I am beyond thrilled and honored that Matt with H2 Designs was
willing to give me a little of his time so that I could share with you…
(especially photographers!) about his business and his perspective
If you are a photographer I think this could be quite helpful in
giving you some direction or answering some questions you may have.
I worked with Matt for the first time this past summer when I
updated my branding and blog. He was absolutely great to work with…
absolutely no complaints whatsoever! Check it out and see what he has to say.
Here goes…It may seem lengthy but I don’t think you will regret it!
Matt, how did you get started with customizing pro-photo blogs?
It’s all about referrals really the whole thing was really a big accident. It all started with pro photo 2, when the open beta came up I jumped on it. I did my own design for my own blog, then a friend asked me if I could design hers. Well, she loved it so much she told others, who told others and before I even knew it I had two or three I was doing at once. Someone asked me if I should start charging and that basically got the ball rolling. In the few months that happened, the recession hit, and I decided to start taking more on the side. When pro photo 3 finally hit release, I eventually decided to make it a part time thing and setup a meeting with Jared over at Pro Photo to make everything on the up and up, and started H2 so I could keep it all separated. Since I went into college for graphic design and came out as photographer instead this actually worked well for me! Although looking at what I’ve accomplished with H2 I wish I had gone into web design instead!!
What has been your greatest avenue of advertising for your business?
With photography I’ve tried print media, business cards, and web advertising, which unfortunately never worked. With H2, I haven’t done a single one of those and only rely on referrals, which of course is always the best in any business. I’ve built good relationships with clients and friends that keep those referrals going and hopefully that’s all I’ll ever need. However, this year I do plan on releasing a new affiliate program to spread the word and help get my name as well as my friends names out there better.
Is H2Blogs the only work you do? or do you have more hidden talents we don’t know about?!?!?!
I’m originally a photographer myself and I’ve been shooting portraits and weddings for the last 5 years. You can see that work at http://www.himynameismatt.com. I actually do more design work that I don’t publicize. Mainly because I’m overloaded with H2 and if they knew I was working on other things I’d probably get asked to do those too. I used to do logos quite a bit before I started H2. Now I do the occasional print media, artwork and other general photographer related design work. Hardly anyone sees any of that work! I’m planning on more templates and possibly showcasing some of my older work on the new site I’m working on this year.
What would be the top three pieces of advice you would give someone that is looking to have a customized blog designed?
1. Be ready! People tend to see other sites and blogs and instantly think that having a good blog or website will make them have a better business. Branding and consistency is VERY important in any business, which is why I require a professional logo before even booking with H2. This forces clients to decide to make the change if they want a custom design. What’s the point of having awesome photography and a great website, but you have a logo that looks like you slapped it together in 30 minutes in photoshop or got the uncle bob of design to do it for you? If I notice it, then your clients definitely notice it. That only tells me you’re not really serious about re-branding or your clients at all. Photography is 95% business and 5% of actual shooting. When you’ve been in a real photography business for awhile and have experienced the ups and downs you will learn that. That’s what separates a professional from Uncle Bob and cousin Jane.
2. Do some research- Get a feel of what you want, you don’t always have to know what you want, but getting basics down, looking at examples. Spend time to come up with where you want your business to grow and brand image to look like is a good investment of time.
3. Don’t copy someone else. It’s great that you can find inspiration on the web, we dolt on a lot of the photographers we find are our “heroes” so in theory it should be flattering that we want to be like them… but be yourself. Think… “OK this husband and wife photographer team is awesome, the pictures are great, the branding is great, and their personalities match well with both” Well they know what each other is like, what they both wanted and how they wanted to portray their business to their clients. If that makes them successful that’s awesome, but why would you want to copy someone else’s branded personality? Make some decisions for yourself…who you want to be, where you want your business to go and what you want your clients to see you as. When you’ve figured that out, and you’ve got your branding done, just be consistent with it. If you want to be as awesome as the photographer you like so much, don’t be like them, be like the person you want to be, then people will see that and do the same for you.
