Category Archives: Off Topic

Anything not related to photography.

Say Hi to the New Photography Blogs

Ronald Waves
Creative Commons License photo credit: ***Karen

I recently posted some tips for starting a new photography blog and I asked any new bloggers to promote their sites. I had actually expected more of a response, but we did get a few chiming in with their links (similar situation to the recent Twitter post… *hint, *hint). Is nobody blogging anymore? Or is everybody already blogging?!

At any rate, I thought it would be cool to give a shout to the new kids on the block and offer up some encouragement in their early days. Keep at it, you guys — your future returns will be proportional to the effort you put in now.

[tweetmeme]And for those new bloggers who didn’t drop a link… sorry! You missed the boat! That’s blogging for ya — be fast and get lucky.

Be sure to check out a few of these new blogs — you might like what you see (and you never know who will be the next “big thing” in the photography blogging community). Some of them strive to become a community pillar, others post for fun, and others are just exploring the whole blog thing. Whatever their reason may be, click through and see what they’re up to (a rush of new visitors is a huge source of encouragement for new bloggers).

My feed reader is almost filled to the brim, but I found several of these blogs worth adding to my list of follows. So, really… check ‘em out and welcome them to the community.

Updates on the Twitter Situation

[tweetmeme]I’ve been on Twitter for nearly three years under the alias of @auer1816 (it was my email handle in college and I use it for a lot of social media accounts just out of habit). The Twitter account has been a mixture of personal and blog related items and I’ve used it anywhere from several times per hour to only a few times per week. Up to this point, that account has been associated with Epic Edits.

I figured it was time for a change and I wanted to separate my personal stuff with the photography blogging stuff. So I went ahead and made a new account for Epic Edits.

This account will post blog updates, links to photography articles around the web, photography related news items, etc. I’ll also use this account to follow other photography bloggers and hardcore link-sharers so I can keep up with the current events a little better. So if you want those types of Twitter updates, go ahead and follow @epicedits.

My personal account will be used to post random thoughts, updates on my photography-related doings, and my daily out-and-about stuff. On this account, I’ll be following personal friends and other photographers that have interesting things to say. If you’re into that kind of stuff, follow @auer1816.

I also have a joint account for FeelingNegative.com that we use to post site updates, film related links, film news, etc. Like the Epic Edits account, we’ll be following other film photography bloggers and hardcore link-sharers so we can see what’s happening out there. If you’re into that sort of thing, follow @feelingnegative.

And since I did it, feel free to share your own Twitter account(s) in the comments below… and maybe tell us what you Tweet about most of the time.

Tips for Starting a New Photography Blog

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?

Birthday Gift #3 – Three Analog Prints

Analog Fruits

These are NOT the prints I’m offering, the photo above is just for illustration purposes. Winners of the raffle get to pick ANY photo of mine to be printed.

So… I’ve been wasting spending a lot of time in the darkroom over the last few months, and I think it’s appropriate that I offer up some prints for a birthday present. Here’s the deal — I’ll give out three 8×10 black and white prints, the winners get to choose the photo… any photo. These aren’t pre-printed, so I’ll make the prints once I pick the winners and they choose the photo they’d like. And the catch? Well, the prints won’t be signed and they’re printed on resin coated paper rather than fiber paper.

Metal and Glass It's Lonely Out Here A Dreary World Cruisers Subway Shuffle Rescue Board

What’s all that mean? They’re basically just decoration photos — they’re not worth much from a collector standpoint. I’ve already decided that I won’t sign anything but fiber paper. It doesn’t mean that the prints won’t look good or last quite a while. It just means that they’re not signed, limited, and guaranteed to last longer than you. So if you’re up for a free decoration print, feel free to browse my stuff on Flickr:

Take your pick, anything goes… except for photos of my family and stuff. The b/w photos will look pretty close to what you see on Flickr. The green xpro photos tend to turn out pretty cool too — really high contrast. I didn’t include regular color film in the links because it doesn’t turn out well when printed in b/w.

TO ENTER THE RAFFLE…

Just leave a comment on this post and let me know you’d like a print of your choice. Worldwide raffle entries are welcome. I’ll choose the three random winners in one week from this post date.

And I’d appreciate hearing from you which print you might like to have. This type of feedback is useful to me so I can better understand what people are interested in. And if you’re looking for a signed limited print… I just might offer up one of those in another post… who knows?

Birthday Gift #2 – Three Equipment Rentals

The second gift for the birthday party will be camera equipment… but you have to give it back. Yup, three lucky winners will get their choice of equipment rentals from BorrowLenses.com.

BorrowLenses.com

BorrowLenses.com offers up a rental service for photographers in the United States. You can get a wide selection of lenses and camera bodies for the Canon and Nikon systems, along with things like tripods, camera bags, and lighting equipment.

For the birthday party, they’re giving out three two-week rentals. Here are the terms and conditions attached to the offer:

  • You need to be in the US.
  • The order will need to be made online and you will need to provide a credit card number. This won’t be charged but they will need it to ensure you don’t run off with their lens :-) BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and pro camera bodies.

… so anything else is game!

