Although I’ve been blogging here on My Favourite Lens for a fair few years now, I still remember the days when I was first setting the site up.
One thing that sticks in my mind is how much easier it all was than I’d feared.
If you’ve been thinking of starting a photography blog of your own but are put off by the technical steps, I want you to know it’s not as difficult as you may imagine.
To allay any worries you may have, I’ve put together this step-by-step guide to creating your own photography blog. Or any other kind of blog, for that matter.
Just substitute your niche for the word photography when you see it, follow the steps as suggested, and you can create a blog that you’ll have the freedom to customise, the ability to grow and scale, and plenty of opportunity to make money from regardless of what you write about (within reason).
Choosing your photography blog name
What’s in a name?
Anything you want really. It’s your blog. You could go with your own name + photography. You could base it on the type of photography you’re into. You could even take inspiration from the type of equipment you use.
Just take some time and make sure it’s something you won’t regret later.
You might love landscape photography now but if you get into portraits in a year’s time, are you going to be happy with your landscape-themed blog name and URL?
Think also about your domain name. Conventional wisdom says to go for a .com domain whenever possible, and I still think it’s the best choice if your audience is going to be global.
There are occasions when an alternative type may be beneficial though. If you’re a wedding photographer based in the UK, a .co.uk can help you create a more local feel to your business.
There are also a bunch of actual words that have been made available to use too. You could go with .blog or .photography if you want. However, while they look cute, I’m not sure I’d recommend going with any of these when .com is still the industry standard.
A good way to go is to brainstorm some ideas for photography blog names – keep them short and sweet and avoid hyphens – and check if they’re available on a site like Namecheap.
If you find something (heads up, myawesomephotographyblog.com is available at the time of writing) you can either buy there and then or wait until the next step.
Getting hosting for your photography blog
This is where you might realise this guide isn’t for you.
If you’re thinking of creating a photography blog to share your work with your friends and family, or to keep as a personal diary or journal, you probably won’t need to worry about getting hosting.
You can go to wordpress.com, sign up, and get started for free. You will have .wordpress in your URL – like myawesomephotographyblog.wordpress.com – but if it’s just for you, it doesn’t really matter.
There are monthly paid plans that can remove that from your URL and give access to more customisation. Even doing this though, you’re still building your photography blog on their property.
If you’re at all serious about growing your blog, you really should go self-hosted. This means buying hosting and having a free installation of WordPress on top of that.
That way you own it completely, have the freedom to make it look and act exactly how you want, and can monetise it in any legal way you can think of.
The host I use and recommend for your WordPress blog is SiteGround. They have dedicated WordPress plans that come with bespoke features, such as their own caching plug-in to speed up your site.
I moved over to them after becoming unhappy with a previous host and am very happy I did. This site has been noticeably faster since I moved, the customer service has been fantastic, and I managed to save money compared to what I used to pay.
They even migrated my site over for me; a service that’s included in all but the cheapest plan.
Getting going on SiteGround is quick and easy.
First, choose your plan. Remember the longer you buy, the longer you will get the discounted rate for.
Next, enter your domain name. This could be one you bought earlier or one you are registering now.
Finally, review and complete your order. Then you’ll be ready to get WordPress installed.
Installing WordPress on your SiteGround account
Once you’ve registered and confirmed your SiteGround hosting package, you’ll receive your login details for the customer area.
Once in there, you’ll be asked if you want to start a new website. This is also the stage where you would transfer an existing one, as I did,
If you are starting from scratch though, choose the start a new website option and click the large WordPress logo. A further section will then appear where you can enter your email and create a username and password.
Do not make your username something obvious, like admin, and make your password as strong as you can too.
After you click confirm you can choose any enhancements you want on your setup. Once you’ve decided whether you want any of those or not, click complete setup and proceed to the next step – the backend of your newly created WordPress website. 🙂
There are plenty of guides online for navigating this area and creating your first post.
Customising your WordPress photography blog
Changing the look of your WordPress photography blog is as easy as installing and changing between different themes.
There are countless free ones available for self-hosted WordPress blogs. Even narrowing the search to photography style themes gives over 300 results.
When you’re starting out or are blogging as a hobby, free themes are good enough. If you want to take your photography blog more seriously though, premium themes are the way forward.
They improve the look and functionality of your site, putting you a step above anyone still on the free ones, and usually come with technical support from the developers themselves.
I spent many an hour trying to fix problems on an old free theme I used. Since switching to a premium one from StudioPress I’ve found it far easier to find solutions to any issues I’ve had.
This is usually by Googling what I want to get done and finding a simple piece of code somewhere rather than having to even speak to anyone. When I used a free theme, it was impossible to find solutions specific to it.
- clean code that helps with site speed and SEO
- mobile responsive design
- fully customisable layouts
- unlimited support and updates
- increased security compared to free themes
- easy switching between premium themes on the framework
Adding more functionality to your photography blog
If you find your WordPress theme doesn’t have a feature you’d like, there will likely be a plug-in you can install to add it.
Again, there are countless free and premium plug-ins out there, although you want to keep the number you use to a minimum. Too many can add bloat and slow down your site.
All the plug-ins can be downloaded from WordPress and installing them is as simple as then uploading them to your site via your dashboard.
