If you happened to take my advice from the previous post, by getting your self a Graph Paper Press theme and couple it with a Photoshelter account, then you’ve already got yourself a decent blog setup and you can just skim through this post. If not then keep reading!
Part 3 – The blog
A blog these days and internet usage is almost as important as a camera, to a photographer. So you have to get it right! The platform you choose for your blogging endeavours is very important because as your readership grows you want to be able to make sure you can add functionality easily. Secondly you need to make sure that the layout of your blog fits into your online branding. If you have a portfolio website with a white background and then you have a blog with a black background your whole branding message is getting confused. There are a few photographers that can get away with this simply because they already have a name for themselves. Chances are, you may not be one of them yet.
Luckily enough there is a lot to choose from when it comes to platforms for blogging. I’m not about to go through them all but the main ones are WordPress and tumblr. I am yet to see any decent sort of design running on blogger, leave that for the travel blogs.
Tumblr is great, and setup properly can be used as a business blog and the best thing about it, is that it’s easy to use. There are a ton of free and premium themes available so you should be able to customise one to suite your websites colour scheme at least. If your handy with a code editor you can build your own theme and then you won’t have any problems with making the blog fit your design.
One of the major problems I see with tumblr blogs is that people don’t take the time to register a sub domain. Remember from may last post how I mentioned you need to get rid of the .tumblr.com domain. It’s a pretty simple process and it adds a little extra professionalism to your blog.
WordPress on the other hand is the big boy blogging platform. It’s got everything you could need and then some. With plugins and a huge premium theme market you can build your entire site using just wordpress. It’s important to know that there are two versions of wordpress. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the one you want. It requires you to organise your own hosting, and, it provides you with the most flexibility.
Blogging should be fun
One thing you’ll work out pretty quickly is that blogging is fun. The first few weeks you’ll think this is great, posting about your shoots with photos and you may even have some people commenting. Thats great but soon the reality of how long it takes you to blog will start to set in and you’ll fall behind, lose readers and then it will look like your fading away on the web. The best way to tackle this is to use a service like Photoshelter. As i’ve mentioned, i’ve recently started using it and i’ve found it’s been so easy to get back up to date. Thats right, I fell behind in my blogging simply because of the time it took to update.
What to blog about?
This is the most asked question I had while I was a web designer. Everyone wanted a blog but no one really knew what to blog about. When you run a photography blog on your site you need to think about who your target market is. Are you wanting to reach out to other photographers, editors and companies or are you wanting to reach out to brides, models and the general public. You have to make sure your post is informative for your market. I use my blog as a wrap up to each shoot I do. I showcase some photos and sometimes a video of the shoot. My blog is a kind of hybrid between the two target markets, and I have brought in both fashion designers and the general public as clients which is what I was going for. A lot of the posts also get shared around a lot which is great as it increases visibility. I’ll get into that more tomorrow.
What you’ll find over time is that you’ll develop your own voice. You will notice what your readers like to read about and slowly taylor your posts to suite them. It does help to have some kind of posting strategy in place though. This will insure that you don’t go for weeks with out posting anything. If you don’t have any shoots lined up then I recommend getting on Model Mayhem or something in your genre and setting something up, so you have something to post about. Constant posting is the key to blogging.
Think of your blog as a marketing tool. May photographers successfully advertise workshops and specials directly through their blog. Still not sure what to blog about? Start off by blogging about a photoshoot. Post some pictures and video if you made one and about how the day went.
Quick tip for all you bloggers out there. If your not planning on using a service like Photoshelter then at least learn how to resize your images properly for the web. Your photos don’t need to be 300 dpi to be posted on your blog. They are going to look exactly the same a 72 dpi. Play with your image editor and see the file sizes of your images change when you resize and resample. If your images are larger then say 300kb then it’s going to be to slow to load for many people. Especially if you are going to have a few images on one page or post.
That’s it for blogs. Blogging is a big subject but if there is one thing to take away from this is find your own voice. Oh an don’t use blogger!