TO ENTER THE RAFFLE…

Same as the last one — leave me a comment and let me know you’d like to be entered. REMEMBER — this offer is limited to US participants and it excludes pro bodies and super-telephoto lenses. I would highly encourage you to visit their site and browse their inventory before entering the giveaway. And if you’re not a Canon or Nikon user, you might consider picking up a rental for a tripod, camera bag, or lighting equipment. The winners will be randomly chosen one week from the date of this post.

Birthday Gift #1 – Two Flickr Pro Accounts

January 12 marked the 2 year birthday of Epic Edits… and January 14 marked the beginning of my (much needed) vacation. So needless to say, we’ll be kicking off the birthday gifts a few weeks late this year.

To start things off, Antoine from All Day I Dream About Photography (or ADIDAP for us regulars) will be giving away the gift of Flickr with a Flickr Pro Account! Antoine also has a great Flickr Group where you can submit photos to be eligible for his yearly calendars. And Flickr Pro is such a great gift, I’m handing out a second to match Antoine! Here’s what you’ll get with a Flickr Pro Account:

  • Unlimited Storage
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Photo Sets
  • The Use of Collections
  • Ad-Free Interface
  • Photo Statistics
  • Video Uploads

TO ENTER THE RAFFLE…

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me that you’d like to be eligible for one of the two Flickr Pro Accounts. The winners will be chosen randomly from the comments and I’ll announce them after one week — so don’t miss out and leave a comment!

16 Month Statistics for Epic Edits

Photonovice.net is running a BLOG STATISTICS PROJECT (deadline is May 9), so I figured it would be a good opportunity to actually look at my stats. Yep, you heard me — I don’t check my stats too often. After a while, it all starts to look the same and no amount of staring at the graphs will make them get any taller.

I hope I don’t come off as “beating my chest” with this post — they’re just numbers, and there are plenty of other bloggers out there with more impressive numbers. The one number you should pay attention to is “16″ — as in 16 months of constant blogging, relationship building, project participating, commenting, emailing, writing, posting, and everything else that goes along with the territory. It’s not a quick or easy process.

So if you’re new around here, the top articles are a good place to start checking out. Those same articles are also listed in my sidebar and are typically updated every month or so. If you’re running your own blog, the top sources ought to tell you which services and websites are worth paying attention to (and participating in).

TOP 10 ARTICLES OF ALL TIME

In nearly 16 months of publishing, we’ve had approximately 1,400,000 pageviews… 850,000 visits… and 720,000 unique visitors. We also have over 500 published posts containing 340,000 words and 3800 comments containing 185,000 words! Here are 10 of the best performing articles.

16 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques
16 Inspirational Portrait Photography Techniques
324,596 Views and 67 Comments

87 Great Photography Blogs and Feeds
87 Great Photography Blogs and Feeds
110,673 Views and 90 Comments

28 Ways to Interpret a Photo
28 Ways To Interpret A Photo
109,007 Views and 167 Comments

Warning: These 9 Photoshop Techniques May Result In Great Photos
Warning: These 9 Photoshop Techniques May Result In Great Photos
108,674 Views and 25 Comments

7 Bad Habits of Digital Photographers
7 Bad Habits of Digital Photographers (a big thanks to Antoine!)
85,089 Views and 48 Comments

60% of Photoshop Users are PIRATES!
60% of Photoshop Users are PIRATES!
80,851 Views and 71 Comments

Five Fantastic Flickr Photographers
Five Fantastic Flickr Photographers
41,740 Views and 43 Comments

How To Create Photoshop Actions
How To Create Photoshop Actions
12,699 Views and 9 Comments

Creative Commons: A Great Concept I’ll Continue to Employ
Creative Commons: A Great Concept I’ll Continue to Employ
11,631 Views and 44 Comments

So You Think You Know What An F-Number Is
So You Think You Know What An F-Number Is
11,293 Views and 8 Comments

TOP 10 TRAFFIC SOURCES

Over 5000 sources have sent people to the Epic Edits Weblog from 6 continents, 198 countries (US being the most popular), and 16,344 cities (London being the most popular by far). Here are the top 10 contributors of incoming traffic.

StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
221,461 Visits

Digg
Digg
215,450 Visits

Direct
Direct Traffic
97,455 Visits

Google Search
Google Search
89,745 Visits

Google Referral
Google Referral (mostly Google Reader)
18,641 Visits

del.icio.us
del.icio.us
11,813 Visits

DIYPhotography.net
DIYPhotography.net — Udi, you rock!
10,040 Visits

digital Photography School
digital Photography School — Thanks Darren & Neil!
9,792 Visits

PhotographyVoter
PhotographyVoter
9,002 Visits

Yahoo Search
Yahoo Search
8,306 Visits

And just for kicks, here’s a graph of the feed subscription growth. Subscribe here if you want to keep up to date with the latest articles.

Feed Growth

I don’t keep track of numbers on my Flickr account, but I do keep a collection of my most popular photos based on various things such as interestingness, views, comments, and faves. I find that it’s kind of good to keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not when it comes to photography — especially for those of us who are still finding our way.

