In a world of Social media and the possibilities of sharing your photographs with millions of people in an instant, why should you invest your time to set up a personal Photography Blog?
Having your own blog is more important than ever in my opinion. Whether you are a professional photographer who is running a business or just an amateur enthusiast who wants to share his pictures, creating your own little space you have full control over is a great long-term investment.
Why Social Media isn’t an Alternative
I know that you might be arguing, that you can already share your photographs on the Internet with your friends and even strangers, so why take the time to learn how to create your own website?
Social Media is great for many things and especially in its beginning stages, it was a great way to stay in contact with friends and even find new friends that share the same interest.
You could upload your photographs and be sure that they will be seen by your friends who are interested in your photography. They could interact with you easily and all in all, it felt like a small real photography community.
The Social Media decline
Over time, that sensation has gone.
Social Media isn’t new and exciting anymore, it has become a business. For both, the platforms as well as for a lot of its users.
Facebook, Instagram and recently Snapchat have introduced updates that are focused on monetizing the platform.
Keep in mind, that on social media the assets for the platforms is its user base. Which means, that you as a person are the product that should generate money for the social media platforms.
With changing algorithms, it becomes more and more difficult for a simple photographer to share his images with his friends and gain attention. Feeds are filled with advertisements or professional photographers pushing their own work.
Due to bots and less genuine interaction, the community feeling is completely gone.
Social media is just another business now that requires a lot of time or money to be successful now and be able to share your photographs.
As a professional photographer who is willing to invest some money, let me tell you that Instagram and to some extent Facebook don’t offer a great Return on Investment.
Since Instagram is mostly used on mobile platforms, the conversion rates are very very low. Even if you are able to acquire a large following, it is very difficult to generate leads from it and get them to buy your products or services.
Then there also the risk, that Social Media platforms can be abandoned.
Do You remember MySpace?
Imagine if you had invested a lot of effort in building a community on MySpace. This investment would be in vain. Even when Facebook, Instagram & Co are at its height now, who knows how long they will be that popular?
Migrating your follower base is also an illusion. If a platform suddenly loses its userbase, you have to start from Zero.
Benefits of the Blog
Your own website and blog are like your own home where you can set the rules yourself. Staying on other platforms, you have to follow their rules and are always limited.
Depending on the kind of photography you are into, Instagram, for example, can be very restrictive when it comes to boudoir or erotic photographs in general, no matter which quality they are.
On your own blog, you can pretty much do whatever you like.
Not only in the content, but also in the way you want to present your portfolio. you are able to create a complete “corporate identity” with the design of your website.
This can help you, to stand out from the masses of photographers that already present their work on the internet.
Furthermore, You have freedom over the kind of content you want to share with your viewers.
As a photographer, you can of course just share images, but from time to time you might also write about photography and share your thoughts. Or you want to include a video and present your work this way.
On your own blog, you are able to combine all these different forms, while other 3rd party platforms are very limited in this direction.
Growing a loyal fanbase
With the help of your blog, you can also grow a more loyal fanbase that sees your work regularly.
As already explained, on other platforms you are heavily dependent on algorithms, which can always change to your disadvantage.
Through your website, you have multiple ways to gain a follower base and in return also customers, if you seek to monetize your work.
Of course, you can integrate Instagram or Facebook on your blog and combine those channels to create a greater reach. Without relying on Social Media, you are also able to create your own fans through e-mail lists or RSS-feeds.
I know that e-mail lists sound very “old school” but even in 2018, they provide the most power when it comes to notifying interested readers. The big plus of an e-mail list is that readers are much more willing to visit your website when they already read the mail.
Your blog can basically run as long as you want to. There isn’t anything in sight that might replace the existing structure of websites and render a blog obsolete.
On the contrary, the number of internet users is still on the rise thanks to the growing spread of the internet even in remote places.
The good thing is also, that you don’t have to adapt to rapid changes of rules.
Even if Instagram & Co. are still around in a few Years, you never know how they changed and if you have to pay to participate for example.
Looking at the costs of running a blog, they have gone down immensely, since web hosting space becomes an abundance.
Running a Photography Business
From a business point of view, your blog is like a free advertisement and can help you tremendously in gaining new customers.
You are able to showcase your work, interact with your followers and customers more easily.
