Over the weekend, Episode 261 of This Week in Photo was released, featuring an interview with none other than yours truly. While in San Jose recently, I stat down with TWiP host Frederick Van Johnson and we chatted about social media for photographers before my presentation to the San Jose SmugMug group.
One year ago today, Google+ launched. The immediate (and overused) statement jumped out as everyone wondered if this would be a “Facebook killer.” Unsurprisingly, Facebook is as strong as ever. Google+ adoption has been a bit slower than many anticipated, but I’m finding it to be a great place to share and converse with photographers and other media professionals.
Choose Your Battles… er, Networks
Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. Google+. Each social network has pros, cons, and an audience. Unless you spend all day doing nothing other than social media, you’re not going to be a strong power user in all of these places. Chris Brogan calls them outposts. Rosh Sillars calls them outer planets. Either way, they’re a supporting role in your online presence. Experiment with all, but focus on the ones that provide the most value.
I’m not generally finding and booking clients via Google+. That said, Google+ a network (one of several) where I can occasionally “check in” with existing clients and prospects. Perhaps I +1 their post… perhaps I comment. I’m reminding them that I’m there.
The big benefit I’ve found in Google+ is that of social interaction with photographers. Most of the social photography discussions I used to have on Flickr are now happening on Google+. I follow a lot of photographers and I love browsing through my photographers circle to check out their work. I connect (and interact) with photographers of various backgrounds… everyone from “everyday folk” who have a good eye as well as the bigger names such as +Thomas Hawk or +Nicole Young.
If you want to dive into Google+ and connect with a bunch of photographers that are actively sharing and participating, Thomas Hawk’s list of his recommended photographers is a good place to start.
The other big feature that I’m digging is the Google+ Hangout feature. Free video chat for up to 10 people, with the optional ability to broadcast it live and archive it on YouTube (Google calls this feature “Hangouts on Air”). Whether we’re talking about an informal chat between friends, a collaborative photo editing/review session, or a high-profile broadcast, hangouts are great.
I have no idea what’s in store for Google+ in the future… I suspect we’ll continue to see tight integration with other Google services1 and enhancements of existing features. Frankly I’m surprised that we’re one year in and have yet to see an open API that third parties can use to integrate with the service. The upside is that we’re relatively spam-free over on Google+, the downside is that I can’t integrate Google+ easily with other services and there aren’t any third-party Google+ clients.
Here’s to another year of Google+ improvements and adoption.
Feel free to circle me on Google+.
One of my favorite integrations is that when one receives a Google+ notification via Gmail, you can comment, +1, and interact with the item (and the people who’ve previously interacted) directly from the Gmail message window. ↩
You’re here on my blog, where I write longer pieces, review things of interest to the photography community, and share an occasional photograph.
I’m on Twitter at @ahockley, where I share quick thoughts, links to interesting things, and engage in a lot of discussion (Sprout Social tells me that 81% of my tweets are conversational).
I share photography daily on Google+ and love to engage in artistic and technical discussion with other photographers.
On Facebook, I maintain my personal profile as well as business pages for Hockley Photography and Not So Photo. If we know each other “in real life” I’d love to add you as a friend; feel free to “Like” either of my business pages to keep up with my photo adventures.
I round up the “best of the best” each week in Interesting… from Aaron, a weekly email message that I share every Saturday morning. If the idea of trying to follow me everywhere is overwhelming and you just want an easy option, this is it.
hat tip to Christopher S. Penn for the nudge about syncing one’s social
A recurring topic in conversations I have with bloggers surrounds the question of where to obtain photographs to be used with blog posts1. Here are four options for finding images to accompany blog posts while also staying legal and respecting current copyright law.
Your Own Photos
This one is probably the most obvious but sometimes is overlooked: use your own photos. For online use such as a blog, images don’t need to be high-resolution; the photos created by your average camera phone are adequate. If you have a decent compact camera or you have a DSLR for your photography hobby, that’s even better. You can choose to upload your images directly into WordPress or your blog software of choice, or you can share the images on Flickr or SmugMug and embed them into your blog.
License Images from a Stock Photo Agency
This is the next easiest option for the blogger who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time fussing with photos. Services such as iStockPhoto and Shutterstock offer millions of photos ready to be licensed for use. These “microstock” sites can provide a variety of images covering nearly every subject imagineable and it’s easy to license the photos for online use.
While there is a fee involved, prices are low (starting around a dollar) and the ability to quickly find and license photos makes this an attractive option for those who want good images with a minimum amount of time expended. If you’re making a bit of money with your blog, spending a few dollars a week for photography isn’t an unreasonable expense.
