Rocket Launch Sequence
Creative Commons License photo credit: Zoramite

Blogging about photography and photo blogging are great ways to improve yourself as a photographer, give back to the community, make new friends and contacts, and express yourself. Not every photographer is interested in starting a blog, but I’m sure there are a few of you out there.

[tweetmeme]Epic Edits is getting to be an “old man” in the blogosphere (over 3 years running!), but I’ve recently launched a new blog (FeelingNegative.com) and I was reminded of all the things that new bloggers have to deal with. As I prepared this new blog for entry into the Web, I found myself making decisions based on my experience here at Epic Edits. Some of these decisions are not so obvious to folks with no prior blogging experience, so I’ve written down a few thoughts to consider if you’re planning to start a photography blog or photo blog.

HAVE A CONCEPT

Start 3 months before launch.

  • Identify some specific audience that you can relate to.
  • Find untapped opportunities and niches.
  • Blog about what you know and shoot.
  • Blog about what you want to learn.

That last point is a big deal. Teaching others about photography or displaying your work to a growing audience will force you to learn and grow at an accelerated rate.

PLAN PROFUSELY

Day 41:What's on your mind?
Creative Commons License photo credit: L S G

Start 2.5 months before launch.

  • Identify your overall site message or theme.
  • Think of possible site names that fit your theme.
  • Choose a blogging platform: WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Drupal, Blogger, etc.
  • Look for possible themes and styles (but don’t pick one yet).
  • Determine a posting frequency that you can keep up with.

Again, the last point is important. Blogging takes a lot of time on a regular schedule, so don’t assume that you can hit 3 posts per day with 1 hour of work. Just be realistic.

OUTLINE THE STRUCTURE

Start 2 months before launch.

  • Lay out 3-5 main topics/genres (should be vastly unique).
  • Use sub-topics to further separate content.
  • List several theoretical post topics/titles for each category.
  • Evaluate the outline and refine the structure.

Getting the site structure is key — you don’t want to be reorganizing a bunch of posts or photos a year down the road because you failed to plan ahead. Of course, leave yourself room to expand the categories and sub-categories.

TECHNICAL STUFF

Start 1.5 months before launch.

  • Set up your platform and theme.
  • Find and install useful plugins and widgets (depending on platform).
  • Do some customization… graphics, colors, etc.

If you’re not familiar with blogging platforms, this might take some time to figure out. In that case, keep it simple and choose a platform that works for you. Otherwise, use what you know!

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

Start 1 month before launch.

  • Write 2-3 articles for each main category (so about 10 total).
  • Proof, edit, and improve your articles.
  • Test your platform, theme, and plugins with the articles you’ve written.

After you write the articles, check out your site and make sure things are displaying correctly and linking up the way they should. You should be just about finished tweaking the site at this point.

START THE SOCIAL ENGINES

BMX Engine
Creative Commons License photo credit: chilsta

Start .5 months before launch.

  • Get on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. Find 2 or 3 that you like.
  • Leave out site links if you want to launch the site on a specific date.
  • Connect with other bloggers and photographers in your niche.
  • Invite a few friends to get the site going on launch date.

Social media can be a great source for spreading the word, but use these communities as a sincere participant — pure self-promo is considered spamming in many circles.

PRE-LAUNCH ANNOUNCEMENT

Start 1 week before launch.

  • Post 5+ of your pre-written articles, pull remaining into draft for post-launch.
  • Make the site viewable to the public (if you were using an “under construction” plugin).
  • Contact friends and fellow bloggers for a preview (and tell them the launch date).
  • Take a break! You’ve put in a bunch of work, so take a breather before things kick off.

If you’ve done your homework and spent the time to make a few contacts in the blogospere, you should have a few friends willing to give a hand with the launch party. Just don’t push too hard for promotion and try to connect with other bloggers and photographers on your level. The “big dogs” get a lot of “check out my new site” emails every day, so don’t expect them to act on every single one (they’re not being rude, they’re just trying to keep up with their own affairs).

