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If you are in Southern California and have attempted to market your photography business online, then you have probably run into Gavin Holt in the course of your research. Gavin’s background prior to photography was web marketing and SEO, hence for the past several years he has ranked at or near #1 in the Google organic search.
Now, if Gavin weren’t a great photographer, this SEO prowess wouldn’t serve much of a purpose. However, honestly speaking Gavin is one of the most talented and well versed photographers that I have met. While most photographers specialize in specific lighting techniques and subjects, Gavin is one of the only photographers that I have seen that has a broad body of work that is all equally impressive. His advertising, fashion, editorial, sports, and wedding photography are all equally impressive.
With his photography prowess and his SEO and web marketing skills, it is no wonder why Gavin runs one of the most successful photography businesses in Southern California. In this interview, we chat through Gavin’s photographic background and discuss quite a few tips and tricks to help you in your online marketing efforts! Apologies in advance, we recorded this fairly late in the evening, so we started losing light towards the end of the interview. Regardless, it still should prove quite informative. Enjoy!
See more of Gavin’s work at –
See more of Gavin’s wedding work with him and his wife Judy at –
what's up guys I'm pie with SR Lounge calm and today we have Gavin Holt in the studio today hey everyone now today we're gonna be talking about kind of more the business side of photography so if you guys haven't heard of Gavin Gavin's actually a big name kind of over here in the Orange County area because he is the original king of SEO marketing now you guys might have heard of other names in SEO but Gavin was the first one when everyone was looking how to SEO we all look back this was like four years ago five years ago and we're like who's top on Google and Gavin's name appeared like everywhere I was doing it before it was trendy so where everybody knew what SEO was he was doing it so let's go back prior to that and what were you doing before you decide to go into photography well actually I was a computer programmer before this and there are actually a lot of computer guys that end up going into photography cameras you know gear yeah Gozen but I wasn't happy doing my job I hated it I hated being stuck in a cubicle I hated dealing with well I don't know that many happy computer programmers let's put it that way so I started branching out and I videotaped because his wedding by the way I did videography as a side job in college mostly Club work and what I mm-hm and from there i videotape my cousin's wedding built a product around it actually built DVD cases and it was back when video tape was on tapes this is back in 2004 so yeah so I still feel like I'm still baby I still have a long way to go but it started in 2004 from there built a product around it I'm like man I've got this great video it shows lots of moments it's well edited to music I've got to be able to knock at the market I put it at $1500 I'm like it's got a sell and it didn't I did three weddings my first year and that sucked so I was that when you're still in college and you're doing that or no this is after college this is when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life I had some other stints with other career possibilities and this was one of them from there I went and got a day job because money was running out and you know the business wasn't working that day job happened to be as search engine optimizer at an SEO firm in fact that's how it started it was actually the number one SEO firm in the world if you go by the search engine rankings in Google it actually ranked higher for search engine optimization than Wikipedia that's crazy yeah so I started working there I quickly became one of their better optimizers I just knew how to handle the clients I was handling a lot of their high end clients in fact and then I applied it to my own business yeah and Wow like I was like wow this is working and I learned a really important lesson back then it's a highly underestimated marketing I thought you know you know like if you've got a good product it'll sell itself and it does it just takes forever doing it yeah it took a while for the word to spread out and of course back then Facebook wasn't around people weren't sharing videos online so it was really hard to get the word out there that was creating a quality product yeah so you have to use other forms of marketing to bypass that definitely well it's interesting because the you know there's when we talk about the business of photography it's kind of funny because photography and then the business of a type we were being a professional photographer are two completely different things mm-hmm and you say well okay when people want to get in the industry you kind of wonder well do you like taking pictures do you just enjoy taking pictures or do you enjoy the business of taking pictures because those are not related the business of taking pictures involves 20% taking pictures and 80% other and you're doing you know from marketing from everything you can take the best pictures in the world and you take some amazing pictures thank you but you could take the best pictures in the world and without marketing and SEO is just a small caveat small piece of that yes you know you're not gonna get anywhere with that and so I think a lot of times people get in the industry they love to take photos maybe they take photos their family their friends they're good at it and they enjoy doing it again in the industry and they realize well I'm taking great pictures but nobody's kind of paying attention it's it's difficult once they see the business side of it they say okay this is not what I had in mind I thought you know it was gonna be not not necessarily was gonna be easier but they think a lot of people think that it's not as much administrative work it as it is you know I mean like you spent so much time behind your computer just do with clients and emails and everything like that so let's chat about that whole process so you decided at this day job when it was the point where you said I'm gonna quit my day job now and and go gung-ho at this photography thing actually I still remember that I walked in my boss's office and I said um I'm not gonna come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I switched from a 40-hour work week or 40 hour plus to a 24 hour work week and there was really nothing they could do about it I had made up my mind I was already getting supplemental income on the weekends and I actually needed the time to start editing videos because yeah I would do ten hours of shooting of wedding and spend 35 to 40 hours on each edit so it was shoot one wedding edit for a whole week so when you first started you were doing more video or more stills I was doing only video I don't know picked up a photo camera until 2006 oh wow okay so this was back in four when you started yes yeah so shooting off the Canon XL 1s and a gl2 for you guys to remember those and in a sony HDR FX 1 the first HD camera for him Sony so I was but the thing is I shot video like a photographer and and that's something that really helped me transcend over into photography versus kinda I mean you yeah there's that stigma with videographers where there's you know and they just sit there just like the tripod in I never was