Last week, Antoine Khater from “All Day I Dream About Photography” asked me this question: “I noticed that you have started your blog in Jan 2007 that’s about 4 months later than ADIDAP and you have much more readers & traffic than I have. So I was wondering if you have any feedback/comments about what should improve at ADIDAP?” So as a generalized response, I’ve put together a few thoughts on building oneself up as a photographer and a photography blogger. In almost a years time, here are the things most important to what success I’ve had.

TIME

As with anything in life, the more you put into something the more you get out of it. Putting in the extra time is the number one thing you can do to ensure your own success. In my later years of college and grad school, I’d get to campus at 8AM and stay until 2AM the next morning — that’s a 16 hour workday after taking some time out for eating and taking breaks. I had many accomplishments in grad school, and it was only possible because of the extra time and effort I applied on a daily basis.

AS A BLOGGER: I can’t work 16 hour days anymore because other parts of my life require my time, but I do put a good deal of time into blogging on a daily basis and I try to manage my time wisely. On average, I probably put four hours per day into the blog… sometimes more, sometimes less. I do a lot of different things related to the blog each day: reading, writing, networking, socializing, research, marketing, thinking, designing, organizing, analyzing, etc. Four hours of blogging activities per day may not be for everyone, but I think that time and success are directly proportional.

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER: I wish I could spend more time working on my photography, but at the moment most of my free time is directed toward the blog. But again, I’m certain that the more time you put into it, the greater the rewards will be. Putting time into photography includes things like continuous learning, taking photos, organizing photos, processing photos, promoting photos, selling photos, and whatever else you might choose to do as a photographer.

CONTENT

In the worlds of blogging and photography, content is at the root of what we can offer to others; It is a foundation on which we can build our success. Good content can take many forms: educational, informative, inspiring, entertaining, provoking, opinionated, and so on. Without good content, there’s no amount of networking and marketing that can make up for it.

AS A BLOGGER: I try to provide useful posts that teach or educate on a given topic. I also try to throw in the occasional inspirational and thought provoking piece to keep things from getting too academic and dry. I also post consistently in frequency and quantity, and having a weekly schedule keeps me on track. Consistent posts will result in consistent readers; inconsistent posts will result in inconsistent readers.

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER: Content is also key in your photos. Always show your best work to your onlookers and give them a reason to follow you. As with blogging, consistency is important — don’t upload 50 photos one day, then go dry for 2 months. If you’re putting in the time and posting good photos, people will follow.

NETWORKING

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know… this is so true, online and off. You don’t have to be buddies with everybody on the block before you step into the scene, but you’d better start making friends fast. People are the Internet’s most powerful asset, and if you’re ignoring that notion and trying to go it alone you’ll be going nowhere fast. And when I say “networking”, I’m talking about the give-take relationship between you and another human, not the “Add XYZ as a Contact?” in one of your social profiles.

AS A BLOGGER: Other bloggers are your allies, especially those who write about the same topic as you. If you have the competitive mentality toward other bloggers, you’re missing the whole point. Find bloggers who inspire you and impress you, and start forming that relationship. Leave thoughtful comments, visit their site often, send an email, chat/IM, call them, link to them, tell your readers about them, just don’t stalk them — know your bounds.

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER: Same thing as with blogging, other photographers aren’t your enemy — the market is big enough for everyone. You can learn a lot by following the work of other photographers on their blogs or through a photo-sharing site like Flickr or Zooomr. Meeting up with other photographers for a group shoot or a photowalk is also a great way to boost your network and gain some important allies.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media and networking can be closely tied together, but there are differences between the two. Social media is a tool that can be used to gain some serious exposure, but it’s not free or without effort — it will cost you a lot of time if used correctly. There’s a huge difference between signing up for a social media account only to promote your own work versus signing up for a social media account to become part of the community and make valuable contributions. Whatever you do, focus on no more than 2 or 3 social media communities and stick with them… the returns will come in time.

AS A BLOGGER: My favorite social media sites are StumbleUpon, photographyVoter, and Digg. It can take a long time to build up a profile on these types of sites, but after a while things get easier. There’s always mystery around how these sites work and what you can do to use them for instant gratification — but there’s really no mystery once you get the whole community thing through your head. The biggest mistake I see people make with social media is to submit nothing but their own work. Submitting your own work is not a big deal (I’d say it’s even encouraged), but exclusively submitting your own work shows very clearly what your intentions are and people aren’t so dumb that they can’t see through you.

