PHOTOGRAPHY BLOGGING 101
If you’re a photographer, start your own photo blog. Much better than any social media.
Why make a photo blog?
To start off, the reason why you should make a photo blog: you will have more freedom, flexibility, and the chance to monetize your photography.
For example, if you start a photo blog on a certain topic or genre of photography, like what I did with “street photography”– you can become famous (on Google), which can open up fun opportunities to you in photography.
For example, the first year of blogging on street photography, I got invited by JJ from the Leica Blog to become a contributor, which led me to getting an all-expenses paid trip to Paris (Leica Monochrom event), where I met my friend Charlie Kirk.
The first year of photography blogging, I got invited by my friend Loryne and Mohamed to do a street photography workshop in Beirut, Lebanon. Thank you to my friends and Thomas Leuthard for financing the trip, and helping me achieve my dream– while having the chance to meet all these beautiful Lebanese people, eat great falafel sandwiches (Bar-Bar), and being treated like a family member from Mohamed’s mom.
Photography blogging led me to meeting my friend, Neil Ta. To teaching a series of workshops and events in Dubai, for Gulf Photo Plus (thanks Hala, Mohammed, Imraan, Troy, and many others). At Gulf Photo Plus, I met legends like David Alan Harvey, David Hobby, Zack Arias, Steve Simon, Sara Lando.
Photography blogging led me to having a unique opportunity to help other photographers. To have a reason to wake up in the morning. To challenge my own photography. To learn, develop, and grow. To share what I’m learning with others, and to learn also for my own sake.
When I wrote “Learn From the Masters of Photogrsphy”, I gave myself a free art/photography school education, without getting $300,000 in debt.
Photography blogging has also become very lucrative to me. Helping me (thanks Cindy and Neil) earn over $200,000+ USD a year. I do believe it is possible to follow your passion, and become rich. Of course it probably won’t happen for you, but with enough hustle and opportunity, you can. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
And the more influential you get as a photography blogger, the less you care about gear and social media fame. I’m the king of street photography on the internet, and I no longer need to shoot with a Leica to prop up my weak ego. I just shoot with a $600 Ricoh GR II camera, no need for sponsors — I can buy my own stuff.
I don’t need to be the slave to social media no more. I have enough influence on this blog, where I’m not getting censored. I feel cooler not having an Instagram, than having 60,000 followers (what I had before).
To make a photo blog, I recommend signing up on 1and1.com, buying the cheapest plan, registering your own domain (firstnamelastname.com or firstnamelastnamephoto.com), installing WordPress, and using the “Genesis” WordPress theme. It costs you maybe $10-20 a month, cheaper than an overpriced burger or 2 almond-milk cappuccinos at your local hipster coffee shop.
Then, you just have to write something, upload a photo, quote, and hit publish.
If you want to make a photo blog, but you have no ideas, here are some ideas:
- Upload 1 photo a day, and share why you like the photo. A good way to stay inspired. Stop uploading to social media, upload to your blog instead. Or do both.
- Upload 1 of your favorite photographs (from another photographer), and write why you like the photo, and how it inspired you.
- Email a photographer whose work you like, and email interview them (10 questions). Then share their 10 best photos.
- Write 1 photography tip a day.
- Write photography advice you wish you had access to if you started all over again. Or write photography advice to your 12-year old self.
How to be inspired? Some ideas:
- Drink black coffee, preferably a double espresso before blogging. Blog in a coffee shop, and put on some headphones, and listen to your favorite music album. And turn off the wifi on your laptop. And turn off your phone.
- Use IA writer or any minimalist writing app, to write. Then edit the post on WordPress, format, and add images after.
- Creative constraint: only blog on your phone or iPad. I’m writing this all on an iPad, no keyboard, in the IA WRITER app. Blog while you’re commuting, in the train, subway, or over your morning coffee.
- Email yourself blog posts: if you’re addicted to email, write blog posts on your email app, and email them to yourself. You can even email blog posts to be published on WordPress via email.
- Go to the gym, do deadlifts, then go home, make some coffee, and sit down on your kitchen table and write whatever is on your mind.
- Study non-photos, like Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, Rothko, Basquiat, or Roy Litchenstein. Find inspiration from them.
- Study poetry: read Horace, Goethe, and Virgil. Use their words to inspire your own blogging and photography.
- Cancel your Netflix subscription. Use your evenings to blog instead.
