Yesterday, I talked about what we had learned in the last two years about getting your photographic products found online (if you like, photographic products and SEO).
Today, I'm going to talk about a couple of things using photos on your website, and the dangers for a photographic-based business of becoming inexpensive entertainment with no payback.
Most landscape and documentary photographers just love their images. They love high quality photos and want their photos to look as good as possible. They want them to look clear and crisp. Not to mention, most potential customers like a sharp photo. Therefore, the temptation is to try and use high resolution images on their website.
Using high-resolution images on your website will create crystal clear pictures for your audience, but there is a downside, and it is an extremely big downside. High-resolution images are data rich, they contain a lot of information for your website to store and hold.
This means it takes a long time for your website to download when someone is attempting to view your website. And in this day and age if people don't immediately see your website pop-up they are likely to move on to the next site.
Also a slow page upload time is something that search engines such as Google don't like and will cause your rating to drop within algorithms of the search engines; in short it can be the difference between you appearing on the first page of someone's Google search and Page two of Google. And we know that hardly anyone reaches page two of a Google search.
So what is to be done? Use low resolution photos and compress them. Compressing the photos takes out the extra data without destroying the basic image. This means the photos appear on your website but the amount of data required to store and produce the image has been greatly reduced. This in turn speeds up how quickly your page will download. Which means more people getting to your site and, Google and other search engines giving your site a high-ranking.
Another advantage of using low resolution photos on your website is that it reduces the likelihood that anyone will try and copy your images (just to be sure, put a watermark on your photos so that everyone knows who owns the photos).
There are a number of different compresses out on the market, but we use Kraken (https://kraken.io/) reducing the amount of data required to produce an image on our website.
Not becoming cheap entertainment.
As photographers our aim is to sell our NZ calendars, greeting cards, canvas prints, tee shirts and hoodies, and chocolate (yep, we use all those mediums to present our photographs). The mistake we made when we first started out was plastering our Facebook page with our images.
People loved the photos and we were getting “Likes”. But what we didn't appreciate at the time was that people were “Liking” the photos not “Liking” our products. And to be perfectly frank liking a photo on Facebook means nothing. People see thousands of images every day it and requires very little engagement to “Like” a photo.
If we had our time over again, we would put far more time and energy into putting our photos into the context of “hey these great photos can be found on our calendars, greeting cards, canvas prints, tee shirts and hoodies, and chocolate art” instead of here is a cool picture.
We might have got far less “likes”on Facebook, but we might have got a more realistic impression of people's engagement levels with our business.
In short, we became people's free entertainment. And, in truth, there was nothing to distinguish our photos from the 100’s people see every day.
It is not our role or anyone other photographers’ role to provide free entertainment. At some stage you need people to start engaging about your products. Likes or shares on Facebook might do a lot for your ego but they do not pay the mortgage.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with sharing your photos on social media as Facebook or Instagram. But the entire focus has to be on getting people beyond the “pretty picture” syndrome and interested in your products. Everyone, loves “pretty pictures”, it also costs them very little.
It is another thing entirely to take action and purchase a calendar, a canvas print, greeting cards, or anything else with your images and photos on.
I think it is extremely telling that many of NZ's professional landscape photographers have minimal interaction on social media, even if they have a supposedly large “fan” base on different social media platforms. It doesn't pay the bills.
It is quite evident, that many of NZ’s landscape photographers will increase their social media activity around the launch of a new product, such as a calendar, then remain fairly dormant in the social media world.