9 Sure Fire Tips for Better Photo Blogging

Listed below are 9 sure fire tips to improve your photo blogging success. Whether you’re a hard core photo blog publisher along the lines of Eric, Sam or Dave, or just enjoy crafting the occasional post, we all like to steadily improve our offerings and enhance audience size.

These 9 tips cover many topics beyond just photography tips, but are important elements to expanding your photo blogging horizons. With the new year already upon, now is as good a time as any to look for ways to distinguish your presence online.

  • General Knowledge – When it comes to blogging essentials, Darren is in a class by himself. His candid approach and informative posts have helped launch the careers of numerous bloggers. With over 128k daily subscribers and a best selling book, Darren features posts on a wide range of topics every blogger can benefit from reading.
  • Web developmentNettuts+ is an excellent resource for web developers and designers, offering tutorials and articles on technology, skills and techniques to improve how you design and build websites. Even though some of the topics covered on this site may be a bit advanced for many bloggers, the tutorials are broken down in easy to follow steps. I always look forward to receiving this feed!….Just interested in jazzin’ up your WordPress blog? Here are a few places to start, Hongkitat, Lorelle, and of course, Matt.
  • Inspiration – It happens to all of us, sooner or later, if you continue photo blogging, the time will come when you run out of ideas. What do you do? Why read more photo blogs, of course. Without a doubt, StumbleUpon is my greatest weakness. Be warned, this site is highly addictive! Simply sign up (it’s free), download their toolbar, select your topic preferences, and you’re off and running… Smashing Magazine covers a lot of ground in the graphic design/photography field; always a source for great “Top xx” type features. Also check out photoblogs.org, FFFFound and coolphotoblogs.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Perhaps the most over-used web phrase ever..however, you do need to know something about this topic to succeed online. If you are just looking for a general overview of SEO, check out this recent article by James. If you’re looking to take your SEO knowledge to the next level, start here.. SEO Book.
  • Photography Lessons – You can gain photographic knowledge from a variety of ways, such as reading tutorials, like DPS and Aaron, watching a professional photographer, like Chase, at work or even invest in private workshops, i.e., Jason, Don, and Jerry. Regardless of the avenue you choose, continuing education is not only important in developing your photography skills, it is a great way to network with other photographers!
  • Monetizing your photo blog – Without going into too much detail, if you are looking to make money with your photo blog, here’s is where to start your research; John, Darren (yes, again), and this single post from Steve
  • Marketing – In a word – Seth
  • Creative Design – In addition to killer content, web design comes in a close second in determining the success or failure of your web venture. To this point, using free WordPress templates alone is not the way to web success. Learn and understand the basics of great web design and implement these elements into your web presence. Three of my favorites? Check out Jacob ,Chad, and Gino.
  • Improve your writing skills – Let’s face it…all photographers think they are great writers and all writers believe they are awesome photographers. Truth be told, most photographers are not great photographers and most writers, well, struggle. Although I do write a lot, I acknowledge my limitations in this field. Looking to improve on your writing skills? Spend some time here…CopyBlogger, Daily Writing Tips, Editor Unleashed, CopyWrite, 10000 words and Writing Forward.


Hope you enjoyed our post and please RT and share socially….

Trick Photography
I highly recommend Hacking Photography to anyone who has been procrastinating learning photography.  If you want to get good fast, this is your book.

5 Ways to Make Your Photo Blog Sticky

krazy glueDoes the traffic coming to your site show a decent amount of visitors, but your page views are flat? Your goal as a website owner is for visitors to stick around to enjoy your current/past offerings and hopefully return to view any new material you publish.

A sticky website/photo blog is one in which new viewers visit and stay around from a while and often choosing to return.

To create a sticky photo blog, you first need to establish a benchmark. What does your current traffic patterns look like? I will assume that most of you use some sort of traffic analysis package, such as Google Analytics, Gostats, etc. Key metrics to evaluate are page views per visit and bounce rate. Understanding page views per visit is self-explanatory, the formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page ÷ Total Number of Visits. Depending on the type of traffic you target, bounce rates can vary widely. You should try to aim for a bounce rate of less than 40%. If you generate a significant amount of traffic from social media sites such as Digg, Propeller, Mixx, StumbleUpon, your bounce rate typically will be much higher than a site which gets the majority of traffic from search engines since most of these viewers come and go very quickly…nothing personal, just the way it is.

