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Q&A #20: email newsletters, blog SEO, promoting new services & more

I’m answering your questions about photography websites, business, marketing, SEO, and more.

You can ask me anything. I’ll try to answer within 24 hours, and the most useful questions get featured here on the newsletter too. Need any help with your website? Don’t hesitate to write, I’m all ears.

Thanks to David, Ming, John, Thomas, Michael & Esther for these questions.

Check out my answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts by sending me a message or leaving a comment below.



“What are the first steps in creating an email newsletter with MailChimp?”

Full question: “I’d like to discuss setting up my “mailing list” from website visitors and shoppers. Beyond the marketing component, offering visitors and repeat clients discounts, I’d like to provide a monthly newsletter. This newsletter may start out quarterly, but I’d like to get it to a point of monthly. I have a simple Mail Chimp account.”

1. You should start by customizing the default MailChimp template to make it look a bit more like your website (so it feels cohesive). This is fairly easy, you just need to configure the template to use the same logo, fonts and colors that your website has.

2. Add subscribe boxes to your site (with exit intent triggers, if possible, so that they’re not too intrusive), encouraging people to subscribe.

For this, it would be useful to sum-up in one sentence what people can expect to get once they join your newsletter.

And maybe a single image can also be used inside the subscribe boxes or popups for some visual interest (either a 2:3 vertical image, or a horizontal pano, maybe something from your best-of portfolio/gallery).

3. Start playing around with the MailChimp campaigns with eventually sending out the first email to people.

Ideally, you should also set up a “welcome workflow”, meaning an initial email that people automatically get immediately after subscribing, welcoming them to your newsletter, telling them what to expect next, and giving them some first initial useful content (a mini article, a discount code, latest deals, updates, etc.)

These are just a few simple initial steps. Email marketing is incredibly powerful when done right, and it requires a lot more steps to really turn it into a marketing engine for your

  • business:
  • domain validation
  • configuring your lists
  • using segments, groups, and merge tags
  • more automation workflows
  • smarter subscribe boxes throughout your site
  • A/B testing campaigns
  • and much more…



“What would be a good CTA for my newsletter optin?”

Full question: “In the blog on my photography website, I give advice to prospective customers (I am a portrait photographer), e.g., how can they prepare for the shooting, what should they wear, where will the shooting take place and so on. I would like to collect mail addresses form visitors, so that I can notify them with a newsletter of new blog posts. Now I would like to install a 2-step optin. What would be a good CTA for the first step? What desire of a prospective portrait photography customer could I address? I would like to tell them that this desire will come true when they subscribe to my newsletter.”

The main idea though is that it’s not really enticing to your blog readers to “get updates,” that’s too vague usually.

That’s where lead magnets come in (some sort of PDF, eBook, cheatsheet, checklist, etc.) that they get immediately after subscribing.

So here are a few other articles I found online to get you started:

  • (they also offer a list of lead magnet ideas if you subscribe to them)

And then also listen to these podcast episodes:


So you’d have to figure out what sort of resources your audience would find useful, then write/build it, then put that in your CTA.

Otherwise, if you just tell people they’ll get future blog articles and updates from you in their inbox, the conversation rate will be much lower.

People already have full inboxes; they have to really want to subscribe to something new.



“Can my niche services pages be outranked by my blog posts?”

Full question: “I don’t want my blog or portfolio to cannibalize my keywords from the main parts of my website. I’m worried that blog posts will compete with my niche/service pages.”

I understand your worries here, but I don’t think they’re valid. For two reasons:

1. Blog posts like that should not outrank your more-important “niche pages” (as you called them) IF you give enough “attention” to those main “niche” pages.

Let’s say you have a main page on your site ranking for “Rochester Wedding Photographer”. You can make sure that it won’t get “outranked” by another blog post of yours if…

  • you make sure this page uses the “Rochester Wedding Photographer” phrase more often than other blog posts
  • if this page, being marked as “cornerstone content”, gets a lot more internal links from other pages on your site => so Google considers it more important
  • if you don’t have another blog post that specifically targets “Rochester Wedding Photographer” which would be more of a direct “competitor”

If you’re just worried that your blog posts use the more general “wedding photographer/photography” terms, taking something away from the main niche pages, don’t be.

Use niche pages to target main keyphrases like that (“[location] [specialty] photographer), and use blog posts to target other secondary keyphrases (venues, narrower niches, etc.)

2. All the blog posts, and all the portfolio pages you have, with all their images with proper filenames and ALT tags, altogether help give more meaning to Google on what the site is all about as a whole. And they all help you rank for long-tail keywords, which I’ve talked about in my article at point #7 here.

Basically, your main “niche pages” help you rank for some of the top keywords, but the rest of the site helps you rank for a vast array of long-tail keywords, things like:

  • [venue] wedding
  • wedding at [venue]
  • portrait of [type of client] at [venue]
  • [niche] portraits at [venue]
  • wedding ceremony in [location]

And I could go on and on. Those are just a few examples of keyphrases you can “infuse” into your blog post copy, and into image filenames and ALT tags.



“Is it ok that my blog urls don’t have /blog/ in them?”

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to keep /blog/ out of the URL structure for blog posts.

I do the same.

Remember that in Google’s eyes, there’s no big difference between a page and a post, so it’s OK to just treat blog posts as pages and not have them include /blog/ in the URL.

The bigger difference exists for people browsing your site because blog posts (as opposed to pages) end with a list of categories and related posts so they can easily navigate to see more. And that they show up in reverse chronological order.

Anyway, long story short, it’s (more than) OK to have blog URLs without /blog/ in them.



“How to effectively educate my potential clients about the benefits of 360 virtual tours?”

And you can apply this to not just 360 virtual tours, but to any unique photography product or service that you’re offering. 

Here’s how I would approach it:

1. First, make a list of all the benefits you can think of, scanning sources like:

  • your experience and past projects
  • simply looking at what your competitors are mentioning on their sites
  • Googling “benefits of 360 virtual tours”

2. From that list, also do a tiny bit of keyword research using a tool like Ubersuggest to find the ones with the most search volume and to gather more ideas

3. Try to infuse those “benefits” into your website:

  • SEO meta-description for the homepage (to encourage people to click on your website in Google search results)
  • turn most of the content on the homepage and the Services pages from being me-focused (“We help…”) into being you-focused (“Attract more customers through…” or “Learn why 360 virtual tours…”)

4. And think of other ways you can educate your audience:

  • an email newsletter
  • more blog posts (!)
  • more YouTube videos
  • an FAQ page on your site where you pre-answer stuff (by using questions you might have gotten from past clients)
  • showing not just testimonials but also larger case-studies (aka “success stories) from using 360 tours



Your turn: ask me anything :-)
Send your questions to me via email or on my social media channels (links in the footer), I’d be able to help.

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