As of 2014, people were uploading 1.8 billion images per day (and that’s just based on one estimate). Cameras are everywhere, with most of us having one in our pocket that’s easier to use and takes higher quality photos than the best point and shoot cameras of 10 or 20 years ago.
With this deluge of images, there’s more of a need than ever for quality photography. Just because everyone has access to a camera doesn’t mean they have the skills to use it to create beautiful pictures. Professional photographers are still very much in demand, both in the business and personal spheres. At the same time, there are people interested in learning how to use the cameras they already have to take better photos.
All of the above factors combine to make it a great time to start a photography blog. If you know something about photography and want to share it with the world, modern blogging technologies make it easier than ever. But starting a photography blog can feel daunting.
To start with, how do you get the blog online (and make sure people read it)? And beyond that, what should your blog be about? With “photography” encompassing every technique from the latest 4K imagery to old-school darkroom techniques and every subject matter from weddings to whales, the range of blog topics is dizzying.
In this post, we’re going to help you cut through the confusion and bring your photography blog vision into focus.
- Why Start a Photography Blog?
- What Qualifications Do You Need to Start a Photography Blog?
- 7 Steps to Start Your Photography Blog Today
The surest way to create a successful photography blog is to begin with a clear goal. If you don’t know why you’re creating this online platform, you’ll be much more likely to give up when things get difficult. That being said, it can be tricky to articulate exactly why you want to put your photography blog online. To help you get clear on your vision, we want to share the three main reasons for starting a photography blog.
1. To Promote Your Photography Business
If you’re a professional photographer, you may be struggling to attract new clients. It’s one thing to say you’re a wedding photographer that specializes in outdoor weddings for millennials, but it’s quite another to show your potential client that you know your stuff.
You might think that having a portfolio is enough, that maybe you just need an Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook page. But if you’re struggling to turn prospective clients into paying customers, it could be that prospects see you as too much of a risk. They want to know more about what it’s like to work with you, about the steps you’ll take to ensure that you meet their needs.
This is where a photography blog can be a powerful tool. Through a mix of finished and behind-the-scenes images, you can show site visitors how you work. When people can see your process in action, they’re more likely to trust you and want to work with you.
2. To Help Others Learn Photography
Whether or not you work with clients, you may have a knowledge of photography and want to share it. You might have a general knowledge of the techniques from your work as a professional photographer, or you could just be a dedicated amateur who’s always giving your friends and family advice on how to take better photos.
Whatever your background, there’s a strong interest in learning how to take great pictures. A Google search of “learn photography” returns 750,000,000 results, and the increasing number of smartphones means that the number of people with access to powerful cameras is only growing.
Don’t limit yourself to the nuts and bolts of how to take pictures, though. In addition to the technique of operating the camera, there’s also a vast world of lenses, camera bodies, tripods, and other gear to explore. You can build a blog around helping people navigate this confusing territory, providing reviews of different types of gear for amateurs or professionals.
Ultimately, if you can provide people with the knowledge they need to take better pictures, you have the potential to create a fulfilling, profitable business. Whether you keep this is a source of supplementary income or grow it into your full-time job is something you can decide with time.
3. To Track Your Progress
Maybe you’re not an expert photographer. Maybe you’ve just now taken an interest in improving your photos or you’re trying to learn a new photography technique. In such cases, starting a blog can be an effective way to track your progress as you learn, as well as hold yourself publicly accountable to achieving your educational goals.
When you start a new hobby on your own, it’s easy to get demotivated and lose interest once you encounter difficulty. With a blog, however, you can see how you’ve progressed over time and give yourself the motivation to continue. When you set a goal to publish a new post every week and have an audience of people expecting it (even if it’s a small audience), you’ll be far more likely to stick to your commitment to trying a new type of angle, lens, or whatever goal you set for the week.
Any Reason Is Better Than None
Your reasons for starting your photography blog may be a mix of the above or even be entirely different. That’s okay. What matters is that you know your reasons and articulate them clearly. Write them down. Post them on your wall or in a note on your desktop. Whenever you’re struggling with your blog (because yes, there will be struggles), come back to your “why.”
