Images shot with Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5
It’s easy to be romantic about your photography blog.
You might think that quality always trumps quantity.
It often does of course, but if the pursuit of making everything as good as it can be is costing you followers, then when does it become time to reassess?
Only producing something every couple of weeks might give you more time to come up with something deeper, but very few people are going to be excited about waiting for it.
Think about the people you follow. They’re probably putting out something new every day, in some form or another.
It may not have the depth of your work, but that’s not the point. The point is they’re on your screen every single day.
So if you’re still just producing one blog post every two weeks because they need to be something for the ages, you’re slipping further behind every single day.
Recognizing I’ve not been the most prolific blogger, I took some time to think about why. This article is what I came up with.
If you think you need to do more on your own photography blog, or are just starting out and want to begin right, I suggest you read on.
These points may not align exactly with your own issues – it may be more of a letter to myself – but they should help you to get thinking about them.
Also, expect some cliche and trope along the way.
1. Not every blog post needs a story
In the beginning, I wanted every blog post to tell a story.
Whether that be an account of a trip I’d taken or an introduction to the place I’d been shooting, or something else, there always had to be a story.
I think this came from wanting to do more than post the kind of unoriginal, banal and contextless #streetphotography you see so much of online.
I’ve left more street photography Facebook groups than I can remember because seeing an endless stream of images that could only be titled ‘person walking down the street’ got so, so tedious.
I’m not trying to sound elitist. I just think everyone can do better.
So I think maybe I tried too hard to avoid that. I took it too far the other way. So far in fact that every blog post became some sort of event in my mind, which made the idea of producing them more intimidating than it should be.
This need for depth and (perceived) quality was destroying the ability to produce the necessary quantity.
Cliche / trope 1: Content* is king
A degree of quality will always be important, but you can’t let it drag your quantity below where it needs to be.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be writing long-form posts as well as the quicker ones. You absolutely should be. Hell, I can tell now this isn’t going to be a short one.
But if you haven’t published anything for a while, just go take some pictures. Then write something. Something short. And publish it.
Yes, every blog post should have a takeaway.
But not every post on your blog needs to be a novella.
2. Get your camera over your shoulder and the sun on your back
The need for every blog post to be an event – especially those that introduced the places I was shooting at – meant always needing new places to go.
This is unsustainable.
Eventually you’ll run out and burn out.
It doesn’t matter where the three pictures used on this post were taken (although, Wuxi, China, if you really want to know).
What is important is they were in no way mentally draining to create. Not before, not during, and not after. I just noticed some good light, stood in one spot, and shot as people came past.
Don’t think about things too much.
Get your camera over your shoulder and the sun on your back.
Paralysis by analysis will kill your blog while other people are writing a new post using a batch of images shot within a couple of minutes of each other.
You’re reading one now.
Cliche / trope 2: Done is better than perfect
The images on this blog post might not be anything special, but you’re still looking at them.
Those images you’re planning on going to that place to take are going to be much better, aren’t they? The problem there is, nobody can see them. Because they’re still only in your head.
Go out with your camera today or tomorrow. Sunrise or sunset. Whenever the light is good. Stand in one place and take some photographs. Then go somewhere else, nearby, and take some more.
Within an hour you’ll have a couple of sets you can base a couple of blog posts around.
They might not be perfect, but they will be done.
3. Nobody cares about the bullshit rules you set yourself
When I started My Favourite Lens, the idea was for it to be all about vintage lenses.
The idea of diluting the website with sets of images taken with the Sony NEX kit lens was incomprehensible.
And then I shot the first Chiang Mai Digital Nomad Summit with that kit lens, published it on here, and the website didn’t spontaneously combust.
I wasn’t buried under a deluge of hate mail from vintage lens fans.
I actually got some nice comments about the article from people who are into the digital nomad scene and couldn’t care less about vintage camera lenses.
Meanwhile, all the posts in the vintage lens niche are still here for those who want to read them.
While I still only shoot with vintage lenses when I use my camera, I do now have a camera on my phone too (#humblebrag).
And because I always have it with me, I probably shoot with it as much as my vintage lenses.
Will some phone shots one day make it onto here and not just onto Instagram?
If they’re good enough and relate to something worth talking about, I’m sure they will.
They won’t dilute the vintage lens stuff. They’ll work alongside it.
Because the only person who ever cared about the vintage lens photographs only rule was me.
Cliche / trope 3: The best camera* is the one that’s with you
Maybe you only blog about the pictures you take with your Leica, but you don’t take your Leica everywhere you go.
But most places you go will have something worth shooting. So shoot it with your phone and, if it turns out good enough, blog about it alongside your Leica work.
Maybe you only blog monochrome pictures, but you find yourself in India for the Holi festival (you never know).
How’s that going to look devoid of colour?
Examples irrelevant to you maybe but the point stands. Don’t abandon your niche, but don’t limit yourself to it either.
The bullshit rules you made for yourself are only holding you back.
And the worst thing is, it’s only you that even cares about them.
4. Follow one course until successful
The single biggest reason why my output on this blog has been of such pitiful quantity so far.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, talked about focus.
Check the sub-heading again if you need to.
It’s common advice, yet it’s almost as common for people to think they can do two things at once.
You can’t. Not to the best of your ability in both.
I started My Favourite Lens as a hobby. Or as a way to learn how to make a website. Or as a place to show the photographs I was taking to people who I thought might be interested.
Not many people were.
The idea of it being any kind of money-maker seemed almost unattainable, and that shows in what else I’ve been doing in the last few years.
Since starting this website, I’ve worked as a freelance writer. I no longer do that.
I also spent months (and months and months) building an eCommerce store from scratch, before realising that was going nowhere. It’s since been deleted in its entirety.
While working on those projects, My Favourite Lens was always the second (or third) priority. It was always the slow burner. Because blogs take a long time to get to where you want them to be, so it’s better to work on what can be more immediately successful.
That may be true, but the blog won’t build itself in the background.
So when I did get around to doing the odd post, which we know is not enough to make any headway, I was taking attention away from the other projects that I needed to work on for the more immediate returns.
Two projects 50% of the way to success are both useless. One project 100% of the way is gold.
Now, for the first time, I can follow this course and this course alone until successful.
Whatever your goals are, you should probably do the same.
Cliche / trope 4: Do or do not. There is no try
Yeah, I went there.
I can take or leave Star Wars, and I mostly leave it, but this quote has always resonated with me.
It can be taken to mean your attitude before attempting something will determine whether or not you’ll succeed.
If you tell yourself you’ll try, you’re leaving room for the failure you fear might happen.
If you tell yourself you’ll do, there’s no room for anything but success.
You can also think about how the quote relates to something you already attempted.
In its simplest form, success and failure of single tasks is binary. You either did something or you didn’t.
When looking only at the end result, tried but didn’t succeed is the same as didn’t do it.
Looking still at the end result only, this means tried but didn’t succeed is the same as didn’t try; both ended in failure.
If we want to succeed with our blogs, forget trying.
We need to do.
That means, I believe, doing so without distraction.
Following our courses until successful.
So how about you? What mindset changes have you made to become a better blogger? Or which ones do you think you should make?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. The more people who share, the more people we can help improve. 🙂
And by the way, if you want some more practical tools to improve your blog too, be sure to check out my comprehensive collection of photography blogging resources.