LAUNCH ANNOUNCEMENT

This is the big day!

  • Make it official and mention your new baby every chance you get!
  • Remind the previewers that today is the big day for you.
  • Watch for comments and stats — this is the exciting part of early blogging, so enjoy it.

Site launches are always different than what you expect, so don’t expect anything and just enjoy the ride. You might get a flood of visitors and you might get a dozen. Just stick with the plan and the word will get out eventually as long as you have something interesting to say or show.

POST-LAUNCH

Weeks after launch.

  • Publish on pre-set schedule and try to stick with it.
  • Seek promo opportunities: guest blogging, links in social profiles, etc.
  • Announce your social extensions on the blog so new visitors can connect with you.
  • Accept feedback on your work and make an effort to improve your blog.
  • Refine your schedule, focus, and intent. Keep an open mind to change.

It can take months to grow into a new blog, so don’t give up after two weeks if you don’t have 5,000 visitors and 50 comments per day. Your blog will grow at a rate proportional to the effort you put into it, but even the best bloggers started at the bottom and worked their way up.

FIND YOUR GROOVE

Months after launch.

  • Split your time between writing, interacting, and promoting.
  • Reach out to other niche bloggers with links and mentions from your site.
  • Give, give, give… and take very little. Blogging is about giving, not taking.
  • Re-evaluate the plan frequently, make sure you’re on track with your goals and ambitions.

Blogging is like playing the stock market — you have your ups and downs. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s just how things go. Get into a groove and find your place among the community. Get to know your readers and other bloggers in your niche.

HAVE FUN WITH IT

Blogging and photo-blogging is a rewarding experience if you have the right attitude. Give it some time, share your knowledge and your artwork, participate, build the community, and have fun with it.

Anybody out there thinking of starting up a new photography blog, photo blog, or personal blog? How about the new bloggers on the block? Where are you guys? Throw out some links in the comments if you just started a blog within the last few months. And for you seasoned bloggers, what other tips do you have for starting a blog?

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Thank you Brian, for all the tips and information. I started my first photo blog on January first, and I look forward to start other blogs in the future.

March 11, 2010 12:07 pm

Here’s a new blog (Jan 2010) about photography, the future of licensing, and the past in the photoworld. http://www.ellenboughn.com/blog
Thanks…enjoy (I hope)

March 11, 2010 2:26 pm

Thanks, Brian. Where were you a few months ago when I started my blog? LOL. Anyway, good tips and your epic edits site it hit with me. I learn so much here. Here’s the blog I started late 2009 http://evilbearphotography.blogspot.com/ I’ve had good reactions to it, but I need to figure out how to get the word out about it to people other than my inner circle.

March 11, 2010 3:19 pm

Well done post, it should help a lot of people – even those who already have a some form of blog…

March 11, 2010 3:48 pm

Thanks for all the great info! I just started my blog a few months ago and would love any feedback anyone has, since I am new to blogging. Can’t wait to see everyone elses blogs too!

March 11, 2010 6:32 pm

This was an excellent and very well written post. Lots of excellent points and the outline is solid. I’ve been blogging now for about 4 months and am finally starting to find my rhythm. I started out posting daily. That lasted about 6 weeks. As much as I enjoy writing and interacting with my blog readers via the comments I just couldn’t maintain the pace. I’m now posting 3 days a week.

The biggest challenge for me is coming up with ideas for useful posts. Once the idea materializes the writing is usually pretty easy. To take some of the workload off myself I started a feature called “Ask An Expert”. I assembled a team of photo experts and I take questions from my readers via email. I then send the question out to the experts for an answer. After receiving their response I post the Q & A on my blog. It’s been a huge hit. This allows me to post often, help the community, and generate a little buzz for the experts and for my workshop business.

Anyone interested in checking out my blg can do so at http://www.bretedge.wordpress.com. Thanks for writing this great post!

