How to Start A Photoblog: 7 Critical Things to Consider Before You Begin

Blogging is an excellent creative outlet. There are many reasons to start blogging, even if you don’t yet know how to start a photoblog of your own. For example, you can create a site to showcase your photography, improve seo, and build an audience. On top of that, it can be a path to creating extra income and opportunities. My blogging has rewarded me with paid work, free products, payment for advertising, and even an all-expenses paid trip to Japan!

What Exactly Is A Blog?

We all know that a blog is a website. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of a blog is:

blog

A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

There’s one key element of a blog we often forget about. Blogs are informal. It’s the informal and conversational element that actually makes blogging very easy. You don’t need to be a professional or experienced writer. You just need to have a passion. Write as you would speak. Every time you write a post, write it in the same words you would use when speaking to a friend.

Portrait of Sarah Robichaud
“The excitement shows in her expressions as she talks about her new project.”. Photo by PhotoBlog.com member Julia Gotz.

The First Simple Secret to Success, Ask Yourself – Why Do You Want To Start A Successful Blog?

Often people say they need a blog but have no idea why, what the blog should set out to achieve, or how to start a photoblog. For over 10 years I’ve been involved in website creation, from favours-for-a-friend to projects with budgets in the millions of dollars.

What I’ve learned is this… taking a few minutes to answer some simple questions will set you on the path to success. Answering these questions provides a moment of clarity for your blog direction, and guides decision making in all areas of blog creation and maintenance.

Start by asking yourself:

  1. What is your passion?
  2. Why do you want to start a blog?
  3. And, why do you want it to be successful?

Want To Know How To Start A Photoblog? Passion Is The Motivator, Harness It

The driving force that will keep you blogging after coming home tired from a rough day at work. It’s what makes writing blog posts easy.

While I’ve started many blogs, the most successful has been my Japan travel and photo blog. My passion is for the culture and language of Japan. That passion kept me going in the very early days when only a few people would visit my site on a daily basis. Still, I would work on the site for hours a day. That passion was the key element in my success, now receiving 1000 visitors every day.

Usually, the reason for starting a photo blog is to get your work out to the world. But that’s not always the case. I’ve had multiple personal, anonymous and private blogs, which were essentially an online diary. I just wanted an outlet for my thoughts but didn’t want others to know who I was. It turned out to actually really help a large number of people, sometimes there are unexpected rewards for blogging.how to start a photoblog

On the flip side, when I started my Japan photo blog in 2009, there was always a clear intention to make it successful. After my first trip to Japan in 2009, it became obvious there was a lack of inspirational and useful information for seeing certain areas of Japan. I wanted to start the Japan photo blog to inspire people to travel to Japan and give them useful guides for visiting the country.

What Are Your Other Motivations?

For my Japan photo blog, the reason behind my drive for success was to assist people in having a great trip to Japan. I genuinely get a lot out of helping other people (which is why I enjoy writing articles like this!).

I’m not ashamed to say, it’s always been a number game for me too. Knowing that 1 million people have visited my Japan photo blog and over 15,000 follow me on social media is a huge motivator.

Let’s Take A Minute To Answer Those Questions For Yourself…

1. What is your passion?

Be specific, not general, to increase your chances of success by talking to an engaged and interested audience. Here are some examples:

  • Personal Photography: Is there a certain photographic area, such as landscapes, street, sport, or animal photography you want to display? Maybe you don’t know yet and need to discover your photographic style.
  • Teaching: Perhaps you have a special skill and want to share it with your audience.
  • Travel: Are you a travel photographer who wants to share your experiences with the worlds?
  • Helping others: sharing your personal success story as a photographer to help others realize their goals.

2. Why do you want to start a blog?

  • Share work with family and friends?
  • Show off the beautiful part of the world you live in?
  • Journal of your photography learning experience?

3. Why do you want the blog to be successful?

  • Help others in their journey or learning?
  • Become known as an expert in a certain area?
  • Generate sales for your photos or sell a product or service?

how to start a photoblog

Let’s Get Strategic – Who Are You Talking To and How To You Speak to Them?

Now that you have your driving passion, a reason for starting a blog, and clear goals for its success, we’ll formulate a mini communications strategy. This strategy will help you reach the right people and talk to them effectively (so they actual engage with you and your content).

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the single most important message you want to communicate, and in what tone of voice?

For my Japan blog, there are two clear target audiences: anyone planning a trip to Japan and those already in Japan looking for something to do or a clear guide to a specific area.

To be more specific, my audience can read English, and have a disposable income sufficient enough to spend several thousand dollars on an international holiday, but are still limited to a certain budget. They are interested in the iconic sites, but also want to get off the beaten track and explore Japan. The audience is evenly split between those who have been to Japan before and those who haven’t.

Knowing who I’m talking to helps shape my content, so I don’t write about super expensive luxurious places that would blow an entire travel budget in one day. When I write about the iconic places, like Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, the article finishes by recommending lesser known attractions nearby.