like that I was moving all over the place yeah so yeah kind of getting more artistic private the video I think that's what you know what DSLR videography or cinematography now has become so popular because of that because of the moving around getting a more cinematic feel as opposed to the traditional mm-hmm tripod it shoot three angles and just cut from angle to angle and that kind of look now one pro tip though is if you are doing video especially DSLRs there's no stabilization and I've seen so much shaky footage or you know like Blair Witch Project stuff yeah I was actually in the UC le shooting club back in the day and we shoot pellet guns on campus because you can't real guns but you know if you can nail it target at 10 meters and get it within the ten ring you can hold the camera steady and so you say I'll have to be able to shoot a gun to hold the camera city all I'm saying is if you got to shooting range and you can learn the mechanics of holding a gun steady those same mechanics apply to photography and videography especially video because you'll see every movement but for photography of course when you're shooting at slow shutter speeds I've been known to shoot pictures of like a wide shot of reception hall at 1/4 of a second handheld mm-hmm so and you know 1/4 is all right so practice your gun handling skills yes just three gun safety rules by the way just so you know so anyway okay so you basically transition from a five-day workweek to a three-day workweek while you're kind of doing this video thing on the side and then what was the point when you said like did you wait basically until your business income on the side fully replace your you know job I dove in a little earlier than I probably should have um but then again I had no wife no kids no mortgage just rent and I'm like screw this I want to do what I love doing I don't want to deal with my old work by the way my one of my bosses almost picked a fight with me on the day I put in my two-weeks so I'm glad I got out of that work place but yeah it's something where I I just knew you know like financially it worked more importantly in here at work I had a passion for it and I knew I could I could make it survive yeah and and it's nice having that where you have this passion for a job that you love doing but if you can't financially support yourself you know I mean obviously you got to eat but when you have that means it's exciting because it's like wow even though I might be scraping it which you know I did I was still eating I was still surviving I'm still doing the job I loved yeah yeah okay so you've you left the office you're now doing your job full-time and this is a perfect time to kind of insert this question here Kelly Elaine Garthwaite I'm sorry if I said that wrong by the way she asked what are some of the most successful marketing strategies to use during your first year of business I mean you've just left what are you doing that first year to make sure people are coming in the door the first your stuff I mean you know how they all say like a business will like 95% businesses will fail in the first year we have it a little easier because we don't have overhead I had no rent from a studio location I was working out of my home equipment's pretty cheap to buy into the you know I'm not taking out a hundred thousand dollar loan yeah but that first you're still tough you're establishing a product you're establishing a brand and you're figuring out what you're capable of so the SEO started me off by the way I hand coded my website you've probably seen my ugly website and it stayed that way forever and that's because you don't you know fix something that's broken or I mean yeah that's the funny thing dude is that okay so I'm gonna be honest you're the original Gavin every website was not pretty okay it was not a pretty website but you were booking crazy amounts of weddings and and you know you hear people constantly like oh you need to work on your branding and you need to work on and these are important things don't get me wrong branding and marketing and like make sure you're everything your website is pretty and all that kind of stuff but the bottom line is if you get your product in front of a lot of people and you have a good product people are gonna buy it right I mean that's essentially what you did you had a very average website a great product and people were buying it you were just getting in front of people well one thing to also consider is that the sales process has multiple steps yeah when they're first a lead I mean gosh I was getting tens of thousands of hits and from there it filtered through and I get those few brides that were really interested and when I show him a full wedding I'd show him the actual product I bring a whole box full of photos and and they would see okay you know he's legit even though on the surface it might not look that way you can polish off your website and then you'll have higher quality leads coming in but I chose to spend my time on just kind of that shotgun approach blasting everyone and then the ones that come in it's like okay cool it works of course if I could have make it optimal at every single stage I would I would have had so much business I want to know know what to do with it but I'm only one guy so ya know but it's a it's a great because you kind of hear these other ways and you think that there's only one way to do something you think that everything has to be perfect but then you hear that you know there's so many different approaches and I love the fact because I'm kind of I've kind of one of those that every three to six months I get sick of my website I don't want to do a full redesign and Justin and Chris are always like no dude it's doing okay you don't fix what isn't broken type thing yeah and you kind of had to remind yourself that like look what is our primary product our primary product is our images it's our images it's the service that we're delivering and if you can get them to come in the door whether your website is beautiful or whether it's average whatever it is if you can get them come in the door then you've done 90% of the job and then you just convince them to book you show me a good work and that doesn't even matter anymore the website is the least thing that they're thinking about at that point yeah I mean it's like a first date it's yours to lose you know you're already there you should he's there in the first place you're golden so and I'm you you also mentioned we've been friends for the one you mentioned a little while back that you you actually hit number one in the world in on Google for just wedding photography in general like that would be insane like essentially if you're in New York or if you're in Budapest and you type into Google wedding photography Gavin Holt's website comes up actually as I'm from the United States my second largest source of traffic comes from Pakistan from Pakistan and Pakistan I don't know why but I just get a lot of traffic from there so what's actually really funny is um going back to what you said about when did I know I could quit my job is actually based off of my search engine rankings because I was aiming for wedding videography and I think on MSN back then MSN this was before but being it became being than live than before that MSN I hit number one within three days so it was easy search engine and nail yeah Google is impossible but I hit number one for wedding videography within about three months on Google of doing my work yacon grazing so when I hit that I knew that okay I can look at quitting