Playing In Traffic

In Marketing, Self-Promotion by David17 Comments


A few comments rolled in after yesterday’s post about the Fluid Galleries Giveaway asking about generating traffic to your website. Fluid Galleries or any strictly Flash-based site left without any kind of modifications has some limitations, one of the biggest of which is the difficulty – nay, the impossibility – of it being easily indexed by search engines like Google.

Now, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a field of expertise all on its own, as is the art/science of traffic generation. So think of this as a sketch book with some ideas I’ve scraped out of the jet-lag addled recesses of my mind, and not so much as a guide or comprehensive list.

First. The WHY. Ask yourself why you want to generate traffic. If it’s just to inflate your stats, then write things like “Keira Knightly naked” and BOOM! the stats for this post just went up. But do I really want that traffic? They won’t be clients, they likely aren’t photographers interested in being part of a learning community. They’ll probably never buy my books. Unless I promise to include photographs of Keira Knightly naked. See, stats just went up again. But why? In all likelihood you don’t want traffic, you want specific traffic. (Although even the random stuff that comes in helps your Google ratings.)

If you have site like Fluid Galleries you’d be best to either place it within HTML frames – I know it can be done but don’t know how. Or to precede the flash-based site with a HTML splash page with enough text saying the right things, that Google will pick it up.  These days, as the iPhone gains prominence, and flash sites won’t (yet) play nice with the iPhone, a small HTML gallery is a good idea anyways. So what are the right things your page should be saying? Depends on who you want to attract but starting with who you are, what you do, where you do it and why, is a good start.

Beyond that, here’s the magic secret everyone wants and I won’t ask you to join a club or learn a secret handshake to learn it: there is no magic secret. The web works simply – the more you are out there, the more people are talking about you, the more people are pointing back to you, the more Google will recognize you, the better your visibility, and the more people will find you talk about you, point back to you, and the on and on. It’s a spiraling vortex of cause and effect.

So what do I do to be sure I am visible?

1. Great content. Or at least consistent content. There’s no point getting people here if there’s no reason for them to stay. One of my goals is to create a community of like-minded people with whom I can share what this industry, and this craft, has so richly given me. If you’re slick and have no content or are overly self-promoting, people sense that and move along quickly.

2. Interact. This is where all you Flickr-holics are right about the value of Flickr. It’s a chance to interact. But when you do so, leave (a) an impression and (b) a paper trail. Make sure you let people know where to find you off-site, lead them back to your website or your blog.

3. Create a signature that’s memorable, consistent, and full of the kind of information that you want Google to pick up and index, along with a text link back to your site or blog. On the most basic level that could be: David duChemin, Vancouver-based Humanitarian and Travel Photographer. Visual stories told from the heart. – The more you leave these calling cards, the more your name and the words in that line of text will get linked with your URL. Be specific. If you want people to look at your portfolio, link them there. If you want people to read your blog, link them there instead.

4. Comment on other people’s blogs. Your tone of voice, your contribution, and your presence on multiple blogs of the same kind will begin to draw traffic comprised of the same kind of people. This is a good argument for not being a jerk, and for remembering that while “on the internet no body knows you’re a dog” they sure know if you’re an idiot. I think Taylor Davidson said that. And that brings me to my next point.

5. Share the love like it’s going outta style. Cause it is. The internets are full to bustin’ of self-promoting takers and if you’re a giver you shine like gold in a pile of coal. Ok, lame metaphor, I was trying to be dramatic. So give great content and link, link, link. Make it your mission to connect people to other people who are creating great content.

6. Contribute. Scott Kelby has guest blogs every Wednesday. This Wednesday it was Tim Montoani (see what I did there?) I read his blog, liked his words and his voice and went to his site and then to his blog. I guarantee I’m not the only one. His traffic went up and many of us will put him on our blogrolls. If you have something to say, say it, but don’t confine yourself to your own blog or website – offer to create content for others and introduce others to your readers/viewers as well. Competitive people won’t find this easy. It’s counter-intuitive. But it works.

7. Consider joining a portal site like

8. Join industry-specific photography communities like the Travel Photographers Network, and be active. Post images, leave valuable comments, and make sure everything you leave behind points back to you with a text-based URL (see #3)

9. Mix and match with conventional marketing methods. Want to get more studio photographers to your blog about studio photography because a year from now you’re releasing a book and you need to do some legwork? Send a postcard to 500 of the top studio photographers in the country inviting them to visit your website, read your blog, and consider contributing articles to increase their visibility.

