Top 5 Blogging Mistakes by Photographers

Last Updated on Monday, 29 August 2011 02:14 Written by Theresa Monday, 29 August 2011 01:48

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, and as you know I work with a lot of photographers in creating/updating their blogs, so I’ve seen all sorts of blogging mistakes. Most of them pertain to the use of images, and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on for now, but I may add more later.

In order of least to most important:

  1. Not blogging enough. I have the same issue myself, but like you I’m sometimes too busy to blog on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. But one of the most common questions I get asked is “how can I improve my SEO and Google rankings?”. Well, the simple answer is, you’re not blogging enough! And by blogging, I don’t mean just posting photos, but TALKING about the photos, photo shoot location, etc.. that help with generating more content that the search engines LOVE to read. The quantity and frequency of the content is what will send search engines crawling on your site. If you take a look at your stats, often you’ll find the search engine bots crawling, and that’s a GOOD THING! This is just one way to increase SEO, but the rest is for another post.
  2. Having too many blog posts on the each page.  This might be something you’re unaware of, but the default for WordPress is to show 10 posts per page. That’s fine if your blog posts are only full of text, but photographers (especially you wedding photographers!!!) are notorious for an over-abundance of image-filled posts. I have one client (I will not name names) literally had at least 100 images on their front page, and that was only with 3 posts!!! And they were wondering why their blog was loading so slow… Ok, so to set the number of posts per page, go to Settings—>Reading in your blog admin and set the “blog pages show at most” to something like 5, but it all depends on how many images per post you average. I would suggest 5 if you post no more than 3 or 4 per post. Make it less if you post more.
  3. Forcing large image files to fit your blog width. Some of you may not even know you’re doing this! But if you’re uploading full size image files (i.e. full res, larger than 1000 pixels wide most likely), but you see that they fit just nicely in your blog, it could be because your themes style sheet is FORCING your images to fit. That’s all nice and dandy except of course, your image file sizes are larger than they need to be and will therefore slow down the loading of your blog pages. The BEST thing to do is to figure out the width of your blog post and set the medium or large image size to THAT. So say your post width is 900 pixels wide, then go to your blog admin under Settings–>Media. These are the settings where you tell WordPress what sizes you want your image to be resized to after uploading a full res image file.  Now set the medium or large size to that width.  I also suggest using that same number for the height so that your files stay the same file size regardless of orientation. Lastly, you then use that size (medium or large) for the size you insert into your posts. Of course, you can set this number to be less than your post width, but DON’T set it larger or you’ll have unnecessarily large file sizes.
  4. NOT watermarking your images. This is the #1 way to safeguard your images. I know, some people think they’re ugly and intrusive, but some may be done discretely yet can be difficult to remove. I highly recommend doing it, either using a batch process in Photoshop or Lightroom, or using a plugin like Scissors that will automatically watermark your images after upload. Regardless if you have a right-click disable script in place or if you make sure not to do #5 on this list, there are still going to be tech-savvy people out there using the print-screen key stroke on their computer to take a screenshot of your blog. There is NO script out there that you can install on your blog that will prevent people from doing that. The kind of watermark I suggest is similar to the one I use on my photography blog, a low opacity strip across the lower section that doesn’t cover faces and would be difficult to remove without cropping off a good part of the image.
  5. Hyperlinking images to the full sized (full resolution) version. This has got to be my biggest pet peeve. I’ve seen photographers’ blogs that have copyright messages and right-click disable scripts installed everywhere on their blog, but then they don’t realize that they’re linking the images to FULL RESOLUTION versions of their web-sized images. That’s basically telling anyone, “hey click here and download this image for free!”  There may still be a few photographers out there that “give” away their images on CD for cheap, so maybe they don’t care that the images are then accessible on the web, but most photographers I know who want to protect their product wouldn’t want this situation to occur. So here’s the simple fix: before you insert your images into your post, make sure where it says “Link URL” in the image dialog box, it’s set to “none” and not “file URL” or “post URL”. Post URL isn’t what it sounds like. It will actually add the URL for the attachment page, which uses a page template you may or may not have, but it’s basically a page that shows just that image. I don’t recommend using it unless you aware that you have an attachment page template in your theme files.

