Are You Using Tags, Labels, and Categories to Organize Your Website?

Everyone has a digital camera. Even people who don't consider themselves "photographers".

My mother has one. My father has a nice DSLR (although in his youth he did fancy himself a photographer) he uses it primarily to take pictures of his grandkids.

If you chose photography as a vocation you likely have your digital photos organized through a program like Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture.

If you aren't a "photographer" you may try to utilize iPhoto or maybe Adobe Elements in an effort to keep them orderly. If, however, you fall into the vast majority of people you simply dump them all into a folder on your desktop.

Photographers the world over are shaking their heads in disbelief. They simply cannot fathom that most people just have thousands, or even tens of thousands, of digital photographs sitting in a folder on their desktop. Professional photographers are typically much more organized when it comes to this stuff. They have to be.

I'm cringing as I think about it.

Imagine this very common scenario: You're looking for a picture you took a few months ago of your significant other while you were in Vegas. You took several dozen, or even hundreds, of photos while you were in Vegas. And your common practice of just dumping your photos into that photo folder on your desktop seemed like a good idea at the time.

The images were saved. Good. Done. But now that you're looking for them you have to open the folder, wait for your OS to render all of the image thumbnails for your perusal, and then you start scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling, looking for one image labeled "DSC0235.jpg" even though you don't actually know that's the name of the image you're looking for.

What you are looking for are context clues that help you pinpoint the general time.

Aha. After 20 minutes you've found some images of your trip to Vegas. Now you start looking closer at the thumbnails, even opening up images (one at a time) for closer inspection, as you hunt for this one elusive photo.

This process has taken you way too long. And it only get's longer as more photos are added to that folder. You're frustrated.

You have to get organized if you want to actually want to find things.

You can use a photo organizing software like Lightroom or Aperture to label your photographs as you upload them.

So instead of dumping your photos into a folder you label them as you upload them. The photo in question could have, and probably should have, been labeled as such; Vegas, Nevada, (insert significant other's name), the casino's name or attraction, fun times, gambling,..etc.

Now the next time you look for an image on your computer you can start with keywords.

This isn't a post about which image editing or management software you should be using for your photography.

Life's More Fun When You're Organized by ifindkarma: CC

This is an example, one that you're probably familiar with, about how the web works.

We write blog posts. We upload photos to social networking sites like Flickr and Facebook. We have little points of data that we are using to market our businesses online and we do so with limited time.

But what most successful online marketers don't do is simply dump them online.

They label them. They tag them. They index, sort, and use keywords for everything that goes online when it relates to their inbound marketing.

While tags and categories may have fallen by the wayside from a purely SEO perspective they are still very handy from a user perspective. It's how people find things on your website when they are looking for more information related to a post they just came across.

If your post is about your latest gallery showing and a gallerist or museum curator has stumbled upon that post will they be able to easily find other gallery related posts on your blog? They may want to quickly find what other galleries you've worked with. They'll want to do this easily. Tags and categories can help them do this.

If you're a wedding photographer and you just did a blog post about your latest wedding shoot at the Magnolia Ballroom in Houston, TX did you tag it that way. So that a bride who is considering hiring you knows that you've shot there on several occasions and can easily find more examples of your work at that specific venue. She's much more likely to hire a wedding photographer who knows her venue well.

People who are browsing the Internet are often times finding things serendipitously. One search leads to reminder about one thing that leads to another search that leads to a link that leads to a related link that informs them of more information or guidance in whatever it is they are hunting for.

Help them. Guide them. Organize your blog so that people can find other posts that are related to the article they just found. Use tags. Use categories. Show them how to know you better and you'll be closer to building a relationship with that reader.

Help them find things on your website. Make sure your website is organized with people in mind.



Older Content Does Not Equal Irrelevant

We don't live in a world of limited shelf space.

And that's a good thing.

In Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More he opens up with a story about an older book, almost out of print, whose sales were suddenly revived by its proximity to a newer book covering the same topic.

Recommendation engines in online bookstores picked up on the buying habits of its customers and began to pair the two together. People bought in this manner and an infinite loop was created. Over time the older book began to outsell the newer book.

green bottle and friends by Damien Franco

It's a great story that illustrates something that most of us are already coming to terms with. We no longer live in a world that shuns older work. Not entirely anyway.

Because of the internet and it's ability to bring older, relevent, content to the masses on a daily basis we have opportunities to sell things beyond their launch date. This is true whether you sell fine art prints through your online gallery or whether you have past client work you want to show off as proof of your work.

When we blog, tag, and push our content out into the Internet we create little bits of information that is waiting for discovery. Take a look back on the work you've done in the past. Is there a way to push it back to the front of people's minds?

If your older work is still relevent, if it's still timely, then you are allowed (encourage really) to tweet about it.

Look through your archives. I'm sure you'll find a goldmine of work that is evergreen. Push it out there. If it needs updating then do so. Then push it out there.

As a photographer I take a look back at some of my older photographs to see if I've missed something meaningful. Especially if it's something I hadn't shared before. When Adobe releases a new version of Lightroom and they've tweaked their processing I like to look into those older photographs and see what the new filters can do with them.

Take one day a month to comb through your archives (whether that's your art archives or your blog archives) and see what can be worked on, improved upon, and pushed back into the streams of your followers.

Why All Artists Need A Blog

Today I had the great pleasure of introducing an artist to blogging and it’s importance in an online portfolio.

So I thought I would share some of the thoughts behind why it is important for artists (of any genre) to have a blog.

In the olden days of being an artist and getting discovered it was leg work and networking. You kinda had to be at the right place at the right time and with the right people. Getting your portfolio in front of the right people, when you’re green, was nearly impossible. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed much, but it has changed some (and will continue to do so in the future).

While I can’t speak for every genre (my emphasis is photography) I can say that photo editors are starting to turn to the Internet to find their artists. Now photography may be a little ahead of the curve because of it’s natural relationship with technology, but a little research shows that the rest of the art world is catching up.

If you’re an artist in this day and age you don’t want to be left behind. The leg work you do now will help you tremendously as time progresses. Experts are predicting that everyone will have an online presence in the not so far away future.

We are already in a state where HR people are googling applicants names. I certainly hope your Facebook account doesn’t have any pictures that you wouldn’t want your boss to see. I’ll wait while you set your Facebook account to private.

Now that you’re back.

Ask yourself this question: What does google have to say about you? Go ahead, google your name (it’s called an ego search).

Do the top things represent what you want people to know about you? Do you even show up? If you’re an artist and you can’t answer these things in a positive way then you need to seriously consider fixing these things. Why?

Glad you asked.

Say you have a showing at a local gallery and it went decently well. You sold a couple of pieces and handed out business cards (you do have business cards right?). Now let’s say that Joe (he’s an art dealer) has your business card with just your phone number or email address. Now Joe can contact you directly and that’s good and all but what if he forgets about you and finds your business card months later when he’s cleaning out his wallet?

He may wonder why he has your business card but doesn’t want to call you and embarrass himself or his memory. Even with a “static” website Joe may want to find out more about you. So he googles you. Nothing. Nothing shows up. Joe’s impression now is that you aren’t important enough if google doesn’t think so.

I know this sounds extreme, but it happens. I’m lucky enough to have contact with a photo editor that has told me these things happen. Marketing in this day and age is key to success and that marketing needs to happen online now more than ever.

So what are you gonna do about it?