Blogging for Photographers by Jolie O'Dell
Anyone who has made the mishap of mis-clicking on this very website and entered the "Gallery" section, oddly known as The Cobra Arena of Sport, will know that a photographer, I am not. They will also realize that my ability to create a compelling display of digital imagery within said simple gallery is only slightly better than a train wreck hauling tankers of milk and other assorted dairy products.
So why, you may ask, would a sour milk drenched photo illiterate with no business being let near a toy camera, let alone a device that actually captures photographs, be reviewing Jolie O'Dell's latest book, "Blogging for Photographers"?
Because Miss O'Dell's latest work is as much for bloggers as it is for photographers.
For me, the primary takeaway had to do with blogging and the overall process of creating a personal presence on the Web. There's a certain intimacy in what we write, which is shared with what one captures visually. The process of creating content is very similar regardless of the medium. The steps taken to present this content are near identical, and where they diverge revolves around the specific content being created.
Honestly, I wish this book had been out a year ago when, I first launched CGMcGinn.com. As a would-be writer I knew from the start that were I to get bogged down with web design and development, the writing and blogging would suffer. My time should be spent more on the content and less on the Content Management System. And this book covers in great detail how to setup a CMS.
One benefit that I had over others in my shoes is that my 'day job' is in IT. So things like pointing my newly purchased URL to my freshly minted CMS were not total mysteries to me. In many cases, I knew where to look in order to find the information, or what questions to ask the Great and Powerful Google. But the time I spent asking those questions would have been cut in half had this book been around for me to read.
Thankfully I knew what questions to ask in order to get started. However, having other writing friends who spend their days in non-technical professions, I have found that this information is not as apparent. This is why Blogging for Photographers is an important read for anyone interested in developing an online presence.
Jolie O'Dell helps the reader make informed decisions by providing a variety of options. She covers many blogging platforms including WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Other platforms are also referenced within the book, allowing the reader to have a wide variety of choices. She takes great care in describing the templates used by many of these platforms, pointing out their features and costs. This sort of information is important in determining what sort of site, and what type of content someone new to blogging would like to get into. These early sections cover the setup of a blog, but also how to present your blog in a manner that is eye-catching and informative. There is a clear difference between blogging and writing 'dear diary' posts, which is discussed at great lengths throughout the book.
One thing this book is not, is a phone-books-sized technical manual found in most bookstores between the Computers and Photography sections. However, it is not a book one should expect to read once and then move on. Very much like a technical manual, you will go back to it for referencing. You'll think to yourself, "self, how can I develop a wider reach through social networking?" You'll then pick Blogging for Photographers back up and re-read that section and apply those concepts. And unlike most tech manuals, Jolie writes in a very conversational way that is to-the-point and helpful. Throughout the book, Jolie acts more like your blogging 'life-coach'. Ok, that was cheesy, but you get the idea. The book is anything but a dry read and you walk away feeling as though you've been talking with a friend about how to start a blog.
I'm not finished with this book yet. I plan to dog-ear and highlight the hell out of it, and as I discover more tips and tricks that I missed the first time around, you can be sure to find a improvements to my own humble piece of Internet real estate. In the meantime, if you're new to blogging, or have been blog-curious for a while now, go out and get Jolie O'Dell's, Blogging for Photographers. Don't let the name fool you, it's not just for the photo-geeks. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to provide content on the web.