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER: Social media is a little less geared toward photos than written works, but the same sites mentioned above can be used quite easily with photos — especially StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon also has a lot of good discussion groups just for photos and photographers. Digg is also supposed to be coming out with a photo section, but I’ve seen many photos make it to the front page in the news section.

PROMOTE OTHERS

The act of promoting others is the glue that holds all of my points together. I promote other people that do great things at every chance I get. If you’ve ever had somebody praise your work and give you a little spotlight of your own, you know how good it feels. Promoting others takes time, but in doing so you’re sharing great content, making new friends, contributing to the social media, and making somebodies day. It doesn’t cost anything to promote the work of others and it’s a great way to show somebody you like what they’re doing.

AS A BLOGGER: I do things like weekly roundups and photodumps to make mention of the things that impress me. I also do the occasional article or review that completely focuses on other people. I use del.icio.us to bookmark my favorite articles and I show those bookmarks on the sidebar of my blog. I also have a photo feed in the sidebar from the Epic Edits Flickr group to show off the work of my awesome audience. I’m not stingy when it comes to linking out, but I don’t link without reason… meaning that it’s got to bring some kind of value to the people who visit the blog.

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER: Promoting other photographers isn’t quite as easy as with blogging, but there are plenty of ways to do it. Social media is probably the easiest way to accomplish this, but things like forums and discussion boards are also good places to drop names (and links) to other photographers or particular photos that inspire you.

IS THIS THE PERFECT PLAN?

No way, not even close. Everybody will have different levels of success with different avenues. I’m merely pointing out the things that seem to work for me, but only on a very high level. If I went into all the details for each of the things I mentioned, you’d get tired of reading before you hit the bottom. If anybody has other suggestions for success with blogging or photography, feel free to share them in the comments. And if anybody has specific questions for me regarding any of this, don’t hesitate to ask — there’s not a lot that I won’t answer.

UPDATE: Skellie has posted a similar article on How to Get 1,050 Subscribers in 3 Months. Quite an amazing feat, and there are plenty of good tidbits in her article.

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OK I can see that this one was for me :)

Thank you Brian much appreciated

November 19, 2007 2:07 am

No problem. Like I said, if you have any specific questions don’t hesitate to ask either in the comments of via email.

November 19, 2007 2:12 am

I have to say you’re the person I’ve learned the most about photography blogging from, even before this piece. Thanks for that (and this post, of course), Brian. :)

November 19, 2007 5:14 am

Thank you Lisa. That’s especially flattering coming from somebody who runs such a great photography blog of their own. I’m finding your tips to be quite informative.

November 19, 2007 5:22 am

Thanks for all the time & effort you put into EE Brian, Chris

November 19, 2007 6:22 am

Don’t mention it Chris, I really enjoy doing this stuff. I could see myself blogging and doing photography as a full time job, but things aren’t quite there yet… we’ll see where it goes.

November 19, 2007 7:25 am

4 hours per day! Time seems to be a major component here … Great article.

November 19, 2007 8:16 am

I feel that time is the biggest component, which is why I’ve placed it at the top of my list. The blog is the first thing I do in the morning (before work) and the last thing I do before bed. It pretty much fills every nook and cranny of my free time.

November 19, 2007 10:28 am

Great post Brian. I think that the material you shared is a great reminder.

November 19, 2007 12:27 pm

I used to visit ADIDAP a while ago but two things stopped me from visiting it any longer (don’t know if this has been improved by now):
- the extremely slow loading time for the website
- the amount of content added was not very high

November 19, 2007 1:00 pm

First of all, very well writen Brian. The points you make about time management and networking could be applied to almost any endevour. I’m sending it to my son, who could learn from you. I’m retired now, but oh how I regret squandering time in the past. Also, thanks for placing my paraglider picture in your readers photos. I’m glad you liked it. I am really learning form you guys. Keep it up.
Hal

November 19, 2007 9:31 pm

Thanks Hal, I tried to keep it fairly general and support the points with examples from my current hobbies. That paraglider photo is pretty awesome, I’ll definitely be selecting that one for inclusion in this week’s photodump on Sunday. I hope that new camera is still treating you OK.

November 19, 2007 10:10 pm

Thanks Brian – this is a great post, full of valuable information. I’m pretty new to blogging, and trying to figure out how everything works. This has clarified quite a few things. Thanks!