Proof is in the pudding. Here is an example of taking my own advice.

Once you have an idea of where your metrics stand, it’s time to get to work.

Step 1

Prominently showcase your previous posts. One of the problems I see with a majority of photo blogs is that the site is primarily comprised on a single photo with a backward or forward arrow to direct the viewer. No offense to the many photobloggers using these types of layouts, however, most viewers are an impatient bunch. I would suggest hacking the template or changing to one which allows you to list previous posts. In addition, if you are able to do this, ensure titles are SEO friendly as well as interesting.

How many previous posts should you showcase? I started with 5 and with good results…then 10….then 15…I believe I’m up to around 20-25. Most visitors do not use the site search, since they don’t know what they’re looking for or what you have to offer. I suggest showing as many as possible while ensuring the overall layout of the site still looks pleasing.

Step 2

Prominently showcase your most popular photo links or posts. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. There are several widgets (WordPress users) that will automatically update this list based on traffic. Personally, I manually update my list based on traffic data using simple html. In either case, along with your previous work, visitors are interested in knowing what others have found to be of interest as well.

Step 3

Create an interesting About page. A blank or default About page is an instant indication the photographer is not serious about this site. As I’ve previously stated on the importance of your About page, photographers love to read about other photographers. We love to know how you got started, where you’ve worked or what your specialty is. Did I mention the About page is my 5th most popular page?

Step 4

Give visitors an easy way to follow you. Many visitors will find your site interesting, however, you must make it easy for them to follow you. This can be easily accomplished by prominently displaying your RSS feed and/or email subscription form. While the temptation is there to use your prime “above the fold” real estate for ads or other content, making it easy for interested visitors to return should be your primary goal.

Step 5

Post on a regular basis and remember to link to older posts. So you’ve done each of the previous 4 steps, however, you only post once a week or month…can you really expect your viewers to visit your site on a daily basis? Sure, search engine traffic will bring a certain amount of traffic to your site over time, but search engines love regular contributors, too. Regular postings will not only boost the SEO love you receive, but also draw your interested viewers into visiting daily. In addition, by consistently incorporating  links to older posts your regular visitors will view not only the most recent material, but will view additional pages as well.

Enjoy!

SEO Tips for Photo Bloggers

How do I increase my photoblog audience?

This is one question I receive quite often and my response is always the same. How much do you know about search engine optimization? I have created this post, not as a SEO guru, but rather a web knowledgeable photographer focused on getting my readers headed in the right direction towards improving your site’s relevance on the web.

Find the Best Keywords
Two of the most common mistakes people new to search engine optimization or SEO make is 1) they pay no attention to the power of keywords or 2) waste time optimizing their site for keywords nobody searches for.

There are several free keyword search tools on the market that can help you with this process. I started out using the free trial at WordTracker.com. This is a great tool for getting your feet wet in the research process.

While doing your keyword research, you will want to keep a spreadsheet or notebook handy to capture your results. When looking for effective keywords, look beyond single words. One of the my favorite strategies is discovering “keyword phrases”, typically containing 3 or 4 words. The reason? The competition for these phrases is much lower and the ability to dominate a specific search is much greater.

Since I specialize in photo blog reviews, I make sure to optimize for this phrase. You can check on all the major search engines and you’ll see we rank very well!

IMPORTANT – Once you define your niche it is important to establish who the big players are within this space. A quick Google search can give you a good idea, however, the more information you have on your competitors the better you are able to develop a effective strategy to compete.

The most effective tool I have found for researching my main competitors is SEO Elite. Learn what keywords your competitors focus on, who they link to, who links to them, PageRanks of specific pages and much more. In the beginning I spent a great deal of time using this program to study other sites, however, today I am more focused on tracking my personal progress…the peaks and valleys. If you’re unsure about your ability to use this tool, let me assure the learning curve is very short. In addition, SEO Elite comes with an eight week money back guarantee.

>>>For more great tips on SEO for bloggers

Make the Most of Your Existing Traffic

opportunityBefore talking about your photoblog and changes I recommend, let me start by saying that if you don’t currently use a traffic counting plug-in or traffic tracking website, you’re making a big mistake. Unless you enjoy blindly posting on the web with no interest in who or how many viewers read your site, this is something to address today! I am personally addicted to Wassup (awesome SPY feature) and also use Google Analytics. The focus of this article is how to make the most of your existing traffic…however, you will need to be able to benchmark your current results to understand if the suggested changes actually work for you.

