Generally speaking, a blog is a website on which someone writes periodically about personal opinions, activities, and experiences. For photographers, it’s where you can show your personality and describe your creative process.
Not only can a blog increase your online presence, it’s also the perfect opportunity to give your audience more background on you as a professional photographer and a person. I’ve heard from numerous art buyers and photo editors who enjoy reading a photographers’ blogs. Behind-the-scenes shots and fun stories help clients get a better sense of who you are and what it would be like to work with you.
To some photographers, blogging comes naturally: the content flows like champagne mimosas at a Sunday brunch. For others, the thought of baring their soul to strangers is, well, anxiety producing. But fear not — it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Even though your site mainly aims to present you professionally, we still recommend having a balance between personal and professional content, as clients will want to see both your unique personality and a true love for photography and content creation. This also gives them an idea of what it could be like to spend a day with you on set.
Remember that your blog is your greatest free marketing tool. The posts don’t have to be too frequent or too long, but you should plan to post something at least once a month. As you get more comfortable with the blog posting process, consider increasing your output to one post per week.
If blogging doesn’t come naturally to you, try to break up your posts into a manageable schedule. You could set a weekly day that you always post a tear sheet or behind the scenes photographs. Some blogs, like WordPress, even allow you to pre-schedule posts so you can plan a month out to save time and create a routine for your workflow.
Make sure to embed your blog into your website so it reads as www.photographername.com/blog, or link it to your personal website if it lives on its own URL. This organization ensures that the user won’t be navigated away from your website, and they can continue to view your images on the same domain. Lastly, having the blog on your domain shows Google that you’re actively updating your site and that raises you in the search engine results.
Blogging can come in many different forms, but a typical post could have anywhere from 500-1000 words and include multiple images and descriptive paragraphs. Still, there are other ways to get your work out there. Some photographers do image-only blogs, where they post shots from a specific assignment. Other than a brief introductory paragraph describing the shoot, those posts feature solely photos. Other photographers write shorter blurbs — think 100-200 words — and accompany them with a few images to give the reader a nice little morsel that doesn’t take too long to go through. And, of course, there’s the classic Q&A. You can’t go wrong with any of these kinds of posts; the key is simply to keep churning out the work.
Topic-wise, photographers don’t just write about assignments — they discuss other aspects of their career, focus on their non-photographic passions, or talk about a specific trend (COVID-19, in this context). For the most part, these posts are light, quick, and easy-to-consume reads that give the audience a good sense of the person doing the work. Let’s dive into some examples!
Richmond-based Caroline Martin does a nice job of writing about the client-based work and discussing other aspects of her career on her blog. She updates it monthly and gives each post an organic, relaxed feel, as though she’s simply conversing with the reader.
One of the nice things about a blog is that it allows you to publish your stream of consciousness in a certain way. Here’s what I mean in this case: one of the posts is about Caroline doing research on becoming an LLC, an incredibly important aspect of freelancing and a topic many photographers don’t really like getting into because it’s not as fun as taking pictures and working with people. But Caroline approaches this subject with an unassuming mindset, talking through her experiences with regard to making a passion profitable.
While Caroline’s blog is primarily focused on client-based work and lives on her website, which makes it super easy to find and explore, Saroyan Humphrey’s is quite different. Saroyan is a San Francisco-based editorial, portrait, and fine art photographer. We recently spoke with him about his ezine, Trailblazer, into which he’s put tons of time and energy during the COVID-19 quarantine. His blog is terrific for many reasons, but what I like most about it is that Saroyan focuses on his passions: racing, music, and travel. Depending on how in-depth a photographer goes with regard to creating a blog, sometimes it’s better to have it on a completely separate site. For Saroyan, this is the right move because the stories are a lot different than the ones he tells as a successful commercial photographer. Whereas Caroline’s blog is a branch on her website’s tree, Saroyan’s blog is its own entity.
Explore the site, and you’ll see a variety of blog post structures. Some posts are long stories with numerous quotes from the interview subject, others are more basic Q&As, and some are simply galleries of photos. It’s easy to get a sense of Saroyan’s personality and the way he converses with people by reading through these posts. And kudos to him for getting well-known, respected interview subjects with interesting stories to share! The Bay Area resident is clearly going above and beyond to produce quality content.
