Having an online presence is essential for photographers. Whether you’re a hobbyist wanting to show off your photos, or a professional wanting to make money by selling your photography services, being found online isn’t optional. If you’re in it for the long-term, you need to start a photography blog.
There are many way to share your photography online, such as social media, photo-sharing sites, and portfolio websites. They all have their pros and cons, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of multiple platforms. None of them will give you the benefits of your own blog, though. You may not think blogging is for you. I didn’t either, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my photography.
Why You Should Start A Photography Blog
There are many benefits to having your own blog that you’ll never get from other services. These are just a few of them:
- It’s yours forever. You’ll be building your own platform that will always be there.
- You can do it your way. You can make it what you want it to be without the rules, features, or costs changing.
- You’ll be more visible. If Instagram makes you feel like a drop in the bucket, it’s because you are. Google loves blogs, so you’re more likely to be found be people searching for what you’re sharing.
- Your blog can double as your portfolio. You don’t need to have separate blog and portfolio sites if you want to keep them in the same place.
- It grows over time. The authority and visibility of your blog increases the longer you add to it.
Free vs Paid
So, you’ve decided to start a photography blog. The first question to ask yourself is whether to go the free option or the paid option. While it’s tempting to take the free option, I would encourage you to consider a paid blog.
Free blog services are easier to set up and maintain, but have a few limitations. You can only have a choice of a few themes, meaning you don’t have anywhere near the same level of customisation options. You can’t use your own domain, so you’ll always be renting on someone else’s land. You also don’t have the option to monetise your photography blog if that’s something you might want to do now or in the future.
A paid blog is the better option, and much more affordable than you might think. You have almost unlimited theme and customisation options. You can use the one site for your blog, portfolio, and store. You can add plugins, which allow you to add many other features and connect other services. You can even connect it to other photography portfolio websites like SmugMug.
The biggest advantage of going the paid blog route is longevity. If you see a blog as an investment in the future of your photography, you want something that allows you the freedom to grow and change the way you want. When you start a photography blog right, it’s a powerful foundation to build your online presence over time.
5 Steps To Start A Photography Blog
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to start a photography blog. Once you’ve made a couple of important decisions, you can have it set up and installed in a few minutes. Making it look and feel the way you want takes a bit longer, but that’s the fun part that never ends. I’m still tweaking and changing mine years later.
1. Choose Your Blog’s Domain
This is the biggest decision. Think of your domain as the home address of your blog, which is yours forever. It could be your own name, the name of your business, or even what kind of services you offer. The domain extension is also worth considering. You could use something generic like .com, but you may also want to consider a location-specific extension like .co.uk.
There’s no right or wrong, but I would suggest keeping it as simple as possible. Again, you need to think long-term. Something like www.londonweddingphotography.co.uk may be fine for now, but what happens if you stop shooting weddings or move to a new location? That domain is now useless to you.
For my blog, I opted for a domain that I will always be relevant no matter what I’m blogging about or where I’m based – www.rowansims.com. I’ll always be Rowan Sims and the .com isn’t location-specific. I considered using .co.nz, but I’m glad I didn’t as I’m not currently based in New Zealand. As a travel photographer, the .com works well.
Once you’ve decided on a domain and checked that it’s available, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any existing websites using something too similar. It could lead to legal problems further down the track that you don’t want to deal with.
2. Set Up Hosting for Your Blog
The second big decision you’ll need to make is where to host your site. A host is a company that keeps your website’s data on its servers and shares them with the internet. Hosting isn’t expensive, but you want to know that they’re reliable.
I’ve used a few different hosts and would only recommend one. SiteGround is rock-solid, affordable, and has the best customer service I’ve experienced. You can register your domain and set up hosting in one place for $3.95/month. It couldn’t be easier.
3. Install WordPress
If you want to start a photography blog on the right foot, you’re going to want to use WordPress. There are other options, but they don’t even come close. Around 30% of the websites on the internet use WordPress, so it’s solid.
If you use Siteground or similar hosting services, you can install WordPress directly when you set up your domain and hosting. It’s a simple process that just takes a few clicks. This is standard these days, so if the host you’re considering doesn’t offer this service, I would seriously consider if they’re the right one for you.
4. Choose A Theme for Your Blog
Finding a theme that you like and includes the features you want takes some time. It’s not hard to find a theme that looks great, but it’s vital that it’s well built. There are a lot of themes available that are built for aesthetics first and function second. This may not be apparent until you find that your blog is constantly breaking, things don’t work properly, or worse – Google is penalising you.
There are WordPress developers that have a reputation for building solid themes that work well and look great. I’ve used a few over the years, and the best I’ve come across are Elegant Themes and StudioPress. They both have a range of themes available, some specifically built for photography blogs, and they’re both great options. The current design of this blog uses Elegant Themes.
When choosing a theme, you also need to consider how much work will be involved in making it look the way you want. Some themes work straight out of the box and only require you to add your info and photos. Others need a larger investment of time and effort to make your own. Deciding what’s right for you will depend on how much time and knowledge you have.
When you’ve chosen and downloaded your blog theme, you’ll need to install it. It’s easy with WordPress. In your dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes, then click Add New. In the next screen, click Upload Theme, then you’ll need to upload the theme file that you’ve downloaded. After WordPress has installed the theme, simply click Activate, and you’re done.
5. Customise The Look and Feel of Your Blog
This is the fun part. You can start adding your own photos, logo, profile information, and social links. If you want to dig deep, you can play around with colours, fonts, and layouts if your theme allows. I wouldn’t recommend playing around with the theme code unless you know what you’re doing.
There are millions of plugins that you can install that will add just about any feature you can imagine. Plugins allow you to integrate services or add features that aren’t included with your blog theme.
Some plugins add a visual feature, like the social follow widget in my sidebar, which uses a plugin called Monarch by Elegant Themes. Others work behind the scenes, like Yoast, which helps your blog get found by search engines.
If you want to offer sales through your site, you can use a powerful plugin called WooCommerce. It allows you to sell physical products, such as prints, or virtual products, such as stock photography or eBooks. It’s a great, free alternative to paid sales services.
If you want to show off your portfolio on the same domain as your blog, there are a few ways to do it. If your theme doesn’t include the feature, you can add it with one of many portfolio gallery plugins. If you would prefer to host your portfolio and sell prints through a separate service like I have, you can link them directly. Services like SmugMug and PhotoShelter allow you to use your own domain, so you can have your blog at yourname.com and your portfolio at portfolio.yourname.com.
You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to customising your blog. If there’s something you don’t know how to do, there’s a wealth of information online to help you do it, and there’s always the option of paying a professional developer to make things look and work the way you want.
Share Your Photography With The World
You didn’t think you could start a photography blog without sharing anything did you? What you choose to share and how often you do it are entirely up to you, and that will change over time. You could start by sharing your photos and telling the stories behind them. Write about the process of planning, creating, and editing them.
Remember that even though it’s a photography blog, what you write is as important as the photos. If you want to be found by people and search engines, you need text to draw them to you. Write about what you love and then share it will whoever will listen.
A blog can be incredibly powerful, but it takes time and effort. Try to post regularly, even if it’s once a month to start with. Don’t expect too much overnight, it’s a long game. Writing is a skill as much as photography. The only way to get better is to do it.
Don’t forget – it’s supposed to be fun, so enjoy it.
THANKS FOR READING!
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