You’ve likely seen a lot of other blogs out there that do fancy, innovative and unique things that “welcome” visitors and attract attention. Trust us: don’t make the same mistakes. In our book on strategies for photography blogging success with Zach Prez, we listed the top mistakes that photographers make with their blogs. Also be sure to check out the Ten Biggest Website Mistakes Photographers Make. Here are a few!
1. Playing music
Don’t do it! Do not play music on your photography blog. Users absolutely hate when a website does something that they didn’t ask for, and playing music is number one on this list. They’ve come to your site to look at your photography; if they’re not already listening to their own music, they likely want to read your site (like they do every other site) in silence. As much as you want to create a full-fledged multimedia environment for your blog visitor, avoid playing music altogether.
2. Forcing links to open in new windows
Again, users hate when a website does something that they didn’t ask for. Opening links in new windows (especially full screen) is one of those things. The vast majority of users have their own routine for clicking links – some right-click, some middle-click, some just regular click and are happy to use the Back button (the vast majority of Internet users do this). Forcing a window to open is breaking their normal flow, and it’ll distract them from the experience of your blog. Let them click like normal, and trust that they’ll know exactly how to come back to your site after clicking a link.
3. Displaying full-length posts on your home page
Display post excerpts instead of full-length posts to allow the visitor to see your content more quickly, and encourages them to click through content to see more. Displaying full-length posts on a homepage will hinder the loading of additional images and content, and can often be frustrating for a user. Allow them to click on the Read More link or the headline to read the full post, and just put an enticing photo and paragraph for each post on the home page. (Read “Elements of a great blog post” in our book Photography Blog Success for information on creating the post excerpt using the More tag.)
4. Focusing on tags
Tags don’t add SEO value and often just create clutter on your blog. While it may be fun to tag your posts like crazy, your blog will create pages for each of these tags that can often detract from the key terms that you want to rank for. Use categories to help visitors navigate through your content, not tags.
5. Changing your theme too often
Take time deciding on the theme that you want to use on your blog, and stick with it until you go through a revamp of your brand. Changing a blog’s design too often is a sign of someone who is indecisive or unsteady with their branding; visitors will remember what your site looked like before and will wonder why it changed. Visitors get comfortable with familiarity, so unless you go through a major logo redesign or brand overhaul, don’t change your theme more than once every year.
6. Slow load
Heavy page load times really detract from a positive user experience; it can’t be said enough. Large e-commerce sites like Amazon have found that milliseconds of page load time make hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of difference – the longer your page takes to load, the less confidence and patience your visitor has in your site. Google even takes your page load time in to account when it ranks your site. Plugins are the Achilles heel for many blogs – it can be a lot of fun to use them, but are they worth the additional load time they create for the visitor? You should track your page load time using Google Webmaster Tools or a browser plugin like Page Speed or YSlow.
For more photography blogging mistakes to avoid, or tips on how to create a great blog, get new blog visitors and turn them into clients, check out our book, Photography Blog Success!
This week’s blog post was brought to you by Lara Swanson. Lara is a professional web developer based in New Hampshire and also co-founded So You’re EnGAYged, where she vets dozens of photographers’ sites each month for their LGBT-friendly vendor list.