Thank you so much to Lara for joining us today and sharing the below strategies for blogging for success!
When Zach Prez and I began writing a book about strategies for photography blogging success, I had been looking at dozens of photographers’ sites per month for more than two years as part of my job for So You’re EnGAYged. There are many big usability no-nos that I see daily on photographer blogs, including an inaccessible portfolio, difficult navigation, and long, unreadable URLs. Improving these issues will make your blog significantly more user friendly, and help keep new visitors on your site!
A quick way to see your portfolio
If your portfolio isn’t built in to your blog, make sure that there is a consistent link in the main navigation that takes the visitor directly to your galleries. Though potential clients may get sucked in to the world of your blog posts, they’ll want two things as soon as they know they want to book you: to see your main portfolio, and to contact you. Ensure it’s easy for anyone to view the “best of the best” in one place, and that link should be consistent in the main navigation. Name it “Portfolio” or “Galleries”, or something else that is straightforward and easy to understand.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “this is so frustrating!” while you’re trying to find something on a website? Have you gotten fed up because the search doesn’t work, the navigation doesn’t include what you’re looking for, and every link you click takes you to a page that doesn’t help?
Easy, intuitive navigation is essential to a happy user experience. Every website, including blogs, should have great navigation:
- there should be no more than seven main navigation items
- your logo should link to your home page
- a search box should be easy to find
- don’t use dropdowns (no navigation items should be “hidden” from the user)
- navigation items should have intuitive, short names – “Portfolio”, “About”, “Categories”, etc.
If you find you have a ton more navigation items than what fits in your main navigation, you can consider adding secondary navigation (like in a sidebar). Be sure to only include what’s most important for people to navigate to in one click; the vast majority of users are comfortable clicking a few times to get to what they’re looking for, so long as the navigation is intuitive.
For example, Zach doesn’t hide his topics in a navigation item called Categories, he spells them out in a second navigation (Business, Design Usability, etc) on his blog so you can quickly click to your area of interest.
To make sure that your site is easy to use and navigate through, ask a couple of non-photographer friends to visit it and test it out. Ask them what they would click on if they wanted to contact you. It sounds obvious, but if your friends have a problem finding your contact link, you know you have a major issue to fix!
The same thing with finding your About page, or your main Portfolio. Use your friends as some research to make sure that your blog is super easy and intuitive to use.
The path to blog pages and posts are generated via a permalink structure. Permalink just means the permanent link or URL location for a blog page/post. Here are some of the ways a blog will generate the permalink structure for a blog post:
- Default: myblog.com/?p=123
- Day and name: myblog.com/2010/05/23/post-name.html
- Month and name: myblog.com/2010/05/post-name.html
No post keywords are used in the default slug, and numbers meaningless to search are used in the paths of the other two. Ideally, the URL would include quality keywords in the path and the slug, also known as a “pretty” permalink.
To change this in WordPress (sorry – not available in Blogger or Typepad) go to Settings > Permalinks and select the radio button for custom structure. Enter one of these:
The first one puts the post’s first category name into the URL path and the second one doesn’t. For example if your post about the Family Portrait Session in Alexandria was in a blog category called family, the URL would look like this:
Categories are a cool way to integrate keywords into the URL without having to think about it.
Note: By changing the permalink structure, all the URLs in the blog change. Links within your blog should continue to work, but anything linking to your old locations (like from other sites) will be broken.
For more information on how to create a great blog, get new blog visitors and turn them into clients, check out our book, Photography Blog Success!