Any successful artist needs an audience. If you are trying to make a living with your photography, then mastering your camera is only one part of your career. Creating and marketing your personal brand can take your photography from part-time to overtime. Your website needs fresh content to keep visitors coming back, and what is better than a photo-a-day project to let people know they can see something new every time they stop by to look around!
The Theme For Your Project
A photo-a-day project is just that – posting one photo each day on the web for the general public to view. But having an overall theme or purpose to the project is important. Make it challenging, make it fun, make it interesting. People do photo-a-day projects that revolve around self-portraits, street photography, portraits of strangers, landscapes, etc.
I am in the midst of my project right now, in fact all the photos shown in this tutorial have been shot in the last 2 months as part of it. I have chosen to shoot one frame on film each day. I’m using a variety of films and different analogue cameras. Because I’m only taking one frame a day, a roll of film is lasting me about a month. And therefore, my photos go up about about a month after they’re taken.
The theme for your project must keep you interested as well. If you get bored with the project, the results will suffer and people will know it. We’re talking about self-promotion here, but at the end of the day, we are artists. Our work must have some heart and soul.
It may seem like cheating when you’re not doing a film project like mine, but I would highly suggest scheduling a batch of images in one go. Writing a blog post every day and promoting that blog post can eat up a lot of time.
I sit down each week and do seven or eight posts, then by using the software and services described below, I schedule their release. Only one new post or social media update goes live each day, but there are several that are already loaded into the system.
By doing this, I can just shoot for the project on most days. Starting your project just a week before your first post will allow you to follow this protocol.
Recommended Online Tools
Let’s divide this section into two categories. The first is blogging software and the second is a blogging service. My blog is set up using WordPress, a free, open source blogging software. To use the software, you need to have already purchased a domain and a hosting service.
Downloading the WordPress software to your computer is easy, but then the software must be uploaded to your server, which is more complicated. There are other free blogging software packages available like Drupal.
A blogging service is something that you register and run online through a third-party website. No downloading, installation, domains or hosting are needed. Blogger (or BlogSpot) is probably the most common blogging service, but WordPress also offers a similar service. WordPress.com pertains to the blogging service, while WordPress.org refers to the software.
Facebook is not just for friends and family. If you have an established photography business, you should have a business account on Facebook. People can become a fan of your business and you can contact them at large when you’re running specials or adding a new service.
If you aren’t as well established, then your initial audience will be your friends and family. Facebook makes it easy for them to help you spread the word about your art. Facebook also allows you to upload photos, so you could keep a copy of your project in your account (though I would advise against this).
Facebook is constantly changing their terms and conditions about copyright. If you value your work, I would not upload it to Facebook. But you can post links to your website, which will appear in the news feed of all of your contacts.
Techniques for establishing a well-followed Twitter account could be discussed over the course of two or three other tutorials. What I’ll say is that Twitter is a great place to connect with those who live in your area or have similar interests. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you should get one. It allows you to stay up-to-date and gives you a great way to promote your work.
To really utilize your account correctly and reach beyond your followers, get to know hashtags. Hashtags are keywords you place in your Twitter updates that make it easier for people to find you. You put a # before the word. #tog is a common hashtag that is short for “photographer.”
The images in your photo-a-day project will probably be from your local community as well, so find out what hashtags people use when they are tweeting about your city. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, so I sometimes use the #cincinnati or #nati hashtags.
Connecting Facebook and Twitter
Facebook has many built-in applications like games and quizzes. It even has one for Twitter. The Twitter app allows Facebook to post your Twitter updates as a status update in your account. So instead of posting the same thing twice, you can post once to Twitter and it will automatically post the same update to Facebook.
This will save you a lot of time. The only downside is that everything you post on Twitter (except direct messages) will appear on Facebook, even replies.
SocialOomph is an online service that allows you to schedule Twitter posts. If you pay for the premium version you can also schedule Facebook posts. But you’re going to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so don’t worry about it.
Follow the registration instructions, register your Twitter account, then click “Schedule Update” in the right-hand bar. You’ll want to schedule one update a day for your photo-a-day project. Vary the times of the updates and then look at the results.
Do you get more comments or views when you schedule your post around lunch or after dinner? Twitter feeds and Facebook news feeds get filled up quickly these days. If your friends have been using these services awhile, then unless they are on Facebook within 45 minutes of when you posts, they won’t see your post on their first page.
Unlike Facebook, Flickr has well-established rules that protect your rights to your images. Flickr is a great way to get new people to visit your blog. Once you register, start a new “Set” for your photo-a-day project. Then go straight to “Groups.” Anyone can join almost any Flickr group, and you rarely need to be confirmed by an administrator.
Join groups that pertain to your project. There are a ton of photo-a-day groups. My project is based on using film. There are a lot of groups dedicated to keeping film alive. There are groups for specific types of photography, groups for cities and geographical regions, groups for people who use specific cameras and so on.
Once you join these groups you can add photos to them when you upload them. You’ll notice right away that it’s easy to get addicted to checking up on your group every day. It’s a lot of fun.
Define Your Rules
Once you’ve defined your theme and setup your online infrastructure, you set out some rules for yourself. Are you going to shoot every day or just post every day? I’ve allowed myself only one single frame per day – does that idea appeal to you. I shoot everyday for a living, so when I find a subject, I’m used to shooting a lot of frames of it. I’ll take 35 frames of a wall to make sure I get it exactly what I want. Limiting myself to one frame was a big challenge for me.
But your project could be the opposite of that. Maybe you’ll take 365 photos in one day and then post them over the course of a year. Whatever it is, you should make them a little challenging, but not so hard that you give up. You should also reveal those rules to your audience, so they know how challenging your process is.
Producing a photo-a-day project for a year or even a few months can get a little tedious. The best idea I’ve heard for spicing up the action is developing some themes-of-the-week. Pick something specific to shoot for just one week. It could a color, a mood, or a certain part of your community. Anything you want that fits your project. If your project is a series of portraits, then maybe one of your themes-of-the-week could be grandparents, workers or even your neighbors.
More Ways To Keep It Interesting
You can also spice up your project in other ways. First, step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve only used digital point-and-shoot cameras, try a film camera. If you spend your days surrounded by professional gear, step away from it. Does work usually involve a tripod? Kick that thing over and shoot out on the street from the hip. If you are used to taking quick snapshots, grab a pinhole camera and slow down.
Secondly, explore the world around you. We pass by things everyday without noticing. Take the time to meet those strangers you see each day in the elevator. Use this project as an excuse to take a different way to work, take a walk around your neighborhood or check out a park. And above all keep it fun.
So like I said, don’t let an idea like this be a sell out. Don’t do this just to promote yourself, do it because you want to. People can see through it. That said, a project like this can really engage your audience.
I wanted to share some of my results with you. A typical two-week period on my blog brings about 125 pageviews. Not a whole lot, I’ll admit it! I’m about three weeks into my project, and in the last two weeks, I’ve received about 300 pageviews. I hope that the growth keeps up, but most importantly, I’m having fun, taking pictures, and seeing new things.