So you’ve started a photography blog. Welcome to the start of what can be an exhilarating and inspiring journey!
Once you’ve created your blog you’ll be itching to start sharing your photos. At first, it can feel you’re talking to yourself – putting your best work out there but no one is seeing it. So how do you find your audience? There are lots of small things you can do which, when combined, will attract people to look at your blog and keep coming back too. Here are some of them…
1. Introduce Yourself to Your Reader
When I look at someone’s photography blog for the first time I’m always curious to know more about them. I’ll often pop over to their ‘about me’ page and it’s disappointing when all you find are crickets. You don’t need to write a huge essay about yourself – even a few sentences will help your audience connect with you.
Do include a photo of yourself too – people like to feel they’re connecting with a real human rather than a faceless being. While you’re at it, why not share links to your social media accounts here too. Don’t forget to keep your about page up to date too. I’m as guilty as anyone for forgetting this – writing this article has prompted me to give mine a thorough update!
2. People Do Judge the Book by Its Cover
If you’ve created a standalone blog, via WordPress or on your website, you have complete control over the look of your photography blog. Take a little time to work on the layout and look so it’s a place people enjoy visiting. My advice is to keep things simple and clean. Do remember to check your site is mobile friendly too – that’s very important now so many people browse the web on phones and tablets (56% of all Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices). Also, don’t get into the trap of constantly tweaking your blog’s layout – publishing good quality content is far more important.
Of course, if you’re using a blogging platform like PhotoBlog you don’t have to worry about such things since they are already taken care of. If you’re inexperienced at web design this can be a really good place to start.
3. Use SEO to Attract New Audiences
It’s tempting to simply share your photos and let them do the talking. However, it’s good practice to share some text too. If you want your photography blog to appear in the search results on Google, Yahoo and the like, pictures alone won’t do the job. Search engines index the Internet by using crawlers to seek out new sites and log their contents. To do this the web crawler must encounter words so your photos on their own won’t be enough. Bear in mind that 4o to 50% of website traffic is referred by search engines such as Google. So it’s worth the effort to help you climb higher in search results!
The renowned Formula 1 photographer Darren Heath writes a blog post about every race for exactly this reason. His thoughtful essays about the sport give Google and other search engines what they need to find his website and his amazing photos. PhotoBlog.com comes optimized for SEO, but if you are using a platform such as WordPress, you may need to configure an SEO plugin such as Yoast.
4. Choose Your Writing Style Wisely
The way you write on your blog is really crucial in attracting and retaining an audience. Aim to be personable, friendly and conversational in your text, however brief it may be, and people are more likely to return. Try to avoid being too formal or technical, especially if you are aiming to appeal to a wide audience. Fellow photographers may find your choice of f-stop and shutter speed interesting, but a more general audience may find it baffling!
Don’t be afraid to express opinions and tell stories – readers like to feel they’re being taken on a personal journey with you. You can even ask questions of your readers. If someone has an opinion on the subject you’re writing about they are more likely to leave a comment and return to your blog another day. The more engaging you can be, the greater the interaction you are likely to engender.
5. Offer a Unique Style of Photography
While you’re thinking about your writing style it’s also worth considering your photographic style. There are some photographers, like yours truly, who photograph and blog about a wide variety of subjects. However, you may find it easier to build an audience if your photography blog specializes in a particular type imagery. For instance, Alexey Kljatov has built up an enormous following with his amazing macro photos of snowflakes. Specialization not only improves your chances of becoming one of the best in the world but it also increases your chances of finding a strong audience who are passionate about what you do.
6. Post Regularly in Your Photography Blog
When you first start photo blogging it’s easy to overestimate how often you’ll post. Rather than aiming to post pictures every day, why not ease yourself in with a post each week? If you overachieve and manage more than that it’s a bonus!
If you frequent other people’s blogs you’ll know how frustrating it is when they share several really great posts in quick succession, followed by weeks of radio silence. Eventually, you lose interest and stop going back to see if they’ve posted anything new. A much better plan is to blog on the same day (or days) each week. Readers will then know when to expect your next post and they’re far more likely to return.
If you know you’re going to have a busy spell when you won’t be able to blog, don’t be afraid to prepare material ahead of time. Perhaps keep a few posts that aren’t time sensitive stashed away to bring out when life gets in the way of your regular schedule? You might like to consider using a tool such as Trello or Google Calendar to organize and schedule your posts too. If you are using PhotoBlog, use the editor’s post scheduling option. Read further on constant content here.
7. Create Fresh Perspectives Through Guest Authors
Another strategy used by some bloggers is to invite others to write a guest post on their blog periodically. Photographer and Photoshop guru Scott Kelby has a guest post on his blog every Wednesday, featuring well-known characters from the world of photography. This strategy can be useful to give you a break, especially if you’re in the habit of posting daily. If your guest writers have their own blogs it can also be a really useful way to attract some of their readers to take a look at your blog.
8. Strive for Honesty, Not Perfection
While you will, of course, want to share your best work on your photo blog, don’t be afraid to be honest about both your achievements and failures. Readers love to see first class images but they will also appreciate it if you share the challenges you face. You could, for instance, talk about what you learned from a difficult shoot and how you might tackle things differently next time. Showing this vulnerability makes you easier to relate to and may well raise some useful discussions too.