Why do you think a customized blog is so important or beneficial? As opposed to just a basic blog?
Having something unique to yourself and your brand makes all the difference! There are a ton of website templates out there. Most photographers I know have a intothedarkroom or bludomain template site. They’re all pretty much the same, although you can customize them for your look, you don’t get the same degree of customization. With something like pro photo which gives you way, way more to work with as far as a customizable template. The way pro photo and wordpress keeps advancing with each version we’re pretty close to being able to make a fully custom website out of it, even better for the price. Although the custom designs I create make the sites unique and different to set them apart, you can still tell it’s pro photo. Eventually it’ll get to a point where you won’t be able to distinguish that line so easily. You’re getting something custom that fits your business without paying thousands for a fully custom designed web site.
Could you explain the difference between a blog and a blog-site?
A blog is usually a place where you can make posts on a timed basis, write articles, talk about your favorite wedding or show off your latest photos. It’s not necessarily important for a client to see, but it gives them the ability to see your latest work and get a feel of your personality. A blog-site is basically the portfolio website combined with a blog. At that point, your blog isn’t separated and the designs are seamless. So when clients click the blog, it lists your posts, latest updates and anything related to a blog. Yet it has your website information and galleries for clients to look at all in one place without clicking off site.
What is the basic process, for a potential client, to get started with you on customizing a blog for them?
I have a set of requirements that must be met before the client even books. This is so that the people that aren’t ready or maybe not that serious aren’t wasting both of our precious time. After that, if they have all the information, all requirements met and can pay the deposit, then it’s just trying to get a date. Getting a date is probably the hardest part. I announce dates randomly to be fair and they are always a month or two out, but booked within the first 48 hours. Once you have a date, you’re golden though. That’s when we can get started on your new site.
On a personal note…tell me a little bit about your life and maybe something you do aside from H2Blogs!
Well besides photography and H2, I spend all my leisure time doing the things I like most, which mainly pertains to being a big dork! I play video games, listen to a lot of music and read comic books in my space time or I draw when I’m feeling inspired. When I’m not doing those it’s usually time spent with my family, my wife and two Chihuahuas… they’re our two kids. One thing most people don’t know about me is that I have a terminal disease, I’m pretty open about it, because I feel like people don’t know enough about it to support it. It’s called Cystic Fibrosis, it’s a rare genetic lung disease that over time will degrade the lungs and body. I’ve been blessed to make it as far as I can on God’s master plan and spend the time I have trying to live as any normal person can live day by day. Having such great family and friends that are supportive definitely makes life instantly better.
What are two things you would say inspires you?
This one is easy, art and music. Music and artwork can take you to amazing places in your head you never imagined. Artwork can be movies, photography, video games, places or whatever sparks my imagination. I don’t always get them on paper like I’d like to sometimes, but they’re the source of doing what I do. As an example, H2 pink pinup template came from when I was visiting a store one day with my wife. You can obviously tell where some of the design ideas came from and the inspiration I got. You never know where or when inspiration will happen, but when it does it’s usually awesome!
Hey photographers…did you enjoy this?
Did you learn something?
Did he give you some tips and ideas?
I hope this inspired you! I can’t say enough great things about Matt
and I really don’t know him besides working with him!!!!!!!!!
So do you like itunes? How about a $15.00 i-tunes gift card? Yep…$15 bucks
Leave a comment below and tell us if it inspired you in
anyway, shape or form!!!! By leaving a comment you might just
get chosen via a random drawing on Wednesday morning March 16th.
So it’s easy…really it is… it goes like this:
1-Comment on the blog- Your name gets “dropped in the hat” one time
2- Tweet about this tagging me erin_rachel (first you have to be following me then
be sure to tag because that’s
the only way I know you’ve done it!!!) well then your name gets “dropped in the
3- Share the interview via your facebook status…again tag either me or my facebook
photography page (or I won’t know you’ve done it!!!) then…yep you guessed it
your name gets “dropped in the hat” again.
So yeh it’s not complex…pretty simple!