Text support-In conversation with Catherine Jamieson

Create your own photo blog
3.5 out of 5

In 2004, Forbes Magazine named Catherine Jamieson’s photo blog, Utata, one of the best. Jamieson’s book Create Your Own Photo Blog provides all the information one would need to join the fastest-growing form of self-publishing on the Web.

As with all success stories on the Web that are started in the private domain, it’s never long before the corporate world comes up with ways to tap into the new phenomenon.

The book would have been greatly strengthened if it had included more discussion of the future of the photo blog, but the book’s strengths are invaluable to those looking to create their own photo blog.

Why have photo blogs become so popular? What do they offer that a written blog does not?

Written blogs have the disadvantage of being really only useful to others who can understand the language in which they are written. Photo blogs speak a universal language. The photographs need no translation. I believe the reason that photo blogs have become so popular is simple: Digital cameras are cheaply available all over the world and many people own one. Add that to the notion of universal language (and thus potential appeal) and I think it’s enticing to people to show off their stuff to an appreciative audience.

How do most photo blogs archive their photographs?

A year ago I would have said “on their own sites,” but today I believe it is likely to be on a photo archiving site and that site is likely to be Flickr. When I started writing the book, Flickr had approximately 500,000 members and when (the book) hit the stores, Flickr had nearly two million members.

What are the best ways to promote a photo blog? And what is the best way to find photo blogs on particular subjects?

Promoting a photo blog is a lot like any other endeavour where the “product” is really yourself.

I always recommend getting involved in the community, visiting and commenting on other photo blogs, joining Flickr and participating in the community there and generally making yourself visible. What you should not do, and which often creates a backlash of bad “publicity,” is to join groups or communities simply to paste your URL and ask people to visit your site. Participation is the key. Create a good RSS feed, make your syndication links easy to find and your site easy to navigate. All that said, of course, the photography has to be interesting and compelling.

How important is networking with other photo bloggers and syndicating one’s content?

Very important. More than 50 per cent of my readers find me through one of my feeds. I publish an atom, an RSS and an XML (feed) and make it easy to find them on my site. I believe that my involvement in the community has probably earned me more viewers than any other single factor.

Are there ways to make money from a photo blog?

Yes. Some people sell branded items from services such as Cafépress, others sell prints, postcards or greeting cards made from their photography, and others obtain commissions for professional work based on their blog offerings. From selling related books through Amazon to the odd request from a publisher for the use of a photograph, there are a variety of ways, with a good steady traffic, that one could earn a little money from a photo blog.

In a globalized world should corporations be looking at the universal appeal photo blogs as a way to reach customers or clients?

Absolutely. Magazines and newspapers have known for years that the picture on the cover or front page is a large factor in the sales results.

And the reason is that the cover is written in the universal language and has no editorial slant.

People trust pictures.

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