How To Blog – Originality & Connections

For a while now I have had a little nugget of an idea floating around my head, a teeny tiny musing that could turn into something if nurtured. I have been thinking of starting a mini series about ‘How to Blog’. I’d love to be able to share my experiences and hopefully impart some wisdom on others wanting to expand their blogging success. I’m primarily thinking about those who want to blog in order to share other people’s work and inspiration.

For this first instalment I want to draw attention to a small part of the whole affair that I feel is quite an important one. I am making reference to bloggers and photographers solely because this is what I know and this is the circle I move in, yet I hope the basic ideas can be transferred to your own preferred network.  Let me know what you think…

erica

Credit: Erica Berger

Maybe you visit other blogs for inspiration for your own blog. Maybe you take daily trips around blog-land to network with other bloggers or hell, maybe you even sneak into other places to take weddings and images for your own blog. The internet is a big old vast universe and policing it is pretty much futile, but in my (relatively short) time as an online writer I have come to witness and be annoyed by the same thing over and over.

So here’s the story – photographer shoots a kick ass wedding. Photographer blogs said kick ass wedding. Blogger A picks up on the wedding and steals (because however you sugar coat it that is essentially what you’re doing) the images and posts them on their own blog, which is then seen by blogger B who steal the images from blogger A to put on their own website.
On the flipside we have scenario two – photographer shoots and blogs the kick ass wedding. Blogger A picks up on the wedding and emails the photographer asking permission to use the images on their site, with the appropriate credit of course. Photographer says they’d be delighted and sends the images over right away.
The difference? In scenario two a connection is established between the photographer and the blogger. This is social networking after all. For me, my blog has become more than just a place to post pretty pictures, it is a vehicle to connect with like minded individuals, to have a voice and to feel like my opinion is being heard and respected.
 
To others it may be a place where they want to show ‘the best of the best’ the most beautiful or the most sought after (in my case) weddings and photography for some kind of kudos. But by doing this you are essentially missing out the very best part of being a blogger. I’m not trying to come across all ‘peace and love’ but would my site be where it is today without making those vital connections with others online? The simple answer is ‘no’.

Sure, I could regurgitate what every other website or blog includes and have a very pretty site with all the most sought after weddings on, but would I have the loyal following I have today with such a method? I would not be distinctive, I would not have the online companionship and I would not have respect. I would not only be a carbon copy of everyone else but a lonely one at that. If Blog A is already doing something, why would anybody visit Blog B if all they did was re-post the same images?

A crude example but think of it like this. Jordan was a phenomenally successful glamour model over here in the UK. She made a fortune by taking her clothes off and being photographed falling out of clubs. In 2002 a TV show was broadcast called ‘Essex Wives’. The ‘star’ of the show was Jodie Marsh – an over the top, Jordon wannabe with big boobs and skimpy outfits. She prided herself on being new and different. She had real boobs whereas Jordon’s were fake after all! However essentially she was a complete carbon copy of the original.
Jodie had some fame and made some money being Jordon’s rival, but let’s look at them now. Jordon has a massively popular TV show, is breaking America and makes millions every minute with her various perfume, home ware, book and equestrian (I kid you not) lines whereas poor little Jodie did a series on MTV to find her a husband (which later was exposed to be a set up) and continues to desperately cling to fame with various stunts – her most recent being her new found lesbianism.
As I said before, a crude example yes but if you had to, who would you be? The original or the copycat?

The moral of the story? Be different, stand out, find your voice and make the connection!

If you like what you’ve read I’d love to continue with this series. Why not drop me an email with any questions you might have and I’ll try to work the answers into the next issue.

Edit: For some reason, I feel the need to justify myself to some particular people who think they have the right to come onto my site and slate me. If only these people would comment with real email addresses I could speak to them directly but I guess that’s just not their style. I am well aware that some people would rather hide behind a computer than make an actual connection.

Anyway…I hope that I have not come across here like I’m perfect or a know-it-all when it comes to how to make the best of blogging. I simply want to share my experiences as a blogger to hopefully impart whatever small wisdom I have on simple ideas. Yes, I will openly admit that in the past I have blogged things without speaking to photographers first. Back when I began Rock n Roll Bride I had no idea about etiquette or the ‘right’ way to credit or link to people. However since learning a little bit more and reaching out to people my relationship with others online has grown immensely, isn’t that what blogging is all about after all? My only wish with this post was to maybe help some other newbie bloggers along so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.

As I have said before there are no rules. If you want to carry on and blog without getting consent, be my guest, but I promise you, you will be pretty lonely in blog-land.

36 comments

  1. I agree that making a connection is much more valuable than just using someone’s images. I’m sure any photographer would be happy to grant permission to use them if asked.

    What I have seen happen a lot is brides will steal images and save them and send them to another photographer and say “I want something like this.” A fellow photographer who is a great friend of mine said one of her clients sent her 3 of my images, and I have had a couple people send me samples of photos they have seen around the internet and indicated they really liked the shots. First of all, if you love that photographer’s work so much I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just hire them. Second, no photographer wants to copy someone else’s shots (well, no “real” photographer). To request them to do so hinders that photographer’s creativity. I know that’s another topic, but since your blog is all about pushing the envelope of creativity I thought this might be a potential topic for a later post.

    And I guess I also have a grudge against those photographers out there who see the work another photographer posts and feels the need to copy it. If I see someone else do something my first thought it usually “I can’t do that now that someone else has done it.” When I show up for a shoot (whether it be a wedding, engagement session, or even Trash The Dress session) I have a very loose idea of what I want to shoot. The creativity comes from the moment and what the subject gives me to work with. It shouldn’t be about trying to do what everyone else is doing!

