A while ago I wrote about the importance of blogging (and doing it for the right reasons).
If you’ve decided you do want to invest some time and energy into a blog, it’s time to learn how to do that, whether you’re starting from scratch or you already have a blogless photography websites.
While I can’t cover all possible platforms and templates here, this article is meant to give you a high-level overview of your options.
You can download this entire article in ebook form (along with many other resources) in the free Member Area: “Web-design tips and best practices for photographers” (PDF)
Many decisions depend on the platform you’re using for your site.
You might be asking what a platform is. Think of it as the service you’re using to display your photography website:
- Popular photography website platforms: PhotoShelter, Smugmug, Zenfolio, Koken, FolioWebsites, FotoJournal etc.
- Popular generic website platforms (or content-management systems, also frequently used for photo websites): WordPress (most popular by far), Squarespace, Wix, Jimdo etc.
They have different purposes: some are specialized on blogging while also allowing you to display photo galleries, while others are perfect for photos while also having simple blogging features.
They also work in different ways: some are hosted on their servers (giving you a username-based website like username.service.com with the ability to use your own custom domain too), while others are self-hosted like WordPress (the .ORG version).
Do some research
Start by simply doing a Google search “[service name] blog” to find instructions for integrating a blog into your site. Look for help/support pages or forums with instructions on setting up a blog on your site.
What you find will usually fall into one of these scenarios:
Scenario 1: Your website platform already has (good) blogging functionality
That’s great, this allows you to keep everything under the same roof. Usually, it’s as simple as creating a new Blog index page (and setting it to display all your posts, ideally with excerpts instead of full posts).
Scenario 2: You need a hybrid site (integrating a photography website with a separate blogging area)
Not all platforms have their own blogging functionality, or it might be too basic for your needs. In that case, you try to integrate two different services:
A) Weak integration
This is done just through a “Blog” link in the navigation, taking visitors to your separate blog area (usually on a separate URL and with a somewhat different design).
- Ben Von Wong: Portfolio & Blog
- Joe McNally: Portfolio & Blog
- Matthieu Paley: Portfolio & Blog
- Jason Myers: Portfolio & Blog
B) Strong integration
Even though you’re using two different platforms (possibly on two different URLs), you can make the integration better by:
- customizing one platform’s design to match the other (so it all feels like a single coherent website)
- embedding links to your images in your blog posts
If people can naturally navigate between your image galleries and your blog posts and feel they’re part of the same site, you’ve done a great job.
Examples (navigate to the blog area to see how the design matches the rest of the site):
However you integrate platforms in a hybrid site, always make the design as consistent as possible. At the very least, try to match the logo, fonts, background & accent colors.
Bonus points if you also make the navigation consistent: see part 1 point B from my guide on navigation menus.
In my past article about having separate photo websites or merging them, I wrote that it’s ideal to have the blog on the same domain as the main site (either in a sub-folder, or at least in a sub-domain):
Regardless of how you integrate the blog into your photography site, you should be able to achieve that (and place it on a separate domain altogether):
In scenario 1, you’re likely to be able to set up the blog in a sub-folder (domain.com/blog/).
In scenario 2, sometimes you can’t use a sub-folder, but most platforms allow you to use a custom domain for their service (usually via a DNS record called CNAME, as PhotoShelter does). That’s a great opportunity to create a new sub-domain in your hosting provider, and use that for your blog (e.g. main site is at www.johndoe.com, and blog area is at blog.johndoe.com).
- Expert Advice: Blogging for Photographers (aPhotoEditor)
- How to start a photoblog (TheArtOfPhotography.tv)
- How to Start a Fantastic Photography Blog – Infographic (WhoIsHostingThis)
If you need specific advice for your own website platform or got stuck when setting up your blog, drop me a quick message in the comments (or via email) and I’ll do my best to help you out.