I discovered my contact form has been quite busy over the last six months, but I never knew it. Here are some of the messages I've missed.
The Contact Form Disappointment
Have you tried to reach me using my Contact Form, only to feel ignored without any response? If so, I truly apologize. I thought I had it working properly when I changed my blogging platform late last year, but it hasn't sent any messages to my e-mail account. Basically, I figured that folks didn't really have anything to say privately to me. Boy, was I wrong.
Although the contacts having been getting e-mailed, they've still been stored. Without any notification system, I just never thought to look in the place where those messages are saved on my site. In fact, I stumbled across them accidentally while working on a very unrelated problem on my iPhone. So again, I truly apologize to everyone who wrote and did not receive a reply. I've already sent off some replies to a few folks and have more to send.
The Contact Form Highlights
There are several messages, but some fall into similar categories – questions about photography, nice comments about the blog, requests to use images, and this one that starts us off is just unique. I won't share names here, but I got a smile from this question.
Hi William, just wondering if you have to pay Scott Kelby to mention your name on the Grid, you had supposedly written in while he was reading different people commtents and I noticed he did that a few episodes back. I am curious how that works because he doesn't do that but with a few people and I am a bit skeptical that is just by chance since he has done this with other names as well. Like your blog.
Nope, I've never paid Scott or anyone else to mention my name. To be honest, it used to make me jump when I heard my name mentioned on the show. That's because I was often just goofing around in the chatroom with friends and didn't expect that anyone doing the show was watching, much less ready to read my comment out loud. I blame Brad Moore.
It's been quite a while since I've been able to watch the show while it's live, so my name doesn't come up. There are plenty of other folks who participate and get mentioned. I quite seriously doubt there's any monetary exchange, since I don't see a Paypal button in the chatroom. My guess is that the folks who get mentioned are there because they said something interesting. I realize that answer flies in the face of my comments being mentioned, but I have no other explanation than “I blame Brad Moore.”
How To Get Your Work Seen
I had a few questions like this one, so let's take a look and I'll share what I know.
Hello, I just read your blog about Smugmug. I was actually looking up how to get more from it, and your blog popped up. Strangely I was feeling the same way moments before. I feel that I am putting out monies here and there just to get my photography out there and hopefully just viewed and noticed. I generated my own website through SquareSpace, but that was a total waste of money for a few years. I never seemed to generate an audience, and working with that site was purely frustrating, as well as losing out on a ton of money. I tried to blog on Google but I totally had the same results, plus I am not really a blogging type of person. On flicker, I just seemed to get lost in the crowd. I just recently found Smugmug and have worked a few hours each day creating galleries, which oddly enough shows quite a lot of views, but that is about it. No comments, nada. I hate to go through so much money monthly for absolutely no reason at all.
I guess my question to you is simply, What advise would you give me on how to start some where, anywhere where I can get my work seen? I do have a shop on Etsy where I can sell my work, but lately all that is generating are other Etsy users just viewing and using my work for “Etsy Treasuries” supposedly to boost sales, but I have not made a sale in months. I am at this point getting fed up with it all. [SmugMug link redacted]
Thank you for allowing me to vent…..and taking the time to read this. I am hoping for a bit of good advice 🙂
Here's what I learned about Smugmug and every other hosting service. They do absolutely nothing to drive traffic to your photos. It's entirely up to you to drive traffic to your photos, whether they are on SmugMug, SquareSpace or your own blog.
In order to drive traffic, you need to do a few things. The first is to provide quality stuff. If you put up images that people like, they will help drive more traffic to your site. They'll share it, show it to their friends, or look for more of your stuff if they like the first thing they see. If you put up something that isn't really all that great, the first visit can quickly become the last visit. You know how this feels because you've probably been in the same situation. You go to a site and see a photo that makes your jaw drop. Immediately, you want to see what else they have to share. Now if the photo is rather bland, you immediately want to see anything else the rest of the Internet has to share.
Next, make it easy to find your images by search. I use tons of metadata and keywords on my images. When someone goes to Google Images to search for a photo of the U.S. Capitol building, they can't find my image unless I put in some metadata, like “U.S. Capitol” for the search engines to use. Of course, people search for more things than just my shot of the U.S. Capitol. They may search for Travel, Washington, D.C., Nikon 14-24mm lens, Nik Software, or anything else that I used in the creation of that image. All of that stuff gets put into a keyword tag because it's relevant to someone. If you want to see examples of photos taken with a Nikon 24-79mm lens, my photos have a good chance of coming up because I include that in keyword tags that search engines can use.
Additionally, be active in social media groups for your niche. That could be photography or it could be baseball – if that's your subject. Have conversations, share useful information, say nice things about your fellow photographers of baseball…or whatever you're shooting. As people get to know you, they will naturally want to check out what you have to share.
Finally, get used to blogging and write about things that are useful to other people. When people go to a search engine, it's because they have a problem. You have answers to problems, knowledge you've gathered over the course of your experience. The place where their questions and your knowledge intersect is where you find the pot of gold. If you aren't sharing what you know, people who search have no reason to find you.
I Like Your Photos! How Do I Use Them?
The messages like these hurt the most of all. Not because they were sent. That makes me smile! No, it hurts because I've been missing some opportunities to sell my work.
William – Several Months ago I reached out to purchase some photos for commercial use on a website. I would like to reengage to see if that is a possibility. Particularity http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbeem/6976328515/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/wbeem/4606427128/
I'm very thankful that this person decided to reach out again, and we've traded some e-mail messages. He asked for additional images in the Washington, D.C. area, so I'm collecting some that I think may be interesting. We'll see if something mutually beneficial comes to mind.
With that in mind, here's one that I'll submit for consideration.