Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

Blogging Best Practices for Photographers

Blogging is one of the most powerful tools that a photographer has available due to the intimate nature of the medium. Those same benefits can also be drawbacks without proper etiquette. It is surprising to see how off-putting some photographers are when it comes to representing themselves on their own blogs. A blog at best is a method of establishing more personal communications with your audience. There are a lot of ways to attract an audience, which I will get to later, but attracting eyes is easy. Retaining an audience is another matter. Just like in advertising, you only have a few fleeting moments to grab someone’s attention and keep it. So what are some things you can do to build loyal relationships via a blog?

1. Write for your readers. People don’t want to be talked at or down to. Be personal. (There’s a fine line though. For example, don’t discuss your three abortions from 15 years ago unless that is an underlying theme of your blog.) There’s a photographer I’ve seen that writes half of his blog posts in the 3rd person. That sounds really bad. I don’t know whether that photographer drinks too much of his own Kool-Aid or not but I think he would be better suited not even having a blog than writing that way.

2. Post photos. That sounds really obvious but surprisingly, there are a lot of photography-oriented blogs out there that are overly-chatty don’t feature too much photography. It is really easy to get side-tracked from the main concept of the blog but I would try to minimize that. Create another blog if you need another venue to talk about photography-related topics not focused around your own work; like this blog for example.

3. Post consistently. This doesn’t necessarily mean everyday but be predictable enough so your audience can have a general expectation of when you might have posted something new. It is really hard to maintain much less grow an audience without consistent posting.

4. Keep the shameless self-promotion to a minimum. It is okay to do some but too much comes across as bragging. There are more appropriate venue for promoting. People are on your site because they generally want to like you. Reward the reader with quality content then you’ve got word of mouth marketing.

5. Enable blog comments and respond to commenters. People are taking time out of their day to offer you something so it is polite to acknowledge them. The advantage to having a blog over the rest of a static website is that it allows for two-way communication. Take advantage of that!

6. Widgets. Install relevant widgets and badges on your blog where appropriate such as Twitter badges, Yelp if you are a travel photographer, etc… These are things that should be adding extra value to the experience for your audience.

7. Make your RSS feeds and subscriptions easy to add. Not everyone uses feeds to read blogs but it makes it much more convenient for those who do. Most importantly, it is a timely way to distribute your blog without any effort.

How to attract an audience

1. Write content that interests your audience and is conducive to discussions. My article on Top Ten Most Influential Nature Photographers of All-Time is an example of this. Once I wrote the blog post, I started a discussion thread on the Nature Photographers Network forum. Then it led to other photographers starting discussions on several other nature photography forums and wound up being discussed on Outdoor Photographer magazine’s blog in addition to a number of other photo blogs. All I essentially did was start a discussion.

2. Social media integration. Having a presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, niche forums, etc… is a perfect vehicle for seeding links back to your blog. Be sure to participate more than just shameless self-promoting though. Communicate with people. It is called social networking for a reason. TV commercials are past their moment in the sun because they don’t engage people. Facebook and Twitter are as hot as they are because you can “talk” with people who you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. It adds a human element to the work.

3. Participate on other photographer’s and industry blogs. This is a really rewarding thing to do. As a photographer, you may only care about selling your own work but there is a lot of value in building relationships with your colleagues. Many times, they end up becoming regular participants in your blog or on the social networks with you as well. And yes, there is a bit of marketing psychology to this but that doesn’t mean participating with a “salesman-like” mentality. Be yourself!

4. Write articles for magazines both print and online. Be sure to include a URL back to your site if possible. The readers that are interested in you will find your blog through your site.

5. Public speaking engagements. Photographers like Chase Jarvis, David Hobby and David Alan Harvey for example have tons of people participating on their blogs because they have big offline visibility in addition to an online presence. Another thing they have in common is that they care about engaging with their audience.

6. Write good blog titles, categorize blog posts, and tagging. This is both good for search engine visibility and for overall site usability.

7. Be an innovative photographer and do any of the above effectively.

There are a lot of photographers out there doing an excellent job of blogging. Those are the people you should follow. Don’t copy them necessarily but figure out what they are doing and see how that fits in what your plan.

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October 18, 2009 - Posted by | Marketing, Photo Business | , ,

9 Comments »

  1. Nice tips!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas. Personally, I always tried to be as participative as I can, since the very beginning of the web, not exhaustively though. Flickr, for instance, frequently brings me good surprises, but I admit I oughta blog more.

    Comment by Carlos Alkmin (photographer) | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Nice list of ideas. I think #3 on the first list is one of the hardest ideas. And #4 is interesting because blogging is self-promotion to begin with, so I think the key is doing it tastefully.

    Comment by bradtroyphotography | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. Thanks guys. #4 because a website is typically all about self-promotion to begin with so people are more likely to click on your blog link because they want to have that connection with you as an artist. They’ve already been sold by seeing your main website hence why they clicked on your blog.

    Comment by Richard Wong | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great write up Richard!

    What is a Twitter badge? Is that just another word for button or icon, or is there something else?

    Ron

    Comment by Ron Niebrugge | October 20, 2009 | Reply

  5. Thanks Ron. The Twitter badge is that Twitter widget that is on the far right column of my photo blog. I think this is the URL to find one: http://twitter.com/goodies/widget_profile

    Comment by Richard | October 20, 2009 | Reply

  6. O yeah, that is cool – I have considered adding it to my blog.

    Did you tweet this? I don’t remember seeing it, but you should.

    Ron

    Comment by Ron Niebrugge | October 21, 2009 | Reply

  7. Hey Ron. Yeah I tweeted it on Sunday morning and Monday morning – shooting hours for you I would imagine. 🙂

    Comment by Richard Wong | October 21, 2009 | Reply

  8. Excellent tips. So often people get caught up in the self-promotion they forget about the people that they could be alienating. People often need to understand the value of networking to succeed.

    Comment by Derrald | February 1, 2010 | Reply

  9. Thanks Derrald. Your comment about networking is right on.

    Comment by Richard Wong | February 1, 2010 | Reply


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