my job because this business is gonna succeed mm-hmm but realize you know that's just one part of a business it's not a cure-all yeah yeah okay so since I mean since we have the SEO King here let's talk a little bit about it I don't want okay I mean SEO is a huge field and like there's I'm we can spend 24 hours here talking about it but let's narrow it down to like three tips that you can give people on how that they can work on their own websites SEO what are the three things you'd say to folks I know this I know SEO is not a quick thing like what you do with SEO needs to be over a course of three six months twelve months to have results and anybody trying to tell you guys otherwise there just tryin to fool you don't believe that people that call you on the phone are like oh and for just 60 bucks a month we'll get you number one it's not real stammers yeah it's bad so what are a few tips that you can give everybody just on SEO like that they can do on their own to kind of improve their rankings I'm gonna narrow down to two right okay so one and two one good content you have to have good content you have to have content that people are reading that they enjoy that they're spending time on and that content will last years and buy content do you mean specifically written content or photographs or I mean now you're talking about Google search algorithms and how they acquire stuff images will sell your ride's content will sell the search engines so okay specifically will sell the search engines however if they're coming to see a photography website and they see only text they're not sold they're gonna leave and Google is gonna see that and they're gonna say okay they didn't find what they were looking for let's knock them down in the rankings hmm so number one content okay number two links and and it sounds so simple okay content links content links it's it's the recipe for a successful website in the long term everything else is a gimmick everything else is short term if you have good content and good links you'll last through the years I hand coded my website I built that baby from scratch I'm talking like div layers and everything like all hand coded if you look in the code it's ugly but I put it that in like 2006 2007 and I haven't touched it since it's just something I dumped months of work into and then I let it run and because it was built correctly it's lasted through all these years yeah and I'm not number one anymore but it's still running it's still doing a great job you can still find me well when you say links just so people understand better links you're talking about backlinks right links from other websites to your website yes and now quality links yeah everyone if you're if you're getting an SEO you have to know about PageRank you have to understand how PageRank works because I mean get a PageRank chequered you know thing on your you know on Chrome or Firefox you have to have something that gives you an idea I would have people coming up to me asking hey can I buy a link off your website for $60 or $80 or $100 a month mm-hmm so I could be low a hundred dollars a month just for putting a link on my website Tom no though actually because it wasn't a good link I didn't want my website being attributed with linking to bad people yeah mom because I could get penalized for that but going back you can actually pay for links that's how much they're worth look for quality links you know look for page ranks I remember when my page hit a page it was a PR six back in the day that's crazy that's just PageRank so just to give you guys an explanation PageRank goes from zero all the way up to ten basically the only ten out there is Google right what else is a ten Facebook's are nine I think so Yahoo it used to be a ten but I think Google knocked it down to a nine okay yeah I mean it's Google's algorithm so obviously they're the only ten so but anywhere above like if you have a photography studio if you have a PageRank of three or four that is very healthy so six is like really high six is really good to give you a comparison Canon's website is a pure 7 yeah so I was like here I'm like whoa there's a little eerie because I actually means I have a lot of power and I can do a lot with our and and spread it out yeah and essentially the PageRank is also just telling you the it's kind of Google's way of saying the importance of this page right in their mind kind of the the overall importance of this page that this so when you're going and getting backlinks I know we have I only explains I know we have a lot of beginners out there when it comes to SEO and I want you guys to understand when it comes to backlinks what Gavin is saying is that if you get you know a pea like a PR 3 to link to you it's better than a PR one that links to you so if you get a higher rank page that's better if you get a PR 5 photography website to link to you it's probably better than a PR 6 automotive website that links to you rights because there's content it's it's related content the quality of the link basically well let me explain it even simpler think of it like voting like imagine you've got a room full of people okay and someone asks a question hey who's the best photographer in here five people point at me ten people point at you this isn't a realistic example I can already no SLR lounge rocking Manhattan so now he's got ten votes so already you're supposed to show up higher in the search engine rankings now his page is a higher page rank but if ulsan you decide to point to mean you're like oh actually I'm not the best photographer Gavin over there is all sudden I basically get all of those ten votes and now I've got like 15 votes mm-hmm instead of just five plus one so your vote has that much more weight going behind it mmm so that's a good way of looking at it think of that way I helped out a friend one time where I like to help out my friends with SEO as if they're good people we'll get on to a whole nother subject on that one but and it was I mean it was a brand new website I linked to it and I helped him out and I was surprised like three weeks later they had a PR update and he popped up to a PR three right away yeah and so yeah so if you have a powerful site you can get that now if you also have powerful friends they can help you out yeah for sure you know and that's another thing too is that networking can be a big help like you know all the all the standard marketing techniques apply to web marketing I mean go out and build a network you go you know one of the best ways to get links to your site is go right for other people 4sr lounge we give our writers links back to their website yes those are big links from a photographer a website so writing for the people doing these kind of things you can get your own backlinks but it is time-consuming that's what we're saying right well what's funny is actually I get most of my links from personal relationships I know that sounds kind of weird but you know you can get links outside of the internet world and then it translates into the internet world so figure that way you know you can work what you have at home yeah I'll go learn at work yeah you know unlike don't forget what you have what friendships you have and whatnot don't just sit behind the computer guys okay so on SEO basically we have we have on one side great content good backlinks yes equals a good SEO strategy and there's a lot more to that but that's actually a great start you know I know a lot of tutorial based websites as well I was included and an other one that start their entire website