Archive for the 'Web Design' Category

Facebook is Charging – What’s Next for Your Page + Five REAL Tips for Traffic.

by Gavin Seim: Now here’s the reality of your Facebook page: If you want the majority of your connections to see your posts you have to PAY – Love it or hate it (mostly hate it), that’s how it is. We can complain about how people subscribed to our posts, how Facebook is using bait and switch on us. That’s is probably true. But they own the space and it’s a business. Many of us saw this coming. And yet we may not have been as prepared as we should have.

There’s some good news though. Facebook pages themselves are still free. That’s good. And if you post something really, really, REALLY engaging more people will see it than average. That’s cool. Though still not everyone who likes your page. That’s not cool. From what I’m seeing on pages, (and I have quite a few of them,) a post generally gets seen by 10-25% of your fans. Sometimes less. That’s bad.

So if you want to get seen, you PAY to promote the post. For example on my photography page which has around 2500 fans, I’ll pay about $10 for most of them to see it. For my Seim Effects page that has closer to 8k fans. It might cost $30. This can work, but it’s too costly for every post. We’ll come back to that.

First I think we’ve come to rely too much on social networks. Even those of us that make blog posts have come to rely solely pages, tweets and the like for the traffic to our sites. Higher content saturation and low interaction reduce the value of our space. But the problem with social network reliance it goes beyond that. Facebook censorship is bad. In fact recently I was BLOCKED from Facebook for 24 hours for posting this portrait on my page, titled The Bath.

I can’t operate a business like a two year old, wondering if I’m going to get a Facebook Spanking every time I post something or open my mouth. I can’t rely on a system like that. At least not entirely. So all this has made me evaluate how I use social networks. How we can be more independent and build Content Freedom.

There’s always everyday social network tips like posting good content. How images get more interaction than plain posts. How you need to be interesting and visually appealing. These are basic rules of engagement. But lets go deeper. Here’s what I’ve learned. Tips on not only how to maximize what’s left of Pages, but to step further away from reliance on social networks while maximizing how we use them to gain the valuable traffic.

 

5. Cross Planning Your Content.

Regardless of where you post you need to engage your viewers and make sure you’re not posting crud. If you post photos they should shine. If you make products, make them look good. If you’re monologuing like me, make it worth it. As Captain Picard once said – “Engage.” Take the time to refine your brand and showcase things the best way you can. Use all this to get traffic to your own site.

Always make it easy to share, subscribe and engage. People won’t generally go out of their way for it. Keep it classy, but easy to click. In this share bar for my new EXposed workshop, I used a direct call to action here. This is not always necessary bit can be nice on static pages.

Next, cross promote using your site in ways that get people to engage further. Get them on email lists and or following your other networks. On your own website make people want to share content, Like, +1 and Re-tweet, Pin and the like. And don’t just use any share tool. Find one that looks and works good. Note the share bar I use at the top of this post. It makes it easy and fast to share. Don’t use tools that people have to work to make function. The one I use right now is called Social Sharing Toolkit for WordPress. Continue reading ‘Facebook is Charging – What’s Next for Your Page + Five REAL Tips for Traffic.’

A Photographer’s Confession – How I Paid for Facebook Fans.

By Gavin Seim

So what’s five dollar fandom like? It’s just like buying advertising, right? Well, I have to confess something today. I did pay for Facebook fans. I know, sick, right? No, I don’t mean I bought an ad in order to get people to my page. That would have been fine. Wait, is it any different? Well, yes. When you pay someone to spread the word in order to gain “real interest,” it’s different. It’s like paying for an ad in the personals or joining a dating site. It may be a little cheesy at times, but it can still be genuine, and sometimes it’s a working approach.

But that’s not what I did today. I went to a site called Fiverr. It’s an interesting place where anyone can sell pretty much any item or service for five bucks: bracelets made of soda tops, video promos, ads on Twitter accounts, people suggesting Facebook pages to their friends, etc. Kinda interesting.

Then I found an offering that promised more: an immediate growth in fans. The one I picked promised at least 250 +Likes for just $5.00. I know, it was self-serving. But 250 fans? I paused. I’ve always been about good content. The slow nurturing of quality followers. My Seim Studios photography page already had over 1500 real fans. But I wanted to know how this worked. I wanted a taste of rapid growth. So I did it. I bought into five dollar fandom. And I got what I paid for.

