THE ROAD TO BLOGGING
Welcome photographer ninja. I hear that you want to know how to start a photography blog – This guide will walk you through everything that you need to know. From how to setup a blog, to writing content, to generating traffic.
I will also give you some ideas on how to monetize your blog, bring in some extra cash. So whenever you are ready – read on!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE GAME PLAN
I am sure that everyone has a different reason to start a blog. Be it to sell your own stock photos, for your business, or just for fun.
In any case, the game plan is simple but time consuming. You need to have some patience to run through everything, and feel free to take a break in between.
So what do you need to to for a good photography blog?
- A host. There are free and paid options which I will run through.
- A website address.
- Some interesting and useful content.
- Some of your awesome photos.
- Social media accounts such as Facebook and twitter.
- Lastly, an audience… Or what we call “traffic”.
Now for the hair tearing part. The setup is going to be very technical, and can potentially cause serious brain damage.
Ha. Not really.
Technology has taken a lot of the difficult stuff away, and setting up a new blog is actually pretty easy these days. So chill, run through the guide, and it’s time to make your blog great again.
SETTING UP THE BLOG
This is probably going to be the most technical part of the guide. Oh, and a major pain in the bottom to run through too.
But hey, you will not get anywhere without that blog. Plus it’s a one time setup. So let’s finish this and get going… let’s go kick technical in the nuts.
A1) THE TECHNICAL OVERVIEW
Most people fear the technical… but in reality, there’s really nothing too rocket science to it. There are only 2 “technical” things that you need to know about the Internet world. That is domain name (more commonly known as website address) and server.
Yep, that’s it.
To run your own blog, you will need a server to host your website, and register an awesome website address. There are 2 ways to go about doing this :
- Free hosting : There are plenty of free blogging platforms, but limited in many ways.
- Paid hosting : For a small monthly subscription fee, a hosting company will provide you with a server plus domain name.
A2) FREE HOSTING
For those of you who do not want to spend any money with hosting, there are plenty of free options.
Personally, I don’t recommend these free options for many reasons :
- They are limited in design and customization.
- Very little to no technical support.
- Many free hosts do not allow you to profit with their free service.
- Some of them may even freeze your account if they find you profiting from their free service. Just to force you to upgrade to their paid plans.
- You can only choose their free domain name, which looks absolutely noob. E.g. http://noob-photographer.wix.com/
- The free address does not look very professional when you are trying to run an online business.
- Most of them do not allow you to have your own custom domain name, unless you upgrade to their paid plans.
Nonetheless, free plans are still good for those who just wants to try things out. It’s your decision ultimately.
A3) PAID HOSTING
The premium membership does cost quite a bit every month, but it comes with everything you need – Hosting, support, tools, and most importantly, access to a community of like minded folks who wants to make money online.
Well, if your budget is restricted, you can still consider to join Wealthy Affiliate as a free member, and it still comes with 2 free websites.
Alternatively, there are hosting companies with very affordable hosting plans as well. I shall recommend the good old reliable Bluehost. Used their hosting services for years, and never had any major issues with them.
A4) WORDPRESS TUTORIAL
This small section is for you guys who are using WordPress (a popular blogging platform).
If you have subscribed to Wealthy Affiliate, the websites should have Wordpress installed by default. If you are on Blue Host (or other paid hosting), you can easily install WordPress with their “one click installer” or “easy installer” in the control panel.
P.S. Even if you don’t finish all the tutorial videos, you should be able to figure out WordPress in about 30 minutes.
A5) WORDPRESS INITIAL SETUP AND INSTALLING PLUG-INS
Alright, now that you have a fresh installation of WordPress, it’s time to do some ground works with your setup.
Note : you don’t really have to install all these plugins, of run through all my recommended settings. These are my personal preferences, and what I found to work best for me.
- Appearance -> Add New. If you have not already chosen a theme for your blog.
- Settings -> Permalinks. Any of the option will work just fine, but I prefer to set this to “Post Name” for SEO purposes. The shorter the URL, the better it seems.
- Plugins -> Add New. I have the following plug-in installed : Ninja Forms, Super Socializer, W3 Total Cache, Wp-SpamShield, Envira Gallery, and Yoast SEO.
- Super Socializer. Personally, I disable social commenting to speed up loading (plus it’s very much useless). Also under social sharing, I disable the floating interface. Which I find very annoying on mobile.
Having a photography blog does not mean images only. A blog without content is like peanut without butter, ice without cream.
A blog without content is never a complete blog. Plus, the fact is that search engines favor sites with more good content.
Which is why it is a huge plus to think of interesting topics, and write some kick ass articles.
B1) THE IMPORTANT PAGES
These are not really “content”. But you are serious about blogging or setting up an online business, these are the important pages that you will need. They cover parts of law, and covers your bottom against fire.
Note for the new WordPress users : It’s Pages -> Add New.
About : A page about your blog, yourself, or photography business.
Contact : Your contact information, phone, email or the ways people can reach you.
Disclosure : If your blog is going to contain ads or affiliate links, it is best to create a disclosure page to state that you are making money from commissions and stuff. It is required by law in a few countries. Better to be on the safe of the law than sorry.
B2) CONTENT IDEAS
So where do we get started with contents? Generating content ideas.
If you are using your blog as your portfolio, a gallery of your recent works is a must. But having a few articles to showcase how you work is also a huge plus to appeal to your potential clients.
Otherwise, if you are blogging contents to score on search engines (like I am), you need to have a solid content strategy.
