Building Your Blog: 10 things to consider when building your rockin’ photoblog
Natalie Norton recently authored a post entitled Blog Power: Why you should consider setting up a photoblog. This post is a follow up to that article. Here Natalie discusses 10 ways anyone can create a photoblog that will really shine!
Goodness me. Goodness me, oh my. The anticipation! I’ve been chomping at the bit over this post. I’m SO excited to share the follow up to the popular post Blog Power that went up early last week here on DPS. The response to that post was phenomenal. Comments both here and on my personal blog as well as emails galore asking follow up questions-I even got a couple of phone calls! WOW! It seems you’ve all caught the vision and are rip rearin’ to GO! AWESOME! I dig the enthusiasm. The tips compiled here are tried and true, both from my own experience as well as other industry greats. I actually contacted a handful of my industry friends who I feel have incredibly successful photo blogs to get the 411. You ready to rumble? Well then let’s go!
1. Keep it Fresh
You’ve GOT to post often. Period. If you want your blog to achieve and maintain high traffic you should plan to post a MINIMUM of twice or three times a week, ideally every day. I post every day except for Sunday as that’s my church and family day. Occasionally, come flood or high water…or sick kids…I may skip out on a day or two. But 99% of the time you can count on the fact that I will post daily. This is important in more ways than one.
- Clearly you’ve got to get readers excited to stop by for a visit. There’s nothing like hitting up a blog fav and finding something NEW! You know the feeling. It’s like your daily blog fix. Instant happifying bubbly. Yum. . . or should I say “Cheers!”? If people start getting that feeling every time they come by. . .you can count on the fact that they’ll keep on comin’. Mark my words. . .unless your blog is crap. . .but no worries, it won’t be by the time I’m done with you. “Muahaha!” she said with a sly little grin as she threw her head back in hearty laughter. (Yes, ok, that’s why I’m not a novelist). Moving right along.
- Say it with me, “Gew Gul Rank ing.” Very good. Google ranking. This is SUCH a broad, highly complex topic. I can not possibly address it in its entirety here. There are too many search engines and too many processes to even skim the surface. Just know that the more you post, the more your name will come up in search engines. It’s a fact. We’ll discuss other ways to optimize yourself. . . in search engines that is. . . below.
2. Share the Love
Link. Link. Link. Link to other blogs and photographers. This just makes you cool. Period. I know, there are at LEAST a handful of people saying to themselves right now “NO WAY! I just got them here, I’m not sending them anywhere!” You’re wrong. Plain and simple. Linking back to other sites is awesome.
- Remember how in the first installment on blogging I talked about the narcissistic tendency of some blogs: “Let me introduce you to the beauty and splendor that is me?” Well that’s a turn off. Period. Yuck. Ew. Get me off your page as quickly as possible and I’m NEVER coming back. Linking to other sites makes you seem kind and helpful and happy to give and share. I promise you it will come full circle. If you link to others often enough, they’ll probably end up linking back to you. Go to their blog or site and send them a comment or little note that says “hey I did a post about you on my blog! You’re so great. If you want to check it out visit xyz.com.” They’ll come over, leave a comment. . .hopefully like what they see. . .eventually return the favor. . .you see where this is heading. It’s like Joni Mitchell once told me, it goes “round and round and round in the circle game.” She’s right. I love you Joni. Forever.
- Say it with me, “Gew Gul Rank ing.” You’re getting it! Your Google ranking increases with how many people are linking back to your site. This is a good way to start the motion in that regard. But please be genuine. My biggest fear in writing this article is that I’m going to create a bunch of eager, over the top, blog freaks who don’t understand the concept of being genuine and showing respect. . .which leads me to my next tip.
Ok, I know I’ve beaten this one to death. I mention respect in nearly every article I write. But Aretha’s right. You’ve got to be a respectful blogger. Respectful of your readers, respectful of other bloggers and respectful of yourself.
- Treat your readers with respect. If they email you, do your best to respond. Even if it’s a simple, “I wish I had time to answer your question, but I’m swamped. Let me refer you to this link I found the other day that you may find helpful.” Don’t just blow them off. You could even have an automatically generated response that says, “please refer to my FAQ (link included).” ANYTHING is better than NOTHING. You may think that it’s no big deal to ignore just one reader. Well, let me illustrate why I am right and you are wrong…he he he. I recently emailed a blogger who shoots with a camera I’ve been eying lustfully (yeah, that $8,000 Canon. YUM.). As it’s (cough, gag, cough) 8k, I’m really trying to cover my bases so that I can justify the expense. I sent this blogger/photographer one simple question. This blogger could have responded in a sentence. In 5 seconds. They didn’t. I used to link to their site from my blog. I don’t anymore. I know what you’re thinking, “They were probably just insanely busy.” You know what, you’re right, they probably were, but if I’m going to recommend their site to my readers, I’ve gotta be certain I’m fond of the person that backs up said site. Soooo I made the choice to remove the link from my favorites. Not in a mean and spiteful kind of way. AT ALL, that is so not like me. But in a “my credibility is worth a lot to me” kind of way. It is. Worth A LOT. So, that’s the choice I made, and I’m standin’ by it. So there.
- Treat other bloggers with respect. My mom and I had a conversation about this today. Unfortunately we live in a world that sees things in a very obscure way. I’ve talked about this before; it’s a scarcity mentality. In this instance it’s an, “If you get too many readers there won’t be any left for me!!!!!” state of mind. It’s bologna. Nasty bologna. BUT it is nonetheless how the majority of people see the world. Sooooo exercise prudence when you try to solicit readers from other bloggers. IE comments such as, “Hey, if you like this blog, you should totally come and check out mine, here’s the site.” You will not be well received in the blogging community. Plain and simple.