Do you need to be a professional photographer with years of experience to start and grow a successful photography blog? While such qualifications can help, they’re not essential. As we discussed in the previous section, sharing expert knowledge is just one way to start a blog.
While the prospect of learning from an expert is compelling for many people, others may find it intimidating. This is where passionate amateurs have an opportunity to make their mark. You don’t have to be the best in the world to teach something; you just have to know more than the person you’re teaching.
Of course, this isn’t an excuse for giving inaccurate information. While giving bad photography advice doesn’t have the liability issues of a topic such as fitness, it can still lead to frustrating experiences such as botched photos or damaged equipment.
For this reason, you should be sure you know what you’re talking about when giving advice on specific techniques. If you’re just experimenting, or if you’re sharing “what works for you,” just say so. That way, you’ll avoid angry emails or comments about how what you wrote caused someone to ruin their family self-portrait or break their drone.
Now that you have your reasons for starting your blog, as well as an understanding of the qualifications you need, you’re ready to take your blog from idea to reality. This is the part where most people end the process, getting so overwhelmed by the technical details and logistics that they never create their blog.
You won’t have this problem, however, as we’re going to give you everything you need to know below. It’s still up to you to take action on these steps, but you don’t have the excuse of ignorance any longer.
So, let’s begin. Here are the seven steps you need to get your photography blog online:
1. Choose Your Photography Blog Topic
“Photography” is a huge topic that can encompass everything from a quick Snapchat to a painstaking long exposure image of a waterfall. And the potential audience is equally as vast, including everyone from teenagers who want to learn how to take drone pictures to recent retirees that would like to get the most out of their iPhone cameras now that their grandkids are on the way.
This vastness of specific subject areas and audiences means that you can’t just say you have a “photography blog.” That might have worked back in the early days of the internet when blogs (and information) were scarce, but it won’t work in the modern media landscape. You need to get much more specific with the topic your blog covers if you want any hope of success.
Here’s how to choose a topic that will make your blog stand out among all the other photograph blogs out there:
Begin With Your Goal
What are you hoping to achieve with your photography blog? A blog that exists to promote your professional photography service is going to have a different tone and overall approach than one that gives advice on which lens is best for photographing competitive disc golf.
If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your blog, you risk creating vague content that aims to appeal to everyone but ends up helping no one. You also face the danger of just giving up during the difficult initial stages in which you struggle to gain traction. With clear goals, you can avoid both of these threats to your blog’s prosperity.
Know Your Target Audience
As Kurt Vonnegut put it, you should “Write to please just one person.” Without a clear audience, you’re going to find it difficult to produce consistent content. Knowing the basic demographic information about the people you’re targeting allows you to write in the way that best serves their needs. Here are some example target audiences for photography blogs:
- Women over 65 who want to take better pictures of their grandchildren
- Photography students who want to learn how to make the transition to a professional career
- Teenagers who want to learn traditional darkroom photography techniques
These audiences may seem too specific and potentially limiting. While it is possible to be too specific with your audience, it’s far more common to be too vague.
Remember, you can always make your audience broader (or even expand to serve different audiences) as your blog grows. In the beginning, however, your main goal is to build an audience. You can’t do this if you’re trying to target every possible person you might be able to help.
Research Successful Photography Blogs
When you’re starting your blog, there’s no need to reinvent the tripod. There are already myriad other successful photography blogs out there, and they all have something to teach you. Presumably, at least part of your inspiration to start your blog came from reading others and thinking “I could do that” (or even, “I could do that better”).
Therefore, we recommend looking to those blogs for inspiration. They can give you insight into topics you might want to explore. In particular, look for gaps in the information on existing blogs. Check the comments on competitor posts. If lots of people are asking for information on something (and you have the knowledge and platform to provide it), then you likely have a winning blog idea on your hands.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you copy other people’s blogs. It’s impossible to be completely original when creating your blog, and at first your content may be derivative (especially if you’re a beginner). As long as your distinct approach to sharing information comes through, however, you’ll still be able to distinguish yourself from the other blogs in your space.
