Inbound Marketing Important?
Inbound marketing can further add a voice and a brand to a company while also building a lasting relationship with your audience.
Authenticity and brand loyalty is becoming more and more important these days in the digital age with all the clutter that exists on the Internet.
Lasting relationships build better customer loyalty which will also help your brand.
Difference Between Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing
Inbound marketing can sound a lot like content marketing.
In fact, they are pretty similar and there is only a slight difference.
Inbound marketing relates to all of the methods to attract customers with content at the right time such as creating pop-ups to download an e-book on your site that will then capture their email address.
Content marketing focuses on the creation and distribution of the content through various channels — whether that be through blogging, social media, email newsletters (check out email newsletter creation), etc.
The way I like to think of it is that content marketing is a part of inbound marketing and inbound marketing focuses on the action the users takes after consuming the content.
With that being said, let’s further define content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the form of marketing that focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing content to a target audience.
The channels could include blogging complemented with SEO, social media post creation, email newsletters creation, e-book guide creation, etc.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
Content marketing provides the content for your inbound marketing efforts.
And like we mentioned in inbound marketing, the content you create adds a voice and humanizes your brand.
This leads to better brand loyalty and sales.
21 Content and Inbound Marketing Tips
Now that we’ve covered some definitions, let’s dive into the tips.
We’ve broken the tips into three stages — setting the foundation, the creation, and optimization.
I. Setting the Foundation
The first stage revolves around setting the foundation.
Before diving into the actual creation of the content, it’s important that you first have a strong base and understanding to base your content around.
1. Know your corporate image strategy
The first tip is to know your corporate image strategy.
A corporate image, also known as corporate identity is the perception of your company or organization in the minds of your target audience.
As mentioned in our Building a Brand Guide, a brand is made up of two components — your corporate image and your positioning strategy (discussed next).
These two components work together in unison to establish your brand identity.
You need to know your corporate image strategy because you will want your content and inbound marketing efforts to align with this strategy.
2. Know your product/service positioning strategy
The second tip is to know your product/service positioning strategy.
As mentioned, this is the second component that makes up your “brand,” along with your corporate image strategy.
Similar to your corporate image strategy, you need to know how you will be positioning your product/service so the content your content marketing efforts can align.
3. Know your target audience/niche
The third tip is to know your target audience and niche.
If you don’t know your target audience and niche, then it’s hard to know who you are creating content for.
There needs to be a defined audience and niche in order to tailor that content for that audience to produce an action — whether it’s signing up for an email newsletter, booking a session, or educating on a certain topic.
4. Know your goals (financial, brand awareness)
The fourth tip is to know your goals, whether they be financial goals or brand awareness goals.
Similar to knowing your target audience, if you don’t know the goal of why you are engaging in content marketing, then you can’t craft a strategy to hit that goal.
If you don’t know the destination then it’s hard to craft a route to that destination.
5. Create a website
The fifth tip is to create a website.
If you do not currently have a website, then that is step #1 before even engaging in content/inbound marketing.
The website will serve as your “home base,” where you can add content to your photography pages and will lead all your users with the goal of them taking a converting action.
6. Optimize website with user design and SEO in mind
Once you create your website, you will also want to make sure that it is optimized with user design and SEO in mind.
The reason for this is that once you engage in your content and inbound marketing efforts, having a good user experience on your website will increase the conversion rate of the user taking the action that you are promoting.
For example, if the goal of your inbound/content marketing efforts is to get the user to book a session with you, then having an optimized site that is user friendly in terms of it being fast, looking aesthetically pleasing, easy to find buttons and pages, etc., will increase your brand perception and chance of them converting.
7. Understand the importance of keywords
The 7th tip is to understand the importance of keywords and how they work.
Almost any content marketing strategy involves a form of blogging.
In order to have blogs that drive traffic to your site, they need to rank for certain keywords.
I see a lot of people start blogs and pour their heart and soul into their words only to find that maybe only 1 person sees and reads it a month.
After months of this low traffic, they give up and think it just isn’t for them, when in reality, they just didn’t know the basics of SEO and how to go about targeting keywords.
Before starting any content marketing efforts that involve blogging, I highly recommend checking out our SEO Guide and Keyword Guide.
8. Understand the marketing funnel
The 8th and last tip for our foundation setting tips includes understanding the marketing funnel.
