The Photographer and the Blog, Part 3
So if I didn’t dissuade you from blogging yesterday, and the lame photo above doesn’t turn you off, here’s a few suggestions for plunging headlong into blogging. Taylor Davidson left a comment on Tuesday’s post citing anecdotal evidence that many blogs don’t make it past the 3 month mark. Don’t let this happen to you. This is a short list, and it applies to long-term bloggers looking to breathe new life into their blog with an overhaul as much as it does to new bloggers.
1. Don’t let the name fool you, blogging is just writing. You are self-publishing a daily or weekly column, nothing more. So unless you’ve got a photoblog with no words, bone up on your writing skills.
2. Content Is King. Seriously. In fact it’s more like Grand Emperor. Unless you are a celebrity to whom people are drawn like desperate flies, people will come for what you write. If you’re hysterically funny, many will overlook what you write and come for how you write it. But most of you will draw an audience based purely on content. You must have something to say. And unless you lead a profoundly interesting life, or a boring one about which you write incredibly well, people simply won’t show up to read it. Unless it’s your mother and I’m betting even she has limits.
3. Skip the freebie webhosts, like Blogger, and go straight to WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Just save yourself the grief and do it right the first time. I wish I had. I reserve a special place of loathing for Blogger. Typepad is fine, but you pay for it so might as well go straight to WordPress. WordPress.com is a paid and hosted kind of deal, WordPress.org is free for the downloading, but you need to install it on your server and update yourself, so there’s a certain degree of geekdom required. If you’re looking for great hosting, I can’t recommend ETWebHosting strongly enough. Sure, you can get free hosting out there but you get what you pay for. I’ve been using ETWebHosting for years and their reliability and customer service is fantastic. If all you want to do is get a blog up and running, then spend the few dollars/month and get a WordPress.com blog.
4. Find a name you can live with for a long time. Getting the word out and the momentum going is tough work and will take you time to build a readership. Blogs are spread virally, so once your URL is out there it’s best if you can let it do its thing without changing it up.
5. Find a niche. Not everyone needs one, but it helps. Strobist is a great example. Another way of looking at it: play to your strengths. If what you most want to do is post a combination of images and narratives and leave off with the gear talk, do it. If you want to focus solely on macro photography, do it. Follow your expertise or your passion.
6. Don’t take it too seriously. It’s just a blog for gosh sakes. Enjoy it. Know your audience but write what you want to write – it’s your blog, not theirs.
7. Be consistent. If you want consistent and growing readership, and not all people have that as a goal, then writing consistently is important. Doesn’t have to be everyday, but if you decide to post every Wednesday, make sure you show up or your readers won’t. But make sure you have something to say. Better to post actual content people care about and only post once a week, than to post junk every day.
8. Use social media to support your blog. If you’re already on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to let those people know when you post to your blog. This draws in people from that outer circle of your immediate circle of friends, people that otherwise wouldn’t know about your blog.
9. Interact. Part of the payoff of blogging is meeting new people, making connections, and expanding your world. Reply to comments, link to others, and in general keep the love flowing.
10. This one’s yours. Got a suggestion for successful blogging, specifically for photographers, then this is your spot. Actually the comments are your spot, so consider this symbolic.
For tomorrow’s post I’d love to assemble a list of photographers who are blogging and really doing it well. Could be a blog like mine with lots of words and opinion, could be strictly a photoblog like David Nightingale’s Chromasia, but if you’ve got a favourite, throw it into the comments and I’ll compile them.