A couple hours later, my fans skyrocketed. Yep. Just as all the previous buyers on this offering said. It was for real. In about two hours, I went from around 1510 to 1776. Passing by two centuries in a blink. I had done it. I had new fans, and I was flying. Flying…but not so high. In fact, for a few moments, I was flying low enough that I think my belly button was skimming the weeds. I even confessed to my wife. The reviews didn’t mention that the fans gained were completely without gratification.

It was like a time machine in a bad movie. I may have arrived at the destination, but the plot was no better when I got there. I felt dirty. As though I had paid for fans… Wait, I did pay for fans. I keep telling myself I did it for you. To test the waters and make sure it was safe. To protect you from…. O.K. Honestly, the business side of me simply could not resist the idea of so many new fans, in so little time.

So, what’s the scoop? As far as I can tell, this is not some hacker. The new fans come from FB accounts that have few friends and odd foreign names. And they come fast. I’m guessing there are either a ton of accounts owned by one person (yea, shady), or some sort of fan network where people agree to fan pages for each other. Either way, these people have no real interest in me and will probably never think of me again.

So, the bottom line is this: it’s NOT the best way to gain fans. Yes, you can grab some quick cred on your page. Particularly if you have a new page, this is VERY tempting. It’s not illegal or anything like that, but I speak from today’s experience. It does not feel gratifying. I have pages like Seim Effects with more than 5k fans, fans I worked to get by offering value and sharing ideas. That feels good. Buying fans, not so much. My studio page is still a quality place. These irrelevant fans won’t change that. But every time I look at my numbers from now on, I’ll be mentally deducting those 250 or so fans that “didn’t really count,” and I’ll never be able to forget that I paid for for it.

So is buying ads and trying to gain reach all bad? No. But few things are free, quality clients least of all. So think about what you really want. Will numbers really satisfy you or do you want real people who actually are interested in what you do and will spread the word to others? That takes time. But as for me, I plan to stick with quality +Like’s from now on. That’s not to say I won’t ever buy advertising (though it doesn’t usually work that well either). But I want followers that actually are relevant and who are interested in what I do. On that note, if you want to read my notes for cultivating a quality page, read my 10 Tips for Taming the Power of Your Facebook Page.

My confession has ended. The grimy weight is sliding off my shoulders as I strike these square keys. I am moving on.

Gav

UPDATE/TIP:
At this same time of my craving for fans, I spent another five bucks on another promotion. Five dollars to have someone actually suggest my page to “their” friends. I gained another nice chunk of what seem to be “real fans” from this. Nothing like the 200+ useless fans, but 20-30 actual users, which is far better. The difference is that this is not a promised number where non relevant profiles +like your page, simply for the sake of your ego. Those are real Facebook users, who saw my page suggestion on the sellers wall and decided to +Like it. Would I sell a page suggestion on my personal profile for $5. Not a chance, but I see no problem with buying one if someone is offering it. These seem to be honest-to-goodness people, who, if you provide relevant content, may take a genuine interest in your page. Just like buying an ad.

500px Review – A new photo sharing site worth a look?

The profile interface on 500px.com. Really nice and clean.

See update to review below original article…

by Gavin Seim. So I’m pretty jaded to photo sharing sites. They all seem about the same. But 500px.com has caught my eye. I just setup a profile and here’s what it looks like… http://500px.com/gavinseim

500px is a photo sharing/portfolio/social network site all rolled into one. It’s not exactly the same as other photo sites, but it’s compelling. One, because it’s clean. The opposite of Flickr and many others. But the main feature to me was the rating system. People can like and  dislike images and that controls how they rank on the site. Finally, a site that based recognition on how good your image is, rather than how many groups you add it to. Could there be problems with a rating system? Maybe, but it seems they’ve designed it pretty well, with vote effect varying by age of the image, how many previous votes etc. At least they have one.

