Quick Start Guide to Launching Your Photography Blog

1. Define Your Goals
Before diving right in, you should first think about the goals you have for your blog.  Are you simply looking to photoblog an ongoing stream of you’re work for fun?  Or are you looking to get your name and your brand out in front of a much larger audience, online.  Maybe you have an established client base, and just want a portfolio with some general contact information.  Or if you are like me, you are looking for a way to supercharge your photography business, meanwhile creating additional streams of passive income.  Whatever you’re goals are, you will be better off to establish them right off the bat, as they will play an important role in your decision making process down the line.

2. Choose Your Blogging Software
There are a number of free tools out there to get you up and blogging in no time at all.  However the biggest blogging mistake of all is to use a service such as Blogger, TypePad, or WordPress.com.

These services are great for posting a blog about your cat, but they do not allow you to use your own domain name, and they generally do not have enough flexibility to support your the style and features you want. If you’re serious about your photography blog, you’ll want to have your own domain name.

I recommend using free open source software such as WordPress.  I use WordPress to power every website I build, it is an extremely flexible platform that is both easy to use and widely supported.  SinceWordpress, is my platform of choice, this is the blogging software I will refer to while discussing how to start a blog throughout the rest of the site.

3. Choose A Domain Name
Registering a Domain Name is one of the most important parts of creating a successful blog.  Don’t put this off;  If you think you have a good domain name, register it, don’t think about it, just do it.  Domains are being snatched up at an alarming rate, chances are many of the ingenious names you come up with are already taken.

Do a Domain Name Search to find available domains, jot a few available options down, but don’t register your name just yet; many web hosting providers offer one free domain registration with the purchase of a hosting plan.

4. Find a Web Hosting Provider
Be sure to set up an account with a web host that provides a a good affiliate program, this will be put to use later.  I use AN Hosting for all of my websites and blogs.  They have a great affiliate program, outstanding customer service, they are inexpensive, and their web hosting plan

5 TB of bandwidth, 24/7 phone support, and a free domain registration for life!  On top of that they have all the tools you will need to get setup your blog setup quickly.

Getting Started With WordPress

5. Install WordPress
By now you should have set up your hosting account, and registered a domain name.  It’s time to install WordPress, it’s easy, It’s famous, and best of all it only takes 5 minutes.

6. Choose a Theme
WordPress makes it easy to change the look of your template; just upload and select a WordPress theme. There are literally thousands of free themes are available, look for something simple and clean.  I will update a list of recommended themes shortly, in the mean time you can start with the Theme Viewer.

7. Optimizing your Theme
Most themes work out-of-the-box for the most part, but you’ll probably want to make a few minor modifications. WordPress is fairly easy to pickup for anyone reasonably savvy and has the willingness to learn.  The available documentation and support through www.wordpress.org are very good.  If you have simple questions feel free to ask.  However for more complex tasks, I am willing work with you as a consultant.  More on this later.

8. Setup Analytics and Webmaster’s Tools
Your web host will offer statistics packages, but you’re better off installing Google Analytics and creating a Webmaster’s Tools account to analyze and optimize your website for search engines.  You can check out my post on setting this up here.

9. Install Plugins
Plugins extend the functionality of your basic WordPress installation. You’ll find more information about plugins at the Codex Plugin List. Here’s a list of plugins that I would consider essential for almost any WordPress blog:

  • Akismet – Spam blocker. Included in the WordPress install, but don’t forget to turn it on.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Optimize your blog’s content for SEO
  • Twitter-Tools – Link your Blog with Twitter
  • Redirection – Automatically takes care of any 301 and 302 redirects you need
  • Google Sitemap Generator – Automatically updates a Google Sitemap
  • Related Posts – Displays a list of related posts, pages, etc.
  • Add This – Share your content on virtually any social networking site
  • Amazon Showcase – Easily add items to your blog (more on this later)

10. Read the next post in the Quick Start Series,
Stay Tuned for the next post in this series, Quick Start Guide to Writing Content for the Web, to pick up some tips on writing an about page, formulating effective post that capture peoples attention, and other odds and ends to keep in mind when writing for the web.