Photo Blogs By Numbers

In my never ending attempt to present photo blogs in a unique manner, I’ve created “Photo Blogs By Numbers”. Each entry is photography related and has something to do with the respective number.  There may be a few entries which, by definition, are not true “photo blogs”, but play along anyway. Enjoy!

  1. One Love Photo
  2. Two Photo Blogs
  3. 3:2
  4. f/4
  5. 5 Cool Photoblogs
  6. Six tips for flash photography
  7. 7. Jenny McCarthy – The Haunted Photo Blog
  8. Prime 8 Photo
  9. 9 Photo blogs Hungry for Adobe N95 5MP Camera
  10. The 10 Most Stunning Photo Blogs
  11. f/11
  12. 12 fantastic photos of factories in Japan
  13. 13 Lessons to Teach Your Child About Digital Photography
  14. 14 WordPress Themes for Photo Blogs
  15. Top 15 Best Travel Photo Blogs
  16. 16+ photography
  17. 17 Photo Manipulations With People
  18. 18% Grey
  19. Day 19
  20. 20 Photography Twitters Worth Following
  21. 21 Fantastic Examples of Brilliant Photography with Humor
  22. Twentytwo Photo
  23. 23 Helpful Photography Tutorials
  24. 24 Photograph.org
  25. 25 Beautiful Macro Photography Shots
Trick Photography
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5500 Pageviews In Less Than 2 Hours

Visitor Details ‹ ILovePhotoBlogs — WordPressFunny how Internet traffic works….I’ve been working this evening implementing a new WordPress template and BAM… a post from a couple days ago catches fire…over 5500 page views since 10pm EST…Not bad.

Thanks for all the emails on our redesign…It’s fun being able to showcase a few of my photos for a change.

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!

Thanks for the Traffic in 2008!

Happy New Year to all! As I prepare for another exciting year at ILovePhotoblogs, I just wanted to recap some of our highlights from this past year.

Let’s get ready to rumble. Our first photo blog post was published in March 2008 and while WordPress was not a new platform to me, some of the modifications I was looking incorporate were time-consuming to research. Justingirlintheworld was a very helpful resource for all things WordPress. I still frequent the site for cool WordPress tips and to check out her latest designs. Still haven’t implemented WordPress 2.7 and now I see that 2.8 is being discussed!

Goals and Ambitions. My goal with this site was to create a directory for all things photo blogs. This mission began by listing a few photo blogs on a daily basis, and placing these sites into a photo blog directory. The selection criterion for each photo blog listed started out and remains, based solely on my preference. Page ranks and Alexa ratings play no part in the decision process of what is showcased on this site. To date, we have featured over 700 photography site/photographers. I tried and removed SnapShots. It appeared to be a cool way to display a graphical snap shot of a site by rolling the link. But, when have the number of links as I do on any given page, the constant pop-ups quickly grew annoying. The photo blog directory has not been updated in several moons, due primarily to the growing length of the display page. I like the idea of a directory and it may evolve in a searchable database sometime in 2009…time permitting.

Summer Blues. Over the summer, I was involved in several other projects, unrelated to this site, which took up a great deal of my time. As a result, the frequency of postings was greatly impacted. However, by the end of summer I was able to return to my normal posting routine.

Random Photo Blogs Application. However, it was during the summer I introduced our Randomizer 1.o. My inspiration for this application was to leverage the legwork which had already been performed in searching for quality photo blogs, and to produce new content. Since many of the sites frequently updated their content, my thinking was to design a way to “re-showcase” these sites. The solution was to display a webpage within a webpage and write a script to dynamically load a single site from my list of over 400 photo blog URLs each time the page is refreshed.  Although this page has not been as popular as anticipated, it remains my favorite part of the site. It takes more effort to describe this tool than is really necessary, simply go to Randomizer 1.o and continue to click the “View More Photo Blogs – Press Here” button.

Getting noticed. It was during the August time frame that our site really started to gain traction in the search engines and traffic significantly increased. Despite what I’ve read on the topic of SEO, my experience has shown that for new sites, you can expect to wait 3-5 months for search engines to find you. So, between having more time to dedicate to writing and a general maturation process of the new site, traffic continued to grow.

Contests and Photography Projects. By September, I was looking to add a different element to the site as a way to spice things up. I had never put together a blog contest, but thought it would be a great way to bring in new viewers. After researching how other blogs were running their contests, I figured it was time for action and subsequently started a Top Comments Contest. With a self-financed prize of $25, the contest was a great success. Contestants were required to be a site subscriber and the winner was based on the total number of comments posted. For $25, it was a great way to dramatically increase the reach of my audience. Lessons learned from the first contest…top commenter contests deter participation from newer visitors rather quickly. During the first week of the contest, new participation was high. However, after week one a handful of eager participants put the contest out of reach for the casual commenter…here’s a list of the results from our first blog contest.

As September was coming to a close, I really liked the energy the contest had generated and wanted to hold another one in October. My decision was to hold a contest using a different set of rules and prizes…The Oktoberfest 2008 Contest was a tremendous success and included a random selection of winners (as opposed to top commenters) and I was very thankful to have all the prizes donated by some wonderful bloggers/photographer. Dave Beckerman, New York photographer extraordinaire, was at the top of my wish list to contact for a print donation…and was thrilled to have him graciously agree to participate. Other prizes I offered included free advertising packages supplied by Blogging From Scratch, ThemeLib, and Project Runway Philippines.

The month of October also marked the beginning of our most successful project to date…20 Awesome Photography Blogs…This project highlights 20 amazing photo blogs from a specific city or region. Currently, we have published 22 installments of this project. The idea behind this project to create an interesting way to read about photographers, one region at a time…instead of my normal random approach…To date, the Baltimore photo blogs has been by far the most popular of this series. Due to the popularity of this project, I also created a separate site to make it easier for readers to quickly view the entire list of installments.

