Oh how I wish I could go back to 2005. I was heavily into photography back then, and I had a dream of quitting my 9 to 5 corporate job to become a full-time photographer. I had absolutely no idea how to do it though, so I slogged on with life feeling miserable and creatively unsatisfied. If I knew as much about blogging as I do today, I most likely could’ve made that transition. That ship has sailed for me as I’m not into photography much any more, but today is your lucky day. I’m going to teach you how to start a photography blog. From scratch. With no experience.
But first, my credentials: I’m currently making a full-time living with eight different blogs. Most of those were started around the 2010 time frame, when I still had absolutely no idea how to create a profitable blog. However, 10 years of hard work, trial and error, and persistence have taught me what it takes to earn a living blogging (in any niche). And I’m here to tell you: it’s a lot easier than you think.
Table of Contents
How to start a photography blog in six easy steps
The purpose of this tutorial is to teach you how to be a successful photography blogger in as little as time possible. I mean that in regards to both my time and yours by the way. It does neither of us any good if I blabber on about all the things that you could do which might work instead of telling you all the things that you need to do that will work. Here are the steps:
- Create a blog
- Choose the simplest theme possible
- Build a shopping cart system which will allow people to purchase your photography (prints and / or digital downloads)
- Post lots of content
- Be active on social media
- Rinse and repeat
That’s it. That’s how you start a photography blog. I realize that some of those steps may seem a bit scary and confusing to a complete beginner, so don’t worry. I’m going to explain all of the steps in greater detail in a moment.
Remember: you need to be in this for the long-haul. Starting a photography blog today doesn’t mean you’re going to be rich and successful next month. This is a process that is going to take several years, so you might as well get started now and get yourself ahead of the curve.
|Please note: some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means that I will get paid a commission if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of them.|
A deeper explanation of the six steps
What I’m about to explain below is all you need to set yourself up for success. Just follow the steps and I guarantee this is going to work for you. These are the exact same steps that I’ve used to build all of my websites, and I know this stuff works.
1. Create a blog
I’ve created so many blogs over the years that I could probably do it in my sleep at this point. However, I do know that it can be a scary and daunting task to anyone who has never done it before. To make it easy on yourself, create an account at WP Engine and call it a day.
All the reasons why I like WP engine for blog hosting:
- It’s a name I can trust. WP Engine has been around for years, and they have established themselves as one of the leaders in WordPress blog hosting.
- Their price plans are extremely competitive, and you can easily move to more feature rich tiers as your blog grows. However, in the beginning, just stick with the basic plan. That’s all you’ll need.
- Customer support is top notch. I have several blogs hosted with WP Engine, and I’ve found customer support to be very good. Far better than the mega hosting companies (I’m talking about you, Hostgator).
But don’t take my word for it. This detailed description will tell you all the reasons why WP Engine is the best in it’s class.
2. Choose the simplest theme possible
As a photographer, your blog should be minimal and clean. You want your photos to take center stage. NOT the framework of the blog itself. Things like menu bars and text boxes just get in the way, and are overly distracting.
FYI, WP Engine offers a wide variety of clean and simple themes. Just choose the one you like, and stick with it.
The point about choosing a simple theme is the important part. I know from experience that it’s going to be really tempting to spend hours agonizing over choosing the right theme, but trust me when I say this: it’s a complete waste of time. You are a photographer, and it’s your photography that needs to be at the forefront. Who cares about the theme? Nobody. That’s who.
3. Create a storefront with a shopping cart system
I know. My butt cheeks clenched too when I first tried to build a shopping cart system for my first website. However, it’s not 2005 anymore, and there are extremely good plug and play shopping cart systems that will integrate into your blog seamlessly (with no coding required).
My favorite two shopping cart systems for selling digital products (including photograph):
Long time readers of traderscooter.com already know about my love affair with Shopify. I am currently making over $1000 a month selling digital products on Shopify, and it’s my number one recommended method for anyone looking to sell products (both physical and digital) online.
There are a few key features of Shopify which are especially relevant for photographers:
- Shopify is extremely versatile. You can use it as your main website (so that you don’t even need a blog on WP Engine). Or, you can do what I do and use it as a separate e-commerce store to augment my main blog. Basically, what I’m doing is creating all of my content on my own blog, and then I’m pointing people over to my Shopify store were necessary so that they can buy my products.
- You can embed items directly from your Shopify store into your blog. This is especially great if you want to give your buyers a completely seamless experience. Sometimes it just feels better if you don’t have to send people away to complete a transaction.