Readers of this blog notice I like to change my theme on a regular basis and there is a good reason behind this. Working on the web requires constant experimentation. If you are already happy with your results, then I guess no change is needed. But if you desire to improve your web results, change is in order. This photoblog has been live for about 14 months now, and along the way, the theme has changed 8 times. I would like to say that each time a change has been made, my results have improved..but that’s just not the case…However, I have learned a few things over time which do work on a consistent basis.

With this latest design, almost a week old now, my page views have increased 40% and bounce rate has improved (lowered) by 10%! These site traffic improvements were not a result of a new writing style or intriguing new topics, just a few simple changes that you, too, can do in one evening:

  • Choose your theme careful - There are thousands of WordPress and Blogger themes to choose from, however, they must be appropriate to your topic. Simply selecting the slickest theme design with no regard to its relevance to your site will not yield the results you hope to achieve. Turn your computer off for a few moments and with paper and pencil, rough sketch what you think your site (again, relevant to your niche market) should look like. If you’ve got mad PHP and CSS skills, I guess you could create a theme, but for everyone else, you now have a starting point when looking at possible designs which could work for you. Once you have your theme, be sure you have the correct color scheme and header. All themes are hackable. Even with limited web dev skills, a quick Google search should point you in the right direction to make the adjustments you need.
  • Above the fold jargon. You hear a lot about the importance of placing important content above the fold…but are you really doing it? Enter your URL into a browser and click submit. View your site as if it were the first time landing there. What is your eye drawn to? Do you have so many ads in the header that the content requires scrolling? Place the information most important to the mission of your site above the fold. For me, it meant changing my layout to include a menu bar at the top of the page, as opposed to the sidebar and footer. I have also included a site summary (along with a hand drawn pic of myself to add a little personal touch) at the top of the page as well. It is important to me that viewers understand what we’re about as soon as possible. Depending on how you promote your site, i.e., StumbleUpon, Propeller, Digg, Fark, and a host of bookmarking sites, you literally have about 1-2 seconds to grab the attention of your viewer before they leave.
  • Internal linking. No doubt you have numerous posts already published on your site, but does anyone know about them?…how would they find them? Make it a goal to link to one previous posting within each new post. Sometimes we get too worked up about driving traffic to our site that we neglect what they do once there. Your goal should be to lower your bounce rate, meaning readers view other content besides just viewing the one page you promoted heavily and leave. Another solution on this topic, use and prominently display categories. Categories allow you to group/link together similar topics, making it easy for viewers to find the content they are seeking. In using categories, make sure to title them appropriately..and be as specific as needed. For instance, if you review cameras it may be better to break out a category for each model (Nikon, Canon, etc) , instead of just using Camera Reviews as a title.
  • Site search. Many blog themes have, by default, a site search feature displayed…others, you have to elect to display it. This goes hand and hand with internal linking…Make it easy..REAL EASY for readers to find your content…it’s too easy for viewers to leave so do the legwork for them. In addition to having a site search feature, I also prominently display a site map, which lists every post I’ve ever written here. There is a great WP plugin to assist you with this…Google XML Sitemaps

In summary, growing unique visitor traffic does not happen overnight. However, the steps I’ve provided can maximize the total number of pages viewed by each visitor that does come your way. Hope you find this helpful and feel free to comment!

Tips and Hacks to Grow Your Blog Traffic

lightbulb ideaGrowing photo blog traffic is a main concern for many of our visitors. We’ve all read plenty of tips and hacks about how to increase reader engagement, key strategies to increase subscriptions, and of course, ways to monetize your blog. However, without traffic all these helpful hints are meaningless.

How many bloggers average less than 20 visitors average per day?….the answer…MOST. I recently read a very interesting article, 50 Rapid Fire Tips For Power Blogging,  written by David Risley – Confessions of a Six Figure Blogger – in which he speaks candidly about improving your blog performance.

While I won’t recap each of the tips listed in his post (since you can read this for yourself), I would like to discuss several points  I found to be very effective..along with some do’s and don’ts. (I’ll be referencing the tip #’s from David’s article, so don’t get frustrated with missing numbers.)

