The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

The Referral

A couple weeks ago, one of my clients lamented about how hard it was to find a wedding photographer.  “I can recommend one,” I said, before adding an unusual qualifier. “But you need to know that I’ve never met her, I’ve never met anyone who has used her services, and I have no idea what she charges. However, with all of that said, she’s the best wedding photographer in Orange County.”

So, how can I offer such a ringing endorsement for someone I’ve never met? It’s easy. I read her blog.

Social Media Perfectly Played

I think I found Kate Noelle Photography about two years ago while searching for Twitter users in Orange County. I came across a local photographer whose profile linked to her blog. The first thing that I noticed was the quality of the photography. Kate has a very distinctive artistic style–one that she herself calls “contrasty.” The overall look of her work is so unique, that I’m confident I could easily identify it even if it were intermixed with that of a dozen other wedding photographers.

During the past two years, Kate’s blog has bubbled its way to the top of my reading list, which is really quite an accomplishment considering the fact that I read blogs of such influential people as Mark Cuban, Chris Brogan, John Batelle, Avinash Kaushik, and Matt Cutts. And although I may skip a post or two of theirs, I never miss a one of Kate’s posts. Why? Because Kate’s blog is a brilliant example of social media perfectly played.

Small business blog blurs personal with professional

Small business owners frequently have a difficult time separating their personal lives from their professional ones because the two are so intertwined. Traditional marketing doesn’t accommodate such a mixture, and therefore, small business owners frequently keep the two separate. Kate doesn’t, as explained in her bio:

If I’ve learned one thing in my crazy adventures over the past few years, it’s how much people desire connection. Hopefully in reading about my experiences, my shoots, my stories, and my pictures, you will get a glimpse of something real. My goal with this blog is to give brides & grooms, photographers & photography seekers, friends & family, and everyone else an opportunity to grow with me through this photographic journey I’m on.

Kate doesn’t draw a line between personal and professional. The blog is about her “adventures,” whether she shares her love for God, family, her boyfriend, the trials and tribulations of starting her own wedding photography business, or describing her latest photo shoot…it’s all in there.

The business of storytelling

While other wedding photographers demonstrate their services visually through beautiful online galleries, Kate augments her craft with stories. Whether she’s posting pictures from an engagement shoot, a wedding, or even documenting her vacation to the Holy Lands, Kate ties all of her photographs together through describing the stories behind the photographs.

For example, when posting pictures from an engagement shoot, she describe some of the little things happened. She tells us of the rustic locations, the angle of the sun, what experiments worked, and what didn’t. She offers a glimpse of her clients, noting how the couples interact while being photographed. By adding these details, those who read her blog get to know something about the couple, which gets really interesting when Kate follows-up with photos from their wedding, offering us a continuation of the story.

Over the course of a few months, a reader gets to know the story of a young couple in love. We get to see them before and on their wedding day. Instead of seeing beautiful pictures of perfect strangers getting married, subscribers to the Kate Noelle blog have an interest in the couple. We root for them. We wish them the best of luck.

Three Simple Rules

Small business owners can learn so much from Kate and her blog. Just follow three simple rules:

  • Be yourself
  • Show off your work
  • Tell a story

If done right, you just might get a referral from someone you’ve never met, too.

Photo courtesy Kate Noelle Photography


Filed under: Social Media


And make it easy for people to do business with you. When I come on here, I know how to reach you. I have a sense of how to work with you. I think that's always important.

Chris Brogan
June 2, 2010

This is awesome. Thanks so much Ron!

Kate Noelle
June 2, 2010

Wow, what a compliment Kate! I have to say that I agree with every bit of it. Always love reading the Kate Noelle blog. Keep it up!

June 2, 2010

Thanks for sharing this Ron. I found your post insightful and a good reminder of some key reasons that I blog as well. I like your three simple rules and aspire to follow them more.

Bob Williams
June 3, 2010

It seems so simple, starting with “Be yourself.” I've never seen Kate's blog but now I'm going to go check it out.

Bob Wright
June 3, 2010

[…] To read the full article, Click Here, or on the image below. […]

June 3, 2010

From somebody who HAS met the wonderful Kate in person, I can tell you that I'd recommend her as well…for all the reasons Ron just mentioned. Beautiful post.

Melissa Munding
June 4, 2010

[…] Social Media Perfectly Played: Tells the story of photographer Kate Noelle and how she blurs personal with professional in her blog. I need to try harder to tell more stories as I don’t mind mixing the two. […]

Links: 5th Grade Graduation and HAGS 2010 Edition
June 4, 2010

Kate's best friend here…Ron, this is awesome! In case anyone was wondering, this really is who Kate is, her work really is that great, and she really is that candid/open/genuine. Check her out!

miss jenna nicole
June 14, 2010

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