This is the marketing funnel and is also explained further in-depth in our Keywords Guide:
At the top of the funnel exists the awareness stage. In this stage, the goal is to attract a large audience. This is usually accomplished through content that is educating.
In the middle of the funnel exists the consideration stage. In this stage, the goal is to nurture the users who have landed from the top of the funnel further down the funnel. This is usually accomplished through content that is downloadable and requires an email to download it such as e-book, guides, tip sheets, etc.
At the bottom of the funnel exists the decision stage. In this stage, the goal is to get the user to take that deciding action — the one that should have been defined when deciding on goals.
II. The Creation
Now that we’ve covered the foundational items before diving into the creation of the content, let’s take a look at the tips for when you begin creating your content.
9. Create a content marketing strategy
The 9th content marketing tip revolves around setting up your content marketing strategy.
Well, easier said than done, so what’s the first step you should take.
Know all of your digital channels.
Before you can even start coming up with a strategy, it’s important to first know all of the digital channels available to you where you can create content.
Here are some of the most common ways you could explore creating content that I see are most popular with photographers, artists, and other creators:
- Written Articles
- Infographic Creation
- Social Media
- YouTube Video Creation
- Email Newsletters
While it’s hard to say which one works best because every company is different, the one I would recommend in the beginning is just good old written articles for your blog along with social media posts.
I want to emphasize that there is no one right channel and that it’s important that you test each channel out to see which gets the best results and most traction for your business.
So what do you write about or post though? How often should you write or post? Let’s dive into those in the next tips.
10. Create top of funnel content
The 10th tip and the beginning of your content marketing journey should be creating top of funnel content.
Going back to tip #8 regarding the marketing funnel, the top of the funnel is the awareness stage.
The goal at this stage is to educate your target audience on your business, what you offer, and the unique benefit that should be established from your Product/Service Positioning Strategy.
Since this content should be educational, think of any topics that begin with “what is,” “how to,” what to,” “tips to,” etc.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you could write topics and post content surrounding the topics of:
- X Things to Look for in a Wedding Photographer
- X Tips to Look Your Best in Wedding Photos
- X Tips to Book the Perfect Wedding Photographer
- X Tips to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon
- What is a Wedding Photographer’s Job on the Big Day?
A way to approach these top of funnel/awareness stage topics, is to first know what Keywords you want to target (that’s why I listed understanding keywords as a foundational tip).
From there, you can choose to write about topics that are related in the context of your photography service as well as topics that are in context to your industry.
For example, “X Things to Look for in a Wedding Photographer” is within the context of your photographer service and “X Tips to Make Your Wedding Day Go Smoothly” is within context of your industry.
What is great about the top of funnel/awareness stage is that it often drives the most traffic and eyeballs to your brand and business, and at the end of each blog/post you can promote your own photography service saying how “as a wedding photographer, I follow all these tips, etc.”
These types of posts educate while also building brand awareness, thought leadership, and credibility — they are also great photography promotion ideas.
11. Create middle of funnel content
After the top of funnel/awareness stage, comes the middle of funnel/consideration stage.
As mentioned in tip #8, the goal of this stage is to nurture the users who have landed from the top of the funnel further down the funnel. This is usually accomplished through content that is downloadable and requires an email to download it such as e-books, guides, tip sheets, etc.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer, a downloadable e-book/guide titled “Your Guide to the Perfect Wedding Day and the Common Pitfalls I’ve Helped Couples Avoid”
The goal is to show your target audience that they have a problem worth solving.
The difference between top of funnel and middle of funnel content can be very subtle. The difference is that the middle of funnel content should be downloadable and this is when a target lead should determine whether your service or product is a right fit for them.
The middle of funnel content should be placed in key areas on your website.
For example, if you create a top of funnel blog titled “X Things to Look for in a Wedding Photographer,” then when someone is reading they notice a little call-to-action that says (not literally) “hey, by the way, check out this awesome downloadable guide I wrote titled ‘Your Guide to the Perfect Wedding Day and the Common Pitfalls I’ve Helped Couples Avoid.’”
Then they enter their email to download the guide, you reach out to them a few days later asking if they enjoyed the guide and then you can begin seeing if they are looking for a wedding photographer.
Since they’ve already read your top of funnel blog and the middle of funnel guide that was on it, you know they are a warmer lead and have already read about your experience as a wedding photographer!
