Gloucestershire Wedding Photographer, Sheryl from Oobaloos Photography interviews Maddy Shine, the SEO Queen
Lockdown and Weddings
Before lockdown, I had never had more than a three week gap between shooting weddings. I have been self employed for about 90% of my working life and thrive on keeping busy, productive and creative.
Like nearly everyone on the planet, my life span on its axis with the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic. My March and April brides were the first ones affected. For ages, we keep saying, we won’t have to postpone WEDDINGS! NEVER! Even to think back to March now, its amazing how our perspectives on life have changed. What we’ve taken for granted has no longer been there, and what we thought of as unimaginable has become a reality.
Along with having our seven year old son home constantly with nowhere to go and not allowed to see anyone, I have had to get my head around what may end up being nearly a year off work, and fitting two wedding seasons into 2021. I am tired just thinking about it. I wish I could bank this years ‘rest’!
After the first few weeks of lockdown confusion, working out how to order pretty much everything online, and eating cake and brownies 24/7, I decided I really must focus on how to keep this business afloat, and bring some direction to my work.
Maddy Shine…Enter stage right!
I had been following Maddy Shine since I joined the female photographers community PHLOCK and had been very much looking forward to seeing Maddy speak about SEO at PhlockLive national conference in March this year. Unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be and the event was postponed due to Covid19 until next year.
Maddy advertised a free weeks group training focussing on blogging. I eagerly joined and actually completed every single task each day and enjoyed the focus. I immediately signed up for her Blogging for Gold course, an 8 week program teaching us all the different types of blogs, how to optimise them, how to read Google Analytics and much much more.
Since being on this course, I can say, hand on heart, that my confidence in blogging has soared and I feel I am turning around professional pieces of work instead of some images thrown together with a few sentences and a wing and a prayer!
I particularly enjoyed putting together ‘advice’ blog posts, such a ‘How To Plan and Display Your Wedding Day Timeline” and “Five Ways to Include your Dog at Your Wedding”.
Another type of blog post Maddy taught us about was the ‘interview’ style blog. Me being me, says “ok Maddy, can I please interview YOU for my blog”! I think I put her on the spot, but she picked up what I was putting down, so without further ado, I introduce to you…..drumroll please….
MAAAADDDYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIINNNNNEEE (imagine this in a wrestler intro voice if you will?!)
1. Maddy, you’ve worked for years helping small businesses get seen. How did you become so well known in the wedding industry in particular?
Allow me to share a little story. Way back in the mid 80s there was a bossy little girl called Madeleine, who created an alter ego called Mrs Wedding. Mrs Wedding was obsessed with travelling the world, but had no husband to speak of, despite her name. Skip ahead to many moons later, with a business degree under my belt and years of marketing experience in London, I got engaged (I’m now contentedly divorced) and I went mad planning my DIY wedding. I dived into wedding blogs (then relatively new) entering all the competitions. I managed to get a job blogging as a real bride for one of them, it was then I discovered to have marketing and SEO talents and it all took off from there.
Adding to that I don’t really look or act like your average SEO expert, with my love of ever changing colourful hair, sassy earrings, dance breaks on Instagram and ability to speak in a way people relate to (completely jargon free) and I became pretty popular quickly.
2. What is the best part of knowing lots of amazing wedding businesses?
Looking at beautiful images all day, marvelling at the incredible array of talent out there. Some say the market is saturated, I just think we are more aware of the wide reaching capabilities thanks to the internet + social media, and that is actually a wonderful thing. Yes, we have to work harder to be more visible, but that’s where I come in. I love helping all these amazing people share their stories!
3. What advice would you give to women starting out in business and just not feeling good enough?
OOOOOH juicy question. I’d like to refer you to any woman you who admire who is famous, I mean, really famous. Try to picture them just starting out. Perhaps they’re a singer. In the beginning they’re putting out songs, they’re getting rejected for record deals, they’re getting small gigs, but they’re also getting turned down for bigger ones. They continue on anyway. Then they release their first record. It does pretty well. But there are critics. Because, you know, the internet exists. Do they then allow those critics to stop them making music, to stop them doing what they love to do? No, ma’am, they do not. They continue on because it is their passion.
Do you see my point? Now it could be that you see this and go, oh, I have to be passionate about what I do and that will get me where I want to be on its own. Nope, passion alone will not bring success, nor will it keep those Negative Nancy voices at bay.
But the thing is you have a choice, to let it stop you or to continue on anyway. That is the secret. No matter how successful you are, and I’m “only” 8 years into this business owner life, I still have negative voices floating around but now, I look to see if I can learn anything from them, to see if anything needs to be adjusted, to reflect on it for a little longer, and then I continue on anyway.
I really wish I had cut so many corners by reading this advice and really hearing it a few years ago. I wasn’t always like this and I could go on about it forever. But please know that those motivational quotes you see on Instagram are true. You got this, but you’ve got to get the right support in place to make it happen. Don’t hold back, keep going.
4. Do you think men and women approach marketing differently? If so, how so?
There is certainly a wide spectrum with how people want to promote their businesses and how they go about it and it does tend to be that the divide is between these two genders in their approach promoting their businesses and it’s part of the reason why I market my services to women. A few men do hire me but rarely and they have to go through the filter of the personality led brand that is Maddy Shine to get there.
