It's always fun to get a little more of anything…
Last week the official PhotoShelter WordPress plugin was born – a free, public download that allows PhotoShelter users to streamline their blogging workflow by embedding photos and slideshows directly into the body of a blog post without leaving WordPress. Here’s a rundown of the main features of the plugin, plus a short review of how I use the plugin to save lots of time and improve my SEO. Also way down at the bottom, I include 22 other fantastic plugins for photography blogs.
Features of the official PhotoShelter WordPress Plugin:
- Embeds any publicly visible PhotoShelter image or slideshow directly into a blog post without leaving WordPress. So, no need to separately log into PhotoShelter to copy and paste image links into WordPress – a HUGE time saver.
- Creates “blog-ready” versions of your photos from the high resolution files in your PhotoShelter archive. The plugin dynamically generates a resized, sharpened and (if you choose) watermarked version of your photo that will fit the content area of your blog perfectly. In other words, you’ll never have to create, upload or manage separate “blog copies” of your photos ever again. Since the photos are created on-the-fly at PhotoShelter, they don’t take up any space on your hard drive or blog server.
- Embeds images that automatically click-through to the version of the photo that lives on your PhotoShelter website. This feature allows blog visitors to buy prints, products or digital downloads with a click and creates backlinks (that search engines like Google need to find your photos) at the same time.
- Embeds your photos as HTML (using the <img> tag) or Flash objects for higher security (your choice).
- Allows you to search for images by gallery or by IPTC keyword, a feature that really comes in handy when you want to write a blog post about a group of related images from different shoots. Example: The 10 Best Hamburger Photos I’ve Ever Taken.
- Automatically copies the IPTC description into the ALT text of the image embedded in your blog by reading the metadata of your high resolution photo.. This is great for SEO. (Since search engines like Google can’t actually “see” your photos, they look to the ALT text of your images to tell them what they are.)
What’s the Bottom Line?
I’ve been playing around with the plugin for about a week and I have this to say – although it’s still in the public testing stage, the new plugin is the best way for photographers who use PhotoShelter to add images to their WordPress blogs. It’s painless to install, simple to use, it’s good for SEO, and it can save you a lot of time.
If you’re interested in specifics on how the plugin has improved my own blog workflow the following overview should help.
My Old Workflow
Before using the PhotoShelter plugin for WordPress, my workflow looked like this:
1) Open my high resolution file in PhotoShop.
2) Resize the image to fit the content area of my blog (exactly 600 pixels wide)
3) Sharpen the image with unsharp mask to bring back the details
4) Open the file containing my watermark
5) Copy, paste and position the watermark on the sharpened image
6) Save a copy of the new “blog version” to my hard drive
7) Create a new blog post in WordPress
8) Use WordPress to upload the image to my web server
9) Fill in the ALT text by hand
10) Insert the image into the blog post
My New Workflow
Here is what my workflow looks like after installing the PhotoShelter plugin for WordPress:
1) Create a new blog post in WordPress
2) Click on the PhotoShelter icon in the post toolbar (to open the plugin)
3) Find my photo by gallery or by keyword search
4) Type in desired width of the image (in pixels)
5) Select HTML or Flash
6) Click “Insert Image”
In the new workflow, the images for my blog are automatically resized, sharpened and watermarked. The plugin automatically adds the descriptive text Google needs to “see” my photos and creates the link to my PhotoShelter website where visitors can buy prints or license my work. In the end, I’ve saved a lot of time, improved my SEO, and brought my photos closer to my clients – all without creating low resolution copies of my photos that clutter up my hard drive and web server.
Download the Plugin
Head over to the download page to get your copy of the Official PhotoShelter WordPress Plugin.
To see the plugin in action watch this short video from Graph Paper Press.
Graph Paper Press makes some of the best WordPress themes for photographers and has created 2 additional WordPress plugins for PhotoShelter users.
Here are a few other useful WordPress plugins (and themes) for photographers. Unlike most other
surprisingly useless very informative “Top # WordPress Plugins in the Universe” posts, I recommend these because I’ve actually used them on my own blog.
If you use and love a plugin not covered here, please add your recommendations with a comment on this blog post.
Plugins for Managing Photos and Videos
These plugins make using WordPress with images and other media faster and easier.
WordPress Flickr Manager
This one works a lot like the PhotoShelter plugin. It’s the best plugin I’ve found for inserting Flickr photos into the body of a blog post.
This neat plugin lets you insert Picasa web galleries in a blog post. It displays your Picasa photos as thumbnails in the body of a blog post and enlarges the images in a lightbox when a thumbnail is clicked.
Viper’s Video Quicktags
This plugin lets you use a shortcut to embed videos from Vimeo and YouTube into your blog posts without copying the entire embed code.
Plugins for SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugins help your blog content get found by search engines. They can increase the ranking of your blog by allowing you to put your target keywords in the places search engines look for relevant content. And, since they help you rank higher, they also drive more traffic to your blog. Here are a few of my favorites:
All in One SEO Pack
This one gives you complete control of the most important on-page SEO factors. You can write custom page titles, page descriptions and keywords for your blog, even if they’re different from the one you show to visitors.
Example: A visitor sees the title “Inauguration Photos.” The search engine sees “Inauguration photos of Barack Obama at the White House.”