The Tower Gate at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto – HDR Photo
The Tower Gate at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto – HDR Photo by Dean Wormald.

If visitors to my site can take away only one message, it’s that Japan has a rich culture ranging from a deep spiritual history through to modern day technological conveniences. The tone of the site is to come across as an expert, but still with a personal touch by explaining how I feel about each location.

So who are you talking to and how do you speak them?

4. Who is your target audience?

Just like the example of my blog, get detailed about your audience. Try to get into their head.

For example, if you’re going to blog about portrait photography, is your audience already portrait photographers, are they beginners, or both? This is the difference between a blog which is a guide to becoming a portrait photographer, and one containing inspirational pieces.

  • Where do they live?
  • What photographers inspire and influence their work?
  • Are they on a budget and have only limited lighting equipment, or is money not an issue?
  • Are they new to this type of content, or have some (or a lot) of experience?

5. What is the single most important message you want to communicate, and in what tone of voice?

As much as we would love for all of our blog’s visitors to read every word we’ve written, that is almost never the case. On a blog, you need to focus on one single important message you want to get across. Then decide on an appropriate tone of voice.

For example, a photography blog about learning how to use your new DSLR, and you are a first time DSLR user. The single most important message to communicate may be that while the camera seems like a complex piece of equipment, you can learn complete control and create amazing photos. As you’ll be learning together with the audience, the tone of voice will be an honest sharing of your experience (success and failure, joy and frustration), in a friendly and conversational tone.how to start a photoblog

6. Choose a Blogging Platform: WordPress or PhotoBlog?

WordPress is the most well-known and widely used blogging platform. As an experienced web designer and developer, I’ve become extremely familiar with the platform, as it allows me to build highly customized sites for clients (and myself). But with the ability for customization comes great complexity.

As a new user of WordPress – especially if you’re not a web developer – it’s easy to be overcome by the large amount of settings, themes, plugins and workflow of the software. Over time WordPress has grown from a simple blogging platform to a full Content Management System.

Since starting as a blog writer on PhotoBlog.com, I created a PhotoBlog account and tried out the software. As an absolute beginner, PhotoBlog takes only 3 minutes to setup (actually took me 1 minute and 58 seconds). The interface for publishing a blog post is minimal, super easy to use with a “no-code” approach to creating content.

WordPress PhotoBlog.com
Learning curve
for first time users
Difficult Easy
Easy to use backend Complex, cluttered Simple, minimal
Setup time Long
Potentially hours or days
Short
3 minutes
Customizable themes Yes No
Widely supported plugin system Yes No
Built-in network/audience No Yes
Built-in Search Engine Optimisation No Yes
Social sharing options, optimized for social sharing No Yes
Built-in Search Engine Optimization No Yes
Optimized and style for photo blogging No Yes
Custom domain name Yes Possible, but not built in
Free version Yes Yes
Paid/premium version $3 to over $30 per month $1.75 per month

7. Serious About Promoting Your Blog? Secure a Domain Name and Social Media Profile

While not critical for the casual blogger, if you want to turn your blog into a popular site or something that will generate money, search for an available domain name and register social media accounts.

Quick tip: if you create a PhotoBlog.com account, you can redirect a domain name to your blog.

When coming up with a name, be sure it will pass the speakability test. The test is simple. You must be able to say your blog name to someone (without spelling it out) and they can easily type out the name without error. For example, don’t go with a name like “Foto Site’. If you were to say this to someone, they could interpret it as “Photo Sight” or “Photo Site”.

Final Tip – Just Start

When speaking with friends about blogs, and giving advice to others, there always seems to be something stopping them:

  • “I’ll just get a better camera first, then I’ll start the blog”
  • “I need to research Search Engine Optimisation/some other random topic before I start”
  • “First I need a laptop, then I can sit down and begin”

Take away all the excuses. If you’re reading this post, you have all you need to start a blog. In the beginning, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Writing a blog isn’t like writing a book. You can go back and update content at any time. The very first post I did way back in 2009 – Why Travel To Japan? Top 10 Reasons To Go and Visit – is still online, the photos are poor, but over time I’ve tweaked the content, and it’s now one of my highest ranked articles in Google.

No more excuses. Start a blog right now. Sign-up… now. Write your first post, keep it informal and just get something out there. You can do this in just a few minutes.

Your First Blog Post – A Template to Get Started

Lost for words? Use this as a structure for your first post.

  • Descriptive headline.
  • Introduce yourself: where you are from and who you are.
  • Feature your best photo.
  • Why you got into photography, how long you’ve been taking photos and what kind of photography you enjoy most.
  • Make a declaration of your goals. This helps make you accountable and assists in motivation.
  • Ask for criticism and feedback. This is extremely helpful in expanding your photography skills.
Photographic Intentions: My Goals to Improve as a Photographer by Dean Wormald - PhotoBlog
My first post on PhotoBlog.com

See my first post on PhotoBlog.com, which took only minutes to set up and publish. Within the first few hours of publishing that first post, I had 10 likes, follows and comments!

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