You’ve started a blog to show off your photography work or to help others level-up their skills.
But how do you grow your blog? What do you need to know to make it a success?
In this post, I’m going to be sharing the most important blogging tips that every photographer needs to know.
The advice you’ll find below is based on what I’ve learned over the past 10 years as a blogger and during my time running a marketing agency.
Ready? Let’s get started:
Note: Haven’t started your photography blog yet? Check out my detailed beginner’s guide to learn how.
1. Use the BACM framework to keep your business in perfect harmony
There are typically 4 components to any successful content based business. Whether this be a blog, YouTube channel, or something else.
Here they are:
- Business – What is your business model? How will you drive revenue? How will you acquire customers?
- Audience – Who are you trying to help? And how will you help them? This has a strong tie-in with your niche and unique service proposition.
- Content – What content will you produce? And what is your overarching content strategy?
- Marketing – How will you market your content? And your business? What will be the key marketing channel that drives traffic?
The blogs and content-based businesses that thrive are those that have all 4 components in complete alignment. And those that fail typically choose the wrong content and marketing for their business model.
You need to start with revenue and understand your business model. Then the audience, content, and marketing need to centre around that business model.
Here’s an example out of alignment:
- Business – Freelance photographer.
- Audience – Wedding photography.
- Content – Reviews of camera gear.
- Marketing – Social media.
What’s wrong with this? The content doesn’t support any of the other components.
Here’s an example in alignment:
- Business – Affiliate marketer.
- Audience – Aspiring photographers.
- Content – Buyer intent content such as gear reviews, comparisons and list posts.
- Marketing – Search engines such as Google.
What’s right with this? Each component supports all of the others. The best content and marketing channel has been chosen to support the revenue & audience.
Now, how will you align your business using this framework? I can’t give you the right answers for your business, that’s something for you to figure out. But, if you follow this principle, it will help you move things in the right direction.
2. Develop an audience persona and use it to create more specific content
One of the keys to a successful blog (or business) is to understand the people you’re trying to reach. I touched upon this slightly already but there’s a bit more to it.
Once you know who you’re trying to help, you can build an audience persona around them.
Some call this a customer or buyer persona but it’s the same thing – just a profile of your ideal customer. It will tell you their challenges, needs, wants, what they read, demographics, and more.
This information can take your content strategy to an entirely new level.
For example, you can use this information to go from writing generic articles like “How to take better photographs” to writing a specific article that cuts through the noise better. Something like “The wedding photographers guide to taking better photos.”
Note: I call this persona-driven content and I’ve written an entire article about it. Check it out if you want to learn more.
Here’s why this matters:
People want content that speaks to their individual needs and wants. Generic articles can sometimes do well but only if you have a huge audience.
Take me as an example. If I was doom scrolling through Twitter, I’d skip over a generic article on taking better photographs. But an article on guitar photography? That’d stop me dead in my tracks because it speaks directly to my needs.
3. Put the focus on what matters with minimal web design
Whether the goal of your photography blog is to share your photography work or teach others how to improve their photography skills, minimal web design is the way forward.
This is because it allows the focus to be put on what matters – your content.
Don’t waste visual interest by going for a flashy theme that distracts people from what matters.
Here’s the good news:
Minimal web design is popular so regardless of which blogging platform you use, you’re going to find it easy to find the right theme/template.
If you use WordPress, you’ll have a huge number of minimal themes to choose from.
One of my favorites is Kadence. It’s a lightweight theme that is easy to customize. While there is a premium version, you can get a lot of mileage out of the free version.
4. Make your photos accessible with a photo gallery
Your photography work is one of your greatest assets. One of the best ways to display this work is with a photo gallery.
So, how do you add one to your blog? Some blogging platforms will have an option for adding a photo gallery or some sort of portfolio but not all of them.
The great thing about this plugin is that it offers features that aren’t possible with WordPress otherwise. For example, watermarking your images, disabling right click to prevent people from downloading your images, adding password protection, and more.
It also helps with optimizing your images for the web. I’ll talk about image optimization in more depth in a moment.
Regardless of whether you use the built-in image gallery function or a third-party plugin, a photo gallery is essential.
Want to learn more? Check out our Modula review.
5. Optimize your images for the web
I get it. You put a huge amount of time and effort into creating the perfect photo and you want the world to see it in all its glory.
The problem? Uploading photos to your website at the highest possible resolution means large image file sizes that wreck user experience. Especially on slow internet connections or via mobile.
So, how do you optimize images for the web?
We typically optimize our images prior to uploading to WordPress. Our typical process looks like this:
- Resize the image in Photoshop or another image editor. 5000x5000px images just aren’t necessary for the web.
- Export the image as a JPG (not PNG).
- Compress the image using TinyJPG (a free tool).
- Upload the image to WordPress.
This isn’t a perfect process and could be improved further with nextgen image file formats but it works quite well for us.
The quality is impacted when compressing with TinyJPG and we sometimes reduce the quality when exporting out of Photoshop too.
Ultimately, the smaller the file size the better.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that there are ways to save time with this process. For example, there are WordPress plugins that will automate this process but I prefer to have everything sorted beforehand.
That’s just personal preference. I like having all of the versions of images saved and it means less server resources are used.
There are also tools that will take all of your already uploaded images and optimize those as well. NitroPack is a good example.