- Uninstall Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram from your phone. Use that time to blog on your phone. Upload photos to Instagram from your laptop (Flume in the Mac store), and use social media only on your laptop.
- Try to imitate your favorite bloggers or writers. Steal their style, and give them credit.
How to not become discouraged
- Disable statistics, page views and comments on your blog. This way, you will not get discouraged if your page views or “engagement” goes down.
- Never aim for perfection in blog posts. Just aspire to consistently write “shitty” blog posts, at least once or twice everyday. Aim for quantity, not quality.
- Share everything you publish. Share via email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media. When in doubt, over-share. Don’t fake humble.
And of course friend, if you’ve made it this far, remember- this is all the opinion of ERIC KIM. Ignore what I write that you disagree with, and only do what feels right to you.
Photography blogging monetization
After 6 years of photography blogging, 1-2 blog posts a day, 7 days a week, and 2,700+ blog posts later, I make $200,000+ a year. ERIC KIM is a household name in the photography blog community. I’m probably one of the top 10 richest photography bloggers alive. Only photography bloggers who I know are richer than me include Thorsten Overgaard, Ken Rockwell, Steve Huff, Michael Zheng from PetaPixel, Adam Marelli, and Ming Thein.
Here is advice I would give to make (good) money in photography blogging.
a. Photography workshops
The future of photography: everyone will own a $1,000 full-frame digital camera. Millions of photographers hungry to make better, more meaningful photos. Good opportunity for you to make money.
Build an audience by building trust. It takes you at least 1-2 years of building trust with someone, before they will give you money for your workshop, product, or service.
For example, for my $2,000 workshop– many are returning students, who have followed me for four to five years. It will take you a long time before you can start charging a lot of money for workshops.
b. Sell products
Cindy created HAPTIC, and sells photo manuals, limited-edition art portfolios, and artisanal goods. She is in the business of selling art products which inspire and empower.
You can monetize by selling physical products. I don’t really believe in selling digital products. I recommend:
Give away all your digital information for free, and charge a lot of money for physical products.
Think of your digital information (blog posts, articles, videos, ebooks) as free advertising for building up your name and brand.
I don’t know about you, but I hate paying for information. I love free information. But I will spend $500 on a leather product, if I believe in the mission of the craftsman.
I will not pay $20 for an ebook by a photographer, but I will spend $2,000 to attend a workshop by a photographer whose work I admire.
It is very hard to get people to buy physical products from you. On a daily average, Cindy usually sells between $20-$500 USD. It has taken me 6 years of building trust, before we got people to believe in our mission, and pay good hard earned cash on us. So you cannot expect to build an audience in a year, and start selling stuff quickly. At least will take you 3 years.
For making products, find a friend to make your products, and charge a lot of money for it. Don’t aim to be like Amazon or Walmart; sell a few products, for very expensive. Avoid selling cheap, or middle-priced goods. Or else you will never become rich.
c. Sell experiences
This is related to the workshops idea, but I will elaborate.
Sell experiences: travel, workshop, education, or anything that cannot be downloaded.
For me, my favorite memories are from travel, drinking coffee with friends, deep conversation, teaching and learning, and 3-hour dinners. Sell these experiences.
My friend Todd Hata has a company called Simple Photo Tours and he offers high-end, all-inclusive photo workshop/tours. His clients invest in an experience, that will last forever.
So ask yourself, what kind of unique and memorable experience can you sell?
Conclusion: Have fun
When in doubt, hit publish.
Photography blogging should be fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Only blog about what you are personally interested in.
And there is no perfection in photography blogging.
Ultimately, seek to make blog posts you would like to read. Be your own reader, and your own author.
To encourage you, here is an assignment: write these three blog posts, and publish and share them.
- 3 Photography Tips that Changed My Life
- Why I make photos
- The story of my favorite photograph
To be honest, photography blogging is a crowded, over saturated market. Most likely you won’t make it.
But if you have passion and heart, I cheer you on, my brave friend. Write words like bolts of Zeus’ lightning. Write words that inspires you. Fuel yourself with countless espressos, and aspire for making great photo blog posts that can inspire your 12-year old or 18-year old self.
Ultimately, blog for yourself. And be consistent. And who knows, you might become “successful” after a decade of consistent photography blogging. You might fail. But you will be grand for taking risks, ignoring small haters online, and for putting your neck on the line.
Be strong, Eric