You’ll probably discover which plug-ins you personally need as you learn more about using WordPress and what you want your site to do, but here are a few that will get you going in the right direction:
Akismet – to protect your blog comments from spammers and trolls
Yoast SEO – to help you get your SEO on point
SG Optimizer – to get your SiteGround-hosted blog running as fast as it can
W3 Total Cache – to get your non-SiteGround-hosted blog running as fast as it can
Q2W3 Fixed Widget – to enable a fixed widget in your sidebar so it’s always visible
Genesis Simple Sidebars – to show different sidebar content depending on the post type
One more piece of advice regarding plug-ins. If you have Jetpack installed, you should consider getting rid of it. The plug-in comes with a lot of features, but this means it’s pretty heavy and is known to slow down some sites.
If you can get whatever functions you need it for from standalone plug-ins, or even just live without them, it’s often a better option than having a slow site caused by a plug-in with lots of features you don’t even use.
Installing Google Analytics and Search Console
Once your blog is set up and you’re writing posts for it, you’re going to want to see what kind of traffic you’re getting.
In the beginning, you’ll have to be promoting it yourself. Even if your content is really good, it takes Google some time to rank new blogs as they prefer to include older, more trusted sites in their search results.
To install Google Analytics, you need to create an account and then paste a code snippet into the header of your site. This might sound tricky but having StudioPress makes it easier. They have a handy box to paste your code into right on the dashboard, as you can see below.
Installing Google Search Console is done in a similar way, but this time you can paste the code into the settings of the Yoast SEO plug-in recommended earlier. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to submit your sitemap too.
Analytics and Search Console give different types of data and can be used in too many different ways to go into right now. The important thing is to get them installed and then probably not look at them for a few months.
Creating lots of quality content is your only job in the beginning.
Creating content for your photography blog
Now you’ve got Google Analytics set up to track the visitors to your blog, you need to produce something for them to find and look at.
What that content is going to be about and look like is up to you. I can tell you this, though. If you want to get traffic from Google, and I’m sure you do, you need to think about your potential readers. Your posts need to help or affect some change in them.
This can mean posts along the lines of:
- tips and advice
- inspiration and motivation
- product information
Believe me when I say that nobody is Googling for your I went here and took these photographs kind of posts. I know that from experience.
Although I mentioned earlier it will likely take a while to see organic traffic due to Google taking a while to rank your site, I still recommend you make your articles as SEO-friendly as possible from day one.
Many a blogger has written a ton of content in the beginning with little care or knowledge of SEO and found themselves spending hours on end reworking and optimising them later.
If you at least get your on-page SEO in order from the start, you’ll give it the best chance of ranking once Google does notice you and save time in the future by minimising any necessary optimisation.
To do this, you need a good keyword. This means a keyword with enough monthly searches to make it worth writing about yet with low enough competition to enable you to rank for it.
Then make sure that keyword is in the URL, in the title, in a subtitle, in the meta description, as the name of an image in the post, and in the article text a couple of times too.
There are lots of free tools to find keyword search volumes, but to find accurate competition data you’ll need something like Keyword Revealer.
It’s what I use to determine the following:
- the best keywords for photo essays I’ve already shot for and am definitely going to write
- whether a base idea for an article is worth pursuing, modifying, or just scrapping
Making money from your photography blog
Once your photography blog is up and running, you have various ways to make money from it.
The simplest two, and the ones most people do first, are adverts and affiliate links. For the former, you’ll be looking to use Google AdSense. The most common way to get started on the latter is with Amazon Associates.
Whether either are worth bothering with in the beginning is up for debate, and ultimately up to you. And Google and Amazon too, actually, as you will also have to meet their requirements for new publishers.
Regardless, AdSense will only be bringing in a trickle of pennies while your traffic is low and Amazon will kick you out of their program if you don’t make a sale in the first 3 months. You can reapply but that would mean changing your links to reflect your new account.
Once your blog is getting enough traffic and you have more idea of what you’re doing, you can move on to more lucrative ad networks like Mediavine and work with higher paying affiliate networks like CJ Affiliate or ShareASale, to name two.
Monetising your photography blog could also happen by selling your own products. These could be something as simple as prints, eBooks, or even photography training courses if you’re at that level.
The possibilities for monetising are almost endless but I must say this. I cannot guarantee or even predict how much success you’ll have.
That depends on you, how good you are, and mostly how much work you put it in.
Starting a photography blog of your own
That’s a lot of information so it’s probably a good idea to recap.
The first step to creating a photography blog is coming up with a name you like and that won’t pigeonhole you or become outdated.
Next, once you’ve made sure it’s available with the .com or whichever other domain you choose to go with, head over to SiteGround and sign up for their WordPress hosting.
Go through their quick and easy WordPress installation process and decide on a theme for your blog. Remember, if you want to go premium, I recommend checking out StudioPress and their Genesis framework.
Download and install any plugins you think you’ll need – you can always delete any that prove unnecessary and get more later – and install Google Analytics and Search Console so you’re ready to track your new audience too.
You can now write some casual posts to get used to WordPress, or start as you mean to go on and make sure they’re well researched for ranking in Google. I recommend you use Keyword Revealer to find good search terms that you stand a chance of being seen with.
At some point after this, once you meet the requirements for new publishers, you can think about adding some monetisation channels.
Perhaps one day, once your traffic is high enough and your strategies are working well enough, your photography blog could become a source of income that gives you more time and freedom to do what you really love.
If I had to guess, that would be being out there making photographs.
And that’s how to start a photography blog of your own.
… p.s. if you’ve found this guide to starting a photography blog useful and think others will too, why not share or pin it?