  • #1 – Use WordPress – I couldn’t agree more. I’ve used TypePad in the past, but wasn’t particularly fond of the user interface and really didn’t like paying a monthly/annual fee. Blogger has it’s uses and I currently use it for a few limited focus sites. However, WordPress is the industry standard. Yes, it does have a bit of a learning curve, but it’s well worth the initial pains. You can get a free WordPress blog that WordPress hosts, but you are limited to a subdomain url, i.e., ilovephotoblogs.wordpress.com (kind of messy!)….. My suggestion, select a quality hosting company (  I use GoDaddy, but there are other fine ones out there such as Blue Host and Host Gator), find a domain name that works for you (check out my favorite domain name search tool), download WordPress to your new account and you’re ready to take on the world. WordPress offers thousands of themes (free) and even more plug-ins (again, free) which add tremendous functionality to your site.
  • #3 – Use catchy blog post titles – I agree with this statement, however, don’t go overboard with a perfect SEO researched title each time. Always having the perfect link bait title will turn off a portion of your viewership. A good mix of great SEO terms, Top 10 lists, and conversational speak style titles has worked best for me.
  • #5 – Comment on other blogs – often – Not only does commenting on other blogs give you additional links and exposure, you’ll discover many interesting sites and people that you’d probably never encounter if you were waiting for them to stumble across your site. Get out there, network, and socialize. Remember, easy on the spammy comments. Sincere and topic appropriate comments always work best.
  • #11 – Use header tags to separate sections in your blogs. I won’t get into the details about header tags and SEO performance, other than to tell you it’s worth the research.
  • #23 – When writing your About Page, pay attention to what you write. Never publish your blog before completing your About Page!  The About Page is your brand and tells people who you are, what you’re about, and is the one of most important aspects to building a community aside for great content. I often equate an About Page with the automaker badge on your car. Can you imagine purchasing an auto without knowing the identity of the manufacturer? Probably not. And while you’re creating this section, be sure to get it your fullest attention. The About Page should not be an afterthought. My About Page is the 5th most popular page on my site!
  • #24 – Do lots of videos. I have come to the realization that video does matter..and in a big way. Consider your viewing habits. Unless you’re still on dial-up, chances are you watch videos for news, sports, YouTube, tutorials, etc. If you’re serious about taking your site to the next level, video is a must. Yes, I am currently guilty of being video deficient on this site, but (BREAKING NEWS) video is on the way. FLIP Video camcorders are available for well below $100US, and connect directly to your PC via USB.
  • #26 – Link to other, related blog posts regularly in your own posts. Linking to related blog posts increases your relevance in the eyes of your readers as well as search engines. In addition, you should also monitor who is talking about/linking to you as well. This is easily performed by signing up for Google Alerts, a must-have tool for any serious blogger. When setting up your Alerts, be sure to monitor your name, your link, as well as any competitors you have identified. Google Alerts gives you an easy way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening relevant to you.
  • #36 - Spend some time creating some killer posts for your blog. As bloggers,we understand that all blog posts are not created equally. Some days/weeks, we’re pressed for time or if we do have a spare moment,we may not have the energy to compile in-depth, qualitative writing. Have no fear, most blogs are one-person operations, run by people with full-time job responsibilities, readers get it. However, if you are looking to take your blog to the next level, be prepared to dedicate at least a couple of hours on research and writing per day.
  • #42 – When starting a blog, decide on it’s mission. Focus is key to your blog’s success. Stay on topic as much as possible. This is key for building an audience, but more importantly, getting the needed Google love to boost your overall search engine ranking.
  • #46 Be yourself, #47 Don’t write like you’re writing for Britannica. I think you can get idea of these points by the titles, but I’d like to emphasize the importance of actually including written text in your posts. I’ve reviewed numerous photo blogs which contain little to no text..only images. Understand, if your blog post only contains a photo with no text, the only data search engines have to evaluate is the ALT text associated with each photo, assuming you have even entered this information. In summary, use your words liberally, in a style that is user friendly, warm and not overly scholarly. I am not saying to dumb-down your writing style, but realize that many of your viewers will be reading your English post as a second language.

