Fstoppers Reviews Blogging For Photographers by: Jolie O’Dell
Being a professional photographer isn’t just about the thrill of shooting photographs or the endless hours of work editing them behind a computer screen. A photographer worth their salt knows that the business aspect of marketing is just as important. Jolie O’Dell’s new book, Blogging For Photographers, explains how a blog can help expand your business.
I am going to break down the book in sections and explain what I loved about it and what I think could have been better. I want to start off by saying that before this book I haven’t had a personal photography blog since I joined the Fstoppers staff in May 2012. When I re-did my website I flirted with the idea of having a personal blog, but figured that my work here at Fstoppers was enough. Even my ‘about me’ section of my website had an explanation for my missing blog, which I’ve left unchanged for this article.
After reading Jolie O’Dell’s book however I decided to start a new blog. Later in the post I will explain how this book has significantly changed my website and business.
In the early chapters she goes over the basics of creating and maintaining your own blog and what that entails.’ It takes a special kind of person to maintain a photography blog.’ -Jolie O’Dell
This one statement says it all, she explains on what to expect before ever picking out who your audience is going to be, the content you’re going to write or even before you pick out your blog template. Creating your blog isn’t the hard part it’s keeping it fresh with new and creative content that’s difficult. You have to be committed to coming up with new content if you want your blog to be successful.
In the earlier chapters she goes over things like the kind of camera that you’re shooting with (film vs. digital), wireless cards, and your computer set-up. She also goes over something that I think a lot of professional photographers overlook in their photo arsenal… your mobile phone. No matter the type of phone you carry (I myself use an iPhone 5), you can effectively use your mobile phone to document behind the scenes of your photoshoot or just your travels while working.
The only thing I don’t agree with on this particular part of the chapter is the over-use of Instagram and the use of other free photo apps. I used to hate Instagram and the hipster filters that go with it, but after spending some time on the app I learned to love it. I happen to use it almost every time I shoot a concert or other event. Below are some photos that I’ve Instagrammed and have used in blogs such as Fstoppers. There are a ton of free photo apps out there that are amazing. You just got to keep an eye out.
Later in the book she goes over the types of blogs that you can choose from and breaks down the different sites (wordpress, blogger, tumblr ect…) and what it means to host these yourself or to have them hosted on the respective theme’s website. I do like that she shows samples of a few themes that you can choose from each site all ranging from free to paid with a short explanation of how they might benefit you and your style. In this chapter she also goes over the importance of headlines and typography on your blog and how to set-up your personal URL.
Content. The part of blogging that I believe eludes most photographers. Instead of just photo dumping on your blog of the last wedding that you shot, Jolie explains how a good blog post should be written, how grammar is definitely an important aspect of blogging, but not to obsess over it. She lists the different possible audiences that you might want to reach out to and how you can use social networks to broaden your audience.
This is the section of the book that I found to be invaluable. It made me contemplate on exactly the audience that I wanted to reach, how I was going to reach them and how my blog was going to be structured to achieve the goals that I had set up for myself.
One interesting section of a chapter in this book is on how to deal with negative commenters, something that we deal with daily here at Fstoppers. When I first started writing for this blog over a year ago, the nasty and hateful comments on some of my posts were downright hurtful. It was hard at first being criticized for things outside of your control or even having your work personally attacked even if that was never the subject of the post to begin with. After a few months though, I grew some pretty thick skin. Jolie’s advice is pretty keen in this section. Don’t pay any mind to them, delete the comments and never respond.
Although, I don’t believe in the deleting of comments. We don’t do it here on Fstoppers, and I won’t do it on my personal blog. Just recently on my personal blog I was criticized for excluding a few photographers from my ‘My Favorite RGV Wedding Photographers’ post. The post was for the most part very well received in my local area, so instead of deleting the comment I just commented back on why I didn’t list the photographers that she suggested and stood my ground. After all, this is my personal blog isn’t it? For Fstoppers I have learned that sometimes a troll is a troll and there is no use in arguing. Remember, it’s your blog and you have the control, not the commenters.
“Your commenters, positive and negative alike, don’t really know you. Any comments they leave are more a reflection on them than on you. Dark people leave dark comments, and we have to pity them for not having better things to do with their lives.” – Jolie O’Dell
Monetization and Inspiration
These chapters of the book bring up a rather interesting concept of blogging, monetization. How can you make money off of your blog other than enticing clients to book shoots with you? She lists everything from sponsored ads and posts, public print galleries, paid reviews, contests and giveaways, and brand ambassadorship. Jolie explains how each of these methods work, how to get them going and what the pros and cons are to each way of making revenue.
So, what happens when you run out of ideas for blog posts and you’re in front of your computer screen with nothing but a cup of coffee and a bad case of writer’s block? Jolie offers some very interesting ways to keep the creative juices flowing in not only your blog, but your photography career. Project posts, photo walks, competitions, and photo of the day challenges are all great ways to keep you going when that writer’s block finally hits you.
The last chapter of the book, Photoshop basics, takes you through exactly what it says… the basics. While I personally didn’t find this chapter useful there are many budding photographers who just might. She walks you through on photo sizing, lightening photos and cropping to fit your blog.
My Photography Blog
Okay, so I’ve explained most of the book to you while not giving everything away, after all this book is awesome and worth finding out for yourself, but I know what you’re wondering. How did this book help with my personal blog? Let me answer the best way I know how.
The book helped me first to decide how I wanted to run my blog and who my audience was going to be. Since I already write for Fstoppers and can reach thousands of other photographers in the industry it seemed impractical to create a blog that catered to other photographers as well, so I decided to go with potential clients. I will be the first to admit that my website ranking is not very high on Google and that the majority of the people who do look at my work is other photographers, most of whom are directed from Fstoppers.com. I wanted to see if I could change this and have actual potential clients reading my blog and then subsequently clicking on my portfolio.
So, instead of just throwing photo albums onto my blog that I see a ton of photographers do I wanted to make something more substantial to the reader. Something that concerned photography, but that they could understand from a client’s point of view. My first blog post was about how to prepare for a headshot session, and it did phenomenal for a first blog post. I was expecting to get very little hits, but after only 24 hours it had reached hundreds of hits. Not exactly what I was expecting.
As you can tell from the spike of traffic it was definitely worth starting a blog of my own. The tips and guidance that Jolie gives in the book works. Plain and simple. Numbers simply don’t lie. Now, though the trick is to keep the content fresh and consistent something that is totally dependent on you, your workflow and commitment.
So, to end this review I can honestly say that the book is definitely worth the purchase if you’re thinking of starting a new photography blog or if you want to revive a blog with a low view count.
You can purchase Jolie’s book, Blogging For Photographers at Amazon.com Click the photo below.
The book right now is on sale at only $18.19 so I would totally jump on this deal while it lasts.
I’m going to leave you guys with a few blogs from my fellow colleagues at Fstoppers.com Check out their blogs (click on the photos) and feel free to share your blogs in the comments below.