The term “photo blog” has almost become redundant. Between the popularity of microblogging, and the fact that smartphones are capable of producing high-quality images, our digital communication has become increasingly photo-centric. We consume so much content in our digital lives, it seems we’ve developed a need for it to be presented in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Enter: the photo blog.
So how can you get in on the action? There are a few basic rules. First, it should be said, a photo blog can be pretty much anything you want it to be, so long as your content is predominantly –- you guessed it — photos. These pics can be your own, pulled in from across the web, submitted by users or some combination of the three. Basically, when it comes to photo blogs, there are many options.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Pick a Platform
Determine if you are the creator, curator or ringleader?
If your motivation is simply to showcase your own photographs, then social functionality is probably low on the list while the ability to control use of your images is high. If you are curating images from around the web under an entertaining theme, then shareability is top of mind. If you’re crowdsourcing submissions, then of course, your blog will benefit from a highly social, share-oriented platform.
Let’s look at the top three free web-based, free platforms:
- Blogger: Think: basic. Blogger is Google’s blog platform, and it has a fast and painless set-up, easily editable templates and basic photo sharing utility.
- WordPress: Think: high scalability, low social. WordPress is highly customizable and scalable, and it happens to feature lots of nifty photo blog plug-ins.
- Tumblr: Think: simplified, ultra-social. Unlike Blogger or WordPress, Tumblr is a microblogging platform — it is a short-form blogging tool built on top of a social network. Tumblr offers a simple set-up, intuitive interface, customizable templates and, most importantly, a lot of social functionality. Users can follow each other, “reblog” or share content on their own blogs, like, comment or ask questions on Tumblr. The platform’s emphasis on frequent, image-heavy posts is ideal for a photo blog, and its social functionality helps build an audience quickly. The downside is that with greater spread, comes less control over use or attribution.
Ask yourself what you want your viewers’ experience to be.
Consistency is key –- whether it is the font for your captions or your overall design. Users should know what to expect when they visit your blog. A few key things to consider:
- Always resize photos to the same dimensions (if possible).
- Make any credits or captions as consistent as possible, both in language and appearance.
- Be consistent with your posting schedule. Your fans may love you, but no one loves feeling spammed. Devise a schedule that can accommodate your influx of content and is appropriate for your viewers, even down to the time of day you post.
- Ask yourself if your blog will benefit from functions like comments or question buttons. These things will alter the look and feel of your blog and can sometimes muddy a blog’s tone.
- If you are committed to making a photo blog, avoid posts of other media: video, text, audio. This not only changes the look and user experience, but can take away from your blog’s narrative.
How do you want people to find you? Here are some tips:
- Involve your audience. If your goal is to get people sharing and talking about your blog, try opening the lines of communication –- involve your audience. People are far more likely to share content they had a hand in creating. Consider opening contributions, comments, questions and opportunities for increased engagement.
- Share the love. It sounds simple, but a little love can go a long way. Be a participant in your own world: feature fellow photo bloggers on your blogroll, or if you use Tumblr, you can “reblog” content or feature work from bloggers you like. They will likely to return the favor.
- Pay attention! Above all, monitor your blog. Learn what your audience likes and make changes accordingly. Pay attention to how your content affects your traffic. Note which kinds of pics are getting reblogged or shared, and which have best responses.
And finally, here are a few examples of great photo blogs.
What it is: The Sartorialist is a notable ‘street fashion’ blog showcasing photos taken by former fashion photographer Scott Schuman.
Why we like it: Simple, consistent image size and captions, clean format.
What it is: Sea of Shoes is teen Jane Aldridge’s ‘personal style’ blog, her blog has gained such a strong following in the fashion world, she has been called one of the most influential personal style bloggers.
Why we like it: Relatively clean layout, individual posts are sharable via Facebook and Twitter.
What it is: Comedian/writer Eliot Glazer curates photos of ‘awesome’ parents submitted by their children.
Why we like it: Consistent image size and captions, crowdsourced, theme with strong audience appeal (personalized and thus tailored for sharing).
By now you’re probably more than ready to take a break from reading about starting a photo blog and actually do it. If you have a photo blog, let us know in the comments.
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