In preparation of the new year, I have recently started another contest for January 2009, the Happy New Year Photo Blog Contest Giveaway. In hindsight, yes, the contest name is a bit long and awkward. However, the prize selection is wonderful…Special thanks to UPrinting.com for underwriting this great event!

Looking forward. I have high hopes for ILovePhotoblogs in 2009! As our traffic has continued to grow, to my delight, so has the volume of email I’ve received. Keep it coming! I’m always looking for new ideas and suggestions to make this site better. Ideas that are currently on my short list for 2009 include: new directory for photo blogs, guest writers (if interested, please contact), continuing contests, more camera equipment reviews, and weekly videos (no promises, but definitely being considered).

Prepared for StumbleUpon high traffic spikes?

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We love high traffic spikes at our site and thanks to you, our postings/photo blog reviews are regularly Stumbled. The use of StumbleUpon generates a large influx of new viewers who are introduced to the many great featured photographers. Here is a snapshot of our traffic from the other night…notice the number of users trying to access the site!!

274 visitors currently on site

After a closer examination of my traffic sources, that I found out many of our visitors are getting an error message like the one listed below:

“Your Web server is currently unable to handle the HTTP request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server. The implication is that this is a temporary condition which will be alleviated after some delay. Some servers in this state may also simply refuse the socket connection, in which case a different error may be generated because the socket creation timed out”

At the time of the error, there were 274 visitors trying to access my site at one time! In speaking with my hosting company, they informed me that my shared hosting plan would only support 50 connections at one time. That would explain why the average StumbleUpon visitor is only on my site for 8 seconds…they are never able to access it…Damn! …and I was thinking they were just passing through. While our traffic is growing, it is dominated by daily spikes as opposed to a slow rolling curve. Here is a snapshot of our traffic over the past seven days.

ilovephotoblogs-visitor-details-wordpress

I am presently looking for a web host provider who has flexible grid plans to deal with the bursty traffic patterns frequently encountered with Digg and StumbleUpon and experience dealing with WordPress migration issues, if the site needs to be moved to a different server. There are a few dedicated hosting plans I would love to purchase and would serve us well into 2009, our revenue stream is not in a position to support the expense.

I am amazed at the number of web hosting companies which have no expertise or knowledge in working with WordPress related issues. One hosting company stated that I needed “to call WordPress for support”..WHAT?…Want more, both reps I spoke with (company shall remain nameless) had never even heard of Digg or StumbleUpon…WTF.

At this time…yes, on turkey day…I’m looking for a hosting company that understands the blogging world of 2008-2009…and can provide technical support beyond password resets.

Tips for Designing Photo blogs

Photo blogs a full of great photos, so why is it hard to design an awesome photoblog? As you know, great photos alone do not make a killer photo blog.

These 10 tips discuss theme and design for photo blog/gallery, and I’ll discuss later on how to organize and display the images well.

  • Fast loading images is critical. When selecting the images you want to present in your photo blog, ensure that you only use the minimum size required for display. Large image sizes discourage viewers. If your photograph takes more than a couple seconds to load, viewers will likely leave your site no matter how interesting the subject matter.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes. While photographs should tell a story, providing background information about where the photograph was taken, or the work required to create the image are helpful for the viewer to gain a better understanding about the importance of your image.
  • Cut the clutter. When creating your photo blog, do not upload duplicates of the same image. Photo blog viewers are interested in photography. However, do not blindly upload every image captured from your photo excursion.
  • Provide a RSS feed or email subscription. Many photo blogs utilize cookie-cutter templates that do not have integrated feeds. If you are looking to build your audience, give your photoblog viewers the ability to subscribe to your blog. It’s a simple process, and a great way to grow your presence on the web. Here is a link to subscribe to my photo blog.
  • Photo archives are important. When constructing your photo blog, be sure to incorporate an archiving system so viewers have an alternative method to select images. Many photo blogs only use the “previous” link for viewing photography. Let viewers choose which method they prefer by giving them options. Most blogging platforms have built-in archiving options for weekly or monthly. Depending on how active you post, selecting the monthly option is recommended for most photobloggers.
  • Packaging is essential in marketing your product. You may be new to photoblogging or blogging in general. Using a default template in Blogger, Typepad, or WordPress is easy, but ordinary. There are many resources at your disposal, which can teach you on how to spice up your blog. Become a photo blog viewer. Bookmark sites that look interesting to you. Learn how to manipulate your blogging platform to create an unique design. Here is one of my favorite examples of great web design to display photos.
  • Display camera information, optional. While a portion of your viewing audience are photographers who want to know technical data about each photograph displayed, the majority of photo blog viewers are people just interested in seeing great photography.
  • Photo blog themes are key. Develop a niche in the world of photography. Have focus in the body of work you display. Including funny birthday pictures along with landscape photography tells the viewers you are talented, but not a serious photographer. If you specialize in landscape photography, only show landscape photography on your blog. If you also want to show off funny family pictures, start another blog for this collection.
  • Be original. Pretty pictures are a dime a dozen. Sorry to be so blunt, but facts are facts. Digital photography allows for free experimentation. Look for new ways to capture traditional themes, i.e, landmarks, sunsets, etc. Be critically honest in reviewing your portfolio. What makes your work stand out from the crowd? Digital photography allows millions of people to create technically excellent photographs, but there will always be a market for photographers with an unique perspective. Don’t be in a hurry to post your images. Review, reshoot, and more review.

View our collection of hundreds of amazing photoblogs. Have a favorite you’d like to share?