How To Start Your Own Photoblog In New Zealand (And elsewhere…)
Most of my great ideas for stories come to me while I am out walking the dogs.
Likewise, most of my bad ideas come to me when I’m out walking the dogs.
This story – “How To Start Your Own Photoblog In New Zealand” – is one of my greatest bad ideas!
Well – it seemed like a great idea at the time but when I came home and googled “How To Start Your Own Photoblog” I discovered that the net is littered with similar stories – and that all of them say exactly the same things. What’s that old saying? If it’s on the Internet – it must be true.
So after finally accepting that my great idea was actually a bad idea – I still had to go ahead and write something as I had said in my last story that I would.
So please accept that this is not intended to be the ultimate guide on how to start your own photoblog – but is my attempt to contribute something towards everything that has already been said elsewhere by blogging experts. My suggestion is to accept (with an open mind) everything you read online about how to start your own photoblog, then to throw my opinions based on personal experience into the mix.
Remember – setting up your own blog is not always as cut and dried as the experts would have you believe.
How to start your own photoblog in New Zealand
So, first things first. Let’s assume that you are much like me in that you take photographs for pleasure, as opposed to taking photographs to make money. It probably follows that if you start your own photoblog it too would be for pleasure, i.e. as a hobby – and not to make money. Because believe me, making money from blogging is hard work and a full-time job!
Yes – as the experts tell you, you will need a domain name, web hosting, a blogging platform (I use, and suggest, WordPress), a theme for your new site, and lots of content to add to it.
I created my first website a hundred years ago – or so it seems – when I was studying basic web design at polytech. I was using Dreamweaver – remember that? – and I had to create a website to showcase what I had learnt. It was about BMW motorcycles and was hosted on a free hosting platform – that sucked!
That was my first lesson learnt – FREE web hosting is bad (although I’m sure services such as WordPress.com have come a long way since then and couldn’t possibly be that bad still).
I didn’t need to come up with a domain name as my site name was my student ID number! (Long forgotten).
But you will need a domain name to start your own photoblog. The experts will tell you to think carefully about your domain name – match it to your specific photography niche, but it seems that most people with personal photoblogs just use something based around their name – e.g rickharveyphotography.nz. In my case I arrived at apertureprioritynz.com because – guess what – I shoot mostly in aperture priority.
Having said that, in my experimental days of blogging I have had domain names like jpegs.co.nz. thedailyphoto.co.nz, theoccasionalphotoblogger.com – and a couple of others besides. None of those is still active by the way, but I also have rickharveynz.com which points to my main photoblog.
If you are new to blogging, it may get a little bit confusing from here on. I say that because it took a couple of years of trying new things before I arrived at where my photoblog is today.
I had tried the free hosting thing and dismissed it out of hand. So I tried a few New Zealand web hosting services – but “back in the day” many of those services, although New Zealand owned, were still hiring space on servers based overseas. They worked okay in most instances – but sat times website speed was an issue and support was pretty bad. And support can be very important when you are starting down the blogging path.
These days there are many NZ web hosting companies that have their own servers based in New Zealand, and most are very good. My favourite is HooplaHosting who looked after my photoblog for several years before I moved to WPX Hosting.
It does make sense though to have your photoblog hosted in New Zealand because then you can use local domain names – i.e. .co.nz, .nz, .kiwi etc. – without any technical jiggery-pokery, like having to point your domain to your website, or use Cloudflare (a content distribution network) or something similar on your site to speed things up for overseas visitors.
By now you may be asking yourself a couple of things:
- Why did I transfer my photoblog to WPX Hosting – an overseas company?
- Why do I use .com domains?
In answer to question 1:
- I transferred everything to WPX Hosting having learnt from experience that once you start your own photoblog, it is never finished. So you need a safe environment where you can make changes to your photoblog’s appearance that once completed, can be updated on your main site safely. WPX offer a staging environment where you can safely achieve this.
- Another reason I changed is because WPX operates a dog rescue service and I like to support that type of thing.
- WPX is fast! It has its own custom-built CDN system included free in each hosting plan. This means that your photoblog is as fast in New Zealand as it is in the USA, or the UK, or South Africa.
- And talking of fast – WPX support is fast. It is acknowledged as the best in the business with an average response time of 30 seconds for Live Chat support! Compare that with HooplaHosting whose current average response time to requests for support is 30 minutes according to their website at the time of writing this.
- WPX has free malware detection and removal.
Website speed test using GTMetrix:
Now – question 2:
- I use a .com name because although my domains were registered in New Zealand I transferred them to WPX for convenience – it’s like having a one-stop shop, (at the time of writing one .com domain is still to be transferred), and the majority of overseas web hosting companies don’t handle NZ domain name extensions.
- .com appeals to a world-wide audience rather than just NZ, and the top 6 countries for visiting apertureprioritynz.com are USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK and Germany. Tracking visitors is a totally new story and I will not attempt to write about it!
- And cost – it is generally cheaper to register a .com domain than most others.
And talking of cost – WPX Hosting is a little more expensive ($4.00 per month) than Hoopla – or other NZ based web hosting – for comparable plans, but in my view, the difference is worth it because of WPX’s extra added value.
Now in all my preamble, I have assumed that you would start your own photoblog using WordPress. Why? Because it is so easy to use and learn and most web hosting companies will install it for you for free, or at least offer the option of a one-click WordPress install.
WordPress introduces a whole (but not too difficult) learning curve of its own. You’ll need to choose a theme that matches what you want your photoblog to look like, and learn to customise it. Then there are plugins – plugins for photo galleries, plugins to increase site loading speed and plugins for this, that and every other function imaginable. I suggest time on the net researching all this.
I hope that by combining my experiences with what the online experts tell you, you’ll now have enough information to take the next step to start your own photoblog.
I think that the most important thing to remember is that if you are blogging for pleasure, then keep it that way. Make it fun, and don’t take things – yourself included – too seriously. Be happy with your own work – be happy with the stories you may write and be happy with the photographs you make to go with those stories.
But also be aware that not everyone is going to like what you say and show…and they’ll most likely tell you so.
FYI – My photoblog uses the Hueman (free) theme, Smush (free) plugin to optimise images, W3Total Cache (free) plugin for speed optimisation, Jetpack (free) plugin for all sorts of functions, Rank Math SEO (free) plugin to help with searching on the web, Disable Gutenburg (free) plug in (I like the classic editor), and a few other plugins as well.