It’s never been easier to publish photos online, that’s what makes it so hard. Believe it or not, at one point finding a place to upload and host a photo was a challenge. Services have definitely addressed the need, now there are so many options to publishing photos that it quickly becomes overwhelming, this is why I think Instagram is so popular. It is super simple to publish, you have a photo you want to put out, a couple of taps and it’s there.
For Instagram, you don’t need to worry about domains, categories titles, URLs, or much thought at all. You can add titles and hash tags to help promote, but not necessary. You publish and it leverages the network and shared with your friends, the greatest thing Instagram has going for it is its network. I’ve found you get more engagement (likes, follows, comments) on Instagram than anywhere else. This feeds the virtuous cycle for posting more there.
However, this relinquishes all control to them. You can’t organize into albums or sets, if someone visits your Instagram page they see only your latest posts, which might be a funny shot of your dog, or your latest and greatest work. Plus you’re stuck with their lower resolution photos and no ability to link
For me, control over the display and formatting is important. I prefer photo series and sets of images that work together, the cliché, a series can Tell a Story. The single hero photo is harder to come by, sunsets are beautiful, but we’ve seen so many photos of them, they are less interesting. Publishing series on Instagram is tricky, and goes against the stream and natural usage of the site.
There are some good services built around telling photo stories, Exposure and Storehouse are both great. However, they are almost too good. You see National Geographic type stories there and think, “whew, I’m just a photo enthusiast” I’m not really supposed to be publishing here am I. They give the feel that you are creating a masterpiece and that anything you put up better be amazing.
This is where a personal site or blog comes in. Disclaimer, I do work for WordPress.com, and encourage you to try out our service, but my thoughts aren’t WordPress specific, though I really don’t know why you would want to use anything else.
With a personal site, you can publish photos in any way you want. There are thousands of themes in numerous formats and layouts. Plus, depending on your software (WordPress, right?), you can even publish in multiple ways on the same site.
What I mean about publishing in multiple ways is the ability for me to create (1) a photo blog where I can post random photos, (2) photo sets which I can post longer cohesive series, and (3) articles such as this one. All of these can live harmonious under the same roof so to speak, the roof being the domain which I own.
Domain Name per Project, No!
One thing I recently attempted, which am now reversing, is setting up a new domain for a project. I’ve been working on a Silicon Valley history project and initially set it up with its own domain at siliconvalley.town . I’ve reconsidered, since I also have another similar project on El Camino Real, and don’t want to setup and pay for a domain for every project.
Driving traffic to multiple sites is much harder, and if you run the sites yourself there is additional cost and hassle, especially since SSL is preferred. So I’m slowly migrating the project content back to my site, updating and adding to it. Plus, since I own the old domain I can setup redirects for all the old links.
I’ve written about ownership before in Take Control of your Content an article I wrote 3+ years ago talking about similar topics. The TLDR; owning your own domain is best, it gives you control to move, migrate and change layouts in ways no other service can.
So with my own site, I’ve organized in a way that allows me to publish three ways as a photo blog, photo series, and articles. I’ve organized my site so the home landing page shows my series first, the thought is if you happen to go there you get the good stuff. I’m not sure if this is best or should lead with new content, but it is easy to switch.
People don’t tend to navigate to sites via homepage anymore, typically content is discovered through social media and shared links. This is why I still use Instagram, follow me @marcuskaz, for the social aspect. I get far more engagement with Instagram than my personal site. However, for permanence and publishing of longer form series, and high resolution, my domain is my home. I know I can point someone there to see my best and all my stuff.
Don’t just take my word, some words of encouragement from others:
- Luca Sartoni is a co-worker and discusses why you should create your own daily photo blog and how his made him a better photographer.
- CJ Chilvers has written several times about daily blogging, and owning your own in the Death of Tumblr
- Seth Godin says writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless) is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on; including why your own is important.