You have a vision. You have a camera, the perfect medium for expressing it. You have a knack for taking the right picture at the right time. You have everything a great photographer could need. So why does it feel like something’s missing?
You still need someone to see your photos.
After all, if you take a photograph of a forest and no one’s around, can anyone hear the camera click?
We’ll leave that question to the philosophers. As for you, you know what stands between you and your audience: a well-crafted, well-designed blog. Let’s take you from the darkroom to the showroom by explaining how to build a spectacular photography blog.
Step One: Get The Essentials
You might have the visual know-how of an Ansel Adams or Margaret Bourke-White, but that doesn’t mean you know how to start a blog from scratch. Fortunately, we live in a world of millions of blogs, which means there are simple solutions to get you there.
Pick a domain name
For many photographers, their website is simply FirstnameLastname.com. There. Step one is done.
The problem? There are hundreds of millions of domain name registrations. What if your name is Abby Smith or Al Jones? Those are probably taken. There are a few options here:
- Use initials. Find a unique pairing of your initials and your full name to see if you arrive at a solution that’s simple enough for people to find.
- Use an alternative domain suffix. For example, “.co” is increasingly popular.
- Get creative. If you’re Abby Smith, maybe it’s more memorable for you to use AbbySnaps or PicturesByAbby as a brand name.
Get more tips on choosing a domain name for your photography blog.
Purchase a web hosting package
Register your domain and sign up for hosting in the same place—it’ll keep your life simpler. That means your primary decision will be to choose which web host you want.
But as a photographer who just spent $3,000 on a camera, your pockets may be full of lint. Good news: here’s a place you can finally cheap out: just pick a reliable shared hosting plan that gets your site up and running as affordably as possible.
We could go on and on about the different options for your blogging platform. But if you spent your college years studying photography rather than web design, there’s no need to overcomplicate things or reinvent the wheel. We offer one-click WordPress installation here at HostGator. It’s a great place to start.
Step Two: Build Your Photography Blog
There are two possible approaches here. Technically, you could skip straight to step three without sorting out the details first. This might appeal to you if you’re a guerilla-style photographer, always letting spontaneity lead to creativity.
But what if you’re a wedding photographer? Then you understand the importance of scheduling, consistency, and advanced planning.
That’s why it’s worth slowing down and considering your goals. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself and switch blog themes six months down the line. It’s much easier to make these decisions now.
Match your WordPress theme to your niche
True: you may already know your niche. But WordPress doesn’t. You’ll have to identify a WordPress theme for photography blogs that neatly aligns with your goals.
- For personal photography: You can go minimalist. No contact page, no blog, no nothing. Just a theme like PhotoMe with extensive gallery layouts. This will keep the focus on the photos—and little else.
- For professional photography: Look for WordPress themes with “portfolio” in the description. You’re also going to need intuitive navigation so people can find out how to reach you. Diamond features a photography slider with a sidebar for people who want to know more about you.
- For wedding photography: You can adhere to the same principles as most professional photographers. But keep in mind who your target audience is: brides and grooms. They’re on sites like TheKnot, and they want their photographs to reflect that. You’re going to have to pick a theme that screams “wedding,” like Vega.
These are just examples, of course. You can browse sites like ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, and even WordPress itself to explore what’s out there.
Learn your way around WordPress
WordPress is going to be your new best friend. And like any friend, you’ll have to learn its quirks to have a great relationship with it. Get particularly used to the following menu items:
- Pages: This is where you design and manage site-level sections of your blog, including the Home page, your “About” page, and contact forms.
- Posts: This is where you’ll upload your photos. Depending on the theme you chose, you might include brief stories. Some wedding photographers, for example, attach little explanations about the couple they’re highlighting.
- Appearance: This is where you install and customize the look of your blog. If you’re primarily using a template from a theme, you may not have to use this much.
- Plugins: Here’s where you can customize your photography blog with add-ons to enhance the user experience.
The best WordPress plugins for photographers
Plugins are to WordPress what clothes are to people—sure, you can technically get by without them, but it’s probably a good idea to use them.
If you’re unsure of how your site looks, why not add a photography plugin?
EnviraGallery is one of the foremost names in the photography biz. It adds a drag-and-drop builder for creating video or picture galleries. You can choose prebuilt templates to build good-looking photo galleries in a few clicks. And you don’t have to worry about mobile design; EnviraGallery takes care of that.
On the backend, WordPress’s own plugin Regenerate Thumbnails will automatically create photos of different sizes once you upload them. This will save you the time and effort in editing your own thumbnails—often with complicated and unnecessary software. Even more importantly, it will keep the time you spend posting photos to a minimum.
Finally, you’ll have to remember your audience. Ultimately, people visiting a photography blog just want to click. To indulge them, you’ll want to create sliders with Soliloquy. It features a drag-and-drop design on the back and perfect mobile compatibility for your viewers.
Step Three: Stay Consistent (and a Few Other Tips)
That’s it. Once you’ve done everything above, you’ll have a website for your photography blog. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that it’s easy to get to this point. The bad news is that from now on, your success depends entirely on your approach.
The most important thing is to post consistently. If you don’t regularly update your photography blog, you’ll never know which photographs are going to resonate with people.
Here’s a neat trick for consistency: give yourself a big number for when you’ll stop posting new photos if the blog hasn’t gained any transaction. Go on, pick one. Make it big and make it round. Now stick to it. Even if you haven’t gotten any attention after posting 99 photos, it won’t seem so much if the number you picked at the beginning was 1,000.
Finally, here are a few other tips to use your blog in constructive ways.
First, try experimenting! Sometimes great art can come from experiments. Monet’s impressionist paintings Haystacks were a series of ordinary subject matter. But Monet was less interested in the haystacks themselves than in painting an object from different sources of light. Take an experimental approach yourself; commit to growing your skills along with the blog.
You might also try new markets. Only photographed weddings? Experiment with cooking ordinary, everyday things like recipes or tabletops. Hire your first model for a session. Create new categories in your blog so it’s easy for your audience to keep up with all the different things you’re doing.
Whatever you do, it won’t work unless you follow these basic steps. And keep in mind we have more to say about starting a blog from scratch if you ever feel like any of these steps tripped you up.
Get your Photography Blog Up and Running with HostGator
Once you’re ready to start your photography blog, it’s easy to set up web hosting. Sign up for web hosting with HostGator to make your dreams of a photography blog a reality.
Casey is the Senior Director of Marketing for Hosting and has been in the web hosting space for 7 years. He loves the slopes and hanging out with his kids.