November 19, 2007 10:12 pm

Oh golly, you just made me add another photography blog to my reader. The blog looks good, I’m anxious to see your future posts.

Blogging is a game of continuous learning, and what I’ve mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.

November 19, 2007 11:18 pm

Very useful and practical tips. I find all your suggestions very useful for a relatively new blogger like me. Thanks for sharing. :)

November 20, 2007 12:17 am

thanks for taking time and going behind the scenes of your successful photography blog. Thanks for being so honest and encouraging. Yes, it is encouraging to read that in order to get successful you do need to spend more than 20 min, even more than 1 hour a day into blogging, despite what many other successful bloggers say.
I’ve been following your blog since its early days, you never ceased to amaze me, Brian. Keep up the great and inspiring work you do here!.

November 20, 2007 2:45 am

Well Vivien, other people may be able to do it with less of a time commitment, but I sure haven’t figured it out yet. Different niches will require different amounts of time too. Photography blogs are fairly competitive with the rise of the affordable dSLR. I see new photography blogs pop up every day, but I don’t see a lot of them last terribly long — probably because the growth is considerably slow at the beginning due to a crowded market. On the other hand, some niches may only require 20 minutes per day to become relatively successful within that niche.

I’m always appreciative of your comments and the fact that you’ve followed my blog for so long. Likewise, I enjoy reading your thoughts and bits of inspiration on your blog, and I’ll continue to read for as long as you write.

November 20, 2007 3:09 am

Indeed very well written article you have here.
I have to admit I asked myself the same question you have at the beggining of your article. (I have almost 1 year bloging myself). Also, I have always blamed time to be responsible for some down periods.
Not to mention that I blame English for not beeing my mother language. It takes me 20 min for a simple article and about 70-80 min for a tutorial (not inluding the post-processing of images used in the article).
But now I know the truth: i kind of missed networking. :)

November 20, 2007 12:46 pm

Lau, you’ve got a great blog with a lot of potential. I always find your articles to be informative, and you do a great job at writing in a non-native language. The fact that you’ve chosen to write in English opens your site up for a much larger audience, and social networks like Digg and StumbleUpon generally stick to English articles.

One suggestion I’d have for your site is to publish on a more regular basis. I usually see 5 articles in one day, then a week of nothing. Spread it out over the week so people have a reason to come back every day.

And for the social networking… it’s never too late to start.

November 20, 2007 1:02 pm

Thx for the support Brian. :)
The reason why I post on a non-regular basis is because “the photographer in me” takes off in some wild location to take photos. This is what happened during summer (yes, I did have the laptop with me but there was no internet connection on the top of the mountin and some distant village).
Or, in other cases, I just simply have a very busy day at work and when I get home I’m not in a good mood for writing (like in the past month when I wrote in weekends only).
Anyway, I’ll do my best to be more regular and sociable :P

November 20, 2007 1:21 pm

Another option (if you use WordPress) is to write several articles when you have time and set the date forward prior to “publishing”. This will force the article to be posted at that future time so you don’t have to worry about having a connection every day.

November 20, 2007 1:33 pm

This was a great post. Things for taking the time to jot it all down. Awesome points made, indeed!

November 20, 2007 8:52 pm

You not only say how it should be done you also do it – consistently. Great article. The net needs more guys like you.

Wish I could put 4 hours a day into blogging!

Cheers,
Paul

November 21, 2007 7:19 pm

It’s a lot to digest, but very sage advice. Gives me a lot things to focus on and some new goals.

Thanks for the post.

November 21, 2007 7:54 pm

You make photo blogging sound like lots of work. >.<

November 23, 2007 5:21 pm

Good post.

And comments. Especially from Hal Devaney about time. Time that can’t be bought. Time spent on something will can’t return.

Thanks a lot.

November 25, 2007 3:56 pm

hi, Brian, how are you?

Great post! I really like the way you use photos. Great to see a photographer/blogger using both mediums so well!

daniel

November 28, 2007 7:55 pm



Wow, Brian, this is a great post. Again, just browsing the archives. I like the parallel application of the same concepts / lessons to both photography and blogging. I did notice that you didn’t say much in here about SEO. I don’t know if SEO efforts were a big part of your efforts when you first started this blog. But clearly they would have a bearing on how much and how quickly you gain traffic, and SEO is it’s own separate art form. The social media and networking you talk about above are a big part of it, of course.

E

June 5, 2009 12:10 pm

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