Instead of sending people from a 3rd party platform to your Website or shop, with a successful running blog, you already have the people where you want to have them.
Whether you are a wedding photographer who wants to sell his service or a photographer who wants to advertise his workshops.
On your blog, you are able to show your personality, professional work and are able to convince potential clients to hire you.
Setting Up the Blog
Your First WordPress Blog
I agree that it can be easier to just create an account on Instagram or even wordpress.com to showcase your work. Creating a WordPress blog nowadays is so easy, that it doesn’t really take more know-how than creating a simple account.
Cost-wise a blog can run at a minimum of ~$5 per month.
Also keep in mind, that if your blog gets successful, that you are also able to monetize it and gain a lot more than the initial investment of $5.
When you search for advice on running a WordPress blog, you might also come across WordPress.com and its services.
WordPress.com is a 3rd party service that provides you with a pre-installed WordPress blog but has a lot of limitations that render the service more or less useless if you want to get more serious.
Therefore I will only explain how you can create your self-hosted WordPress blog, which gives you all the freedom I talked about before.
First, you need a hosting partner which is basically your home for the new website.
There are a lot of hosts out there and most of them already have very easy implementations for WordPress.
Both services cost around $5 and give you everything you need for the start.
After choosing the package, you are now given your own web space where you need to install WordPress. Thankfully, most hosts provide a “1-click” installation service for WordPress and it is really as easy as it sounds.
Simply follow the installation process of your host and there shouldn’t be any problem in setting up your WordPress blog.
Now your WordPress Website has some very generic look and isn’t very appealing.
To create your own brand and design, you need a new theme that you can take as a basis for further customization. Depending on the direction of your blog, different themes can offer you better options.
Your Website is mainly to showcase your photographs in different galleries and the main points of the blog are photographs.
Then the theme “Oshine” is Your Go-To theme where You are able to set-up different galleries.
The theme follows a very simple design and isn’t too overloaded with navigation bars or other distracting design choices.
Simplicity and Texts
Instead of featuring your photographs, you are more interested in sharing your thoughts with the world?
The “Genesis Framework” is a very easy and “classic” blog theme of your choice. you are able to include photographs, but the focal point of this theme is often blog posts in text form.
Versatility & Customization
Are you willing to invest some time in building your Website and have no problem in changing the design a few times until you have the final version?
Then the “Newspaper” theme is a general theme, that isn’t specific for photography, but offers a lot of options to customize the look & feel of the website.
Growing The Blog
In most cases, the photography blog shouldn’t just be there for its own sake. If you are happy, to just publish your work and don’t have the goal in mind to get visitors to actually see your work, then this is fine.
But most blogs have the goal in mind to attract more visitors and gain recognition for their work.
Especially when you view Photography as a business and want to make money, more visitors equal in most cases more income.
Compare it to a normal shop, then you would also hope that more people would enter the store.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
That we are completely independent of algorithms isn’t completely true, if one of your goals is to rank highly in Google and gain visitors through search engines.
Search Engine visitors can be especially valuable when you are a local photographer looking for customers. For example, you are a fashion photographer in New York.
Then it makes sense, to optimize your blog so that people that are searching for a fashion photographer in New York will land on your blog first.
There are a lot of factors influencing the rankings and only Google knows exactly how their algorithm works.
One factor that is openly communicated is Website speed.
Of course, a user that visits your website doesn’t want to wait dozens of seconds before actually seeing your content. In fact, most visitors aren’t even willing to wait for more than two seconds. Every millisecond that you can make your website run faster is valuable in gaining visitors.
A photography blog has the characteristic to show a lot of pictures, which in return can slow the website down a lot.
To keep the high quality, but reduce the size of the files, you can use Software like JPEGmini which reduces the file size of your photographs.
This doesn’t only save up some precious web space but makes your blog run a lot faster, which then is likely to increase the number of visitors.
Engaging With other Blogs
Just because you cannot “like” someone else’s photographs on his blog, doesn’t mean that you are now completely isolated.
One way of reaching a bigger audience and getting more visitors, in the long run, is by collaborating with other blogs. Either by publishing an article of yours on their website or by showcasing a photo series of yours. You can also offer to share their work on your blog and support them too.
Either way, don’t forget the community aspect of the photography world and you will be able to reach a lot more people.