You’re a professional photographer. You’ve spent years cultivating your passion — learning about methods, gear, software, etc. You’ve studied old and new techniques, and created a style of shooting that’s uniquely yours. You’ve even turned your passion for photography into a somewhat successful business and created a photography website.
It’s safe to say you’re a bit of an expert… and you’re good at what you do.
I’m not saying this to inflate your ego. While it all sounds great, there’s a really negative downside that comes with being an expert.
In the book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath bring up a concept they call the Curse of Knowledge. When we know a lot about a topic (photography or otherwise), we often clump it together into one big chunk and forget we learned everything from many small pieces.
A chapter of that book we read in college, an afternoon training at a tradeshow last summer, the one-hour webinar we sat through last month, and on and on — all these small pieces eventually form one big chunk of knowledge. That is what makes us experts, right?
Here’s the problem: even though we didn’t learn everything we know in one big chunk, we try to share it in one big chunk with others.
For example, most photographers fall into this trap when they create their website. They share everything their visitors could ever want to know about them and their photography, which often results in cluttered and overcrowded sites.
These photography websites include every piece of information imaginable, like:
- Photography styles
- Possible locations
- Pricing information
- Calendar availability
- Products offered
- What-to-wear guides
- Portfolio Example A
- Portfolio Example B
- Portfolio Example C
- Portfolio Example D
When we dump all this so-called ‘vital information’ onto our website visitors, they get bored or overwhelmed… so they leave.
The Breadcrumb Strategy
Let me be really clear about something: the goal of your site is NOT to give out a ton of information. The goal is to get visitors to take action — either by emailing you, calling you, or visiting your studio.
The human brain can hold a ton of information. Most of us are information junkies who like to learn. The problem isn’t information storage, though — it’s information processing.
When you communicate with brand new visitors on your site, you need to treat them like they’re using dial-up internet speeds with a really slow processor. Eventually, your clients will want to know everything about you and your services, and you’ll give them all the information they could ever want, but not all at once.
Right from the start, we need to give them only the information they need to take action. The way we do that is with the Breadcrumb Strategy.
Step #1: Break It Down Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Membership warehouses like Sam’s Club and Costco are absolute pros at this. When they want you to buy their new 10-pack of frozen chicken parmesan, what do they give you?
Free bite-sized samples!
If they gave you a full meal, you’d say, “Thanks. Now I’m full. I don’t need that anymore.” But when they give you just a small taste in the form of a bite-sized sample, it encourages you to buy more.
We need to borrow from this concept in our marketing. Instead of giving photography website visitors full meals, we need to give them bite-sized chunks that encourage them to reach out to us for more.
We’ll do this by taking off the unnecessary information we have on our site and leaving just enough. It’s much better to err on the side of having too little information than too much… as long as visitors still know how to contact us.
Step #2: Spread It Out Over Time
After we break down our information into bite-sized chunks, we need to spread it out over time.
For example, let’s say we put one tiny piece of information on our site. Then we give visitors time to view it and sign up for our email list or newsletter. As more time goes by, we offer another small nugget about our photography business, both on our site and to the email list.
The more we do this, the more people will actually hear us. These tiny nuggets start to resonate with them until they say, “Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m looking for a wedding photographer, but I need someone that can travel to my wedding destination.”
Then they reach out to us (which is the goal of our site) and start a conversation. We can then respond with, “Yes, I do weddings on location. Here’s a portfolio of a wedding I shot in Mexico this spring, and here’s another from a wedding I shot in London last fall.”
Instead of dumping every portfolio and piece of information all at once on our website, we can spread it out over time and customize the information we share to each individual that reaches out to us.
Mind the Emotion
Purchasing decisions are always about emotion — both good emotions and bad emotions. If your photography website visitors feel overwhelmed with all the information on your site, they’ll shy away from you. Instead, you want them to feel desire. You want to leave your visitors desperately wanting more.
When you only put your best 10-12 images on your homepage, you’re giving out a free sample. It makes visitors say, “Oh wow! This is so cool. I’ve got to see more of this photographer’s pictures.”
When the only way to see more is to inquire, they’ll take that action by emailing, calling, or visiting you — fulfilling the main goal of your site.