Another great location to put a middle of funnel piece of content like this is on your actual wedding photography service page.
For example, if you have a page that is trying to target the keyword “wedding photographer in [your location]” then having a guide that pops up when users are on that page for 10 seconds or something along those lines.
You are ~nurturing~ them down the funnel.
As a side note, middle of funnel content works best when in blog format, it’s harder to produce middle of funnel content as social media posts since social media is mostly a platform for top of funnel/awareness content.
You can, however, mention in a social media post to check out the page on your website where you have this guide so you can lead the viewers from your social media to your website and begin the nurturing process.
In the bottom of funnel stage (discussed next), that is where you show them you/your business is the solution to their problem.
12. Create bottom of funnel content
As mentioned in tip #8, at the bottom of the funnel is the decision stage.
In this stage, the goal is to get the user to take that deciding action — the one that should have been defined when deciding on goals.
This is usually accomplished through content that is data-driven, closely aligned with the product/service you are offering such as client case studies or testimonials.
Anything you can provide the customer that says you or your business solves the problem that was brought up in the middle of funnel stage.
Using the two previous tip examples, let’s say you have a top of funnel blog titled “X Things to Look for in a Wedding Photographer.”
On that blog, you have a call-to-action pop up that is promoting a middle of funnel guide titled “Your Guide to the Perfect Wedding Day and the Common Pitfalls I’ve Helped Couples Avoid.”
Once a user downloads that and then you reach out to them, if you find out that they are looking for a wedding photographer and that they are in your area, you can send them a bottom of funnel piece of content.
This bottom of funnel content could be a sheet/page of testimonials from previous clients.
Bottom of funnel/decision stage content should provide that last bit of information that that potential client would need before committing to booking you.
It provides that last little “umph” to really seal the deal.
After you have created content that targets each stage of the funnel, congrats! You have successfully set up a marketing funnel.
From here, it’s about monitoring each piece of content’s results and seeing where there are “leaks” in the funnel.
Are you not getting any traffic at all to your top of funnel content? Then you need to better your knowledge in SEO and keyword targeting.
Are you getting traffic but no one is downloading your middle of funnel content? Then test having a different title or the way you promote it on the page.
Are you getting clients all the way to the bottom of the funnel but they aren’t booking sessions? Is your Marketing Framework aligned? Are you communicating benefits to the client? Is your pricing aligned with your brand? Do you have enough social proof (testimonials, reviews, etc.)?
These are all questions to ask yourself at each stage of the funnel if you are finding “leaks.”
13. Create content calendar
Once you have brainstormed content ideas to target each stage of the funnel and know what channels you want to create content in first, it’s time to get organized.
Tip #13 is to create a content calendar.
A content calendar is great for organizing blog topics for photographers and other creators.
Just as it sounds, it’s a calendar that lists out what topic you will be writing and which day you plan to write it.
Your calendar can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. If you Google “content calendar” and look at the Google Images, you may be put off from the complex puzzles some people’s content calendars look like.
For me personally, I like to keep things simple, I just use Google Sheets.
I have a column for the type of topics it will be, the keyword I’m trying to target, the keyword volume, the example title the post will be, and what month I want to publish it:
The example I showed only has the blog posts I am going to write but your content calendar can also list out the social media posts you want to create and the type.
14. Consistency is key
The 14th tip is to be consistent.
The common beginning advice when creating content is to produce at least a blog and social media post at least once a week.
With that being said, your content calendar should have 4 blog posts and 4 social media posts slated for each month.
Once you get into a rhythm of just tackling a little bit of each post each week, you will find that 1 blog post and 1 social media post a week is doable.
If you find that it is becoming too easy and ramp it up, but remember tip #15 which we’ll dive into right now.
15. Quality > Quantity
The 15th tip is to remember that quality is better than quantity when it comes to the content that you produce.
It’s better to have one really strong piece of content that is in-depth and high quality opposed to 3-4 lower-quality surface level pieces of content.
Higher-quality content will not only help with your brand image, but it also improves the SEO of your post by directly affecting the amount of people that will share your content, stay longer and read your content, and link to your content from other sites — which are influencing ranking factors for ranking optimally on search engines such as Google.
Now that we’ve covered the tips for creating the content, let’s dive into the tips when it comes to optimizing the content you’ve created.
After setting the foundation and creating the content, it’s time to optimize it.