I don’t say that in an arrogant way, it’s a place that actually comes from respect. Respecting what people want to achieve, respecting my own boundaries and respecting how people wish to run their businesses. For a while now I’ve come to see that female-run businesses have to contend with a lot more ’stuff’. They’re often mums for example with childcare to contend with, families to manage, essentially a lot of emotional labour where time feels scarce. In addition to this, we have been trained by society for centuries that our lives matter less than the traditional breadwinner (the man) and really it’s only 3 generations back from me where women had to give up their job once they got married.
So essentially we are still trailblazing and still finding our way. To be honest, women have been shown such a mish mash (to put it mildly) on how to “manage our emotions” and how it either shouldn’t interfere with running our businesses and lives or that it very much should and it’s a real pickle to untangle (again I’m putting this very mildly).
As an English woman I can directly relate to the idea of not wanting to put yourself out there for fear of being seen, and yet that is precisely the point of marketing your own business.
It is terrifying but we aren’t taught that it’s right, let alone making a success of the business and making some proper dosh. We’re taught as women that it’s gross and yet if we don’t make a success of it we feel judged. In fact it took me years to recognise what ‘being successful’ meant to me and with men I find they don’t have the same quandaries. They don’t have those conversations with me, they just want to know what the keywords are and where to put them. I wouldn’t say that men don’t have these emotional battles, they clearly do, just not with their SEO and visibility consultants 😉
5. You love to dance and sing in your social media. Do you ever have days when you just aren’t feeling it?
Yes, often! I was laughing with a friend the other day who now lives in America, so we were planning a FaceTime catchup. She laughed and said that was radical because 3 years ago when we first met I hated FaceTime. I hated being on camera, and Instagram Stories had just become a thing. The thing is, I realised that the reason people hired me was yes, because I know my stuff, but also because of my personality. They loved that I treated them as friends. And I like that too. So the easiest way to do that is to share your personality on Instagram Stories, and so it was that 2 years ago I started lip syncing on Instagram, dancing around my bedroom and people loved it. I still do it, I just don’t always film it. It’s a great way to celebrate, as I love to focus on the wins of the day rather than be a victim to my shortfalls. So when I’m not feeling it, I don’t do it. You can usually tell by how many memes I post that day instead – haha.
6. If you could go back in time, when was the time you would like to give yourself the most encouragement and tell yourself that its going to be ok.
Oh wow. I love this question. Every single day leading up to this one! I constantly reassure myself that everything is going to be OK through a wide range of different means. I have reminders everywhere of how far I’ve come, what I’ve gone through and how capable I’ve shown myself to be. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve suffered from depression, I’ve been engaged twice, been married once, I’ve pivoted my business multiple times and even when I launched my business it was in the middle of a recession.
Ten years ago when the recession was ‘affectionately’ nicknamed the ‘credit crunch’ I lost my marketing manager position and I was devastated. I was totally addicted to working hard and playing hard, and I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was boobs deep in debt, I had to give up my flatshare, and then I lost my grandfather. It was a really rough time. But I picked myself up and took myself to India. I discovered a meditation teaching which I still practice to this day. It reminds me to focus on being grateful, to relax with all the daily nonsense that arises, to go for my dreams and to be stable within all my thoughts and emotions. It’s pretty cool.
7. Gladys…when did she come about and why?
Gladys is the name of my hair. She has her own wild personality, and always has done but around May 2019 at a point where I really was constantly changing the length and colour of my hair it was hard to style and she really came into her own (funnily enough, we both did). I’ve always been a fan of naming inanimate objects (Patsy and Eddie are my pink flamingo slippers, Gloria is my pink sequin cloth that hangs on my chair you see in videos) and so I ran a poll on Instagram. There were suggestions and Gladys was the top winner. We’ve been inseparable ever since 😉
8. What’s your proudest business moment?
1. Getting my first retainer client in 2014 (we still work together – Fiona Kelly Photography!)
2. Launching the High Vis podcast this year with my neon branding (more of this to come) as it’s something I never thought I could do
3. Helping so many people through lockdown has truly been an honour (honestly I’m not just saying it, it’s really helped me see the impact of what I do, and I dearly love it)
9. You were due to speak at the amazing Phlock Contest in march, what can these photographers expect from your talk next year at the rescheduled event?
Yes I can’t wait to speak at Phlock in 2021, it’s going to be MARVELLOUS. I’ll be speaking about how to make your website work for you, not the other way round, I’ll be giving actionable tips on how to create content that a) doesn’t take hours and hours b) doesn’t rely on you creating fresh images each time and c) actually gets you found on page one of Google so you can do more of what you love!
I like to say SEO stands for Seeking Exciting Opportunities, because honestly, what’s more exciting than getting found to do what you love and being paid to do more of it.
10. Marmite? Love or Hate?
I LOVE Marmite!
I cannot thank you enough Maddy, for taking the time out of your crazily busy SEO business to answer my questions and to also thank you for the guidance and focus that your Blogging For Gold course has given me and many others in this worrying time. I think you’re stuck with me for the foreseeable!!