2. Make a Smart Domain Name Choice
You may not think you know what a domain name is, but you see them all the time when you use the internet. A domain name is just the technical term for what appears in the bar at the top of your browser when you visit a website. It’s the online address that tells your browser where to go. Domains are made up of the actual name of the site (this is technically called the “sub-domain”) and an extension (the “top-level domain”). For our site, the sub-domain is “startablog123,” and the extension is “.com.”
You can keep these terms in mind when you’re out there shopping for a domain of your own. During this process, you’ll want to look for a name that’s:
- Fairly specific
- Easy to pronounce
If you can find a domain that’s also humorous, that’s great. But you shouldn’t sacrifice the above criteria for the sake of trying to be funny. Save the humor for your writing; make it easy for people to find your website first.
Besides the above essential criteria, here are some “nice-to-haves” to look for:
- “.com” extension — It’s what people naturally type when going to websites (despite the dozens of other available extensions).
- No hyphens or foreign characters — Hyphens are hard to remember, and foreign characters are hard to type. We know this is Anglo-centric, but it’s the reality of the internet as it exists today.
- No double letters — This goes back to the idea of making your domain memorable. For instance, “Photo Operative” might sound like a great name for a blog, but typing it into a browser reveals the double letters that can make it easy to misspell: “photooperative.com.”
We should also break the bad news now: Your desired domain name is probably taken. You’ll probably come up with several domain name ideas that meet the above criteria but that are already registered to someone else.
So how do you see if someone else has already taken the domain name you want? The easiest way is to head over to a domain registration site such as Hover or GoDaddy. With these sites, you can type in the domain name you want, see if it’s available, and purchase it if you like the price.
For instance, here’s a search for potential photography blog name over at GoDaddy:
In the above image, GoDaddy recommends that you “Buy it before someone else does.” While this is partially a marketing tactic, it also brings up a valid point about domain names: Once you find a domain name you like, buy it ASAP. There’s nothing worse than picking the blog name you want, only to find that someone just snagged the domain.
3. Choose a Blogging Platform
While having a domain name is an important part of starting your blog, you still need a way to get your words out into the world. This is where your blogging platform comes in. There are dozens of blog platforms out there, too many to discuss in this article. Here are three popular ones to get you started:
- WordPress — Powering around 30 percent of websites, WordPress is a free, open-source, and flexible blogging solution. It doesn’t require any coding knowledge to use, and it provides a writing experience that’s similar to a word processor. That being said, having a WordPress blog isn’t the most intuitive option; you’ll still need to follow some tutorials to learn how to install and operate it. And it requires you to pay for separate web hosting to use, which could be a problem if you’re on a tight budget.
- Blogger — If you want a way to get your ideas out there quickly with no upfront cost, then Blogger could be the platform for you. It’s a product of Google, and it’s free to use. You can even monetize it via Google Adsense if you want. It’s less flexible than WordPress, however, offering you little control over the design and display of your site. This could be problematic if you want to display your photos in a particular way.
- Squarespace — This option offers you more control over the design than Blogger but in a more intuitive interface than WordPress. You can easily edit your site’s design without having to touch any code, and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of templates that are perfect for displaying your images. This does come at a price, however, with Squarespace costing $12/month on the annual plan.
If you’re not sure which to choose, just pick the one that seems best for your current situation. That way, you can get started writing your first posts and learning about what it takes to run your own blog. You can always switch later if you need to.
4. Plan Your Content
You can’t build a successful blog if you just publish new posts when you feel like it. While there may be the rare popular blog that works this way, it’s definitely not the rule. Your audience wants consistency. This doesn’t mean you need to post every day, of course.
For instance, if you’re writing detailed tutorials that take several weeks to write and can only publish one new post per month, that’s fine. You just need to be upfront with your audience about the fact that you don’t send out a new post each week. As long as you’re providing value, the frequency with which you publish doesn’t matter.