Partially aided by the fact that we’re stuck in lockdown, Saroyan has been consistently adding to his blog. Like him, Akron, Ohio-based Andrew Dolph keeps his work on a separate website. What makes Andrew’s blog different than the two we just covered is that it’s centered around COVID-19-related stories. The website, Essential Acts of Service, documents small business owners near Andrew who are trying to navigate an unprecedented era.
Like both his interview subjects and fellow photographers — and pretty much everyone else, for that matter — Andrew has lost business due to the pandemic. Instead of sitting around contemplating what to do next, Andrew got up and started taking pictures, hearing struggles, and writing stories. What’s great about these blog posts is that they’re short on writing. This means that Andrew doesn’t have to spend an unnecessary amount of time writing and can focus on pumping out content at a consistent pace. One small (but crucial) note: even though both Saroyan and Andrew have a separate website for their blog, you can get to them through their personal websites. If you’re going to keep your blogging on a different URL, it needs to be accessible from your main site.
Lastly, you have photographers like Natasha Lee in Santa Monica who uses Instagram as her blog. And she’s using it well! Notice how she has a personal caption about her subject, then she spaces down to add in all relevant hashtags.
Instagram lets you caption images with up to 2200 characters, and you can add up to 30 hashtags which can make you more visible and increase your following/likes. You can also tag or mention the client or products featured in the image which can catch someone’s attention.
One of the downfalls with using Instagram as your blog is that you’re going to miss out on the SEO enhancements that a typical blog can give you. Also, Instagram doesn’t hold metadata, so if you upload an image and someone screenshots, the only thing tying you to that post is if your username appears at the top of the post. What’d we’d recommend is that you use Instagram in addition to your blog, not instead of a blog. Plus, if you have more IG followers than unique website visitors, you’ll have a better chance of getting people from your Instagram to your website by utilizing these two platforms in concert, as we’ll cover below.
Anytime you publish a new blog post, get as much use out of it as you possibly can! Post a link on your Facebook page; tweet about the post (and include a link to the blog) on Twitter; Instagram an image from the blog and write a caption to tease your followers to click the link in your bio. Think of other ways that you can get the most traffic out of a single blog post.
I’d also advise posting links using bitly, a link tracking service. Bitly creates trackable links for you, so you can see how many people click each one.
For each image you’re posting to your blog, make sure the metadata is intact and informative enough that if a person were to save the image on their desktop, they’d have enough metadata stored in that image’s File Info to trace it back to you. This can be done simply in Photoshop and Lightroom by entering in particular keywords such as your name, location, what specialties you shoot, your web URL, and in some cases the client.
In Photoshop under File > File Info… you can enter keywords to embed SEO metadata.
In Lightroom, under Library you can enter your SEO keywords under the Keywording bullet. You can add personal details under the Metadata bullet.
For SEO tags, I’d create several that you plan to use (or already use) on your website and directly copy them to your blog. You can use your name, location, your photography brand, the client, what the shoot was for, and any descriptive words you can include. Adding SEO tags can do way more to improve your SEO than not using any or using irrelevant ones.
It’s as good an idea to track your blog’s analytics as it is to track your website’s. Through analytics, you can see what posts generate the most buzz and which may be falling flat, which is valuable intel. You don’t want to be wasting your time writing posts that no one is interested in reading.
There are a number of ways to track how well your blog posts are doing. Number one is Google Analytics; it’s easy to set up and will give you a great deal of useful information. A few things you can track through Google Analytics include:
In tandem with Google Analytics, I would also recommend enabling an RSS feed with your blog so that users can subscribe to your posts. Be sure to add the RSS feed of your choosing to Google Analytics results since many people never actually click through to a site when viewing through a reader and/or email feeds.
If you’re experiencing writer’s block, reach out via email or call us at 1 610 260 0200 and we can help cultivate some ideas for you!
This article was originally written in March of 2017, was updated by Justin Kohn in Dec. 2019, and re-updated by Varun Raghupathi in May 2020.