9. Invite Comments and Opinions
Visitors to your blog are much more likely to return if they can participate in some way. This could be as simple as leaving a comment. Someone who takes the time to comment has already shown that extra bit of commitment and is far more likely to stick around. If you have the comments feature turned off on your blog you are immediately stopping them doing this. So turn your comments on and revel in the folks who care enough to leave their opinion, even if you don’t always agree with it!
10. Interaction Works Both Ways
If you’re able to, it’s good practice to respond to comments. This doesn’t need to be a long, time-consuming activity. Even a simple thank you will make your reader feel more engaged and encourage them to return.
If you want even more interaction, why not take the time to visit other people’s blogs and leave a comment or two? I know from experience that I receive a lot more interaction and gain new readers at a faster rate when I take the time to do this. I try to spend a few minutes over breakfast each day looking at other people’s posts and commenting. It really doesn’t need to take lots of your time.
If you follow blogs in lots of different places it might be worth using a service likely Feedly to keep track of new posts. Feedly draws together all the new posts by bloggers you follow so you don’t have to search for them, saving time.
11. Be Part of a Community
If you’ve chosen to blog via a bespoke photography blogging platform, such as Photoblog, you will immediately have easy access to a readymade community. Make the most of this, visiting other people’s blogs and engaging with them via comments. Sites like this will often have a forum where you can chat with like-minded people too.
If you can, take the time to participate in community projects and events. Photoblog runs a photography weekly challenge and this is a great way to get more eyes on your posts. Don’t be afraid to create your own projects too, setting your readers challenges and asking them questions.
12. Build a Sticky Photography Blog!
Most blog visits will last just a few seconds. People click on the link to your blog, glance at a picture or two and most will then leave without exploring further. Your aim should be to persuade them to stick around – a sticky blog!
So how can you do this? Obviously, sharing interesting content is an important step. Don’t be afraid to also share links back to earlier posts. If you have blogged about a related subject before why not point readers to that post via a web link? This simple tip can encourage visitors to look further around your site. While you’re at it, why not share a link to your ‘about me’ page too. This makes it easy for readers to get to know you better and once they do that they’re more likely to return.
Do everything you can to encourage them to root around and explore your photography blog!
13. Create Themed Posts
So you’ve attracted people to your blog and you want to encourage them to return. They’re more likely to do this if they feel there’s something to come back for. A really good way to do this is to have an ongoing theme to some of your posts.
- Start a photo project. Over the last three years, I’ve been working on a project to photograph all the churches in the City of London – 56 of them in the space of a square mile! I’ve been sharing these pictures on my blog and it’s building into a sizeable body of work. Several of my readers have told me how much they enjoy these posts and they keep coming back for more. Folks like to feel there is something in it for them – in this case seeing the latest updates on your project.
- Photo a day project. If above seems too daunting, try setting yourself a smaller challenge – say a photo a day for a week on a specific theme. People will return to see the next installment and you might even encourage them to take part too! Be sure to cross-link these posts so that visitors can easily find other posts in the series.
14. Use Social Media to Build Your Audience
There are many social media sites where you can find new readers for your blog. Every day I post photos on my blog and copy the URL and share it on a variety of social media sites. I have a Facebook page devoted to my photography, on which I share a link to my daily post. Followers often follow the link to look at my blog in more detail and some comment there too. The number of social media sites has grown enormously in recent years so it’s probably best to pick a couple to use regularly rather than spread yourself too thinly!
The number of social media sites has grown enormously in recent years so it’s probably best to pick a couple to use regularly rather than spread yourself too thinly!
15. Encourage People to Subscribe
So you’ve welcomed some visitors to your blog and persuaded them to stick around to look beyond that first post. What next? Well, your aim should be to entice them back regularly so they see your latest content. If you’ve done all the things I’ve talked about you stand a pretty good chance of doing this but there’s one further thing you can do.
This final step is to invite readers to subscribe to your blog. By doing this they’ll receive notifications when you post new photos. There are lots of ways to do this.
- Provide an RSS feed. An RSS feed allows users to aggregate blog updates in a single place. An example of this is the popular RSS aggregator Feedly where readers can receive updates from all the blogs they follow.
- Follow and Subscribes. Most blogging platforms, such as PhotoBlog, either have a ‘subscribe’ or a ‘follow’ option. Your followers/subscribers will automatically receive notifications of each new post. Make sure your encourage your readers to follow you.
- Create a Mailing List. Give people a chance to subscribe to a mailing list. This might be more appropriate if you are building your own blog as part of a general website. Companies like Squarespace usually offer integration with services such as MailChimp, allowing you to build a mailing list quickly and easily.
16. Blog for Yourself, Not Others
When you start your first blog it’s important you are doing it for the right reasons. First and foremost, create output for yourself. While it is very tempting to build an audience and monetize your blog, it takes a lot of effort and time. If you’re passionate about the photos and stories you’re sharing you’re far more likely to keep your blog going long term. Your enthusiasm will shine through your posts and this in itself will attract an audience who want to return.
Share Your Audience Building Tips…
If you’ve already started a blog and have tips of your own to share please do pop a comment below. While you’re there, why not share the URL of your blog with us. Who knows, you might even gain more followers in the process!
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