I want to start a photography blog 101

So how do I start a photography blog and do it the “right way?”

Photographers are a blogging and tweeting juggernaut of an industry. Just do an internet search for photography blogs and you will have a multitude of results to choose from. Search for photography tips on Twitter and you can find thousands of profiles ready to give you their tips and reviews on all things related to the industry. So you think you want to join the conversation? Is there a “right way?”

There certainly are best practices in the photography industry that apply to blogging and tweeting. Although not everyone adheres to these standards, they offer generally recognized guidelines that will help you create a professional online presence. According to the book by Harvard Business Review Press, Groundswell, if you are considering blogging and/or tweeting, your main goal should be to engage with your audience. First and foremost, your blog and/or tweeting should be a conversation.

Once you have determined that you want to blog or tweet, to engage your audience then Groundswell suggests you need to determine a goal for your blog. Do you want to grow your business? Do you want to provide your current audience with new information? Once you know what you want to blog about, you can create a plan and structure your blog on the hosting site of your choice.

Photographers need to keep several technical mechanics in mind when creating their blog (Allender, 2011). When you upload your photos to your blog, be sure to rename your photos to a filename that makes sense for web archiving as opposed to the random numbers assigned by your camera software. Also, make sure you resize your photos to optimize them for web viewing. Finally, do not link your images from another website (Topherlin, 2013). You may end up with meaningless computer jargon instead of the beautiful picture you intended to display.

Ok, so you know you want to engage and you have an idea of how to engage – but now what? According to Google+ for Business by Chris Brogan, sharing is an opportunity to engage your audience and connect them with information of value to them. In other words, post about topics that are relevant to your readership. Help them in some way solve a problem at hand or gain information that they did not have to begin with, and then ask for engagement in return. Craftsty, in their photography blog, stated that a photography blog should not only be relevant but also inspirational and entertaining and this will keep your audience coming back for more (Donner, 2014).

Finally, how do you get people to read your blog? Be consistent. Blog and tweet regularly (Demos, 2013). Your readership will want to hear from you. Link generously. According to a Lifehacker article about blogging, linking generously will help make your posts search engine friendly (Pinola, 2013). They also suggest adding a blogroll of blogs you like to read.

So it is your turn. Start your blog and post a link to it in the comments below. I would love to add it to my blog roll.

Happy posting!

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Bibliography

Allender, T. (2011, March 3). Ten Common Mistakes Made by Photographers Using WordPress.
Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://graphpaperpress.com: http://graphpaperpress.com/blog/ten-common-mistakes-by-photographers-using-wordpress/

Brogan, C. (2013). Google+ for Business. Indianapolis, IN: Que.

Demos, S. (2013, November 17). Social Media in Photography.
Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://sarahdemos.wordpress.com/: http://sarahdemos.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/best-practices-for-photographers-tweeting-and-blogging/

Donner, N. (2014, October 17). 6 Tips You Should Follow When Starting a Photography Blog.
Retrieved October 24 2014, from http://www.craftsy.com: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/10/starting-a-photography-blog/

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell, winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Pinola, M. (2013, September 05). How Can I Write a Successful Blog and Get More People to Read It?
Retrieved October 24, 2014, from http://lifehacker.com: http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-write-a-successful-blog-and-get-more-people-t-1257476541

Topherlin, C. (2013, March 20). Do not link your images | blogging best practices.
Retrieved October 23, 2014, from http://www.slrlounge.com: http://www.slrlounge.com/do-not-link-your-images-blogging-best-practices/

 

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Should I take my photography brand social?

So many budding photographers see the allure of the huge market potential in social media. Does that mean you should use social media to promote your brand? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the risks of taking your photography brand social.

Social Media Dangers

Posting photographs and your brand online in a social media platform does not alleviate you from the privacy and data security issues that surround brick and mortar businesses. Many digital cameras today collect location information. If you do not remove this metadata prior to posting your photos online, your customer’s privacy could be violated. That cute senior portrait could lead a stalker to their prey. This type of situation could lead to serious consequences for your client and for you. Many social media sites have terms and conditions about this topic as well.

