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).