This post is to supplement a short talk on blogging held at SFBAPPA’s Digital/Multimedia workshop.
What is a blog:
When most journalists think of a blog, they think of either personal blogs or political blogs. While those are the most prevalent and well-known types, blogs have been used in a number of different ways.
Blogs have been used for community building on sites such as SavannahNow.com, one-man news reporting on Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone, and for sharing multimedia presentations on the Mercury News photo site.
There are certain characteristics that are common to most blogs such as frequent, journal-style posts, outgoing links to other sites, and some form of organizational tool for posts such as tags or categories. The most important characteristic, and what, in my opinion, makes a blog a blog, is the ease of use; the ability to publish content with the push of a button.
Types of photojournalist blogs:
Typically, there are two types of blogs created by photojournalists, those that talk about the profession and those that feature the author’s photographs.
Examples of the first can be seen with the following:
What is the benefit of spending time writing about photography and photojournalism? For starters, it gets your name out there. As SportsShooter founding member and SJSU alumnus Brad Mangin pointed out in his recent talk at San Jose State, having a web presence is a must for any photographer (Mangin and his work can be found on his own website, SportsShooter, altpick.com, PhotoShelter, and the Eddie Adams webpage).
One of the best examples of using a blog to make a name for yourself can be seen in Baltimore Sun photographer David Hobby’s Strobist blog. Hobby found a niche writing about flash photography and has gone from a photographer who was skilled in the use of shoe-mounted flashes, to a photographer that commands a worldwide audience, has deals with the Midwest Photo Exchange and earns revenue from Amazon.com affiliate sales. Performancing has written a more detailed assessment of the Strobist blog, why it works, what doesn’t work, etc.
The second type of blog common to photojournalists is the photoblog. A photoblog will usually feature one photo per page, updated frequently. Others choose to use a more standard blog template that allows them the option of posting text as well as photos.
Examples of photoblogs include:
Displaying your portfolio:
The use of a photoblog is by far the easiest and most cost effective (it’s free) way to promote yourself and publish your portfolio. If you wish to display your photos in a slideshow format here are a few options:
If you have your own server space:
Creating a blog:
Bloggers have two main options to look to when creating their blog. Blogger and WordPress. Blogger, which is owned by Google, is the easier of the two to operate. Using Blogger, you do not have to own your own server space. There exist many sites that provide templates that are compatible with Blogger and, in general, the css and html involved is simpler than is found with WordPress. As with the templates, most aspects of Blogger are usually less advanced than the comparable aspects in WordPress. Due to this, sites such as BloggerHacks have arisen, which provide workarounds and hacks that add functionality to a Blogger blog beyond what is available from Google.
WordPress also offers blogs for those that do not have their own server space. This is done through wordpress.com. For those that have their own space, and can upload and install items, wordpress.org is a great option. Templates for WordPress offer far more flexibility that those in Blogger, and, because they can be broken down into their parts, can be more easy to manage when you understand how all of the parts interact. WordPress blogs also allow for the inclusion of “widgets,” small add-ons that are easy to place and manage, as well as plug-ins which assist the author in a variety of ways.
When I made the move from Blogger to WordPress, SJSU graduate student Ryan Sholin posted a list of his ten favorite WordPress plug-ins, which is useful for anyone getting started with WordPress.
Keeping content fresh:
An important factor in driving traffic to your blog and maintaining that readership is to write about relevant topics and keep content fresh. For photoblogs, that would only require consistently posting new images to your blog. For more typical blogs, authors can post their work, choose a niche topic to focus on (flash photography, ethics, multimedia presentations, portraiture, sports, journalism school, etc), and/or post links to other relevant or interesting sites.