off of a few great articles they just write you know one of our biggest articles to this day is still our raw versus JPEG we did a roberson jpg the ultimate visual guide where we just broke down okay this is the differences these are situations where you want to use it and to this day that's one of our most popular articles and we still get probably I don't know 30,000 hits a month just on that one article so great content is such a huge part and it's unfortunately a part that gets overlooked a lot people kind of think of okay what how do I just get people to my site well there needs to be a reason to get people to your site and everything and for a photography I can do that in several different ways I mean we know there's a lot of prominent photography bloggers out there they just create well-written content that's fun and interesting to read include good pictures of it and and eventually over time I mean you can always get into strategies and say like oh well you need to have keywording strategies in place these words into that and that kind of comes down the road but those two basics good content and some backlinks well I'll get you a long way a good example is I don't know if you guys know about me but I'm married happily and my wife is also a photographer actually we started the business together her name is Judy so if you go to Judy and Gavin com that's our husband wife website my websites Gavin photography it's old and ugly her websites Judy Tran calm we kept her old name and from there that's our blog and Judy's amazing at blogging and anyone out there who's seen my blog they'll know that the last blog article I wrote was like in 2010 and it says literally I suck at vlogging and it apologizes for never putting anything up and so I no article yeah so bad I would actually have clients call me and say hey you're still in business right I'm like oh hell yeah of course I'm shooting your wedding and because they were worried because they weren't seeing any blog articles going up but I that's one thing I'm not good at I do not I do not write blog articles my wife is amazing at it she talks about the couple she talks about the wedding day she talks about just personal aspects of their day and people get wrapped up into that they love it and and from there that increases the reading viewership time per article and it also develops a loyalty to our brand and to our images and of course to the way we take care of our customers yeah so there are so many ways that you benefit from it it's not just SEO it's in a lot of other ways it's so funny that like you mentioned like I mean you talk about kind of all the things that you're not doing like I'm not that good at blog yeah I'm not that good okay and if it's for someone else out there you'd be like oh that's a huge no-no oh this is a big no-no if you're taking like a Futaba marketing class yeah I'd be like well that's I can't believe you're not doing that you're gonna fail but dude you shoot a ton of weddings which means that I mean you're you're doing very well which means that these things are a part of an overall marketing plan and not the core components of it well back before when I told that I told you guys about a business plan I had mentioned a SWOT analysis SWOT s wot is strengths weaknesses opportunities threats some people move it on to the five-point plan or something I like to keep it simple and it goes back to that strength and weaknesses you have to recognize internally what's good and bad about you I love photography I love videography it comes naturally to me I'm I like talking to people I'm good with people I can break open a bridal party pretty easily you know yeah but I'm lazy which goes back to the blog articles and post-production okay I have other weaknesses and you have to acknowledge you have to be honest with yourself and from there you build your business around that and now if your weaknesses are bad enough you might just say hey this business is not worth even starting go do another career do something that suits you but going back I acknowledge my weaknesses and from there built a business that was established around that I also put people around me that helped compliment me on that one in this case Judy my wife so you have good people here that you know that can bet you can balance each other out yeah there you cover each other's weaknesses you know no that's that's essentially exactly what we did when we start our studio we had three partners so each of us based on what our interest in our strengths were we took a different area of the business over and so you know I'm handling you know the shooting style and post-production while Chris is handling you know online stuff yes and SEO and marketing and Justins handling sales and booking clients I mean you have to if you have a lot of people in the studio that you can do that with you start with your buddies cool you guys can partner up and work off each other's strengths and weaknesses by choosing these different areas if you don't you got to do what you said and basically okay define what are my different areas that I can work on and what are the areas I just don't want to touch and come with a business line I love that you have a business plan because how many people don't you know our backgrounds in photography is actually I mean our backgrounds and in our education is business not a photography we studied the three partners in our company that we all studied accounting actually accounting and finance and so that is our background so that's kind of what we understand so we're getting into this that's the first thing you do is you drop a business plan you know what are your costs gonna be what are you do their SWOT analysis you do everything and and if you do that then I think that number of ninety-five percent business is failing automatically if you have a SWOT analysis if you have a business plan and you've thought things through that number drops dramatically not really 95 percent of business won't fail if you have done some research on it seriously so yeah so that's a great approach to it now in addition to because we talked about basically SEO blog and all this kind of stuff is a small part of an overall marketing strategy and business strategy so what are the things are you guys doing well this is where Judy comes in again Judy's amazing at Facebook networking I I suck at Facebook I don't even have a Facebook app on my phone or Instagram which we talked about earlier on we've had you have an iPhone though I have an iPhone yeah an iPhone with about eight thousand pick you have an iPhone with no hat no house 8,000 pictures and only games so yeah I'm horrible at Facebook I never said just don't look at it um so that's something where Judy is satisfied that part of our marketing so she keeps him really tight with all of our clients with that kind of networking and she builds up this kind of momentum and excitement with all of our you know clients and future clients through all their friends through Facebook that's one facet of our you know of our marketing another one is just creating a quality product and having it where it speaks for itself of course that goes through that propagates through Facebook it also goes through albums through however else it's transmitted you know digitally mostly yeah so you have to have multiple ways of attacking it so increasing your referral rate is really important you're talking about for their first-time buyers and usually their one-time buyers yeah they're never gonna well hopefully most of them don't get married