Blogs, Social Media, Tweets and Gibberish

Caribou herd on the coastal plain, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Caribou herd feeding on the coastal plain, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Click the thumbnail for a larger, more epic, version.

Hey Folks

Recently I read a photographer ask the following question:

Now I know that blogging gets your profile closer to the top of the heap and web traffic will probably go up. The question is have any of you actually seen a raise in the amount of sales as a result? Is it all worth the amount of time that it takes to do all this stuff?

Now, I hope the photographer doesn’t mind me mentioning his name, but I only do so because this guy is a total BAD-ASS. Readers, meet Mr Adam Gibbs. Adam is an amazing photographer, and I don’t mean ‘amazing’ like ‘oh yeah, cool’ – I mean like his images are simply gorgeous. If this photo doesn’t make you cry, you’re computer is broke. If this photo doesn’t move you, it’s time for you to retire from your position as CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Mr Tillerson.

Anyway, the discussion that ensued revolved, as suspected, around blogging, facebooking, tweeting, etc, etc. Is it “worth it”?

All these things are just tools – just like Photoshop, or that shiny new Nikon D3s you just bought. And some folks do well with some tools and some folks do well with other tools, and some folks don’t do well at all.

For example – one photographer I know of (who IN MY OPINION could only generously be called a ‘below average’ photographer, and then by his mother) has over 60 000 followers on his Twitter list. Any which way you cut it, that’s a lot of people. If half of them are nothing more than Spam accounts, that still leaves 30 THOUSAND people who get those daily tweets. A ratio of only one in one thousand still could garner 30 sales, for workshops, prints, whatever. That’s 30 more than I’ve made so far today (I’ve had 2 more cups of coffee than I’ve had photo sales today). 🙂 I would say for that photographer, it’s clearly “worth it” (and maybe I need some more coffee).

Facebook can be useful to help build sales and encourage workshops, but so is attending local camera clubs and doing presentations, talks, etc. Calling photo editors and sending out DVDs to Alamy can help drive stock sales too. Signing on with a stock photo agency can help too. Which tool works best for you is something YOU probably know best about.

At the same time, I think some things becomes a norm, and it’s hard to deny them. Blogs are quickly becoming just that, and it’s probably wise for any photographer to have something in that form. 10 years ago just having a website was the subject .. and many folks had the same discussions we’re having now about blogs and facebooks, etc. These things are fluid and change over time.

Maybe a few years from now Facebook will implode and a new form of spreading the word about how awesome you are will be all the rage. Whether or not that format works for you is really the question.

One or 2 years ago a friend of mine ran a small ad in the back of a major Outdoor photography magazine for his workshops, for 3 consecutive months. It cost $1800, and he made ONE sale, nearly a year later. Was it worth it for him?

To be honest, I kinda feel the question of “is it worth it” is the wrong question. It reduces everything merely to dollars. Sure, we’re in business and that involves in dollars, but it involves many things, particularly when it involves an artform. Perhaps if we we making widgets, that reduction is valid. But as artists, the question ought go further than mere dollars, even as next month’s rent approaches.

Do you enjoy it? Do you want to do it? Those are relevant questions, and for me, the answer is, on the whole, yes, in moderation. I don’t want to be a slave to the process, and I don’t mind slowing down blog posts, or making a few off-the-cuff, nonsensical posts on facebook that aren’t at all intended to generate income; they maybe make a few of my friends grin and think ‘Yep, that’s Carl’. I don’t mind not tweeting all day long, or not posting a Follow Friday list, and that’s fine.

Lastly, remember your blog doesn’t need to be my blog, or anyone else’s blog. you don’t need to post every day because so-and-so does it, nor should you only post once a month because that’s how so-and-so’s sister does it. Your posts don’t need to be  as deep and meaningful as your neighbors, nor they do need to be as random and silly as your teenage niece’s might be. The real beauty of this stuff is that there really are no rules. just like your photography – shoot your passion.

Find what works for you, and enjoy that; for me, that means in about 25 minutes I’ll be skiing. Tweet that.



7 thoughts on “Blogs, Social Media, Tweets and Gibberish

  1. Jim Goldstein

    The value of blogging is only high if its inline with identified marketing goals. If someone can live of of a mailing list with tens of thousands of people I’m not going to tell them they have to blog. Blogging is a great outlet for multiple reasons.
    1. It is a self-publishing model. You don’t have to go through editors to get photos or writing out that you feel is important.
    2. It is of great benefit in enhancing other online strategies (search, networking, etc.)
    3. It enables you to interact with people you might otherwise never know are out there and who are interested in your work.