I hope this list helps you in your quest to blog effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, creatively for your photography business.

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Designing a WordPress Blog for the Apple iPad

Last Updated on Sunday, 4 April 2010 08:56 Written by Theresa Sunday, 4 April 2010 08:55

If you’re like me, you’ve been HIGHLY curious about the release of the new Apple iPad. I’m not posting to advertise for the iPad or to even sway you to purchase one. Instead I wanted to discuss the issues of iPad (and iPhone) compatibility when it comes to the design of your WordPress photography blog or blogsite.

Let’s start the discussion with a new article that came out today:

Go ahead, I’ll give you a few minutes to read it. I’ll be waiting right here.
Ok, so now that you’ve read it, I wanted to bring up a couple important points from the article that highly concerns photographers with WordPress blogs.

a)  Layout.
Some of you have VERY wide blogs, over the standard 960 pixels. On most hi-res monitors these days (and I know you have one of them if you’re a photographer like me who likes to work on one while editing photos), that width is just fine. But many are not aware that there are still people out there with smaller resolution monitor settings. It was fine and dandy to assume that those dinosaur monitors would eventually burn out and become extinct, but with the emergence of small browser machines (i.e. iPad and iPhone), this should still be a very important issue.

What can you do about it? Well, just make sure that important content that you want people to see and read don’t go too far beyond the 960 pixels width. Regardless of the fact that iPads and iPhones have easy zoom features, it doesn’t make your site very user-friendly if you force some of your visitors to constantly zoom in and out to view your content.

b) Flash.

We’re talking Adobe Flash of course. 90% of you have the Flashfader plugin to create the flash slideshow in your header. Just admit it, you have one. So yeah, it’s pretty sucky that Apple still hasn’t given support for iPad and iPhone to view Flash content, but it’s not like we can tell all the buyers (and yes, I do have an iPhone so I’m one of them) to stop buying the products because they don’t support Flash. It is reasonable though to find an alternative method of showing our photos in a non-Flash format.

So how do you go about doing that? Well, I’ve recently found that using the Nextgen Gallery plugin along with the Nextgen Smooth plugin allows you to create photo slideshows that simulate a Flash show very closely, without the Flash. It’s javascript based, which Apple supports, and loads quickly and efficiently. Ugh, but what if you don’t want to redo your Flash slideshow? Well….you can have a static image replace the Flash if the browser detects that Flash isn’t supported. So instead of a blue box, the viewer will see a static image like your logo or something like that. This can be done pretty easily with some css coding that I can do for you.

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Design Focus Studio REDUX

Last Updated on Monday, 15 February 2010 08:46 Written by Theresa Monday, 15 February 2010 08:46

Do you have any idea how long I’ve wanted to overhaul my OWN photography blogsite? I’ve been so inspired by the client projects I’ve had, that I’ve been itching to play with my own site to see how far I can go with my own ideas. I had to start with my logo of course. It’s been a very, much needed process of finding out who I am and how I can translate that into my logo. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. Well, since I also have a history in the architecture field (and still do it from time to time), I did want to incorporate it in there somehow, and also the fact that I consider myself a designer-of-all-trades, so to speak.

Of course I had to go ahead and flash animate the logo as well, (you know I just had to). My colors changed as well, to a palette more vibrant than before. The layout of the blogsite is hopefully unique and easier to navigate than before. The “fake out” splash page actually has the blog entries below the initial flash content and includes a “read the blog” button to easily take you there in case you didn’t notice the blog section. I cleaned up the navigation menu items and put the archive links in an enhanced footer, making it SO much cleaner and nicer in my opinion.

So voila! Here’s the finished product.
Hopefully you are as inspired by it as I have been by your blogs. I guess time will tell if my PHOTOGRAPHY clients like it too.

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