Once you know how often you want to publish, you need to create a publishing schedule. To start with, we recommend just setting a recurring calendar event called something like “Publish a new blog post.” Do not deviate from this schedule, as inconsistency early on will kill your blog before it gets started.
You also need to figure out how long your posts will be. Photography blogs are an interesting subject in this regard, since the topic is so visual. This could result in posts that have fewer words but still take longer to produce than an article such as this one (which has lots of words but didn’t require intensive design or graphics work).
In general, however, we recommend aiming for at least 1,000 words with each post you publish. As you grow, you’ll get feedback from your audience about the length and format they prefer, but the 1,000-word baseline will help you get started.
5. Create Your Pre-Launch Content
Now that you have your content plan, you need to create some content to publish. This is the step you’ve probably been waiting for, that thing that most people think of when they hear “blogging.” Take that enthusiasm and use it; you’re going to need it. This is because you should create at least a month of content before you launch your blog. Depending on the sorts of posts you decide to create, this could mean writing one blog post or four blog posts. But whatever you would release within the course of one month, that’s what you should create before you begin.
We recommend this strategy for a couple of reasons. To start, it helps you build momentum. If you launch a blog with just one post, it’s easy to fall behind and make a bad first impression on the audience you draw as part of the buzz that surrounds your blog launch. It’s better to have a few posts ready to go so that you can show your audience from the beginning that you have a serious, legitimate blog.
Also, creating all this content before your launch will allow you to work out some of the difficulties in the process before your site is live. It’s better to figure that stuff out offline than to have the site live and realize your post is going to be delayed because you can’t figure out how to get your images to display the way you want.
What sort of content should you create? This is up to you, ultimately. But there are some types of content that lend themselves well to photography blogging in particular. Let’s go over a few of them, along with examples of each:
Tutorials are the bread and butter of many photography blogs. Since photography is a technical subject, there’s lots of room to create content based around answering the “how” questions.
To create a successful tutorial, you need to be as detailed and illustrative as possible. Use lots of diagrams and photos (you are a photographer, after all). At the same time, don’t forget about the power of text to explain things that images cannot precisely capture.
This guide from Photography Life is a masterful example of a photography tutorial done well. It addresses a popular subject in an approachable, detailed way. While it does focus mostly on the technical aspects of capturing black and white images, it also touches on some of the philosophy behind this approach, asking the reader to understand why they’re shooting in black and white to begin with.
After this discussion of why, however, the tutorial gets right into the nitty-gritty details, using lots of illustrative images throughout. Just look at this comparison of different filters:
Throughout, the author continually establishes their credibility through the images they use to illustrate their points. This is key to your photography blog, no matter what your reason for creating it. You can’t just talk about the techniques; you have to show that you can execute them yourself.
If you’re looking to establish your credibility with potential clients or help aspiring professionals understand how the business of photography works, then case studies are the content to create. They take a particular shoot or project you did for a client and explain it in detail from start to finish. Along the way, you show the gear you used, the challenges you overcame, and overall illustrate how you do your work.
You have to carefully understand the audience for your case study, as you don’t want to overwhelm non-technical audiences with too much detail or bore technical readers with a lack of detail. Usually, it comes down to a question of whether or not your case study is meant to promote your work to potential clients or help other photographers understand how to do what you do. Both are valid types of content, but you need to decide which you want for your site.
In this case study from All Things Photography, the author tackles a classic challenge for professional photographers: a wedding. The audience for this post is clearly other photographers, as it begins with a detailed list of the gear the author used for this particular wedding shoot:
He also includes some commentary about why he chose this equipment (and why he thinks new wedding photographers shouldn’t get all of it).
From there, the author begins a minute-by-minute breakdown of his process for the wedding day:
This sort of time-based case study wouldn’t make sense for all types of projects, but it fits the wedding well, as it shows prospective wedding photographers just how much time (and precise planning) are required to make a job like this a success.
