You started a blog to demonstrate your photographic work or to help others improve their skills.
But how is your blog growing? What do you need to know to be successful?
In this post, I'm going to share the top blogging tips every photographer needs to know.
The advice you will find below is based on what I've learned over the past 10 years as a blogger and during my time running a marketing agency.
Ready? Let's start:
Note: Haven't you started your photography blog yet? Read my in-depth beginner's guide to learn how.
1. Use the BACM framework to keep your business in perfect harmony
Any successful content-based business usually has 4 components. Be it a blog, a YouTube channel or something else.
Here you are:
- business – What is your business model? How will you increase sales? How will you get customers?
- audience – Who are you trying to help? And how will you help them? This has a strong connection to your niche and your unique service offering.
- content – What content will you be producing? And what is your overall content strategy?
- marketing – How are you going to market your content? And your business? What will be the main marketing channel driving traffic?
The blogs and content-based businesses that thrive are the ones where all four components are fully aligned. And those who fail usually choose the wrong content and marketing for their business model.
You need to start with sales and understand your business model. Then audience, content, and marketing need to focus on that business model.
Here is an example not aligned::
- business – Freelance photographer.
- audience – wedding photography.
- content – Reviews of camera equipment.
- marketing – social media.
What's wrong with it? The content does not support any of the other components.
Here is an example in line with::
- business – Affiliate Marketer.
- audience – Aspiring photographers.
- content – Buyer intent content such as reviews, comparisons, and list posts.
- marketing – Search engines like Google.
What's right about that? Each component supports all the others. The best content and marketing channel has been selected to support sales and audiences.
How are you going to align your company with this framework? I can't give you the right answers for your business, this is what you need to find out. However, if you follow this principle, you can move things in the right direction.
2. Develop an audience personality and use it to create more specific content
One of the keys to running a successful blog (or business) is understanding the people you are trying to reach. I've already touched on this, but there's a little more to it than that.
Once you know who you want to help, you can start building an audience personality around them.
Some call this a customer or buyer personality, but it's the same thing – just a profile of your ideal customer. It shows you their challenges, needs, wants, what they read, demographics, and more.
This information can take your content strategy to a whole new level.
For example, you can use this information to generate generic articles such as "How to take better photos”To write a specific article that better cuts through the noise. Something like "The Wedding Photographers Guide to Taking Better Photos. ”
Note: I call this personal content and have written an entire article about it. Give it a try if you want to learn more.
Here's why this is important:
People want content that suits their individual needs and wants. Generic articles can work well sometimes, but only if you have a large audience.
Take me as an example. If I was scrolling through Twitter I would skip a general article on photography. But an article on guitar photography? That would stop me because it addresses my needs directly.
3. Focus on the essentials with minimal web design
Whether the goal of your photography blog is to share your photo work or to teach others how to improve their photography skills, minimal web design is the way to go.
This is because the focus can be placed on the essentials – your content.
Don't waste visual interest by going on a flashy subject that will distract people from what is important.
Here's the good news:
Minimal web design is popular. Regardless of which blogging platform you use, it will be easy for you to find the right topic / template.
If you use WordPress, you can choose from a wide variety of minimal themes.
One of my favorites is Kadence. It's an easy theme that is easy to customize. While there is a premium version, the free version can earn you a ton of miles.
4. Make your photos accessible with a photo gallery
Your photo work is one of your greatest assets. One of the best ways to view this work is through a photo gallery.
How do you add one to your blog? Some blogging platforms offer the option to add a photo gallery or portfolio, but not all.
WordPress is immediately able to create image galleries. However, you may want to use an external image gallery plugin like Modula.
The great thing about this plugin is that it offers features that are otherwise not possible with WordPress. For example, watermarking your pictures, turning off right-click to prevent people from downloading your pictures, adding password protection, and more.
It also helps in optimizing your images for the web. I'll go into more detail about image optimization in a moment.
Whether you use the built-in picture gallery feature or a third-party plugin, a photo gallery is essential.
Would you like to learn more? Take a look at our Modula review.
5. Optimize your images for the web
I get it. You put a lot of time and effort into creating the perfect photo, and you want the world to see it in all its glory.
The problem? Uploading photos to your website at the highest resolution possible means large image file sizes that degrade the user experience. Especially with slow internet connections or via mobile phone.
How do you optimize images for the web?
We usually optimize our images before uploading them to WordPress. Our typical process looks like this:
- Resize the image in Photoshop or another image editor. 5000x5000px images are not required for the web.
- Export the image as a JPG (not a PNG).
- Compress the image using TinyJPG (a free tool).
- Upload the image to WordPress.
This is not a perfect process and could be further improved with nextgen's image file formats, but it works quite well for us.
The quality is degraded when compressing with TinyJPG, and sometimes we also reduce the quality when exporting from Photoshop.
The smaller the file size, the better.
Now it is worth noting that there are ways to save time with this process. For example, there are WordPress plugins that automate this process, but I prefer to have everything sorted beforehand.
It's just a personal preference. I like it when all versions of images are saved and it uses less server resources.
There are also tools that you can use to capture and optimize any images you have already uploaded. NitroPack is a good example.
NitroPack is a performance optimization platform that includes a content delivery network (more on this in a moment). It does a number of optimizations for your site. One of them is optimizing images and making them available in next-generation file formats – all without fiddling with code.