Hope you enjoyed our post and as always, feel free to comment!

How I Got on the Front Page of Google and Yahoo

Learn to develop a high ranking website and dramatically grow your Internet traffic. While I admit to reading every blog possible on SEO, I’d like to reveal how I was able to get on the front page of Google and Yahoo in a short period of time.

SEO doesn’t happen overnight. If you think the following information will get you a top ranking in less than 7 days, you can stop reading now. SEO and growing your search engine rankings doesn’t happen over night. However, there are methods you can use to dramatically cut down on the time it takes to get your site noticed.

Defining your target audience. When I first started this blog, my main interest was creating quality content on photo blogs and photography so I could grow an audience of repeat visitors. While I understood that linked to top rated blogs helps greatly for SEO tactics, I also knew from experience that there are many great blogs were lower rating created by people very passionate about photo blogs. By reaching out to this community, I hoped together, we could spread the word about this site. So this is the market I targeted…passionate photographers, regardless of rank, who loved talking about their work and sharing it with others.

Defining your target keywords. We all read a lot about keywords. Without going too far down this dry topic, defining your target keywords is one of the most important things you will need to do to expect any results! What are keywords? Simply put, these are the words your potential audience uses to search topics related to any subject matter. In my case, some of my selected keywords include photo blog reviews, photo blog review, awesome photography blogs, and photography blogs. Listed below are snapshots of just a few of the search engine results I currently experience:

awesome-photography-blogs-google-search4photo-blog-reviews-google-search2There are many more examples I could provide, but you get the idea. Spending the time to focus on YOUR specific keywords can help tremendously in driving traffic to your site. Linking to other sites or stories is very useful, but search engine traffic is key.

You must ask yourself, what keywords or keyword phrases best define my niche? …and then write them down and start to research how competitive each of your entries are in the marketplace. I admit to being a spreadsheet junkie, but also had a hard time keeping up with all the data. I hated to throw up my hands and acknowledge I needed help…but this is exactly the point which changed my success.

Professional SEO help is very affordable. Over the course of the past few years, I had used several free programs, enjoyed a little success, but hated dealing with trial offers and a limited array of features. As a programmer and web developer, I wanted to think I could create something on my own to keep from spending any money on blogging. This stubbornness held me back for longer than I would like to admit. I finally broke down and realized that I was wasting valuable time on tasks others have already figured out.  Why reinvent the wheel? For less than the cost a SEO would charge for one hour of time, I was able to purchase a full feature SEO program. Looking back (which I hate to do), I wish I had spent the $47 for this program, long before I purchased the stacks of book while looking for the silver bullet to SEO gains.

Conclusion. I love the product, and yet, have only been using it for 5 months on this site. The results speak for themselves. While my results have not reached the levels obtained by others using this program, I understand my niche and can easily state this is the best and only investment I’ve made for blogging SEO software. As stated previously, my rankings did not pop overnight….in my case, it took roughly 2 months to see real results. If you are trully interested in monetizing your site, focus on getting traffic first. The program is a great step in that direction!

Biggest photo blog mistake

While scanning pictures for use on our “20 Awesome Photography Blogs” project, I’ve noticed a common mistake many photographers are committing with their photo blog images costing them valuable search ranking potential. This problem is so wide spread, I felt compelled to bring it your attention. I’m talking about the use of alt tags, titles, and proper file names.

There has been much discussion about getting the most SEO (search engine optimization) out of the images you use in your photo blog and many of the steps are really quite easy. Google and other search engines scan your photo blog posts for both text and image content. If you have ever searched Google for images, the photo file information you provide is how this search is performed.

One of the most commonly known Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips that go around has to do with the way you name and tag the images that you use on your site. Its fairly commonly accepted by most SEO experts that Google not only looks at the text on your blog in order to measure its worth but that Google’s spidering bots also take a look at the code you use in your image files.

Problogger – Photo blog naming tips and tricks

Digital cameras assign default names to pictures.  These names are not appropriate to use on the web“  – Proper Photo Naming Conventions

There are several tools and plugins available to assist you with this task. For WordPress users, the SEO Friendly Images plugin is perhaps one of the easiest to use.

SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress optimization plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set.SEO Friendly Images – WordPress Plugin

Hope you found these tips informative and if you have other plugins suggestions, please share in the comments!