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Top Photography Bloggers Share Insight & Tips for Success
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We tend to think of the blog as a medium for wordsmiths.
But nothing lights up a web page quite like a remarkable image, and especially a professional-quality photograph.
Most bloggers would admit that without photographs, all the fine words in the world would not make their site engaging enough to be a success. Indeed, a wide body of research has shown that the brain is primarily an image processor; we retain and recall images much more readily than text, and images can serve as a visual cue to help us recall information we have read.
Given that strong bond between blogs and images, it is no surprise that photography has become a popular blogging genre in its own right.
But success requires than just point, click and upload. So we asked five top photography bloggers for their insights into the development of a successful blog.
Creating Community with Photography Blogs
For artist Diane Varner, the initial inspiration to start blogging was the immediate sense of connection it gave her as a medium to share her work.
I wanted to share my images with others. Back in 2005, I had discovered Photoblogs.org and was amazed at the community that existed there.
It was before the onset of social media. Having been a fine artist and freelance graphic designer for most of my life, I had worked almost entirely in isolation. The idea that one could put their work out there and have fellow photographers and others comment from all over the world was an opportunity that I knew I had to partake in.
Diane’s blog Daily Walks chronicles her hikes around the North California coast, taking photographs which serve as inspiration for her art.
Originally, it was the photoblog community that kept me inspired via comments and exchange of thoughts on each other’s photography. There was an excitement among all of us to share our images and stories with each other. Now, I see it as a personal journal/diary of my images and thoughts that accompany my daily walks. My blog is primarily for myself but having an audience and hearing from others continues to motivate me.
Fellow Californian Garrick Fujii started his blog They Shoot Film to share his passion for film-based photography and pre-digital cameras.
I was in my early twenties and attending college at the time. I wanted a creative outlet for my thoughts and experiences so blogging seemed like an appropriate avenue.
Blogging definitely takes dedication and commitment. It helps to be inspired by the work that you’re doing.
Sprouting Photographer is part of the Sprouting Studio brand, an all-in-one digital management system for photographers. Bryan Caporicci, founder and CEO of Sprouting, says the decision to launch a a blog and podcast offering advice on all aspects of photography was taken to add value to the brand.
“We wanted to establish authority in the industry as we were building a product,” he said. “It has proved a success, I think because we are writing relevant content for the audience, but also because of the engagement with the community and feedback we enjoy.”
Travel Photography Blogging
A particularly popular sub-genre of the photography blog is travel photography blogging. Adonis Villanueva explained how he got into combining his love of photography with travel on his blog Always Wanderlust.
I had a hobby photography website where I would post an article once every two to three months. Eventually, it lead me to discover that I also like writing.
When I quit work to travel full-time for a year, it took my writing and photography to another level. So, I started Always Wanderlust, a travel and photography blog.
Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere travel blog tells a similar story about how his journey began ― a journey from teaching himself to use a camera to award -winning travel photographer. “In 2007 I sold my home to travel around the world for a year. I started a website for my friends and family to follow along with my travels.”
Since then, Gary has travelled to all seven continents and 180 countries and territories. As well as sharing his adventures and his photos on his blog, he has been published dozens of times in the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, the BBC and many more.
“So long as there are things for me to explore, I’ll never run out of inspiration or things to blog about,” said Gary.
Adonis agrees that passion for what he does keeps him going.
I also enjoy the pains that go with the successes. For every dozen missteps there is a eureka moment. This process keeps giving me hope. Even when I am spending 12 hours fixing my website, writing and editing a post, or working my photos there are never dull moments.
Developing Success in Photography Blogs
So what do these expert photography bloggers believe has been the secret to their success?
Diane Varner believes content is everything.
Quite honestly, staying true to my own creative vision and making sure the quality of my art that I post remains the best I can possibly produce has been key.
There is a tendency to try to keep up with the speed of social media, forsaking strong, effective, meaningful content. If one is thoughtful and authentic with their posts on a consistent basis, your audience will find you and remain loyal.
Gary Arndt agrees that with photography in particular, quality is everything. “I try to strive for quality images, which I think is very important in the world of travel. Taking the time to become a good photographer has made a world of difference.”
Adonis Villanueva believes social media has been crucial to help him find a bigger audience for Always Wanderlust.
Back when I had my hobby website, I did not have the channels to reach a larger audience. I could not compete with the bigger brands with dedicated SEO specialists. However, later I did garner a large social media following and drove a lot of traffic to my blog.
Diane admits she has had to learn to adapt her approach to Daily Walks as blogging has changed in the social media age.
I wish I had know that the world of photoblogging was going to change quickly and if I wanted to remain a part of a thriving Internet community, I was going to have to evolve with it. It took me a while before I started posting on other platforms. The delay made my blog lose some some of the momentum I had in the beginning but was regained once I started using other social media tools to drive traffic back to my blog.
Discussing advice to aspiring photography bloggers, Garrick Fujii urges people not to be afraid to make changes to get their site the way they want it. He shares some of the changes he’s incorporating on They Shoot Film.
I’m going through some format changes and deciding on a possibly new direction. I left my old blogging platform a few months ago so I’m kind of at a turning point in this project. I should have left my old blogging platform sooner because it was archaic.
I’d like to see my audience grow more with these next few steps. It’s all about consistency with your brand and voice. Keep it consistent.
Bryan Caporicci of Sprouting Photographer cautions that successful photography bloggers have to be prepared for a lot more work than just shooting the pictures. “Writing and publishing the blog post is only 5 per cent of the work,” he said. “Make sure you write with intent.”
Adonis wishes he had spent more time learning SEO earlier.
I wish I’d had the same knowledge about it now in the past. Now, I am optimizing Always Wanderlust. There is so much to learn but as mentioned, I enjoy this process.
You need passion, innovation and tenacity. You have to really enjoy blogging. Be innovative to stand out of the crowd. And keep getting back up after you fall.
Gary added: “I wish I had taken building an email list more seriously, sooner. Focus on creating a small but loyal following first. If you can do that, your audience will grow. Just focusing on follower numbers is useless if there is no passion.”
A point Diane agrees with entirely: “Make sure your posts are authentic, consistent and packed full of quality no matter what the subject is. Your audience will respect you for it and will come back for more!”