again fifty percent okay I heard a one wedding photographer where you do buy one get one free so your second wedding was three yeah so the key is getting into those networks right and one thing that Judy does that I love actually is that when she finds something that she likes you know she'll go and just posted to Facebook and a lot of people do this they posted a Facebook tag the client says so like that and share and be involved in the conversation that goes on yeah so as people comment and as a post you know Judy's on there commenting back and posting and being very involved with these people in their lives yes through Facebook and there are some you know I always say like watch out there are some clients that for privacy issues they don't want their images tagged they don't want that kinda stuff but but for most part people are cool with it and and it's great to have and here's one tip that actually got my one of our buddies he actually mentioned to me he's like I got a really good idea when you post an image the first time uh-huh he's like just post the image go back a day or two later and then tag the image because what he's doing is basically he's saying like if you post the image you're automatically gonna get some traffic going to the image then go back in a couple days and tag people and that'll automatically kind of revitalize it right okay then he's like go back and a couple days and like the image yeah and then it once again it pops up on to your feet so you're basically you're kind of revitalizing that one single image or than one post a few times by the way that's you're bringing up a really great point this is something no one ever acknowledges is the lifespan of marketing of internet marketing specifically so when you tweet I mean what that lasts I mean I think they did studies where it lasts maybe 15 as though it's like yeah it has a very short life span in other words I'm at its the content that you're creating and how long it lives afterwards a Facebook post I think it's three to five hours mhm and then blog entries you know you're usually talking about a few days depending on how quickly you're cycling through and then you're talking about article articles like the one that you wrote and many years ago still lasting the test of time and then of course you have some where they're just meant to be there it's solid content and it lasts forever kind of like Wikipedia so when you're creating content think about how long it's gonna live and that's a great idea is to revitalize content yeah and you know if you kind of take into consideration the amount of time behind each one of these sources and the amount of life that they have you're really probably spending I mean that for example the robbers is jpg article I think it took four hours to write to do all the pictures and the right everything yeah now a single article or a single post on Facebook takes a few minutes to write or tweets take like 30 seconds mm-hmm but they also last like 30 seconds I think so if you kind of consider how much time you put into it you know it makes sense like a and it it makes sense to invest the time in creating that good content because it'll stick around much much longer not that you don't need the Facebook stuff you don't need a tweeting so because that's that's great to kind of continually keep people updated but that's not your content and get actually like that's not even really SEO right I mean there's no no I mean Google and Facebook don't really like each other brunch now what Google will do is look at traffic coming from Facebook over to your website that's a different story and by the way if you guys don't have analytics on your website get it it's free it's just it was a little brainer right the Google Analytics yes Google Analytics so it goes without saying because if you're gonna get an SEO you have to understand analytics ports and I'll start putting you in the mindset of looking at keywords and how people get your website and also seeing uh like you start dealing with conversion rates and you start seeing oh what are people doing when they actually get on in my website yeah and how can I keep them on there you know there's a great I mean I'm sure you already know about it but we use for s our lounge we use a program or it's actually a website slash program okay called crazy I go to crazy I'm oh no it's a it's a heat map so basically all you guys do is you take you going you sign for crazy egg it's like twenty bucks a month or something like that but you only need to do it for like a couple months you sign up for it you put the code into your website and basically what it does is it all your traffic and all the clicks on your website are recorded into these heat maps on crazy so then you go into crazy I'm gonna loads up basically an image of your page mhm and then it highlights everything and everywhere where people are clicking and it creates this heat map over your page showing you what's popular and you know what's not and basically where you're converting where you're not converting it all that goodies well you Anna Luke's does that also with page overlays it's not as sexy as a heat map but what it'll do is you'll see your web page and then I'll have little percentages and I'll say on this page thirteen percent of the people click on this link I mean five percent clicked on this link and you can tell where they went but it's hard to visualize it as much as it lucky that does the links okay this actually tracks mouse movement oh wow so it's like normally yeah it's like it'll literally show you like where their mouse is going like over the entire site and everything which is cool in addition Analects but you only need it for like a couple months at a time you do it you've you've basically created your website you install it run it for two months get a good analysis going and then you just discontinue it and then you once you kind of revamp the website and everything that you go back and redo it but what we found was that and this is it's kind of a no-brainer but what would you think is the number one thing that someone would click on a photography website what would you guess it would be I mean you probably know what would be the number one link the menu item that people would pick on your website well pricing tag exactly always the pricing yeah and so like we found that you know and we've helped a lot of friends kind of analyze our websites and yeah and you know if you don't have that information within a couple clicks people get frustrated they're gone so see this is one thing that people underestimate or they don't realize is that you know as a photographer we have to be an entrepreneur we have to wear many hats you have to be a jack-of-all-trades so in regards to designing websites this is a web design role is everything on your website should be clickable within two clicks you should be able to find basic information within two clicks if you can't find it within two clicks it's buried way too deep so if you look at judy tran comm you'll see i redesigned the blog and it's not as SEO friendly but instead of that long column which i got really sick of more importantly all my old articles getting buried i flattened it out where they're all thumbnails and it's great because you can literally scroll down and within maybe about 30-40 seconds of scrolling down you're hitting articles that we first put up yeah you know getting a lot more content visibility so look at it like this like here's the main page and it's like a pyramid and it branches down and in programming