The Photographer and the Blog, Part 2
Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of blogging, and while I gave you three pretty compelling reasons, I’m pretty sure that what I gave you was a short list. But given all these benefits, is blogging a tool you should be spending time on?
I think so. But what shape that takes is different for everyone. I love to write. It’s not usually a chore for me to sit down and communicate. If anything I tend to over-communicate at times. But some of you don’t like writing. Perhaps with time you’ll get better at it and grow to love it. But some of you, well ya know I love you and so this might be hard for you to hear – heck, it’s hard for me to say- well, you just might want to do a photo blog and speak through your images instead. Look, if you stink at writing in the same way I stink at math, why put yourself – and your readers – through it? Do what you love and do what you’re good at and if writing ain’t either, find something that is. Or don’t, that’s just my two cents worth. But if you’re an exceptional photographer and your writing is simply lousy, then you’re doing a disservice to you work and misrepresenting yourself. If you insist on writing, then find an editor to work with, someone who will respect your voice and polish your writing so it is aligned with the quality of your work. By the way, if this is the route you choose, I have more respect for you than you know, because this is not the path of least resistance and it shows real commitment. Good on ya.
Writing is not the only way to create content on a blog. You could do audio or video podcasts, or simply post an image daily. But closing your eyes to the fact that your work and your words are at odds with each other isn’t going to make that go away. Again, fine if you’re a hobbyist, I suppose, but if you’re a working pro, or aspire to be, then your words and your work need to compliment and support each other and, ultimately, support the goals you have for your blog.
What is missing in the discussion of photographers and blogging is often a rationale. Doing it because everyone else is doing it is a rationale but not one that’s very helpful. So many blogging photographers have no intended audience whatsoever. None. Their design, content, and writing style suggests strongly that they’re just puttin’ it out there in hopes the someone, anyone, will read it. If you’re a hobbyist, then more power to ya, an unfocused blog is groovy. But for aspiring professionals the very first questions you must ask and from which all your content decisions must be made are Why am I doing this? Who am I writing this for?
If you know the answer to that, then you can make sound choices about what should and should not be part of your blog. If your audience is potential clients then long Photoshop tutorials and discussions about your last assignment that blew up in your face and left you frustrated are probably poor content choices. They won’t read them. They shouldn’t read them. If your audience is other photographers because you’re a trainer, lecturer, author, workshop leader, etc, then these are exactly the things your intended audience might get strong value from.
I know I beat this horse so much there ain’t much left of him, but what you do – particularily in the professional arena – will be better served if it is informed first by why you do it. The Why will determine the What and the How. Oddly, so many people seem to be asking “Should I blog?” and fewer are asking “Why should I blog?” Both good questions, but the second one interests me much more.