- Respect yourself by being true to yourself. Make your blog your own. You don’t have to blog like me, nor I like you. Find your niche. Find your zone. Ride your own wave. It’ll feel a whole lot better than trying to match/plagiarize someone else.
4. K.I.R, Keep it REAL
My friend Jasmine Star hit me with this one the other day, and I am so in love. She said, “There’s a phrase my friends and I use often: K.I.R. ‘Keep It Real.’” She went on to say, “A good blog is written by someone who can K.I.R. all the time. Often times, photo-bloggers want to create status for themselves by talking about themselves. They drop important names and details like hot coals, and it really puts readers off. When a person is accessible and relatable, it makes readers more inclined to return because it feels like a conversation with a friend. Not only do I blog about my photography, I blog about my OCD with tomato sauce, my recent diet endeavors, and the love affair with my dog, Polo. I blog about my life…which I’ve discovered is the best way to K.I.R.” I lean this direction as well in my blogging. . . for me sharing part of myself, genuinely so, is keeping it real. For another photographer friend of mine, Jonathan Canlas, keeping it real in the blogosphere is a totally different phenomenon. To him real is this: “I don’t want to hear about how you went to the park with your kids and they stepped in duck poop. I want a blog that shows me pretty sparkly images that keep my attention and make me want to come back to your blog for more. . . If it’s a photography blog, that is what I want to see, photos.”
Final say: photographer Cody Buell was spot on when I asked him what constitutes a good blog. “Focused, on topic, generally free of tangents or rants. Make it intuitive. Keep it simple.” I’d just like to add, make it yours.
5. Keep it Simple
90 percent of the photographers I contacted when getting ready for this post included the exact words, “Keep it simple.”
Here’s the skinny:
- You’ve got to keep it simple first off for your sanity. Blogging can easily take over your life. If I ever got to that point I’d drop the blog cold. It’s NOT worth it to me. You’ve gotta keep it simple.
- Having talked above about being personable and soul bearing, well you’ve still gotta keep it simple. Ever been to a blog, seen a big block of text, and high tailed it outta there? Sure you have. Me too. Keep text brief. Not to say don’t include text. . . though that’s really up to you, but if you do so choose, you have GOT to be brief. If you need to include a large amount of text, be sure to break it up into smaller chunks. Maybe image, bit of text, image, bit of text and so on. Just don’t overwhelm readers with painfully long bits of babble.
6. LARGER than Life
Large images. Hurray! That’s the point of the blog in the first place right, to show off your photography? I’m in the process of designing a custom blog and guess what’s TOP priority on my list?? LARGE IMAGES. I LOVE visiting blogs with large images. Jasmine’s blog is a good example you could check out. My friend Michelle Ellis has the large photos jammin’ out right on her blog as well.
7. Piracy is Better than Obscurity
When I go to a photo blog I regularly see something along the lines of “Welcome. I’m so glad you stopped by.” Then in the next breath, “If you so much as TOUCH my images without my written signature, penned in my own blood, I will hunt you down and rip out your heart with a spoon.” They don’t realize that what they’re really saying is “Just GO AWAY. Don’t even look at my images. They are MINE. A single glance from you might spoil their majesty.” I’d much rather see, “Hey, if you want to grab a pic from my blog and post it on yours, be my guest, just be sure to link back here with a prominent photo credit. So glad you stopped by!” In the comments from the last post I realized that many of you are sincerely concerned about piracy. My dad is in the intellectual property industry, he is an amazing man who consults many of the MARVELOUS leaders of thought throughout the world. He once said to me in his stern, “I’m totally right about this so don’t try to argue”, tone, “Natalie, piracy is far better than obscurity.” He was right. He didn’t have to be such a jerk about it, but he was right. I love you daddy! If this is a genuine concern of yours there are a couple of things you can do.
- WATERMARK. Have a prominent watermark on your images.
- Pick a hosting that glues your images to your page. They can still be taken by a screen shot, but obviously not printed, even to 4×6.
8. For the Love of Children Everywhere, Chill
Ok it’s obviously getting late. But seriously people chill. The comment fire is not the blaze you think it is. So many bloggers are concerned by lack of comments on their blogs. It’s not the crisis situation you think it is. A few days ago I had around 900 unique visitors on my blog. That’s about average for me. Guess how many comments, like 5. So chill.
9. Know Your Numbers
You’ve gotta track your progress with an analytics software. I use Google Analytics. There are other great systems out there. I like Google Analytics because it’s Google. Hell.OOOO! They’re taking over the world and I so want to hang on to their coat tails! My analytics tell me how many unique people visited my blog within a given time period, how many actual visits within a given time period, the general geographic location of my viewers, their loyalty, how long they stayed on my site, how deep they dug and more. It’s a MUST. Plain and Simple.
10. To Be Continued. . .
Obviously there are some things I’ve left out. This is a bulky post as it is. I’ve decided to hold off on discussing options as far as choosing a blogging program that’s best for you. There are so many worthy choices out there, it’s gotta be it’s own post to do them all justice and to help you make an informed decision. I promise it will be worth the wait.
LET’S REVIEW your steps to blogging splendor!
- Keep it Fresh
- Share the Love
- Keep it Real
- Keep it Simple
- Larger than Life
- Piracy is Better than Obscurity
- Know your Numbers
- Check back soon for the follow up!
Happy Shooting and Happy Blogging!