I don’t think I really need to dive in too deep on this one, there are 101 things to write about photography – reviews, rumors, tips, guides, landscape, portraits, black and white, Photoshop, interviews, etc…
All you need to do, is to write down all the topics and structure them nicely.
B3) ADD VALUE TO YOUR CONTENT
Yeah, it’s a blog. Casual posts like “I took a picture of a cute dog” are nice, but you need to add more value to it.
Make casual posts great again.
Instead of just putting up photos of dogs, why not create a post on how you shoot? Share your awesome ninja tips with the world, and who knows, you might even start to get some business because someone likes your style of shooting.
Oh. If you want some ninja writing tips, I have another guide on my other blog to help you :
If you want more tips on blogging, it’s all over there at Red Dot Geek.
B4) I NEED FREE IMAGES!
P.S. Just don’t claim the stock photos to be yours.
B5) FEEDING THE CONTENT MONSTER
Once you have a blog, you will always have a monster that is always hungry for more content.
Even if you are just using your blog as a portfolio, what will people think when they see your page is not updated for a year? The reaction will most likely be – are you still alive or has your business failed? So you have to come up with some fresh content from time to time.
You can feed the content monster on a daily basis, weekly, even monthly. Just don’t starve the monster. I personally prefer to write on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. While I don’t post very often, I make sure each one of my post is long and informative.
B6) RAN OUT OF CONTENT IDEAS?
I know, we don’t always have new things to write about. So what if you are out of content ideas? Personally, I have two strategies to deal with that.
- Evergreens – These ideas never run dry. Things like top 10 something, how to something, or just some random rumors. You will never run out of things to review as well.
- Review – Pick up an old dusty article, review it, add more stuff, and give it a whole new shine.
B7) BE POSITIVE
Rage if you must, but make sure it is for a good cause. Just don’t be the whiny kid. Nobody likes a creepy person who starts mumbling random curses, hides behind the door, and grows poisonous mushrooms.
Stay positive, and you will start to attract the right crowd. Oh, and don’t feed the trolls and haters.
So now you have a new blog. But we have a huge problem. Nobody is visiting it. What good is a blog that is full of spider web?
Let us not waste all the good effort put into setting up, and writing good content. It is time for some marketing, and driving people to see your awesome works.
C1) WORD OF MOUTH
The power of old school, and don’t underestimate it. All it takes is a few words – I have a new blog, please visit it and let me know if it’s good.
Let your family and friends know your new blog. Let your friend’s friend know and visit your blog. Who knows your friend’s friend’s cats and dogs might start to notice your blog as well.
C2) SOCIAL MEDIA
This is by far the easiest traffic source to score. It does require some effort, but it’s free. Just start your own Facebook Page and Twitter account – Share all your crazy posts in groups and watch it grow. Just abide to the group rules, and don’t spam.
If you think that Facebook and Twitter is too little, there are a lot other social media platforms for you to check out – Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Digg, Diigo, Medium, Delicious, and Filpboard.
C3) SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
This is the slow and steady way. SEO is a difficult skill to master. But when you do it right, your blog will score on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and that will give you free traffic. Sadly, I shall not include SEO in this guide – this will take a few long tutorials to go through.
But for now, at least register your blog in both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This will at least let them be aware of your new blog… which will otherwise take many months for them to discover naturally.
C4) PAID ADVERTISEMENTS
But will they convert into sales for you? I do not know. That is pretty much up to your marketing skills. But for now, I shall not go into yet another long story.
Money money. They don’t grow on trees. We wish they did, but they did not.
Neither do they rain down from the sky. So here are a few ways and ideas to make some money from your blog.
D1) OFFER YOUR SERVICES
The most traditional way to make money. Simply offer your photography skills in exchange for money. Formulate your own packages, and price them accordingly.
D2) AFFILIATE SALES
Affiliate sales are simply selling products on behalf of someone else and getting a commission. The best place to start will probably be the two big boys – eBay and Amazon. Join them as a partner, pick your products, and recommend them in your blog posts.
D3) SPONSORSHIP AND DONATIONS
Got some crazy awesome photography skills? Show the world, show them to the companies, and you just might land yourself a sponsorship. If you cannot wait, you can think of something else, and start your own Patreon.
D4) ADVERTISEMENT NETWORKS
Sign up with an advertisement network, and put a code fragment into your blog. That will serve advertisements on your blog, in return for some cash.
- Big boss Google Adsense pays the best, but is very fussy on approval these days.
- Infolinks is probably a good place to get started with a new blog, but they don’t pay as much.
Advertisement networks are kind of like a 2 sided sword for blogs though. It will bring in some cash, but ads are probably annoying to some people. It may drive people away from your blog instead.
D5) BLOG SHOP / DROP SHIPPING
Another age old method. If you have products to sell on your own, turn your blog into a shop! With WordPress, it is as simple as installing Woocommerce in the plugins page. If you do not have products to sell, try looking for some on Aliexpress and the Chinese TaoBao.
If the suppliers are kind enough to work with you, you can ask them to ship directly to your customers. But personally, I am not really a fan of this method. Be very careful when customers receive products with the address of your supplier though… because they will know where to go the next time.
Congratulations, you have finished this long guide. If you have went through all the above steps, you should pretty much already have a fully functional blog.
But my word of advice – If your purpose is to make money with the blog, don’t stop here.
A new blog will probably not earn you any money. Continue to blog, write more interesting and useful content. Promote, build up your readership, build up your business. Money will eventually come if you keep improving.