06 May, 2008

My 2 Cents: Google's Blogger.

Warning: this is going to be a big load of bla bla bla, so proceed if you will and hopefully you'll find it helpful.

Ok, so it's high time that I did a review of my blog service of choice, Google's Blogger.

First let me give you a splash of history.

I started Pics and Kicks back in June of 2007 . . . 6 days later my little brother Gavin (21yrs) passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. Clearly I took a blogging break. I bounced in and out of the blogosphere until about September/October. Things picked up slowly to where I was posting about 1-3 times a week, then by December/January I'd become pretty near a religious daily blogger. At this point the blog was "just" a blog. Not necessarily photocentric. That picked up around late February early March.

My numbers:

Just to give you an idea, according to my analytics back, in February when I really made the push to blog daily I was getting around 90 unique visitors a day.

FEB 15, 2008: I had 137 visitors.
Fast forward 2 months:
APRIL 15, 2008: I had 1,050 visitors.

The climb has been rapid, steady and pretty much jaw dropping. I know that for some that's not really even mentionable, but I've got ants in my pants I'm so happy with it. . . It's been growing consistently and my average is getting higher and higher with each passing day of steady readership. SO THANK YOU for coming and coming! I truly am SO GRATEFUL! Hopefully I'm adding value to your life. . .that's the goal. :)

NOTE: If you are a professional of any kind trying to
manage a blog for business, you can't NOT have a tracking system.
Check out Google Analytics.
There are others as well, but this is what I use. . .
because, well it's GOOGLE!

Why did I choose Blogger?

Well, honestly because it was the only thing I'd ever heard of. I didn't know a dang thing about blogging. . . no clue. NONE. So I went with Blogger because it was free and because I'd heard of it. Last June I was a tiny little budding photographer with a dash of experience and a load of enthusiasm and no CLUE where I was headed. A blog sounded like a good idea, so I went for it. I am SO THANKFUL that I did. My blog has been SUCH a blessing in my life, both personally and professionally. It literally held my hand through those months after Gavin died when I just didn't know what to do with myself. It's helped me get my name out there in the industry and helped me connect with friends new and old alike. It's part of my daily grind and I love it.

Why I love Blogger?
1. Well. . . it's free. FREE! That's pretty remarkable for a service of this magnitude. Not a penny, not a dime, not a nickel, not a quarter. WOW. I mean yes, there are services you can pay for, or so I've HEARD. I haven't had the need for any of them, so I don't really know. If you're wiser than I in this arena, please by all means comment below and enlighten us.

2. Getting started is a breeze. It's SO USER FRIENDLY. Your grandma could get started with a blog in under 10 min. I'd wager a pretty penny on that.

3. It's GOOGLE. Google. People, if Google hasn't proven their superiority to you by now, you've been living in a cave.

4. It's SO fast and easy to post, comment, moderate and manage posts. . .

What don't I dig about Blogger?

1. Well, I'll be honest. I don't love what it does to my pictures. They do not look "right" when they're uploaded. They look SOOOO much better on my computer before uploading and SOOOOOOOOOO much better in print. But that's because I can compare them side by side. A client will dig what they see on the blog because they haven't seen the original. So this really isn't an issue in most cases. . . it just really gets the perfectionist in me all up in a tizzy. . . but they say there are pills for that. ;)

The outside advertising platform. I'm not trying to make money off my readers. You'll notice there are NO ADDS here on Pics and Kicks. . . if I ever do decide to start advertising. . .it will only be for products that I TRULY think you'll benefit from and if that ever happens, I'll probably have to switch to another system, because correct me if I'm wrong, but with Blogger, I don't think you can choose specific companies to advertise on your blog. I think Google just assigns them to you... to me, well that's tacky. If I'm going to advertise something to my readers, it's not going to be random, it's going to be a relevant product that I feel like I can get behind 100%. The end. No debate. PERIOD.

What you should know:

Picks and Kicks will be staying with Blogger for the long haul. Well, at least as far out as I can see at this point. I am working on a custom blog right now that will showcase my portfolio and be more of a client base. BUT don't you worry, Picks and Kicks isn't going anywhere. There will ALWAYS be an arm of Natalie Norton Photography that is purely dedicated to photographers, aspiring and professional alike.

Stay tuned for a follow up post on resources you can use to make your blogger blog really shine. If you have any resources you'd like to share for the post, please email me at natalienorton{at}gmail{dot}com.


Da Denninghoff's said...

I love how generous you are with information! It's neat when I usually have a question in mind about photograpy, you usually address it without me even asking on your blog. Thank you!

taryn said...

you certainly have been "paying it forward" with these informative articles! thanks so much, natalie!

Julie Freeman said...

I love your blog! Thanks for all the great info...I loved your article on blogs and you talked about using big photos

Do you know how to make your photos bigger using blogger?

Whitney Elizabeth said...

you and your sis-in-law inspired me. so thank you!

Aditya Rao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aditya Rao said...

haa haa ..
nice.!! I couldn't agree more with everything here!! Though I'm a newbie on the blogosphere, and only recently started posting regularly...

Google Analytics + Blogger = Complete control... Check out my recent stats and tuts on Analytics...

Chicky said...

Hi Natalie! I just started reading your blog, and am a baby photographer, but an ace with blogger - I design and help people get started with blogging - and honestly blogger is my favorite - it IS easy to use, and if you know how to manipulate it a bit, you can't go wrong...there are other options for posting pictures, such as using flickr or photobucket to host, and you never have to worry about weird blogger outages or distortion. You can also advertise with whomever you like, it's just a matter of getting together with the right people and putting some code in your sidebar. If I can EVER be of any help with your blog, please let me know! I may reciprocate with getting a photography business going! ;-)


Hill Reflects said...

I agree with domestic chicky... if you use some photo bucket website like flickr and just link to those pictures they actually turn out pretty good. I haven't been scientific about it but just eyeing it, I can tell. Great job on the article. I agree that Blogger is so easy. The only thing I would like to see change is when people hit the front page that they only see snippets of that entry instead of the whole thing. I think it would make for a cleaner page but then people can choose what they want to read.

Hill Reflects said...

Just to let you know....I upload my pictures to Flickr at 1024x1024. Then I choose the medium size image and grab it's url. On blogger, I make sure the largest size is pick and then slap in the url.

Frank Lee said...

Although there are better platforms out there, I ultimately chose Blogger because you're able customize the templates for free. I like my photos larger than Blogger's default size so I widened my template. I save all my photos at 650px and upload them to Picasa (another Google service) then manually insert the photo in the HTML of each post. This way Blogger won't shrink your photos and make them look weird.

Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog from your postings on DPS and you are such an inspiration. I am new at launching my own photography business, so I've enjoyed your postings and the information you have to share. I will be getting my own blog going within the next few weeks.

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to being able to do the same.

Denise said...

I loved this article & wish I would have read it a few weeks ago when I was struggling with which blog service to use, because quite frankly I hated having to pay for mine (Pro Photo Blog). It was the photo quality on blogger vs. on my screen & in print that bugged me but I had never thought to look at it from your perspective. Great point! Anyway, keep up the great posts. I'm new to your blog & I've loved reading.