Many people forget this last step but it’s very crucial. The optimization phase is what separates the beginner content marketers from the experts.
In this stage, you will optimize the content you created to perform as optimally as possible while also reviewing and learning from the results of your content.
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Well you can’t know the result of something if you don’t even check!
17. CTAs to nurture
Another important optimization to include in your content are calls-to-action (CTAs) to nurture the users that see your posts.
We touched upon this in tips 11, 12, 13, but it’s essentially delivering the ask to the user to proceed further down the funnel.
So if it’s a top of funnel post and you have a downloadable middle of funnel piece that goes along with it — then it would be a button telling people to download it.
If a prospect downloads the middle of funnel content, then its a CTA leading to a page of your testimonials and how they can contact you.
What are example CTAs?
The most common CTAs are buttons on your page, pop-ups with buttons, or just outright sentences telling people to take an action.
Common pop-up platforms include OptinMonster and Thrive Leads. I currently use Thrive Leads because it’s cheaper but I might switch over to OptinMonster soon.
18. Know your social channels
The 18th tip is to know your social channels.
This tip is similar to tip #9 where we discussed knowing your digital channels, except now it’s important to know all of your social channels.
The common social channels include:
It’s important to know your social channels and what each one is best for.
- Instagram is mostly for visual content
- Facebook can be a mix of videos, informational posts, entertaining posts
- Twitter is mostly for behind the scenes with some short videos and informational content
- Pinterest is mostly for visual content
- LinkedIn is for informational content
- TikTok is for entertaining content that could also be a bit informational
Knowing your social channels is important and leads us to tip #19.
19. Chop up your content
Tip #19 is to chop up your content.
This is when you take one piece of content and chop it up so you can distribute it and share it on different social channels.
For example, let’s say you create this really in-depth guide on Wedding Photography Tips that is also fairly long.
This post starts out as a blog on your website. Well you can also create visual Instagram posts that list out the tips from your blog and post that on your Instagram page, Facebook page, or LinkedIn page.
You could share that post and give a brief summary of what it’s about on Twitter.
You can create a short little infographic or create the visual yourself that lists out all the tips and put it on Pinterest linking to your blog.
You could create an entertaining TikTok video where you list out some tips and then tell the audience they can check out the full blog on your site.
Now with that one guide you wrote on Wedding Photography Tips, you can chop it up and promote it across 6 other channels!
You already did the hard part of writing the guide and getting your thoughts onto paper, now it’s just converting that into the different mediums and formats that each social channel resonates with.
20. Hone your writing skills
The 20th tip is to hone your writing skills and photography content writing.
In order to engage in content marketing, then content needs to be created.
This usually means that you will be writing.
But this isn’t high school where you are creating research papers in MLA format, this is content for the web where the style of writing is a bit different.
You have to take into consideration that you need to capture your reader’s attention and keep their attention or else they have a million other forms of content that they could consume on the same topic.
Here are some tips that have helped me:
- In the intro of what you are writing, tell them what the post will be about, what they will learn about the post, and why you are writing the post.
- This should get their interest right away and it’s straight to the point. I try to do this in all my posts
- Try to keep your sentences between 1-2 sentences and then indent a new paragraph.
- This creates a lot of white space and makes it more visually appealing than landing on a big wall of white text.
21. Know your analytics
The last tip is to know your analytics.
The most common analytics platforms for websites include Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
I touch on both of these in our SEO Guide, and I will be creating separate guides on how to use each soon.
For social media, each channel has their own in-platform analytics tools.
If you are posting on both social media and your website (which is what I suggest), then you should be checking the in-platform social media analytics at least once a week.
For your website content, you should be checking Google Analytics and Google Search Console at least once or twice a month. You can check this less because it takes longer for website content to index and rank in Google, as discussed in the SEO Guide.
The main takeaway is that you want to know how your content is performing so you can know to double down on the content that is resonating with your target audience and back off or tweak the content that is not.
It’s a constant learning process of trial and error with different content types.
Don’t give up, learn the best practices, and keep creating content.
And just remember, content is king.
This was an in-depth guide discussing content and inbound marketing tips. I hope you enjoyed this guide and learned some new insights.
It’s important to take action and take any new concepts you learned and apply it to your own business.
Now I want to hear from you!
If you found any of these tips to be helpful –
Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!
Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.