Not that other similar sites are bad, but as a Flickr user I’ve become tired. It’s filled with clutter, never really improves, and the interaction is way down. FB is great for reaching out to the masses and having a presence, but in truth it’s pretty lousy for presenting art. 500px is a little like a portfolio and a ongoing photo competition all in one. The challenge is ON.

Now my main space is my own website, but social sites like this can be a great way to interact and gain new eyeballs. 500px even allows users to sell images, and make a nice website. Both are things I’d rather do on my site for now, but these are cool tools for someone looking to make a clean simple space on the web.

500px definitely looks interesting. I plan to take a break from Flickr for awhile and see what I think. There’s a free and a paid membership and even the free version seems fairly feature rich. Not that it’s perfect. 500px lacks a lot of the exploring features, maps and beyond that we may be used to on other sites. But bear in mind it’s a newer project. Hopefully they can keep the features rolling out and not mess it up while doing so.

So go join for free and post a few of your best. And you’re welcome to follow me too… http://500px.com/gavinseim

UPDATE, 07/18. A deeper look.

Here’s an update on 500px, including the negatives I’ve discovered, as I’ve hung out on the site over the past week.

First, it’s the rating system that makes 500px look good. Just like any other photo site, there’s lots of poor quality photos being posted. You simply don’t see them because they don’t rank. Fair enough. It keeps to quality stuff on top which is a good things. The site is pretty much a ongoing photo contest where the prize, if you win, is a pat of the back from your peers. This can be very satisfying. Though it’s easy to get overly consumed with your latest scores and spend the day refreshing your page in anxious desire.

However! To filter up high to the top you need a LOT of likes. In principal the system is great, but there seems to be a ripple effect. It seems that someone who gets a high ranked photo or two (particularly early adopters) have gotten a lot of attention and a lot of followers. At that point they will tend to get more likes by simple nature of the fact that anything they post gets so many eyeballs right out of the gate. For the rest of users, it looks like most images will get a few views and then sit. Even if they’re really great.

Next is the comments. They feel good, but there’s very little critique. I get the sense that many comments are made in hopes of making a new connections. Not a terrible thing, and it happens everywhere. But it means comments are usually simple praise rather than thought out feedback. The other issue is the fear of negative comments. There’s a “dislike” button on images. This could be a good thing, but I’m not sure it’s needed and I think people may be refraining from constructive criticism, in fear that the receivers of such comments could dislike their own images in retaliation because they didn’t like what was said. It may be silly, but it will happen.

Also the site is filled with nudes. They tend to rank high (no surprise). Now I’m not saying they should not allow such content. Only that some users are uncomfortable with it. While those users can check a box to hide these images, they still show as image tiles that say NUDE CONTENT in glaring letters. Most the people that for whatever reason don’t want to see nudes, want them totally gone. 500px should be allowed simply be able to turn it completely off in their settings and not see anything related to it.

Lastly, the sad part is that no matter how much attention an image gets, it loses score. This seems like a real dower. The 1-100 Scores fade in time using an algorithm and that allows fresh images sift up (not sure how far down a score will go). In a way this algorithm makes sense. Problem is it’s frustrating to lose your rank for any reason and I think this will be a negative for everyone. You can have the top image on the site scored at 96, but soon it will drop and ranked with images that are just so so as if it never happened. This could be easily corrected by having each image marked with a banner of highest score achieved, sort of trophy that represented how well it did. But alas I see so such feature.

So that’s some thoughts after a bit of use. Not all bad, but not all good. I’ve tried tweeting a few suggestions to the folks at 500PX, but sadly they seem to ignore them. We’ll see going forward had they fare. 500px is cool, but I get the sense that the glow is going to fade quickly if they don’t find a way to keep people excited once they realize that their image is not likely to ever reach the top unless they have a large following.

We’ll see what happens. Don’t get me wrong, I still like 500px. But they have a short window. If they don’t listen to users and keep improving, they won’t get attention for long. Your thoughts are welcome on the comments… Gav

10 Power Tips for Building & Growing Your Facebook Page.


by Gavin Seim. Updated 09/19/11. (Look for 09/11 note in tip titles).

So, you want a wildly popular Facebook page with thousands of screaming fans begging you for more?