6. Speed up your website with a content delivery network (CDN).
If your website is hosted in the US, you may find that load times can be much slower worldwide.
This is because page load times are affected by the distance someone is from your server.
Content delivery networks get around this problem by delivering your website's resources from a server that is closer to the visitor's location.
And if you want your visitors to stay, page load times really matter.
There are now numerous CDN services on the market. I mentioned NitroPack before and this is a good option as it does performance tweaks that no other CDN platform offers. There are free options like Cloudflare, but they're not that fast (no free tool can be.)
It's also worth checking with your web host to see if they have a CDN option. For example, some managed WordPress hosts like WPX Hosting have their own CDN or a third-party option in their plans.
7. Double up on Instagram
Instagram has over 1 billion users and is one of the best social networks for photographers due to the visual nature of the platform.
It's also one of the few major social networks that's still growing, and it's one of the easiest to build an audience. There's also a much better vibe on the platform than on Twitter.
To get results from Instagram, you need to build an audience. Here are some tips to help you:
- Theme your photos – The visual interest of your photos directly affects your ability to build an Instagram following. This can be done with a specific style or color for your images. A more fun approach would be to add an item or mascot to each image. A "Where's Waldo?" Type approach.
- Research popular hashtags in your niche – Hashtags are crucial on Instagram. You can usually find good hashtags to use by looking at other people in your niche. Alternatively, a hashtag research tool like HashtagsForLikes is very helpful.
- Commitment = commitment – If you want people to engage with you, then you need to engage with them first. Leave comments, like posts, and meet people.
- Save time with planning tools – Instagram scheduling tools like Sendible let you schedule and post to Instagram right away without the need for a third party app. This means that you can schedule your posts in bulk so that you always run out of content. The more content you post, the better.
- Use Instagram's built-in analytics to find out what works – Converting your personal profile to a company profile gives you access to IG's analytics. Use this data to find out what works and do more of it.
8. Create an email list so your readers will keep coming back
Getting traffic to your blog is a challenge, but holding them back for more is another challenge.
While social media algorithms can change overnight, an email list is far more reliable.
And while email may not seem as cool as it used to be, more than 50% of the world's population use email. That's a huge potential audience!
How do you start?
First of all, you need an email marketing service. This is the platform where you build your email list. They store your subscriber lists and allow you to send out email newsletters and more. And if you ever want to switch between tools, you can simply export your subscribers to another tool.
I am a huge fan of ConvertKit. They offer a free plan and are incredibly easy to use.
Once your email provider is set up, you'll need to add subscription forms to your website. You can use a basic subscribe to my newsletter approach or give your subscribers a giveaway (also known as a lead magnet).
Here is an example of a login form I created using a WordPress plugin called Thrive Leads:
Some email marketing platforms offer the ability to create registration forms that are sufficient for basic use. However, you will get the most kilometers with a special tool or a WordPress opt-in form plugin.
You may also want to create your own landing page to offer your newsletter or add a sign up form to your home page.
For example, I created a custom homepage using a WordPress plugin called OptimizePress:
When users click the green button, they'll see a popover with the option to join my email list:
Similar to subscription forms, some email providers allow you to create your own landing pages within the platform. ConvertKit offers this option. Alternatively, you can opt for a special landing page plugin if you want better functionality (e.g. more customizations / templates etc.).
When you've got everything set up, send your subscribers a regular newsletter to keep them updated on your latest content. Depending on your business model, you may want to create an automation sequence to promote your products / services in the future.
Note: Would you like to learn more about creating an email list? Check out my ultimate guide.
9. Do freebies to build your audience
When it comes to building an audience, especially on social media, sometimes all you have to do is get the ball rolling.
The more followers you have, the more you get. The first 100 followers on a platform will always be the biggest challenge.
A great way to bypass those social media freebies. In my days as a marketing agency, I used freebies for a lot of our clients and the results have been great.
You can either give away something generic with mass appeal or give away something niche specific.
Bulky attractiveness usually produces the best results in terms of follower growth, but niche pricing leads to the most meaningful followers.
Well, I'm not saying you should be spending a huge amount of money just to get a few followers. In fact, you don't necessarily have to spend money on prizes.
Brand partnerships are the best way to target giveaways. You provide the prizes and you promote the giveaway. And you'll both get more followers (or subscribers) as a result.
To give you an idea of how this would work, use a WordPress giveaway plugin like RafflePress or a platform like Gleam – they have a free plan.
With these tools, you can create:
This widget can be added to any page on your website. Maybe a blog post to advertise the giveaway or a special landing page.
They add all the details about the prices and your giveaway. Then you would set different input methods.
People would earn points for completing various input methods. For example, if you like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, etc.
Once your giveaway is online, you can promote it on your website, social media, giveaway directories, and more.
And if you set input methods like “Share this giveaway on Twitter / Facebook”, your giveaway will get far better results.
Growing a photography blog (or any other type of blog) takes time, effort, patience, and smart strategy.
While creating a successful blog is a lot more than what I covered in this post, these tips will be invaluable to your blogging journey.
Use what you learned in this post to come up with a strategy to help you achieve your goals and watch the magic happen.
Related reading: 100+ blogging stats to help you build a better content strategy.