You may be required to keep records of your social media communications with your clients. When you post contests, advertisements, or other promotions, the communications involved around those can become important in legal proceedings or regulatory inquiries. Many small business photographers are not prepared to maintain the records necessary and many are not even aware of the requirements.

Most social media sites are not designed to handle full resolution photos. Yet, what you post online is a direct reflection of your brand. The quality of the image thumbnails may influence your potential client’s first impressions in a negative way.

Be careful of copyright infringements in the most unpredictable of places. It is so easy to miss that logo on your client’s ball cap, or the brand name that is showing on the baby’s bottle in the photo you shared on your post. Taking your brand online means performing extra diligence to ensure that no detail slips by before posting or possible consequences could be in your future.

Remember, everyone sees everything you do. If your photos are good, everyone will see your photos are good. If your photographs are bad, everyone will see your photographs are bad.

Although the exposure is good for you to get new clients it is also good for your competitors to scope out the new and innovative projects you are working on. Anything you put out into the public social space is free business intelligence for your competitors to take advantage of, and they will take advantage of anything new you post. If you post something good or bad, your competitors will know it and use it to their advantage.

None of this information is meant to scare you away from taking your brand online with a social media platform. However, it is important to post informed and responsibly.

Happy posting!

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What’s new in mobile apps for photography?

Snapwire

A new mobile social media application called Snapwire aims to help photographers make money from their photography by revolutionizing the stock photography agency model. Snapewire is an app on the IOS mobile platform. Snapwire utilizes social media mobile community to pair customers with vetted photography content.

Snapewire levels the playing field between amateur and professional photographers by placing the content side by side in front of the customer through challenges open to all of Snapwire users.   In this way, the app is revolutionizing stock photography. Requests for photos start at $3, brining the price point down to a level where even a blogger is comfortable entering the market.

If you are new to photography or if you are a seasoned photographer, you can get started on Snapwire for free. You can begin to build up to higher levels quickly within Snapwire by participating and winning Snapwire challenges. If you win a bid or a challenge, your commission will be 70%. Some requests go as high as $1200 or more. Pay is handled by a WePay account. As of the writing of this article, Snapwire is not accepting Paypal. In fact, one hobbyist reportedly has been paid $6,000 for a photo he took after gathering some friends in a park for a photo in response to a Snapwire request.

If you are interested in trying out Snapwire, Blogger Jennifer McCallum, recommends submitting a question to the Snapwire support team after uploading your image portfolio for review. Apparently, this may speed up the review and approval of your images. Jennifer McCallum also recommends you choose photos of low contrast, low saturation and medium depth of field to submit as the premise of Snapwire is to create stock photography that defies the standard model and expectations of stock photography.

Since their inception in March, Snapwire has 150,000 photos uploaded. Snapwire has worked with major clients such as Verizon and Denny’s. This success has seen the growth close their $1.4M seed round of development.

Snapwire recently released their 2.0 version of their app. This version allows for photographers to house their images in a portfolio that they can open as a market place. Photographers can then sell photos directly from the portfolio page. With the expansion of the open market, Snapwire is also opening their app to the global market. They have had uploads from 42 countries.

If you want to give Snapwire a try and see if you can earn some money from your everyday snapshots, you can download the app here.

The state of social media in the photography industry

Digital photographers have generally taken to social media like fish in water. As a community, digital photographers tend to be technically minded and social media as a platform is well suited for sharing our art. That said, there are so many choices as to which platform to use and how to approach social media use for digital photographers that the industry as a whole has approached social media in a haphazard way.

Some photographers swear by Facebook as the platform of choice. With 11 billion users and ranking in as 10 times larger than Flicker or Instagram, Facebook will remain an important platform for digital photographers for years to come. That said, it should not be the only platform photographers rely upon.