    Personally I can’t imagine not blogging. It’s a no brainer for me, but its not necessarily for others. I don’t recommend it for everyone. It takes a great deal of commitment and consistency to achieve benefits, but that effort is worth it if you can stick it out. To each their own. Reaching customers or potential customers can be done multiple ways not just through blogging.

  2. Carl D Post author

    Hey Jim,

    Well, I disagree with your first statement. Maybe rephrased it is more closely aligned to how I feel. But it depends how you measure ‘value’. Lots of people might blog and enjoy it with no ‘identified marketing goals’ at all. And those people may well have as much to say, and oftentimes more valuable information, than those who have a set strategy that fits your defined parameters.

    I agree with the self-publishing role – it’s a fantastic opportunity for a voice. Points 2 & 3 resonate well, for sure.

    Richard, I look forward to your post tomorrow. Let me know when it’s up.



  3. Joseph Kayne

    Well, I don’t blog, tweet, twat or toot. I very very rarely ever read blogs, especially photography blogs, since they all sound the same and everyone has a blog. The most interesting blogs that I have read are produced by people who generally have interesting things to say and are not-self-promoting. Personally, I don’t want to be a slave to the process. I see nature photography blogs like articles in photo magazines..eventually regurguration. Anyway, please add me to your egg roll, oh, I mean blog roll….Gibbs ain’t too shabby…Joe.

  4. Mark

    I think there can be no question that it can help a photography oriented site. After all, blogs contain a lot of text, and Google loves text, something many photography sites do not have. The bigger question on the business end is, do visitors to a blog turn into clients? I don’t really have an answer to that one. A blog however can generate some more regular traffic as well as incoming links you might not have otherwise had. The traffic and link juice can be recognized by Google, whether they are clients or not, and improve rankings on some search terms, which may be used by clients in trying to find what they are after.

    I know mine for me has simply given me an outlet to put more of what I think about photography in writing, instead of just floating around in the empty vastness between my ears. It has given me some space for self reflection on my own work and why I took interest in any particular thing. Then I figure maybe it if is interesting to me, it may be interesting to someone else. Therein some communication starts that might never have been. It can also be helpful from a journaling perspective to look back upon what you wrote for a little more introspection.

  5. Carl D Post author

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for dropping by. I tend to agree with you, for the most part. Blogs are largely little more than self-promotion. I think it’s a hard line to find, between spam and actually publishing reasonable content. Well, it’s not really hard, but it’s very easy and all too tempting to simply spam the world with ‘hey look at me’. And for many people, the latter approach seems to generate a healthy business.

    I think the ‘slave to the process’ comment is important. I know some folks who say it’s critical to post every day, but I tend to disagree. It’s more important to post when you want to. After all, it’s my blog, right? 🙂

    Hey Richard, thanks for the link. Excellent post, which, for the most part, I tend to agree with.

    Hey Mark,

    I think the link juice and traffic are important – if not the most important, function of the blog. It can help, for example, to make a page with really defined SEO, that is harder to do with standard thumbnail/gallery/image websites, particularly if they’re dynamic pages. If you have an all-static website, then the blog really shouldn’t be that much more beneficial in that regard than your regular pages.

    Lastly, as you said, it IS self-publishing, and that in itself is worth a lot. It can be just as important a form of expression as photography, if not more, and together I think the 2 can be great – powerful words and emotive imagery is exponentially more moving, often, than either by itself. And, as with any expression, we can learn a lot about ourselves along the way.

    We can also learn a lot about writing. I’d like to hope I’ve improved a little over the last few years. I’ve certainly read up some great articles on writing, and would hope that I’ve at least gleaned something of use there. Well, I know I have, to be honest. So it’s a good thing, for me, to be blogging.

    That actually ‘putting pen to paper’ makes a big difference to our thinking, doesn’t it? It’s one thing to have an idea bounce around the ole noggin’, but fleshing it out and embellishing it, trying to stay within the lines, can really clarify things for ourselves, of no one else.

    I’ve also learned a lot about web design doing this. Working with the templates and trying to customize that to fit my site has been both frustrating and productive. In fact, I see now I need to make another tweak or 2 to this one. 🙂



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