Part one in a two part series, The Beginner's Guide to Creating a Photoblog will show you how to choose the best photoblogging platform, detail how to begin using it and help you promote it to fans.
So, what is a photoblog? The vague answer is a combination of pictures and text in a blog like setup. In reality, a photoblog is whatever you choose to make it. From sharing your latest photos to highlighting past shoots with lots of interesting details and tidbits, photoblogs are a great way to connect with fans and help create an audience for your work.
Photoblogs can be anything you make them, from a simple one picture display to entries with lots of detail that help educate people on taking similar shots.
The most basic photoblogs need to include the following things:
This one's a no-brainer, you must have photos of some kind to have a photoblog.
Blogs usually have an RSS feed. This allows people to subscribe to your blog and allows them to see updates in their favorite feed reader.
Basic Photo Information
While this is not a real must, readers usually want more than just a pretty photo. Basic information, such as a caption, will help explain the photo. You can also become very detailed and include meta and EXIF data from the photo itself, showing your exact camera settings so readers can possibly duplicate the shot or learn more.
This is a good feature to have enabled to allow feedback from readers. Make sure the platform you decide to use has a good spam filter.
Some platforms have archives that are hard to navigate. Make sure readers can quickly see past photos.
From here a photoblog can add many more features, depending on how much you want included.
There are many options available for starting a photoblog depending on your time and budget. As with anything, each platform has pros and cons. Listed below are a few basic differences:
The simplest of the bunch, Pixelpost was built from the ground up with photographers in mind. Adding pictures is easy; you just login and upload and add basic details. Pixelpost also supports custom theming through HTML files and has many predesigned themes available on its Web site. A wide array of plugins are also available that improve SEO, commenting and more. The main downside to Pixelpost is you are limited to one photo per entry. Other platforms allow multiple photos per entry.
One of the leaders in blogging software, Wordpress allows endless possibilities for a photoblog. Many themes are now available that make it simple to create a great photoblog. Wordpress also allows multiple pictures in a single entry. Wordpress, though, is harder to create custom themes for. Another downside with Wordpress is it's more suited for writing than photography.
Wordpress with Photoblogging Plugin
Yet Another Photoblog transforms a standard Wordpress install into a photoblogging platform. Once installed, YAPB transforms Wordpress's backend into a specialized photoblogging system. YAPB supports more than six themes for Wordpress that have been tailored to work with the plugin, and of course, you can customize your own. This is a good solution if you want the functionality of Pixelpost but want a solution with a larger developer base and support forums.
Free Blogging Sites
You can always use a free blogging site, such as blogger.com or wordpress.com, to create a photoblog, but this is not recommended. It's always better to have your blog connected to a Web site so it helps your brand.
A relative newcomer, Squarespace is a great tool for photographers who need to set something up fast and don't want to worry with coding and "the details" of doing a site. Squarespace is a hosted service and has a monthly fee starting around $10 US. Squarespace has many professional users who swear by it and has great uptime, but does leave something to be desired if you want total control.
Another free option, Tumblr is a very popular way to quickly blog photos. Tumblr is not a standalone photoblogging platform, but is more like Wordpress. It allows text, videos, photos and more. One cool feature with Tumblr is it will automatically create a slideshow for you if multiple photos are uploaded.
Benefits of Photoblogging
Photoblogs are more than just a way to post current work for others to see and comment on, it also helps with SEO, builds followings and helps raise awareness.
Just like a blog, photoblogs can help your search engine optimization. If your keep your content fresh, potential clients and followers will be able to find you faster.
Photoblogs create a easy news section for your site that Google will find and index, helping push you higher in the rankings. Make your posts keyword rich to help your rankings even more.
Increase Awareness of Your Brand
Photoblogs are like newsletters and mailers of the past, they help raise awareness for your brand. People can now find out what's going on quickly.
Your brand is an important part of your marketing effort and your photoblog can help be an extension of your brand. Post great work and tell readers how you produced it. Give them something for coming and help turn them into a future client.
Update your Portfolio
Many photographers use photoblogs as a way to supplement their Web site portfolios with more recent examples.
When you're out in the field you have little time to update your site, but a photoblog can easily be updated through a simple backend or even from your iPhone! Now sharing your latest work is simple.
Do I need another domain?
Many people wonder if they need another domain name for their photoblog, it really depends on how you're using it. If your photoblog is an extension of your photography brand then use a subdomain or directory of the same domain. For example, direct visitors to www.mysite.com/blog or blog.mysite.com.
If you're starting a photoblog to just show off some cool pictures, and it doesn't relate to a business, then consider getting a separate domain.
How often should I update?
Like any blog, a photoblog should be updated at least weekly if possible with fresh content. Google will see all of this content and it will help your overall site ranking.
But, it's up to you! A photoblog can be a powerful tool for a photographer if used correctly.
Should I stick with just photos or add text too?
This depends on what you want to accomplish. If your photoblog is just showing cool photos then maybe not, but if it's promoting wedding photography you've done then probably so. You don't have to write pages; just a few sentences that help give context to the pictures and help set the scene.
These sites showcase some great photoblogs and also provide some great tips, tricks and information on starting a photoblog.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Photoblog where we'll go over how to install Pixelpost, how to promote your photoblog and show you some great examples.