Running your own photo blog is a great way to create a custom portfolio of your photography work with longevity. WordPress allows you present your creative work to the world and an easy to manage package. I have always opted for a self hosted WordPress blog that offers an easy to use platform to share your work and the enjoyment of watching your blog grow in popularity.
There are literally hundreds of web hosts that offer WordPress hosting, many even offer an automatic install option for WordPress through the likes of Fantastico in just a couple of clicks. Once you have a host and have installed wordpress here are a few tips on getting your blog up and running.
1. Pick a Great WordPress Theme
WordPress offers the ability to install custom themes although there are stacks of free themes out there I quite like the idea of reducing the number of blogs that will look like mine by investing in a custom theme. Reputable Themes can cost $40-$50 and generally offer free updates and support for installation.
Some of my favourites include :
Camera 7 Theme
Live Grid Photography Theme
Fluxus Photography WordPress Theme
The Tripod Theme
Chocolate WordPress Theme
Viewfinder for WordPress
Atlas WordPress Theme
2.Install some Plugins
There are some really great plugins available from the wordpress site that offer flickr, twitter and Facebook integration right through to general wordpress maintenance. To add any of my favourites go to the Plugins section of your WordPress admin area and search for the titles (in bold).
The Jetpack plugin offers up a range of additional widgets, complete stats and the ability to automatically share your latest posts across a range of social networks.
Probably one of the most annoying aspect of running a blog is comment span. Akismet goes a long way to removing the risk of spam but be aware of the odd false positive and remember to report spam when it arrives. After a month or two of running your blog you will be surprised at just how much spam this plugin will have blocked.
This plugin comes highly recommended by a number of professional bloggers and takes the hard work out of SEO optimisation. You have full control over keywords, titles and descriptions and you can also block search engines from spidering tags and even archives. Definitely one of the first plugins any new wordpress user should install. This plugin is recommended for every photography blog.
Flickr Feed Gallery
Most photographers have some sort of presence of Flickr. This plugin pulls your latest flickr uploads and allows you to display them on your blog. I generally opt for a sidebar display but you can easily add the images to your pages and posts.
It is hard to run a photography website without images. If you you have lots of long posts with a photo series Lazy Load only loads the images when the user gets to that point in the post. This saves a bit of load and bandwidth on your site.
Thin Out Revisions
Wordpress automatically stores versions of posts as you make edits. The Thin Out Revisions plugin removes redundant revisions after a set period of time.
WP Super Cache
As your site becomes more and more popular the more users and load you will have on your server. A caching plugin such as WP Super cache can really help the overall performance of your site as a static HTML version of pages will be served to visitors rather than the server processing the page each time.
NextGen Gallery Plugin
If you prefer to post gallery posts rather than traditional articles check out the popular NextGen Gallery plugin. The plugin works well with wordpress and offers a fair about of user customisation.
If you change your WordPress theme then then Regenerate Thumbnails plugin is a essential plugin to resize your previous blog post images to the correct size.
Once you have installed your plugins WordPress will prompt you each time there is an update, updating is a matter of a single click.
3. Post Regularly
I personally think it is best to space your posts out so each has time to reach the bloggisphere. There is nothing wrong with having a queue of posts that you can release periodically. WordPress has a built in scheduling system so you can select the date and time of when you want the post to appear. If you are struggling for inspiration why not review the FlixelPix eBooks and join the affiliate scheme.
4. Share your New Posts
There is no point in Photoblogging if people aren’t going to hear about your updates. Eventually you will have RSS subscribers but as you start out you might want to have a system like Twitterfeed automatically tweet each new post. Simply add the address of your RSS feed, authorise with Twitter and Twitterfeed does the rest. If you want more control over your sharing and perhaps want to share to a number of different social networks then check out services such as Buffer.
5. Add Words
Search Engines love content and posting a single photo with no text can result in little interest from the main search engines. Adding a description can really help people find your blog. Make sure you alt tag your images relative to the content and follow the advice of the ‘WordPress SEO’ Plugin. Writing about your photography will offer an insight into your process, gear and location. It can be the words that bring visitors to your site.
6. Join the Photography Community
Just like you want people to visit your blog and leave comments it is important you take part in the community and do the same. Better still when you leave a comment it normally asks for a link to your website. Grow your community, make contact with other photographers on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Engage with other Photographers in these communities, learn from them and give positive critique when asked. If you are looking for great photographers to follow then check out the 53 RSS Feed for Photographers Post.
7. Link to your Flickr and 500px
8. Keep Going
There can be days when you think it isn’t worth bothering with a photoblog, days when no one visits and days when people leave nasty comments. Keep going! Blog because you love taking and displaying your photos. There is nothing more rewarding when a book or magazine publisher gets in touch asking to use an image or when another photographer takes time to leave you a positive comment.
If you have any other tips please post them below and remember to include a link to your blog in the Website field, we want to hear of great plugin finds or other tips to promote your blog.