language would call it flattening the pyramid so basically you're bringing the pyramid up and you're making it flat now because you can click to it more quickly you know the lower down you go the more clicks you have to get to the bottom so bring that content up a lot of good blog writers will recycle their content or reinvigorate it by linking it to it and when you link from a new article that's on the top of the parent to the bottom it's basically pulling up this part of the period up to the top so it's easier to get to yeah it's a really good tip actually we do that a lot on s our lounge where whenever we create a new article day has any relation to an old article we reference it we say hey you might have read on this and then we link to it and then we say we're gonna add on to that with this article and basically go forward you can do the exact same thing with your blog entries on your photography blog so you know last month we shot at this location this time we took the couple and that when you say this location you link back to the past post I say this time we're going out to this and it's a great way of revitalizing and pulling up these these entries the more hmm the more links within each blog post that you guys create on these articles the easier clients can read and find something else they're interested in and get to that without having to go through well the easiest news yeah the easiest no-brainer is when you put up a wedding article you say oh we shot their engagement shoot here yeah and from there you link back to the engagement shoot because it's not just SEO relevant its ten relevant you didn't get to see the same couple in regular clothes at a different location and you kind of get to know the content better yeah so yeah okay now regarding content one really important thing that I know is that sorry we do know quite a bit about SEO too so yeah we're not like this guy but we know a little bit all right so we're actually working on an SEO thing for you guys but we'll get to that later so anyway regarding content itself I know that you're not you're supposed to design content for the reader and that's one thing that Google will heavily ding you on web sites will heavily ding you on if you are overly keywording your content or your writing it basically for a search engine and those fans too yeah yeah as opposed to actually writing for reader so you want to write good content is always intended for the viewer so like you said I love that whole concept where you know we just shot Judy and Gavin's wedding yeah and if you guys remember we did Judy and Gavin's engagement photos back at this place and link to it those are easy ways when you have the coordinators if it's the same corner that you work with at a different venue say oh we had the wonderful pleasure of working with this coordinator who we also worked with back at this wedding and that does so many different things that allows Brides to be able to see okay with this coordinator to this wedding this wedding it makes the content more relevant it also gives them additional links it also makes your coordinators really happy because you're helping promote them so it kind of goes back to you know there's I mean there's a lot of tips here but as far as content goes linking to your own content yeah make your coordinators happy make your vendors happy all the people that you guys work with make them happy by linking to them bring them up just like you would in regular day-to-day conversation you would do the same thing on your website well by the way you should look at SEO as there's white hat and black hat and I'm sure everyone's covered that and I'm sure there's great hat somewhere in the middle but going back you really should just if you're gonna start really learning about SEO it should be about healthy SEO that's one thing we heavily advocated I saw one of our clients back at the SEO firm where they did a link wide or like a site-wide link and also in the next day boom Google Nails oh yeah and they're not in the search engine rankings at all this is online store imagine going from blah blah blah income to Zil almost no traffic and they freaked calling us and we're like why did you put that link there yeah but what they did was spent marked as spam so you really want to stay with healthy methods because a lot of people who call you up and say oh we'll get you up in the search engine rankings honestly they're gonna use sneakier techniques yeah just be honest I know it sounds stupid but be honest when we were talking about creating content about the coordinators you're creating honest content when they click on the link it's like no this goes to their engagement shoot that was shot at Laguna Beach or you know or whatnot and they're actually finding that content if you say oh well this is engagement photography Laguna Beach and they click on it and it goes to a landing page or it goes to something where they're not finding the content they want you click back Google will see that in analytics and Aldean yeah it'll say you know like oh they didn't find their content I'm not gonna rank it for that keyword because I weren't fine the the Google algorithm is is crazy efficient in that and black hat techniques I mean the thing is that a lot of people do it because it in some cases it can give them like instant results but they are so dangerous because you'll get blacklisted from Google and basically have to reposition to get your site back into the search engine and you're not guaranteed so you make one of these mistakes you do one of these things and they're they're really common sense type time mistakes like for example don't over keyword your website by basically like it's called keyword stuffing people will basically at the very bottom their website they're gonna create a whole list of keywords where you can't see it and they're gonna color it so that it blends in with the background of the website so basically you don't see this text but is there and it's invisible and key and Google identifies it as soon as they see it your site no longer appears in Google and you have to petition and there's no guarantee so it's it's very very don't be evil yeah but it's risky guys I mean SEO is a long time I mean it's a very time-consuming process and to to kind of throw all your working way away for the chance of this like one little short bit of you know benefit it's just not worth it look at this way I've been doing this for a while SEO for a while and so I can be a little more cockier about I've had people rip off my website word-for-word like like they're ripping off the code directly thinking that they're gonna get my rankings I've had people rip off my images too I'm like dude that's that's a copyrighted integer that's messed up and artistically that's my stuff but I and I've seen all this stuff happen and I've seen someone pop up in the ranking above me I'm like dude where'd this guy come from and I look and I start analyzing his website and pulling up all my I'm looking at his code and then I see that he hired someone to do blackhat stuff and it's really tricky my wow that's sneaky mm-hmm and I get a little upset and then 15 minutes later I go you know have hot chocolate or something and I look two weeks later and the guy's gone why they don't last they don't last and you'll get caught very quickly mm-hmm and it's over at that point so yeah bottom line don't do it stick to the good stuff yeah so aside from that okay outside of SEO what are you eyes doing as far as like traditional marketing I mean you talk about referrals and