Find Creative Commons Photos on Flickr
Copyright law specifies that a photographer automatically owns the right to control their photographs, but a Creative Commons license allows photographers to permit usage of their work in certain conditions. Flickr offers millions of photos which can be used under Creative Commons licenses2. The easiest way to find them is to go to Flickr’s Advanced Search page, scroll to the bottom, and check the box for Creative Commons. If your blog is of a commercial nature, be sure to tick the box that indicates commercial use.
When you embed the image from Flickr, be sure to give attribution to the photographer. Generally this is done by a text credit line such as “Photo by Joe Smith on Flickr, used with Creative Commons license” and a link back to the original photo or to Joe Smith’s website.
License Directly from a Photographer
Another option, most often used when you find a specific photo that you really want to use but isn’t obviously available, is to contact a photographer directly and ask for permission to use the image. I’ve had numerous requests to use my images for various blogs and other purposes, and I always write back to the requester in a timely manner. My own personal policy is that I generally allow use with attribution for noncommercial purposes, or I’ll request a reasonable licensing fee if the proposed use is of a commercial nature. The worst that can happen is that a photographer will say no – but it never hurts to ask.
Have you found other great sources? How do you find images for your blog posts? If you have any questions about using images for blogs, please leave a comment below.
The news this morning of LinkedIn’s alleged password breach seemed like a good endpoint for a two-month experiment I’ve performed on LinkedIn. I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for several years, but it wasn’t providing much value to me. I’d log in every few months, accept the connection requests from folks that I knew, and log out. I occasionally dipped into some groups but found them mostly cesspools of spamlike things.
Yet I kept hearing how LinkedIn was a big important social network.
Surely, someone must be getting value from it.
Time for an Experiment
After chatting with some others whom are knowledgeable both with social media in general and also specifically for photographers, I decided I’d change my LinkedIn practices for a couple months. Starting in mid-March, I logged into LinkedIn almost daily. I requested to join about a dozen groups (a mix of photography, marketing, and local topics). My theory was that perhaps I would gain a lot more value from LinkedIn if I were an active participant.
Once I got accepted to the groups, I started participating. I would answer questions where I could provide insight and I posed the occasional question. I continued to accept connection requests, which continued to be about 50% people that I knew and about 50% random overseas spam.
The various groups I belonged to, even ones affiliated with reputable organizations that extend far beyond LinkedIn (such as the Professional Photographers of America), were about half spam and promotional posts. The signal-to-noise ratio was very low.
Frankly, the only group that provided interesting discussions was the Marketing Over Coffee group that accompanies Christoper S. Penn and John Wall’s venture.
Over the past week, I’d been debating whether there was any value to continue participating on LinkedIn.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It doesn’t make sense to spend significant amounts of time on something that isn’t providing a meaningful return on that investment of time.
It’s tempting to simply delete my LinkedIn account. I don’t believe that I’ve ever met a future client, secured a deal, or fostered any sort of meaningful relationship on LinkedIn.
Should I go back to a stale presence, where the only thing I do is build connections? Perhaps I can continue to check in on the Marketing Over Coffee group. As someone who often writes and speaks about social media, it is probably wise to maintain a shell presence there even if it’s not providing much actual value…
How do you decide when to dump a social network that’s not living up to expectations?
Yesterday I tweeted for my 50,000th time.
I haven’t done the calculations for how many minutes it has involved, but Twitter has consumed a nontrivial amount of my time since I joined in February of 2007. Everyone wants to talk about “the ROI of social media” so let’s entertain that for a moment.
In that time, I’ve interacted with thousands of individuals and organizations. Out of those interactions:
- I’ve met, gotten to know, and booked a lot of clients for my photography business. I can trace at least half of my client relationships to connections that either originated or were fostered via Twitter.
- I’ve connected with people that have allowed me the opportunity to speak at BlogWorld & New Media Expo and a variety of WordCamp events.
- I had the opportunity to travel to Alaska with GoPro
- My social media activity on Twitter (and other places) led to me becoming a speaker for SmugMug’s series of local meetups across the country.
- Most importantly, and in summary, I’ve been able to develop friendships and business relationships with people around the globe and in my own area who I wouldn’t have otherwise known. People from around the world (or just around the corner) are now close friends and via Twitter we’ve shared a variety of experiences, some with strong emotions of happiness, shock, or tragedy.
Twitter life is real life. The online world and the offline world are simply the world.
I’d say that’s a damn good ROI. Here’s to 50,000 more. If we’re not already connected on Twitter, please follow along and drop me an @mention…. that’s my number one Twitter tip. Have conversations. It’s not social media if you’re talking but not listening.