NitroPack is a performance optimization platform that includes a content delivery network (more on those in a moment). It performs a bunch of optimizations to your site and one of those is the optimization of images and serving them in next generation file formats – all without having to tinker around with any code.
6. Speed up your website with a content delivery network (CDN)
If your website is hosted in the USA, you may notice that load times around the world can be a lot slower.
This is because page load times are impacted by the distance someone is from your server.
Content delivery networks get around this problem by serving your website’s assets from a server that’s closer to where the visitor is.
And if you want your visitors to stick around, page load times really do matter.
Now, there are plenty of CDN services on the market. I mentioned NitroPack earlier and that’s a nice option because it does performance optimizations that no other CDN platform does. There are free options like Cloudflare but they’re not as fast (no free tool can be.)
It’s also worth checking with your web host to see if they have a CDN option. For example, some managed WordPress hosts like WPX Hosting will have their own CDN or have a third-party option included in their plans.
7. Double down on Instagram
Instagram has over 1 billion users and is one of the best social networks for photographers due to the visual nature of the platform.
It also happens to be one of the only big social networks that is still growing, and it’s one of the easiest to build an audience. There’s also a much better vibe on the platform versus the likes of Twitter.
In order to get results from Instagram, you’re going to need to build an audience. Here are some tips to help you:
- Theme your photos – The visual interest of your photos has a direct impact on your ability to build an Instagram following. This can be done using a specific style or color for your images. A more fun approach would be to include an item or mascot in every image. A “Where’s Waldo?” type approach.
- Research popular hashtags in your niche – Hashtags are critical on Instagram. You can usually find good hashtags to use by looking at the posts other people are publishing in your niche.
- Engagement = engagement – If you want people to engage with you, you’ve got to engage with them first. Leave comments, like posts and get to know people.
- Save time with scheduling tools – Instagram scheduling tools such as Sendible allow you to schedule & publish directly to Instagram without the need of a third-party app. This means you can schedule your posts in bulk so you always have content going out. The more content you publish, the better.
- Use Instagram’s built-in analytics to find what works – When you convert your personal profile to a business profile, you’ll get access to IG’s analytics. Use this data to find what works and do more of it.
8. Build an email list to keep your readers coming back
Driving traffic to your blog is one challenge but keeping them coming back for more is another challenge entirely.
While social media algorithms can change overnight, an email list is far more dependable.
And while email may not seem as cool as it was in the past, more than 50% of the global population uses email. That’s a huge potential audience!
So, how do you get started?
First, you’ll need an email marketing service. This is the platform you’ll build your email list upon. They store your subscriber lists and allow you to send email newsletters, and more. And if you ever want to switch tools, you can just export your subscribers into another tool.
I’m a big fan of ConvertKit. They offer a free plan and they’re incredibly simple to use.
Once your email provider is set up, you’re going to need to add opt-in forms to your website. You could use a basic “Subscribe to my newsletter” type approach or you could offer your subscribers a freebie (otherwise known as a lead magnet).
Here’s an example of an opt-in form I created with a WordPress plugin called Thrive Leads:
Some email marketing platforms offer the ability to create opt-in forms that are good enough for basic use. However, you’ll get the most mileage out of a dedicated tool or WordPress opt-in form plugin.
You may also want to create a dedicated landing page to offer your newsletter or add an opt-in form to your homepage.
For example, I created a custom homepage using a WordPress plugin called OptimizePress:
When users click on the green button, a popover with the option to join my email list is displayed:
Similar to opt-in forms, some email providers will allow you to create your own landing pages from within the platform. ConvertKit offers this option. Alternatively, you could opt for a dedicated landing page plugin if you want better functionality (e.g. more customization/templates, etc).
Once you have everything in place, be sure to send your subscribers a regular newsletter to give them a heads up on your latest content. Depending on your business model, you may want to create an automation sequence to promote your products/services in the future.
Note: Want to learn more about building an email list? Check out my ultimate guide.
9. Run giveaways to build your audience
When it comes to building an audience, particularly on social media, sometimes you just need to get the ball rolling.
The more followers you have, the more you’ll get. The first 100 followers on any platform will always be the most challenging.
A great way to get around this run social media giveaways. Back in my marketing agency days, I’d use giveaways for a lot of our clients and the results were great.
You can either give away something generic with mass appeal or give away something niche specific.
Mass appeal will typically give the best results in terms of follower growth but niche specific prizes will result in the most meaningful followers.
Now, I’m not saying you should spend a huge amount of money just to get a bunch of followers. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to spend any money at all on prizes.
Brand partnerships are the best way to approach giveaways. They provide the prize(s) and you promote the giveaway. And both of you get more followers (or subscribers) as a result.
These tools would allow you to create something like this:
This widget can be added to any page on your site. Possibly a blog post to announce the giveaway or a dedicated landing page.
You’d add all the details about the prize(s) and your giveaway. Then you’d set various entry methods.
People would earn points for completing different entry methods. Such as liking your Facebook page, following you on Twitter, etc.
Once your giveaway is live, you can then promote it on your website, social media, via giveaway directories, and more.
And, if you set entry methods such as “Share this giveaway on Twitter/Facebook,” your giveaway will get far better results.
Wrapping it up
Growing a photography blog (or any other type of blog) takes time, effort, patience and a smart strategy.
And while there’s a lot more to building a successful blog than what I’ve included in this post, these tips will be invaluable in your blogging journey.
Use what you’ve learned in this post to build out a strategy that accomplishes your goals and watch the magic happen.