facebooking but what about coordinators you guys work with a lot of coordinators this is just one of those experiences where on when you enter into wedding photography there are multiple tiers of photography and you know pros and cons of each one like down at the bottom we have what we call and I hate it because it's kind of a mean term but budget brides mm-hmm and they can be really sweet but same time I found them to be very demanding yeah they asked the world for almost nothing mm-hmm and they almost always come after you from like oh can can I get more post-production can't get more this and then you enter in this tier where you get all these professionals and they're really nice and friendly and they're like you they're just normal people and then past that you start getting you know brides that it goes back to being more demanding because they're spending money on it they want it some people just throw money around but some of them really are high maintenance and the coordinators match that mm-hmm so every time we dealt with coordinators it's been hit or miss we've had some that are amazing we've had some that will drive us up the wall because to them were another worker mm-hmm and it's it takes away that being artists you know like identity that we have and and we actually are putting a cap right now like right now I think I'm at Judy's at three thousand I'm at thirty five hundred and both of us are at 5050 five hundred for video which is expensive to all y'all out there you know where I mean this is the Los Angeles market it's it's insane here it's actually very affordable considering the market that we're in fifty five hundred for video plus both YouTube is very very it's a lot of work in but the thing is we love the demographic word head yeah you know Jim Kennedy stopped around the same price point because he knew well that's where you know like and the bell curve that's where the peak is yeah but for us it's about the experience and that actually brings up another good point I don't know if anyone else really does this but um we turn down brights ya know when you get to a certain point it makes sense at times to turn people down because you know it's not gonna work like if it's not jiving in that meeting if you feel like things aren't going out and this is really like yeah I mean you have to be you got to be able to book out before you start turning people down oh yeah if you're hungry you're not gonna be turning anybody exactly you know but when you reach that point where your business is doing well your marketing on multiple levels is kicking in and you have this well-oiled machine you're gonna start realizing that like 90% of your problems come from 5% of your clients or in programming we called it the 80/20 rule you know there's so many but it's the truth with Brides like you know and and I hate giving the most oil to the squeakiest wheel yeah so we actually interview them and I have it on my website where I says uh they're subject to screening it's subjective and it always catches them off guard they're like really I'm like yeah we turned down about maybe two or three Brides a year and that's tough because you know we're taking a ten almost $15,000 pay cut every year and it's worth it in the end so I'm also probably filling in those paces with other yeah we've had some where we take the hit no no other lead comes in for that day and it's just a hit but really it's I mean like we hoard at one time and we accepted a Monday wedding yeah and III told you to I said if we take this wedding this is totally for the money it's not for you know what we normally do and I was right yeah she went bridezilla on us she cried it was just like wow like and and luckily she didn't take it out on us as much but we called it you know and and and it was right on the border but but going back it's how you want to run your business you know if like you can like for all of you guys have day jobs if you could take all the people that suck to work with and if you could take a ten thousand dollar a year pay cut not to work with them or I should say percentage but I like ten or 20 percent pick up would you do it mm-hmm and everyone I talked to they say yes yeah they would totally do it because oh yeah well there's something else from that too is that if you are screening and you're there's two things actually I want to say one thing I've told a lot of my couples that hey you know I'm really happy to be working with you because you guys are a great couple and they're like well do you mean that you they lastly asked like do you actually turn people away I say yes we actually do turn people away when it's not going to be a good fit and number one they feel kind of there's kind of a level of exclusivity in that that we chose them as well in addition to them choosing us they feel better about it because they they realize that we feel like it it kind of jobs and everything like that yeah and so they realized that you know when you're kind of building up that brand name that there's some sort of exclusivity in addition when it comes to the flipside let's say you you go out you shoot the wedding you make the money but if you're not jiving with them and driving is like in 1960 like that word don't say synergy yeah you have a relationship with your client and if there's no relationship then it just sucks working well and it shows in the product is what I want to say is it yes shows up in the product you can tell it's so easy to tell like when you look at a full wedding side-by-side which client cared about their photography and enjoyed their photographer versus which client just wanted to get every single shot on their list type thing and so yeah you you know we need to kind of watch out for that kind of stuff and and we deal with I know exactly what you're saying because that that's to kind of $6,000 range is the sweet spot for mm-hmm the kind of I don't want to say easy crowd but the very relaxed down-to-earth kind of stuff we're getting into the higher range where we'll be booking a lot of weddings that mm-hmm they're you know ten thousand dollars and up but the problem is that you need to accept that in these kind of weddings you are another just just someone that's there to do a job when they're paying this much you're someone that's there to do a job more often than not you're not like an intimate friend with them type thing where you get that with a different type of clientele and that's kind of a lot of times what I miss and so yeah you know we get kind of a mixture of this and you kind of have to be cool with dealing with that and a lot of people will you know hmm to be honest it is more fun to deal with the ones that you you go to the wedding and you feel like you're a part of it and you feel like at the end of the day you made a new friend and because they're offering you drinks at the bar don't take coordinators do not like that drink at the wedding yes but no like being able to come back and we have so many friends that we've met lifelong friends we've met yes from shooting their wedding yes and it's a wonderful thing and I love that about you know and and it very much is classified based on unfortunately it's like that kind of $2,000 and below is that demand line where everybody's just very very demanding and yeah and by the way there's a business plan for each tier let's say that you know the lower levels you could call that the Walmart route but you can have that Walmart route you just have to have a business plan yeah and the right attitude and character for it I couldn't personally