Google XML SiteMaps
This plugin generates an XML sitemap to help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com index your blog. Sitemaps make it easier for search engines to index the complete structure of your blog. Every website you have should have it’s own sitemap.
This plug-in gives you control over what parts of your blog search engines pay attention to. Namely, it makes sure that your actual articles rank higher than other content like pages or comments.
While it doesn’t choose the best keywords 100% of the time, this plugin increases the SEO of your posts by automatically suggesting keywords as you type. I look at keywords it generates as suggestions before writing my own.
Plugins for Analyzing Your Blog Traffic
Analytics plugins give you a window into who is visiting your site and what they are reading. These tools are essential for tracking the success of your keywords and for the determining your most popular content. (For more information about Analytics, check out PhotoShelter’s free guide, Google Analytics for Photographers.)
This plugin requires a free Google Analytics account. It automatically adds Google Analytics tracking to your WordPress blog without the need to manually edit the code of your theme. Among other things, Google Analyticator tells you what your popular content is, what people are searching for to find you, and where your visitors are coming from.
Like Google Analyticator, this plugin records data about your visitors and your most popular content and displays it on your WordPress dashboard in a concise graphical interface.
Social Media Plugins
Social media plug-ins come in two varieties: 1) those that help you share your blog posts with your social media followers (on Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and 2) those that let your visitors share your content with their networks. Social media plug-ins can be as effective or more effective than SEO when it comes to spreading the word about your newest blog content. (For more information about using social media, check out PhotoShelter’s free guide, Social Media for Photographers.)
This is the WordPress version of the popular social sharing tool AddThis. It allows your blog visitors to share your content with 295 of the most popular social networks by clicking on a small bookmarking tool bar on every blog post.
This plugin integrates WordPress with your Twitter account to allow automatic status updates to your Twitter account every time you publish a new blog post. A word of warning – I was using this plugin until I found that no one was clicking on my tweets because they sounded like they came from an automated plugin. When I resumed tailoring my tweets to my followers, readership rebounded. This plugin is probably most useful for photographers who update their blogs multiple times a day.
I love this one. It adds a little green button to your blog articles that allows readers to post a link to your article directly to their Twitter accounts. It also counts how many times the article has been tweeted about, which can bring even more attention to the article from other blog visitors.
Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in
As you can tell from the name, this is one of many WordPress plugins that introduces your blog visitors to other relevant content on your site by adding links to related posts at the bottom of the current entry. This plugin has more options than the others in its class and it’s very good at encouraging my blog visitors to read older articles.
Subscribe to Comments
When one of your readers comments on a post, this plugin invites them to continue the conversation by notifying them any time a new comment is added. This is an important one for encouraging discussion and repeat visits to your blog.
Site Maintenance Plugins
Site maintenance plugins make sure that your blog continues to run smoothly as the amount of content increases over time. They also ensure that your work is properly backed up in case you need to move your blog to another host or restore your data in the event of a server crash.
WordPress Database Backup
This is possibly the single most important tool in this section. It creates an on-demand backup of your most valuable data – your posts and comments. Every photographer with a blog should install this plugin.
WP Super Cache
This plugin creates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog which dramatically decreases the time it takes for visitors to load your blog. The downside is that it slows down how quickly small edits to your posts appear on the site.
Akismet is a must-have plugin for combating spam comments. My Akismet installation has blocked almost 10,000 spam comments to date. The plugin requires an API key from Akismet.com, but registration is free for personal use. Thanks to photographer Dave Hodgkinson for reminding me about this one.
By default, many blogging platforms lack something all photographers need – a professional and easy way for clients to contact them or “subscribe” without leaving their browsers. Here is my favorite:
Contact Form 7
This plug-in is perfect for photographers; it’s simple to set up and it allows you to create multiple forms so you can handle different types of inquiries. If you need separate questionnaires for your wedding, portrait and commercial clients, this one is for you.
Wufoo isn’t a plugin, it’s a company that creates highly customizable forms that can be embedded in almost any website or blog. If you need a form with the most options, you’ll want to give Wufoo a try.
WordPress Themes for Photographers
There are literally thousands of themes for WordPress but few that are made specifically for photographers (believe me, I’ve searched high and low) Here are a few of the best options I’ve found:
Graph Paper Press
Graph Paper Press makes elegant WordPress themes for visual creatives. I use and love Graph Paper Press themes because they make my photos look great and thanks to a partnership with PhotoShelter, I was able to seamlessly integrate my blog with my PhotoShelter website with the press of button.
ProPhoto Blogs only make one WordPress theme for photographers but it’s a good one. The theme contains six different layouts with lots of customization built in.
This is a really interesting theme for photographers who want to a tradtional “portfolio” website using WordPress. I haven’t personally used it, but it looks great on both big screens and mobile devices like the iPad.
This theme is a traditional blog layout with a mini-portfolio built into the header. I could see this layout working well for a wedding, portrait or fashion studio.
The Photography Blog Handbook
PhotoShelter publishes an ongoing series of educational guides for photographers. For more blogging resources and tools specifically for photographers, check out the latest guide, The Photography Blog Handbook.
Recommend Another Plugin
If you use and love a plugin not listed here, please add your recommendation(s) in a comment on this post.
Chris Owyoung is a New York based music photographer and a member of PhotoShelter’s marketing team. His website www.onelouderphoto.com is powered by PhotoShelter, WordPress and a theme by Graph Paper Press.