Facebook Photography Example

So, what types of posts are good for Facebook? According to Tom Ewer, of Graph Paper Press, photographers have successfully used Facebook to

  • Announce specials, events, or new products
  • Post photos of recent shoots
  • Link to new posts on your blog
  • Offer customer tips
  • Share content that inspires you
  • Hold contests

But Facebook is not the right platform for a portfolio. It also is not the best tool to network with other photographers, which is paramount for furthering the industry as a whole and for furthering our individual standing with our clients. For this type of service, digital photographers need a more specific community. For a great listing of portfolio sites as well as photography networking communities, check out Photography College’s listing here.

As an industry, to improve standings in the social media environment, utilizing platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ will add a layer to reaching clients and spreading portfolios to audiences previously unreached within the photography industry.

As we branch out to these new platforms, try not to post the same exact content on every platform. Relying on a social-media-scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite, to provide the same content across all your channels is not the best approach. It is good practice to keep a consistent message, look and feel between platforms, yet posting some unique but related content on the same message for each tool helps keep your audience engaged and active across multiple sites.

All of this does not relieve the photographer from protecting his or her work. Social media is wonderful for spreading awareness of our work, but with that awareness comes increased exposure to copy write infringement and other malicious use of our work. It is important to remember that photographs posted on social media platforms need to be protected with watermarks and metadata.

Keeping this in mind, I would love to see how you are using social media in your business or hobby.  Feel free to post your thoughts below.  And as always, happy posting!

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Which social media tools should I use to highlight my photography?

I attended a photography workshop this week. The speaker stressed the importance of having an online portfolio of your best work. What he failed to mention was once you have that online portfolio, how do you get it noticed?

This is where social media steps in. There are so many social media tools out there now; it can be confusing as to which one would be the best tool to highlight your photography. Are there platforms out there besides the “big two” of Facebook and Twitter?

Social media is paramount if you want to get your photography seen by the masses. Which platform you choose is also of great importance. Some platforms are better suited than others for sharing photography. In this post, we’ll explore a few that are well suited to highlight any form of photography. We’ll also discuss some popular social media platforms and why they may not be your best choice.

  • Pinterest 

    Pinterest Collection Example

Pinterest.com is a collection board. You can think of Pinterest as a cork board to create collections of things you like by pinning them to your board. Other people can share your pins and collections. Pinterest is very visual, which makes it ideal for photographers. You can upload directly from you computer or link photos from your website portfolio directly. This is a real advantage as you can drive traffic back to your website. Historically, Pinterest has been thought of as mostly appealing to a female audience, however more men are beginning to use the site now too.

You can upload your best images to Pinterest in collections. Pinterest supports major photograph formats. I have tested .jpeg and .raw. You can group your work into collections that highlight your work. Some collection ideas might be “Best animal photos” or “Best children’s portraits.”  You can even have collections that you keep private until you are ready to share them. Jamie Swanson has a wonderful blog post on how to use Pinterest for your photography.

  • 500px or Viewbug
500px.com

If you are new to photography and to social media I am guessing you have never heard of either 500px.com or Viewbug.com. These two sites work in very similar ways, but the essence of each site is that they are photography social communities devoted to highlighting and socializing your work.

You create your portfolio within the community. Others within the community can share and comment about your photo. You can even sell or license your photos from these sites. You upload your photos to these sites directly from your computer. The downside to this method is it will not drive traffic to your online portfolio. For folks new to photography, 500ps.com and viewbug.com allow you to get much needed feedback on your portfolio that you create within the site itself.

  • Instagram
Instagram Profile Example

Instagram.com is a popular photo sharing social media site. However, as a photographer, you may find Instagram’s format to be prohibitive. Instagram was designed to allow for easy sharing of photos and allows for the application of unique filters, borders and effects. However, all the photos uploaded to Instagram are square in format.

Instagram.com has a younger audience with over 150 million registered users. Instagram is owned by Facebook and integrates well with both Facebook and Twitter making it a good choice for cross-pollinating your photos between social platforms. It is not for everyone though with the limited format and youthful audience.

Regardless of which platform you choose, the important thing to remember is to post often. Keeping your social media account active and your photography in front of your audience will grow your followers. Update your content on a regular basis to ensure your audience stays engaged.

Feel free to share your new portfolios and related social media in the comments below!

Happy posting!

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