Strange Lands has been around for just over 3 years now. It didn’t start out as a travel photography blog, but as time passed and I became more immersed into the world of HDR, I changed the blog to reflect my photographic passion.
Now, with my Daily HDR blog, I’m posting new photos every single day and have established myself in the world of HDR.
For those of you wanting to start your own photography blog, where do you begin? And how can you make yourself seen among the many photography blogs out there already?
First of all, you need a domain name, web hosting & a blogging platform. The best and most popular out there is wordpress.org. For a step by step guide on setting up a blog, see here.
Next you need to get familiar with wordpress and choose a great theme that reflects the mood of your writing and style of photography. Peter Adams has written a fantastic ebook called wordpress for photographers. I really can’t recommend this enough for photographers who are serious about their venture into the world of blogging.
Now that you have everything set up, you need to populate your site with interesting content and great photos. The better the content, the more likely people will return/share your work, of course.
Keep the content engaging, evolving, and do not populate your site with a million photos of the same place. I know that commitments of daily life may restrict opportunities for you to get out-of-town more and shoot beautiful spots. Your readers, however, will need to be kept on their toes and that isn’t going to happen with 100 photos of the same beach.
Don’t be scared to give away the secrets of your processing workflow – you’ll be much more attractive to other photographers if you’re generous with your workflow (something I need to do more often).
Keep making the blog fun for you to do. As soon as it becomes a chore, you’ll start putting it off, until it joins the millions of other dead blogs floating around in cyberspace. I absolutely love writing my daily journal. It’s a form of therapy for me, and I try to keep it enjoyable by writing without too many boundaries.
I also recommend you only include one photo per post. At the end of the day, every photo deserves its own platform, which it won’t get if it’s bundled in with a load of others.
Once your site looks amazing and you’re ready to open the doors to the general public, how do you promote it?
Join facebook groups and online forums!!!! I can’t stress this enough. If your work is of a high standard, you will stand out and get yourself known. Don’t add lots of links to your site, that will come across as spammy. Add photos and give good feedback when asked for it. Eventually, people will befriend you on facebook (if you’re open to that) or add you as a contact on flickr.
You can join HDR One’s new forum and share your work and knowledge with other enthusiasts, if you wish.
For flickr, I’m basing this on very little experience since I’ve only been using it properly for around 4 months. I’ve been averaging around 100 new contacts per month since then.
On facebook, be prepared to transform your profile from a place to connect with friends into a public platform on which to connect with the many potential followers there.
Although I have an 8,200+ strong facebook page, I strongly recommend against you starting a photography page. My posts reach around 700 of those fans since facebook started choking page owners for money. Instead, open your profile to subscriptions. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any limitations on how many of your subscribers will see your work.
Since making my facebook profile open to the public 5 months ago, I gained 1,600+ subscribers and 1,200 new friends – potentially 2,800 new followers. That’s far quicker growth than my photography page over the last 3 years.
If you’d like to connect on facebook, feel free to add me, I’m always happy to meet other photographers – Jimmy McIntyre.
The same advice also applies to other social networks, I imagine, but I still haven’t devoted enough time to the likes of google+.
What else can I do to promote my blog?
This particular point may not be very popular with other bloggers, but I highly recommend using your social networks as personal photography blogs as well. I always post the exact same content from my daily HDR blog onto facebook, flickr, and Google+. I plan on opening other social network accounts and doing the same on those too.
Why is this not popular?
Mainly because many bloggers are obsessed with their visitor statistics. I know bloggers who check their stats regularly throughout the day, which is a colossal waste of time. They could be using that time much more productively.
They are also terrified that if their visitors stats drop because of this, they’ll become much less attractive to potential sponsors.
Why should I share my blog content on social networks?
This is fairly straightforward really; you will increase exposure to your photos ten-fold. You may be wondering how that’s different to just posting the link to your blog post on these social networks. Well, the truth is, people are lazy – me included. There are photographers on facebook whose work I thoroughly enjoy, but when they post a link to a new blog post, I almost never click on it. Yet, I almost always click on their images. If they only ever posted links and no photos, I would probably never see their photography.
As for potential sponsors, if that’s what you’re looking for: It’s all about viewership. Sponsors don’t care about how many visitors you get to your blog – their interest lies in how large your total audience reach is.
Things that you shouldn’t do to promote your site
When posting on facebook, don’t plead with people – it makes you look desperate. Too often I see people posting their photography pages on facebook saying ‘PLEASE LIKE MY PAGE’. My immediate thought is negative when I see this, and I’ve unsubscribed from pages because of it.
I personally don’t mind if I see someone writing ‘Feel free to share’ on a particular photo, because it comes across as if you’re giving people permission rather than begging them to share your work.
Despite what bloggers recommend, do not comment on other photography blogs with the purpose of promoting your own site. Comment on blogs that genuinely interest you, and leave a comment worth reading.
I have two more final thoughts that I find invaluable, both in the development of my own blog and in how much I appreciate other blogs. Firstly, be consistent with your posting. Don’t post every now and then when you’ve had a chance to go out and take photos. Why should followers keep coming back to your blog if you can’t be bothered to update it regularly? The message you’re sending out is that blogging is just something that you do when you get free time. If your readers don’t sense your passion for it, then they in turn may not feel particularly passionate about it.
They will also find it difficult to form a bond with you and your work if they’re rarely exposed to you.
Secondly, and finally, engage your readers. Reply to their comments and emails. I know so many bloggers who don’t reply to comments. This is baffling to me. We are not celebrities. We are part of a wider photography community, and an even wider community of humans!! It should not be a chore to reply to people – it is a privilege that anyone has taken the time to comment on our work. We should approach their comments with the same level of enthusiasm. In fact, I sincerely look forward to meeting my readers somewhere down the line.
Ultimately, blogging is an amazing process if you embrace it and make it a part of your life. Being heard above the many other blogs making noise is hard work and takes time. But if you work at it, be positive, continue to improve your photography and your writing, and be consistent, there’s no reason why you can’t establish yourself in the blogging community and gain an excellent readership.
Good luck and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need advice.