Through it all, however, the author never fails to show the results of the shoot. These maintain his credibility with other photographers reading. He even closes with the finished slideshow he made for the clients:
Buying Guides and Reviews
One thing that sets photography apart from other topics is the sheer amount of equipment it requires. And this isn’t cheap equipment, either. Quality cameras and lenses can cost thousands of dollars. This means that most audience members (especially hobbyists) are looking for guidance on how they can make their money go as far as possible. You don’t just buy a $1,000 lens without doing lots of research, and this is where buying guides and reviews come in.
To create a successful buying guide, you need to provide plenty of information on the general principles of buying a piece of equipment. When you do recommend specific products, you should remain objective. Don’t just pick the product that pays the highest affiliate commission. Recommend what performs best in your experience.
Example: Digital camera lens buying guide
This guide from Digital Photography Review aims to answer the question “What lens should I buy for my digital camera?” But rather than just telling the reader specific lenses and being done with it, the author aims to help new photographers understand the principles of buying a lens. They begin with an explanation of how lenses get their names:
From there, they proceed to explore how these different parameters combine to create some common lens types:
Do you see how objective and informative this article is? It has no ulterior motive, seeking only to help the reader learn how to buy a camera. This doesn’t mean you should avoid reviews of more specific types of gear. It’s even fine to do sponsored posts, so long as you’re transparent about it. The key is to be honest with your readers about the information they’re getting, as well as any factors that could affect its objectivity.
Content Is a Constant Experiment
You should view each piece of content that you create as an experiment, particularly when you’re first starting out. The three types of content we just discussed should get you started, but don’t let them limit you. Try whatever you think your audience will find valuable and adjust based on their feedback. Do more of what works, but don’t use that as an excuse for stagnation.
6. Plan Your Promotion
It would be a shame for you to put hours of work into creating your blog, only to have no one read it. But this is exactly what happens to lots of new sites out there, and a big reason for this is that the bloggers don’t do anything to promote their work. Blog promotion is a vast topic, but here are three of our favorite promotion techniques that work well for photography blogs:
- Instagram — Visual content like photography is made for Instagram. You can use it to showcase your photos, of course, but you can also use it as a way to give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your process. You could take pictures of your equipment for a photo shoot, for example, or show your editing setup.
- Email marketing — One of the original internet technologies is still one of the best ways to connect with your audience without the mediation of another company. Traffic from search engines can fluctuate with algorithm changes, but your email list is yours to contact on your terms. You should start building your email list as soon as your blog is live, as it can pay large dividends down the road when you want to sell products, do consulting, or get client referrals.
- Write for industry publications — If you paid close attention to the images in the wedding photographer case study, you may have noticed that the author of the post was not the owner of the site in question (which is a media site with a variety of contributors). He was a guest contributor, and in exchange for his post he received a link back to his personal site (as well as the chance to show off his work). You can do the same to promote your blog. Most publications will allow you to link to your site when relevant, or at least give you a link in your author bio.
Of course, you should never lose sight of the importance of writing the best photography content out there. This will be the key to your success in the long run, as Google will reward the best content with free organic traffic. Smart promotion just helps give your great content the extra boost to help more people read it.
7. Be Patient
Just as a photographer for “National Geographic” might spend days sitting in a tree just to capture a single still image, so you must be willing to have patience before you can see results for your blog. Quick success through virality is possible as in all things online, but it’s unlikely (especially since photography isn’t a very viral topic).
You need to be ready to put in work on your blog for a year without seeing any financial return or even much attention. We know this can be frustrating, but you should learn to celebrate the small successes while you pay your dues. Plus, when there are fewer people reading, there’s less pressure to create perfect work and more freedom to experiment.
Click the Shutter on Your Photography Blog
We hope this guide has shown you that your photography blog doesn’t have to remain a dream. With the steps outlined in this article, you can make your photography blog a reality within a month. Your success won’t come overnight, but in the process you’ll get to learn a new skill even as you share your knowledge with others.
If you’re looking for more information on how to start a blog, grow your audience, or make money online, then we suggest you sign up for our newsletter. We’ll send you a weekly email with the latest tips on blogging success, as well as exclusive promotions and discounts.