This is a syndicated blog post from Keenan Rivals. It and the images here are being used with permission. We’ve got a larger workshop on this: three videos for only $97 and you get lots of educational content.
I had no idea what I was doing when I created this website. I knew I wanted to share my work, but I also knew I wanted to share my thoughts as well. I went with SquareSpace as my website host of choice due to their beautiful and simplistic templates, they also offered options for both photo sharing and blogging. What I didn’t know was that I had to choose which one would be the focal point of my site. Squarespace, though great, has its limitations, chances are if you pick a template with an awesome gallery the blog will lack in features and vice versa.
My first template was in fact, photo-centric… I’m not sure if that’s the word I actually wanted to use, but the template allowed me to display images in a beautiful way. The blog, on the other hand, was awful, it wouldn’t let places images in my header and my entire blog post was available to the reader without them even clicking on the title. I hated that, but I loved the way my portfolio looked.
As I became more experienced in photography I realized that my portfolio sucked. It was the key component to my website, but the images were no good. I switched things up and decided to only display my BEST images. Shortly after that I realized taking a picture that I considered portfolio worthy rarely happened and for the most part, my portfolio remained the same for months.
I was still blogging at this time, but maybe updating my site every few weeks in terms of readable content. I started to give tips on photography, I blogged about trial and error and my experience in freelance photography.
I found that I was updating this blog way more than my portfolio, I also noticed that the few people who actually visited the website viewed the blog more than anything else.
It made sense though, chances are that individual viewed my portfolio a few times, saw no updates and never clicked on it again. However the blog, it was refreshing, it was full of information and you were able to see a more vulnerable side, I posted shitty images, mistakes I made and daily walks of mine. It was relatable.
It was a place for me to vent, a place to not only post beautiful imagery, but a hub to interact with people. Many of them were photographers, but occasionally I’d get a random person who enjoyed what I had to say or my pictures alone. Having the blogged pushed me to do more, it pushed me to take more images so that I could create more blog post. It provided structure and reason, it gave me purpose and it provided that human element that people needed to care about my images in the first place. Without this blog, I wouldn’t have been able to have the relationships I built with others. Here are 5 more reasons why every photographer should have a blog. If you think of any more reasons feel free to post them in the comments.
1. Add some context to your images
Pictures say a thousand words, but people want to know how the image was taken. Again in my recent experiences I’ve noticed that more photographers view my blog than people who enjoy quality images, so why not explain how you took the photograph, or what obstacles were in front of you that you had to overcome. This works best if you’re a street or portraiture photographer. It gives you a chance to explain your every step, not only does this provide information to the reader, but it gives you, the photographer, some education as well. We all know what we do, but explaining why you do it helps ensure that you’ll do it every time.
Blogging your process doesn’t just apply to your right doings in photography, but also your wrong doings. There is a number of times where I blogged my mistakes and by doing so I made sure to never make them again. This was most prominent during my writeups on street photography.
2. Keeps you motivated
If you dedicate yourself to posting at least 3 times per week I can almost guarantee you will get more work done. It’s easy to go out and take a shit ton of pictures, especially if you shoot digital, so easy that you may have 4-5 days of unedited work in front of you at the end of the week. Blogging will kill that, by uploading 3 times per week you’re going to need a consistent level of content to put out. This is going to help you shoot, edit and create more.
3. Gives people a reason to come back
I explained this earlier, if you’re someone who has a blog centered around photos then it can get a bit boring (unless you’re updating every day). People can look at your images on Instagram or other social media outlets, in fact, I bet they’d prefer to. Coming to a website should be a bit more personal, it should showcase who you are and not just what you do. We live in a time where as consumers we need a consistent flow of content. If you’re just posting images then that’ll work for a short period of time, but a blog based upon how you took those images will attract new photographers forever.
4. Educate yourself
Blogging gave me an excuse to try new things. Whenever I saw something cool I would want to try it just to share with my readers. It’s the reason I picked up a Helios lens, it’s the reason I started shooting vintage consistently to begin with. I’ve tried shooting through prisms and spheres. It’s the reason I tried shooting with my GoPro for street photography or editing my portraits with apps like Mextures. I tried these things to share my thoughts on the process with my viewers… It was never my intention for any of these methods to become normal practices within my personal work, but at times they did.
5. Use it as a marketing tool
Many of the above tips have been written out for the hobbyist. Earlier in the post, I spoke about how non-photographers aren’t looking for beautiful images, how they don’t care about your website. For the most part, I found this to be true, but I’m also not in the business of photography.
Is blogging useful if you’re trying to sell your service? Well of course. By blogging, it gives people a reason to share your website and not just your images. If you photographed my wedding and I shared the images to Facebook then my friends and family will just like the image, congratulate me and tell me how beautiful me and my wife are. If I’m lucky I may get a few people who repost the image… Doesn’t translate into much business for the creative does it? The image becomes more about me and not about who took it. Your blog can change that.
How? It’s simple. Write a blog post, insert a few quality images and post the link to Facebook. Tag the couple in the Facebook post, and they’ll share it like crazy. Their friends and family are still going to comment, congratulations and you look beautiful, but now they all have to go to your blog to look at the images. Out of a few hundred people (assuming it’s a decent wedding) I’m almost certain a few of them will go through the rest of your work, read other blog post and one or two may even reach out to you to shoot their wedding. It keeps business flowing, do this for every wedding and eventually you’ll have a pretty decent client list.