do that because it would eat away at me because I like spending time quality time with each and one of our clients and that's something where we developed those kind of friendships that last a long time so I'm by the way when we say like oh we turn down clients or we're one thing I've seen it a lot in photographers is this this cockiness that comes out and it's part of being a good photographers being a little more alpha you have to be you know you know yeah when I say okay now be a lemur and you know they do it like yeah yeah it's awesome but at the same time watch the cockiness I was a lot cockier when I first started this and now I toned it down a little bit and it's not you can still take care of your clients without being cocky it's about setting your business up to be successful and setting it up where you love doing your job and you can do it every day and you wake up like excited about doing a shoot mm-hmm yeah yeah I love that and and there is like like you said the whole Walmart that's what we call in in business that's the competing on cost right competing on value in that three to five thousand dollar range you're competing on kind of a mixture of cost and differentiation and then beyond that gets it's basically exclusivity and it's all differentiation beyond that so pick what works for you because every single one of those areas is completely different it has different challenges and and there's a lot of people I know plenty of people that make crazy amounts of money competing on the cost side okay they they just do a lot of work they I mean not a lot of work is in big days shoot like like what you're doing like they'll do a full whole session of seniors and they'll make crazy money from it but you have to be set up for that you have to have a plan for it yet that the right personality and have the right workflow otherwise it's definitely not worth it but with each one of these there's not any there's no right or wrong way whether you shoot middle to high end high end low end there's no right or wrong way there's just a right or wrong way for you which one is gonna work best for you so I love that dude I appreciate it and I mean I I just I've made so many mistakes in the past I learned from the school of hard knocks you know and it's just something where yeah here I've got you know four-year college degree and the engineering degree for crying out loud and I had to learn photography the hard way I didn't I didn't intern under anyone I didn't like study under anyone I had some I had some people that I shot with but one of them was just starting wedding photography himself and he was a sports photographer it was Ben Chen actually so he's to shoot for like the Angels and the Dodgers and stuff and he was just breaking in a wedding photography now it's second shoot with them another one I learned with was Steve Hoffman and back in the day I used to carry three cameras on me oh my gosh and now I've narrowed down to one I learned the hard way and I figured out what worked for me but more importantly is throughout that whole ordeal I kept my prices low yeah I didn't let that get the better of me so from there they were still getting a good deal even though I made mistakes here and there you know they still got more than what they paid for and it made me feel better at night and then from there I just slowly raised my prices as my worth increased and your Worth increased from the product that you create the confidence you have when selling it and you know in the marketing that you have set up to bring a new business yeah you know when a key component that you mentioned is that if you're always a value for the way you're charging it doesn't matter if you're charging ten thousand five thousand or three thousand dollars if you're always delivering a product that's worth more than what you're charging you will never have an unhappy client and you want to client complaints you can all say it dude look I hope you know position to complain we're not the lightweight yeah you know like because we'll overdo it we're like for one of Judy's weddings I'll come in as a second shooter and it's like that you're getting both like you're getting me for free you know or like or like for a real big discount so it puts you in that position where you don't have to worry about them coming back at you saying oh why didn't you hook me up or yeah you know like I overpaid you know it's like no you really took care of you veterans you know and then realize this is running business I grew up in a small business my mom had a Chinese restaurant and we took care of every single one of those customers because those are the people that sent me to college they pay for our house you have to look at that way these people it's a relationship where you're delivering a product they're paying you and and you both help each other coexist but I heard a beautiful line from one of our clients who actually runs a big fashion company here Yoshi the third big fashion line incredible stuff but he said to me he's like I really felt like you guys loved us and he's like there's a key component in in our business model which is love your clients it's an actual phrase that they have you know and I'm like I want to put that on my wall love your clients nice because that's that's kind of the end-all you love your clients you'll help them to get great photos you'll make them look good you'll have them capture memories you'll enjoy it and everybody's happy well when I say this I hope my clients are gonna hear this and say hey why don't you do this with all of us but we have us we were doing an engagement shoot yesterday and we literally I don't know what happened we spent like seven hours with them and of course normal our engagement shoots are two to three hours but you know we wanted to play with light painting so we're playing with that because we were playing we had sparklers out and everything we were doing pictures were they were baking so she was teaching me how to like do red velvet cupcakes we're decorating them Judy's like playing with the frosting and stuff for the first time and and we went and got dinner with them so part of that seven hours was all-you-can-eat cream barbecue which I'm shooting with food comas one hell of a feat yeah but that's the thing is it goes back to loving our clients and we were just hanging out with them and we we had a great time I learned so much from my clients they're my friends you know they're just yeah it's awesome you know well cool guys well I hope you guys enjoyed this this is a long interview and hopefully you guys have made it to the very end of this because there's a lot of golden tidbits in there but uh appreciate you coming out dude I really appreciate coming out and doing this interview with us and I hope I can start contributing back to the community I've spent kind of six years doing my own thing and I really want to start teaching and you know I haven't finding seeds check out Gavin's work because I don't think I've seen any photographer that is as well-versed in so many different areas of photography like you're from your commercial work to your food work to your weddings to your portraiture everyone is completely professional and has a lot of artistry and it's it's a wonderful work and you don't see that among most photographers like across the board so we'll put his links up in the article you guys can check out below in the description everything and check out his work and we appreciate having a dude definitely man it was my pleasure being here on this infamous contra here