Vanity Blogs

This blog entry first appeared over at www.photographybymatthewjames.com

Is this blog really about you, or me?

The phrase ‘vanity blog’ entered my vocabulary earlier today. I discovered it by chance whilst reading a political article, where the blogger himself had used the words to describe his own blog. Up until that point, he said, he had been lucky to get 10 hits a day. But now, with his latest post about the media coverage of the local elections in the UK, he had been getting thousands of hits.

It struck me as odd (refreshingly so) to admit that only his family and friends read his blog, and that he was only really writing it for himself. Therefore a Vanity Blog. But it was a shame that his site was so poor – the text, colours and layout all sucked. But kudos to him for finally publishing something that has gone viral, and just for the moment helped put his name on the ever-increasing map of nobodies screaming for attention.

Naturally it got me thinking, is this blog a vanity blog? I try super hard to offer insightful information and be as honest and helpful as possible. But the truth is, committing to a truly educational and visually pleasing blog takes a lot of planning, time, patience and skilful execution. I don’t have most of these things.

Searching for answers amongst other photographers

When I look at the competition I see a mixture of things. Firstly I see pro shooters who specialise in a nîche and let their experiences do the talking. I actually quite like the look of their blog entries and they are so clearly focused on one area that the reader is left under no doubt as to what they do for a living.

And then I see photographers who clearly have a skill set in, say, portrait or sports photography, but then their blogs are super informative and really well designed. Their free PDF guides are strewn across the site, as are promos for other DVDs and book products (some they own, others they just promote) and the reader is left wanting to bookmark it and come back for more.

Help, not hype

A friend of mine told me ages ago to go down the latter route; to make fun and educational training videos / product reviews and build a steady following. At the time I shrugged the idea off, thinking that everything was being done in those departments already. I still think this way about it all, but at least now I’m starting to find my feet. My Newsletters are looking much more professional, and are filled with great behind-the-scenes content. And my Periscope episodes ’The Busy Photographer’ have been hit and miss. But I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, and I actually believe that one day I’ll cross over to being more of a tutor than a snapper.

The daunting thing is trying to grasp how many years are left working as a freelance photographer in Copenhagen. I can’t imagine ever working for someone else ever again, which means I need to keep finding clients and ways of making money day after day for the next 35 years at least. It’s a horrible thought!

Finding someone to do the work for me

What I think I really need is an in-house blogger; someone who can take the time to sit and plan a blog strategy for the next two years. A blog that continues to carry my own unique style, humour and experiences, but also looks great, is user friendly, and is updated regularly. Branding and continuity are also important, as I tend to hop from pillar to post when it comes to adding watermarks, borders or simple headlines to my pictures and articles.

I strongly believe in paying people for their expertise, but it’s no secret that photographers aren’t the richest members of society. Last year I had a couple of assistants, most notably Antoaneta, who sat with me each day for three months helping to improve my business. And this she most definitely did, if not also adding to my workload after she’d left. I realised that without her in the office I had to do all the Social Media bullshit myself, and this I’ve struggled to do on a regular basis.

And let’s not forget my current photo assistant, Pierre, who I now hire to go and shoot the jobs I can’t. He’s been a great help these past few months and it’s really helped me to balance my work / home life. Pierre is learning on the job and it’s rewarding to see him improving with each photo shoot he does.

So if someone can just tell me how and where I can find a brand new blogging assistant for an affordable price each week then I will undoubtedly cross in to the next realm: the realm of the Demi-God Photographer.

Seriously, though. Send me your fucking suggestions!

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