This guest post is by Jodi Friedman of MCP Actions.
When it comes to the world of blogging, multiple people working together almost always achieves better results than just one. So you can imagine the energy that happened when ten lucky, talented bloggers from around the world were selected by Tourism Queensland to join Darren Rowse in Australia in June. We discussed, brainstormed, critiqued, and networked with each other about the topics of blogging and business.
In addition to the amazing excursions to see wildlife, marine-life, and incredible views of the Great Barrier Reef, we had plenty of time to interact with each other.
We had two blogging workshops, one of which included critiquing each participant’s blog. I listened closely to the observations and advice given about my blog and company. I took notes and then made to-do lists and processes to implement the changes that were suggested.
I also asked questions of the other bloggers about how they run aspects of their businesses. Again, I documented things that I could apply to my company, MCP Actions.
Here’s what has happened since the trip.
1. Blog design
Critique 1: The text on my blog was hard to read.
I was told that the lines of text were too close together, and the text was slightly too small. Great suggestion. I adjusted the sizing and spacing of the text on my blog.
Critique 2: It was hard to find my products from the main blog.
Up until now, I had a slideshow at the top of the blog with links to some older posts. A few people said to me, “How do we get to your products to see what you have to offer? Nothing exists for this above the fold.”
Since the trip, I have gotten rid of the large images leading to older posts and replaced them with buttons that take you to our actions, presets, and training classes. As others mentioned, this is a much better use of the real estate at the top of the blog. The key here is to make it easy for people to get to where you want them to go.
2. Social networking on more platforms
Critique 1: I put too much time and energy in Facebook and not enough in other social networking platforms.
MCP Actions has a large presence on Facebook—it’s approximately 124,000 strong. Since Facebook made drastic changes to its service, our posts are shown to fewer fans. So some of the bloggers suggested I build a stronger presence on more sites.
One challenge I face is that it’s difficult to keep up with so many social networks. I am still working on the best way to manage so many. I still have not integrated Google+ as I leave frustrated every time I visit it. I’m unsure the best way to use it for my business, but I am open to suggestions.
3. Figure out a way to better manage my time
My concern: I don’t have enough time to get everything done.
The recommended solution? Outsourcing. When I returned, I finally took the big step I’ve wanted to take for a long time: I hired a virtual assistant company. They helped me implement blog changes and helped me put some other systems into place so I can work more efficiently. This is a work in progress as I decide which responsibilities I can turn over to them.
My concern: I have too many emails taking up too much time.
This time, the solution that was recommended was to create a support desk. On the trip, I discussed with some of the bloggers how every email for the company gets filtered through me. After returning, I researched help desk software and set up a database of FAQs along with canned responses. The virtual assistant now filters my email. She answers some basic ones about downloads and unzipping. She forwards me the Photoshop ones to answer. And she forwards other team members the ones for their area of expertise. This has helped immensely.
My concern: Blogging and social networking take a huge chunk of time.
The solution here was to hire people to do these things. I utilize guest bloggers, in addition to my own posts, but blogging and social networking are a huge portion of what I do every day. And the truth is that I need to do more.
I have not implemented a solution at this point as identifying the best person for the job will be extremely hard. I am also not 100% sure how to “let go” or be less involved in these two areas. I will be on the lookout to contract with someone who is well versed in photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and writing. The hard part is finding someone with all of those skills and an entrepreneurial spirit, who can both follow directions and work independently. But someday I may find this person… Until them, I will juggle these responsibilities myself.
4. Exposure for Queensland, Australia and my photography
After I posted some images from my trip to Australia on Facebook, one of my contacts at Tamron lenses asked to see some contact sheets of the images I’d taken with their new 24-70 2.8 lens.
The outcome is that two images from the trip, along with some quotes of mine, are in a Tamron Advertorial in the September issue of Popular Photography.
With a little help…
As you can see, many of the things I have accomplished in the past few months are the result of interacting with ten other bloggers from around the globe. The insight they provided made a difference in my business, and hopefully my ideas helped some of them too. I will also have lasting friendships and collaborations with many of them both now and in the future.
So next time you are thinking you can do everything alone, consider reaching out to other bloggers. You never know where it will lead.
Jodi Friedman is the owner of MCP Actions. Her company makes photo editing easier and faster for photographers with their highly acclaimed Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, online training and an active photography blog. Jodi lives in Michigan with her husband and twin daughters and loves photography, travel, and teaching.