10. Investigate web 2.0 phenomena like Twitter and be open to new technologies, new ways of connecting. Twitter might not be for you, heck I’m not even sure it’s really for me yet. But I know it’s already driving people to my blog. So can Flickr and Facebook and Digg and all those other social networking tools. But not MySpace. That’s so last year. Don’t get too loyal to any of them because the life of these tools is often measured in months and not years.

OK, that’s my top ten off the top of my head. What’s your strategy?

Leave a comment, share the love – but be sure to read #3 again. Comments without a signature of some sort will be docked ten percent and you’ll be held back during recess to sharpen pencils.


  1. Awesome article David! More useful things to ponder over.

    Bernard, San Diego based dreamer and unabashed David duChemin fanboy.

  2. The WHY is the most important part. The web is a great place to build fans and customers, and it’s important to think about why and how to interact, engage with and build each of those two groups.

    And yes, I did say that, although I doubt I was the first 🙂

  3. Author

    Taylor gets a detention for no signature line. Bernard gets one for unrepentant brown-nosing, but I’m gonna let these offenses slide this time. Don’t let it happen again.

    David duChemin
    The Guy That Runs This Blog and Makes the Rules Up.

  4. Feeling kind of ripped off here. I Googled “Keira Knightly naked”, and I ended up on some Canuck’s photo blog with nothing but a blue truck and a lot of words.

  5. Pingback: Why should photographers use Twitter? | Taylor Davidson

  6. Great post, and I couldn’t agree more about commenting on other people’s blogs. My traffic has increased tremendously because of it and I’m “meeting” some really nice people. And the giving – I try to give back whenever I can with tips about Lightroom Presets download sites and other similar resources. I link to other photographers and give credit for inspiration in my blog posts. I sent someone to Matt Brandon’s blog because they both posted on the same topic within a day of each other. Just small things like that, but they are appreciated.

    But, Twitter? I don’t get it. And how do you find the time to Twitter, post blogs, comment on other blogs, take photos and process them, and work a full time job? Okay, your fulltime job is taking photos and processsing them, etc., but for the person who has to have a day job, it is hard to keep up with all those other things. I’m just saying.

    Toni, who tends to follow the rules. 🙂

  7. David,
    Thanks for the great post – landed here through @seshupic on Twitter. and read on my bberry this AM. I emailed myself to come back and check it out when I had time. So much to do, so little time. Hard to prioritize it all. Blog, tweet, facebook (I hadn’t explored flickr so will look for some of you posts on the value of that here)…
    Thanks again,

    real people, real pictures

  8. Author

    Now, now, I’m not saying don’t join Flickr – I just did – I’m just saying it has its uses and for some uses you might just want to go elsewhere. That’s all I’m saying. Oh man, now the Flickr Mafia are going to come after me for sure.

    Let’s all take a deep breath now…

    But John, I’m all for not wasting time. If Flickr was going to be that for you, I’m glad I could help.

  9. I forgot to mention that one of the things that I do to build traffic of like minded people is to participate in challenges posted by other photographers. Example would be in November I posted images strictly in b&w. A couple of days ago a challenge was given to post an image using a specific short poem as inspiration. A lot of you are probably way beyond doing something like that, but if you are starting out it is a fun way to reach out.

  10. Well, this all makes sense to me, as i have recently jumped into the ‘i have a website’ world, and yes i tacked on a blog, which of my own opinion is currently useless, as i have yet to figure out my voice in this big world of blogging… but my mind reverts to david’s posts the other day about gong back to film, and simplicity, although you were getting after the subject of gear, do any of you not find we complicate a lot of this for ourselves? I am currently in photo school and find my days to be 50% school work, 25% starting a business, 15% driving to and fro,10% planning ahead, 5% trying to stay healthy and not eat fast food while driving to and fro, 3% backing up the 2% im shooting lately and i just find this equation totally backwards, then again i am french… :S So i guess im wondering like toni, how others make time for all this jazz?

    Ali, -who gives herself a failing mark for using an impossible percentage to describe her daily activities, but enough of a bonus mark in order to pass for so effortlessly going off topic…

  11. David,

    The new look for the Travel Photographers Network has been under construction for quite some time. Do you know when it will be finished?

  12. OK, I just finished going through the SEO tangle at Google and then I find myself on page 15! I was depressed until I read this blog, all I need are nude photos! Actually, it is a relief to be enlightened about the traffic ratings. Thanks.
    David, Aren’t you concerned about the ease with which your images can be stolen off of Flickr?

  13. Also, I would sigs and avatars consistent. They should colour match throughout ALL of your promotional tools such as business cards, literature, business cards, and website. Your identity should be distinguishable across all platforms.

  14. Those are all good strategies. My suggestion falls under the Contribution Category. Reviewing a product you really like, especially if it’s from a small company just launching that product, and letting people know where they can purchase the product.

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