- It’s incredibly simple and easy. I created my first Shopify store within minutes, and I remember feeling blown away that I had a professional looking e-commerce store to call my own. It was such a good feeling!
- There are a multitude of options for setting up automatic fulfillment with Shopify. In other words, yes, you can sell posters and prints of your photography without having to print and ship everything yourself! There are plug-ins that works directly with Shopify that take care of this fulfillment process for you, so you don’t have to do a thing.
Anyway, Shopify is what I recommend for photographers when it comes to selling their work online. They make it extremely easy to sell prints and digital products, and there aren’t many other e-commerce solutions on the market right now they can compete with it.
Gumroad is the other service that I use for selling digital art and photography. However, it works a little bit different than Shopify:
- Gumroad is designed to integrate directly with your blog. You simply create products within your account on the Gumroad website, and then you link to those products on your blog. When a customer clicks the link, a beautiful pop-up will appear showing the details of the product (along with the price). When they click the “buy” button, they will be able to make the transaction directly from that pop up. They don’t even need to leave the website.
- Gumroad is aimed more for selling digital products, but it’s certainly possible to sell physical products as well. You’ll just have to do the fulfillment yourself.
- It’s a much simpler (and cheaper) solution than Shopify
Anyway, I wrote a full blog post explaining all the differences between Gumroad and Shopify short while ago. I’d recommend reading that to get a better understanding of how these two products delivery platforms differ. If you don’t feel like clicking, here’s a brief comparison between the two:
|Sell digital products (PDFs, videos, images, courses, audio files, etc)|
|Sell physical products|
|Sell items directly from your blog|
|Offer subscription plans to your customers|
|Fully functional e-commerce website with themes and customization options|
|Pricing||$10/mo||Starting at $29/mo|
4. Post lots of content
This is probably the one step you expected when you set out in search of learning how to start a photography blog. The fact of the matter is that you’re going to need lots of good content to get any traction, and this is where you need to be spending the bulk of your time.
For a photography blog, I highly recommend doing deep dives on your photography. For example:
- Write entire blog posts explaining your thought process for a single photo or series
- Write some “behind the scenes” posts which explain how do you do what you do. People love this kind of stuff!
- Write tutorials for other photographers – from beginner level to advanced
I’d also not recommend putting deadlines and overly restrictive goals on yourself. In the past, I’ve tried forcing myself to pump out a certain number of blog posts every week, and in the end, I can just never stick to it and I feel miserable because of it.
The key to being a successful blogger (even a photography blogger) is to be consistent and keep writing.
Several other things to note about writing content for a photography blog:
- Word count doesn’t really matter so much, but aim for at least 500 words per post. Anything less than that will tell Google that your site is thin on content, and will be less likely to recommend it in the search results.
- Content which helps people will rank better in Google. Back when I first started blogging, it was basically diary posts. In other words, I just wrote whatever was on my mind without giving any thought to helping solve peoples problems or sharing valuable information. And you know what, my blogs didn’t grow at all.
- You’ll need to find a balance between showing off your photography and creating content which is going to attract others. Yes, you do need to have a portfolio section on your blog. But you also need to have a “how to” or product review sections as well. That’s the kind of content which will attract visitors in the beginning.
5. Be active on social media
Looking back on my own success, I realize that my most profitable brands have been the ones where I’ve spent more time on social media engaging in conversations with others. Learning how to start a photography blog means learning how to inject yourself into the social circles of the Photography niche.
- Instagram is probably your best bet since it’s the most visual of the social media platforms. However, Facebook groups and Twitter are good as well for engaging in conversations.
- For all you introverts out there like me who aren’t really big fans of social media, I’ve got good news: social media isn’t required. I don’t do very much social media at all across all of my brands, and I seem to be doing well enough without it. That being said, you do want to pop in every now and then just to stay relevant. You don’t have to hang out on social media all day / every day, but showing up every now and then and posting a picture or two is all that’s needed.
The goal is to get people excited about you and your photography. Don’t post links to your blog on every post. Simply post stunning images, offer good advice, and get people curious enough about you for them to want to click on the link in your bio.
6. Rinse and repeat
As I mentioned earlier, blogging is a long term game. Every blog that I’ve ever started took more than a year to get more than a handful of visitors every day, and you need to know that you’ve got a long road of head of you.
Just focus on being a great photographer, and a producer of engaging photography content. Never give up, and just know that you are guaranteed to find success if you keep at it.