  2. Post author

    great response Gwen! It is kind of the same topic as what i have written about too. copycats in general basically SUCK!

  3. great post. reminds me of a recent quote i found that i love- “You’ve gotta be original, because if you’re like someone else, what do they need you for?” Bernadette Peters

  4. Yes, yes and yes. This gets to the heart of the fuzzy lines of integrity in blogland. I noticed this with a wedding recently – it was posted on a wedding blog (I assume with permission) and then cycled through about ten other blogs I subscribe to on google reader. I started wondering why I subscribe to some blogs that just repost others’ work…and I’ll be removing some of them from my reading list soon.

  5. Go girl!

    Totally agree – tho you can embed pictures/images on your websites that do not allow anybody to copy them.

    Agree that a byline to the originator is polite.

    Re Jordan and Jodie scenario, someone has to be the original and someone has to copy the success to make it a success – if you get my meaning. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel just try to make it better.

  6. Thanks for the tips! I agree. I am guilty of posting Lollipop or Goleman photos, but at the same time I’ve found that stuff I love such as art noveau or tennis wood n’ white weddings are not really out there, thus motivating me to blog about them “first.” Those have been my fave posts and you’re absolutely right about finding your voice, standing out and embracing a unique style. I’m attending Blog Out Loud this Sunday in SF and your post gives me some food-for-thought in advance of the panel discussion.

    In the future, would love to see more on how to discover gems — the bloggers and talented vendors who haven’t built a following yet….

  7. JenWill

    I love this idea. I’m curently trying to break into the blogosphere myself. Although I pretty much blog just to share my own work as a photographer but any advice/articles on blogging in general would be great- Your reputation & taste is much respected.

  8. this is a great idea….I am new to blogging & just don’t quite get what all the excitement is all about so maybe this will help! thanks!

  9. Kat – Spot on! Please keep going with this!

    Gwendolyn Tundermann – So true + well said! Photographers should be hired on their specific style and talent. For myself, I have found it important to speak up and turn down jobs, that I know I will not be creatively satisfied doing or will produce images that the client will not be happy with. It shouldn’t be taken as an insult, because in the long run, everyone is happy and gets what they want.

  10. Post author

    Nadine, i BET i know which wedding youre talking about..i’m not going to say which one but if it’s the same one I’m thinking of then it was the over posting on seemingly every single blog of this one wedding that prompted me to write this in the first place!

  11. Ben Blood

    From a photographers perspective, there is a reason why we TURN OFF right clicks on our images. We don’t want people taking our images without asking. There should be a stream of consciousness that says, “hmm, I can’t right click on this photo . . . maybe I should ask if I can use these photos.”

    Props Kat.

  12. Post author

    glad you agree ben! i think you have surely had first hand experience of this ‘over blogging’ thing of late huh?! (damn you with your way-to-beautiful images!!

  13. I like this blog. It’s great thanks for the insight you brought to blogland. I totally dig the being original thing!! that’s all I do all the time. from my own pink hair to my totally unique and original custom designs.

    Blogging is an art as well… As the years have gone by I see it more and more as an art that is being fine tuned. Thanks to great bloggers as yourself 🙂

    have a great day/night it’s pretty late over by you by now

    Vic.

  14. Becky F.

    What I find that is very interesting about the blogging world is, how much things are re posted/blogged on blogs. I’m new to blogging, and I thought that blogging was about YOU writing about something, not just re-posting someone else’s work. I could understand if you reposted it to comment on what was written or shown, but to do if for the popularity seems like it’s a lazy way to get flow to your site.

    Great article…Becky

  15. Post author

    yep becky, this is what completey get’s my goat! what is the point of re-posting the same pictures over and over!?

  16. Hi Kat You are right in what you say – Google and the search engines look for unique, relevant and regularly updated content and give more authority to these sites. They are not interested in giving credit (and good rankings) to sites that rehash and re write old copy and it can sometimes even lead to getting your signed penalised. So I suppose anyone that cares about SEO, getting traffic to their site/blog through the search engines (which is the main way without spending loads of ££) will be wanting to find their own niche, their own style and write posts/ articles that are unique and that get people linking to their site. It is no surprise that some of the wedding blogs and sites out there have a very high Google page rank – its because they are writing fantastic, unique, relevant content and have lots of people linking to them.
    Essentially this is exactly what you are saying. I suppose its much harder work too , to do this, but pays off in the long term. Saying that though, at the end of the day a blog is a personal place to write and showcase thoughts and things that you like, so maybe some people aren’t fussed about traffic and website rankings and are just doing it purely for personal enjoyment.
    Great blog by the way and interesting article.
    x

  17. Hi Kat,

    I know that this is an oldish post but I wanted to reply nonetheless and say thank you! I’ve been chasing my tail trying to get permission feature photographs on my blog. Like yourself at the start I thought it was ok to feature whoever I liked without getting permission but I learned fairly early on the value of making the connection with wedding professionals. I’ve found though in about 30% of cases I never get a reply from the photographer, which I have to say is very disheartening!

    Anyway, love the series… keep ’em coming!

  18. Helena

    I know I’m incredibly late for the party but this blogging help series have been massively helpful, especially the links you put in the QandA. Just wanted to say thanks for writing it!

  19. You mention in this post the “right way to credit or link people, and as a wedding blogger in the making, I’ve spent serious time fretting over how this is done. Can you give any tips on properly crediting people on your blog? Thanks so much!

  20. I feel like I’m getting to know the real Kat in these posts as well as some really valuable advice on blogging. It’s comforting to know that you made mistakes and didn’t know it all. It’s quite tough out there as a newbie blogger and you’ve made me feel slightly less insecure about what I’m doing!

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