[VISIT THE PROJECT HOMEPAGE] So if you have a blog of your own, dig into your stats and whip up a post about your most popular articles or photos. Remember, the project deadline is May 9 — so hurry up before it’s too late!

We’re Ready for Real Advertisers

Your Ad Here

Epic Edits has shown ads for a loooong long time now — mostly AdSense, Chitika, and some affiliate programs. Those things were fine for the early days, but it’s time for the site to grow up a little. From here out, I’ll be working on bringing in real advertisers. What you see now are affiliate programs and house ads for my photoblog (plus a tiny bit of AdSense to fill in the gaps).

Over the last month, I’ve been busy getting setup with my own ad server, creating email accounts, adjusting the settings in my PayPal account, writing an “Advertise Here” page, getting rid of AdSense, and looking for advertisers to contact. One of these days, I’ll actually find someone who’s interested in putting a banner up.

WHAT WILL CHANGE?

Nothing much, other than the fact that you’ll see some new and different banners on the site every once in a while. I won’t be placing any additional ads above or inside of the content; it makes it too hard to read. Placements and sizes will remain constant for the time being.

Eventually, I might experiment with small half-banner ads at the bottom of the feed (similar to what you see at the Strobist and other popular publications). If that happens, I’m going to be extremely particular about who will be able to fill those spots — I’m not willing to lose subscribers because of cruddy ads in the feed.

In addition to the ad banners themselves, you can expect to see a small posting giving some background on new advertisers as they come on board. This will give them a little extra exposure, the feed hobbits will get to see what’s happening, and I’ll then have a nice little archive of past business partners.

HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT YOU?

Every new advertiser will be pre-approved by me personally. This means that their business needs to be of high quality and relevance to you guys. The goal is to provide the visitors of this site with useful information — not a bunch of useless crap.

So… once these advertisers start signing on, you might actually want to check them out and see what they have to offer. I’m going to try targeting a mixture of businesses that offer equipment, software, software add-ons, and services. In the end, I’d like to keep the ads inline with the content of the site.

HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT ME?

It’s no secret, I’m trying to make a few bucks from the blog. Hey, why not? I put in plenty of hours to keep things going — it’s just not feasible to work that hard for free. What I was making with the previous ads wasn’t enough to even matter. My goal is to have some reasonable percentage of my income be from this website.

I’m not just greedy, I actually have a good reason for this. The more money I can make here, the less I need to make from my day job. If I need less money from my day job, I can work fewer hours. Fewer hours there equals more hours here. More hours here results in more content, projects, contests, and other fun stuff for all of us.

Plus I don’t like working for somebody else.

So that’s it; I just wanted to let everybody know what’s happening. If any of you reading this have a lead on possible advertisers, let me know and I can follow up. And, certainly, if anyone out there IS an advertiser, now is a great time to get a campaign started while prices are still low.

Getting Down to Business

So I’m sure many of you have already heard about Chase Jarvis offering up a spot at the ASMP Strictly Business 2 seminar in Chicago April 11-13. But if you haven’t, here’s an excerpt from the seminar website:

ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 is a weekend conference that will teach you real-world business skills and help you thrive in our highly competitive industry. SB2 brings you consultations, lectures, video presentations, a keynote address, workshops, hands-on negotiating training, and social gatherings to share and learn from your peers. This weekend will change the way you look at your business — join us.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL ENTRY PAGE

On that official entry page, Chase has laid out the rules for nominations. He’s looking for a name, website, and a 100 word max blurb about why that person should be chosen to attend. Self nominations are perfectly acceptable. So get over there and nominate yourself or your favorite upcoming photographer!

Who did I nominate? I thought about nominating myself, but my vote went to my buddy Jim Goldstein. So at this point, I don’t have any nominations or votes for myself.

If any of you would like to nominate me for the trip (so I can pursue turning this photography thing into a career), I’d be perfectly OK with that. ;)

The Fine Art Photoblog is Officially Here!

Remember way back when I posed the question “Want to Sell Your Art?“, then the overwhelming response from 30 great photographers, and finally we narrowed it down to six outstanding individuals?

Well, the last you guys heard from me on this was early January. We didn’t forget about the project or drop it — not even close. We’ve been working out the kinks, improving the site, and getting the business end of this thing in order. These guys I’m working with have been staying up until 2, 3, 4AM almost every night pouring their time and energy into it. After all the hard work we’ve done, I’m very happy to announce that we’re off and running.

VISIT THE FINE ART PHOTOBLOG

SUBSCRIBE TO THE FEED

Seriously, check it out. All seven of us have different styles and backgrounds, and the photos presented are fairly diverse. We’re displaying images at (or near) 800 pixels, so they’re a treat to look at. And if you think they look good at 800 pixels on your computer screen, you ought to purchase a print — pixels do these images no justice in comparison to a high quality print job.

We’re offering up prints at two different levels: those that are affordable, and those that are collectible. The affordable prints are still very high quality, but they won’t be signed or sold as a limited edition. The collectible prints are signed by the artist and limited in number if that particular artist chooses to do so. For more info on the site, check out the press release.

Even if you’re not in the market for a print right at the moment, the site is worth a browse. So head over there, check it out, and tell your friends!