March 11, 2010 11:18 pm

Superb posting Brian! I just find myself laughing, because for my new Paris photo blog, ‘Paris and I’, I basically did the exact opposite of almost every single one of your very worthy points!

I reckon about the only one I respect, and that’s a bit by chance, is having a very clear brief. I post Paris street photography plus a mini-commentary daily, using only an iPhone. This new blog is both to complement my other more ‘serious’ Paris photo blog and to give myself a new challenge and the chance to get far more photos ‘out there’.

I totally agree with Mark that your rigorous approach would have helped me plan more, but at the same time I’m the spontaneous type and once I have an idea I need to see the results immediately, even if it’s just a new posting on a new, unknown blog!

Cheers, I look forward to discovering your site.

March 12, 2010 3:06 am

The last is probably the most important. No site is surviving if you donĀ“t have fun with it…i say this out of experience…time will come when writers block is all over you….

March 12, 2010 6:28 am

Brian, thank you for sharing experience and time schedule.
Exact and to the practical point.
Have a good day :-)

March 13, 2010 5:58 am

thanx Brian! These tips r realy helpful for those who are planning to start a new blog or those who’ve recently started.

March 14, 2010 7:00 am

I launched my Photo blog in January.

Great advice… I wish I had read this post 6 months ago!

–Brian

March 14, 2010 6:52 pm

One small tip. Never stop posting to your blog. :D

March 15, 2010 11:48 am

I am happy to invite you to join in an hospital group…

I am planning to spread the idea world wide and i be happy if you join in.
I am planning to do some enlargements and put them at hospitals making cancer patients happier…

The group i started is http://www.ipernity.com/group/145084

Join in if you feel its a good idea…i am spreading the word to others for free and we got some use of our photos and are making the hospital corridor a much more happier place..

March 17, 2010 11:55 pm

I recently started a photography blog too. It in the early stages, but it’s a start.
http://heatherpphotography.blogspot.com

March 18, 2010 8:37 am

I recently started my photoblog @ http://www.robertoventre.it.
This tips are very important for me, i’ll try to find my way.
enjoy

March 18, 2010 10:12 am

and second website is http://www.swansongart.com
Blog is http://www.swansongart.blogspot.com
Sorry for the delay – phones and internet down since the big storm. You’re comments on starting a photography blog were very helpful. I started mine during my masters program in digital photography (SVA in NYC) focusing on educaiton but that was looked down on at my school. I since have gone back to this practice linking it with a flickr group and a newsletter. Is it really worth the effort?? I wish I had read this article before I started the blog.

March 18, 2010 10:30 am

Did I read that right? Your school looked down on having a photography blog?

March 18, 2010 11:02 am

Blog was encouraged but not one that was educational. We were guided to more of a survey type of blog or one containing more of our new work and images.

March 18, 2010 11:25 am

I can kind of see why they might frown on it, but they shouldn’t have an issue unless somebody is just scraping their course material and posting it up on the web. That’s just my opinion though… and I’m a firm believer that teaching something to others is the best way to learn it yourself.

March 18, 2010 1:34 pm

Thanks for this article, Brian! I just launched my blog last night, but just read up on this now. I hit some points, and i missed some. Definitely worth taking notes on… big big thanks!

March 24, 2010 12:19 am

I launched http://www.foliorevolution.com just over a month ago and thankfully I had done most of these points. I have to agree that preparation is very important, making sure that you have good content already posted before you launch. I also agree with spending time picking your categories as it’s a pain changing them later.

March 27, 2010 11:28 am

Thanks for these great hints. I am in an early stage with my blog at the moment, did some things the same way, some different. The blog is not only about photography, also about other design-related stuff. It is so much fun to give something back, and to learn new things by blogging!

March 31, 2010 8:32 am

Thanks for all the great info! I just started my blog a few months ago and would love any feedback anyone has, since I am new to blogging.

anastharekphotography.blogspot.com/

January 15, 2011 9:53 am

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