I may not be able to give you that. But you never know. Seriously though, let me be clear. I have no intention of writing about how you can triple your fans overnight and make $4k a month in your spare time, while eating Cheetos and drinking beer. This is an in-depth article for anyone (but especially photographers) trying to build a real presence on FB. I’ve spent a lot of time working with pages, and this is nearly everything I’ve learned, all laid out for free.

Facebook Pages can be great tool for any business. They allow us to promote our brand in an interactive way on a venue frequented by a large portion of the population. It’s also free, which is even better. Now FB may not be a big deal five years from now, but today it’s king of the social web, and in business, we go where the customers are.

On the one hand, pages are simple, but their social nuances are what can make them truly effective. Watch for reference links throughout that will help you find your way through FB’s maze of information, starting withinternal help discussions where you can ask specific questions of other users.

Making a FB page successful takes cultivation, kind of like an garden. If you nurture it, it flourishes and produces. But if you ignore or abuse it, it gets sick, dries up, and dies. OK, now that my dramatic food analogy is over, let’s get into the tips. If you don’t already have a page, you can start by making one here. I maintain lots of pages, so feel free to check out any of them for ideas and +Like them if you like what you see.

1. Add Real Value:

Successful Pages are not about SPAM. They’re really about permission marketing (Seth Goden’s book is great for more information on that topic). When someone Fan’s (or +Likes) your page, everything you post to that page will show up in their feed. That person is giving you permission, and that’s VERY valuable. It’s also to be used with caution. If you abuse that permission, fans will learn to ignore, be annoyed with, and or Un-Like you for going overboard. Take the time to make a page with a balance that represents your brand and provides content and information that fans will enjoy. They already like you so the battle is half won. But only half. The rest is in your hands.

Continue reading ’10 Power Tips for Building & Growing Your Facebook Page.’

Photo Couch Podcast, Episodes… 04, 05, 06, 07, 08

itunesbadge Pro Photo Photography Podcasts:
Or.. Direct podcast feed

by Gavin Seim: Here’s the latest episodes of the new Photo Couch podcast. Short quick bursts of photo ideas and information. If you want to get them as they come out, you can subscribe in iTunes or use the direct feed in any podcatcher.

There’s a bunch of topics in these five episodes, all no more than five minutes long. Give a listen and get some ideas. If you have thoughts you’d like to discuss in depth, visit the Photo Couch board on the forums.

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. 11/11/09 Seeing Your Site with Client Eyes.

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. 09/30/09 Branding Your Prints

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. 09/04/09 Proofs & Sales

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. 08/18/09 Live Shoot Follow Up & Proofing

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. 08/13/09 Senior Session Live Shoot

wedding-photography

Why You Should Use WordPress For Your Website?

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Note: There’s are web designers who will build WP sites. While I don’t offer web design services myself I do offer consultation by the hour for those that need advice or want to manage it themselves. You can find that here.

By Gavin Seim. Updated 01/10: With a Word Press site I can probably do anything you can with your site and more. It’s a good platform with great add on’s and it’s easier for me because I have control. I can pick from thousands of free themes on the net, mod them how I want and get my own look.

Besides Pro Photo Show here’s a few of my other sites built entirely in WordPress.

Word Press is a platform that many bloggers use. Many photographers use it for their blogs in fact. What many don’t realize is how much of a content management system WP is, and how good it is for building a complete photographers website. It’s like the simplicity of blogging, but for your entire website.

I use it on all of my sites and can make my blog and website all one. I like that integration a lot. Images can be posted equally easy on static pages or blog posts via your online admin panel. Flash or HTML slideshows can easily be made in Photoshop, or one of my favorites ShowIt Web, and embeded right into the pages for my galleries.

Here’s some thoughts on using WordPress for your next website. Besides the fact that it’s FREE.

  • 1. Ease
    I could go on all day about the cool things you can do with WP. It’s not just function, it’s simpicty. Granted to really customize things you either need to be willing to take the time to learn, or simply get someone who’s a web geek. As an example. I can start with a theme, and build a good looking site in an afternoon. After that making changes is only a web browser away, and can be done without much experience. It’s so much more powerful than a traditional HTML site, and far easier to manage than a flash site. Continue reading ‘Why You Should Use WordPress For Your Website?’