This is the fourth of a 4-part transcription of the video Making the Web Work for You. Featuring an extended conversation on blogging and social media with three influential leaders in the Photography community: David Nightingale (Chromasia), David Hobby (Strobist), and Seattle’s own Chase Jarvis (Chase Jarvis’ Blog).
Mohammed: Thanks, guys. We’ll open this up to Q&A. Does anybody want to bounce something off? Any questions? I have a question actually before we get people started. David, what was your tipping point? You said there was a time when you first started, you had two readers and then you went all over the place. What was the tipping point?
David Hobby: Actually it was one reader. They thought it was a curiosity for a while. My wife really thought it was a curiosity, because she saw how much work I was putting into it. And David alluded to the fact that my design was to monetize it early and try to grow that. I think after three or four days of being live, I made 37 cents, which I thought was pretty cool. And then my son fan in to tell my wife that we made 37 cents. And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. Daddy’s put a lot of work into that.”
David Hobby: But, what I saw immediately was a slow not even a slow, but a steady growth. Every week there was more than the week before, and every month there was more than the month before. And this was not an advertising thing either. This was people going out and saying, “Hey, did you see this?” And that’s what you do on the Web. If you find something cool how many of you have participated in social bookmarking sites like Digg or things like Facebook, or email someone something if they see something really cool? That’s the oil that lubricates the Web. That’s what makes the Web go. So, if you’re really producing something that’s compelling to people, it just happens. It just happens. What about you, David?
David Nightingale: I was going to say, it wasn’t so much a tipping point, it was more gradual to me. But, one of the things that really made me realize what we were doing was when I first started my wife would say and I have got a lot of kids as well she’d say, “How can you spend so long doing this? You’re neglecting your family. You’re doing this. You’re now taking photographs just for the sake of blogging.” Kind of a magic moment for me was when she said to me, “Look, go out and take some new stuff, will you. You’ve been putting up the same stuff. I’ve been reading the comments and people want more pictures. Take some pictures of the kids or do something differently.”
David Nightingale: “The stuff on the blog is boring. You can’t have people looking at this and thinking it’s boring. Go do something different.” So, it’s been great when I’ve been away, she said, “Oh, great, architecture. Completely different.” So, it’s like the blog drives itself. When I started the “How to Make Yourself a Better Photographer,” you decide you’re going to post an image day after day, you really have to work hard to do that. There would be times when I would go out at 9:00 at night to shoot streetlights because I had nothing else to put up.
And this is why I’m known for Photoshop, because it makes you look through stuff, stuff you would delete. You look at that and think, what’s the best out of all this stuff I’ve deleted. I need to put something up tonight. And you’ll sit and you’ll work at something and you’ll end up with something that’s worth looking at.
That’s not how you teach people. You say, “Light it right. Do this.” But, you learn a hell of a lot by trying to make decent photographs out of ones that you would normally discard. So, it really works in all sorts of different ways.
Mohammed: Chase? I saw your website, when somebody linked to your video where you’re showing the power of macro setup with the extra batteries.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah, James Bond.
Mohammed: Yeah, that’s right. That’s it. That’s it.
Chase Jarvis: For me there wasn’t really a tipping point either. It seemed to me to be just continuous, steady growth. But, the part that’s interesting is what the end goal is, is a community of likeminded individuals sharing information. We’re all in this room because we all like photography. And there’s another one of these in another city down the street where the same thing is happening but they’re talking about gardening. And there’s another one down the street that’s talking about automobiles.
You understand? These are communities that are ideally making our lives richer. And it’s all free. Sure, there are examples where you have to pay to participate and that, but the most powerful part, in my mind, is that is that it spreads useful knowledge. Like David said, that’s why David’s site is so popular, because there’s so much knowledge there. You could learn to become a photographer in a long weekend on David’s site.
David Hobby: A loooong weekend. [laughter]
Chase Jarvis: It has changed the face of the world. And another thing that’s a little bit of a soapbox or platform that I tend to get on so I’ll try to keep it short. There’s more opportunity now for photographers than ever before. I cannot handle this. And the stock discussion sort of was going that way this morning, if you were in that panel. And it’s like, oh, it’s so hard to do this, it’s so tough to do that. And I’m thinking, whoa, whoa, whoa. I mistakenly got assaulted online for saying the phrase “turn that frown upside down.” You’ve got to turn that frown upside down, because this is the most exciting time to become a photographer.
There’s more information than ever before. You can learn something overnight by reading on this little metal box. There are more photo buyers than ever before right now, and they have better access to those photos. So, throw all that stuff in the mix and it’s a pretty exciting time.
Mohammed: Chase, thanks guys. Any questions?
Chase Jarvis: You guys should have some questions. Come on. Boom, boom, boom.
Audience Member: I’m just starting off blogging. Literally going from no posts to that first post. How do you start to put a readership into your blog? Do you have to do that through your photography, or is there a way to market yourself as a blogger that will then dog at people to go to that. Which comes first, the blog or the photography?
Chase Jarvis: I want to take that first. A couple of key phrases from what you were talking about tipped me off. I want to change your direction a little bit. Your first instinct is that it’s about marketing yourself. That’s a side benefit. The first thing you want to do is you want to look inside and think about things that mean something to you. Because translating that to the page is a very powerful experience. From a creative perspective, from a personal perspective. And I’m not saying “Write about your kittykat.” But I’m saying to write about things that are meaningful to you within the profession.
If this is going to be a clientfacing thing and a communityfacing thing, write about things that are meaningful to you. David is the most passionate person in the world about offcamera lighting, far and away.
David, how many picture do you have on your website?
David Nightingale: 1420.
Chase Jarvis: 1400. I can’t think that there are many blogs in the world that have close to that. These are very, very passionate people. And if you can somehow show your passion and give that away freely I mean, build it and they will come. There’s all kinds of little noodling strategies that you can do, but what it’s really about is turn yourself inside out, and being passionate about what you’re doing. Showing it through your writing and your pictures. “I got a new picture today. It’s incredible. What do you guys think?”
David Nightingale: Be honest. I’ll say, “I went out today, I took 200 shots. I knew what I wanted and I didn’t get it. This is the closest I got.” People will respond to that.
David Hobby: Absolutely. Honesty. The shared human experience. That’s a big part. One thing I would also suggest is blog to no one for a while. Get used to the idea of writing posts. If you don’t think that anyone is ready what you’re writing, you’re sort of writing this diary almost to yourself, you’re going to see your true writing style and you’re going to be a very honest kind of a writer. And trust me, you’re going to have plenty of time to make mistakes before you ever kind of turn the light switch on and say, “Hey, we’re open.” I wrote for I guess the better part of a month. I had 33 posts up before I even mentioned to anyone that I was doing anything.
I take that back. I got clearance from work, from my job at Sun, to actually put some of my pictures up and they were cool with that. But, my goal was, the first time someone came to my site, if they were going to be interested in it, I wanted there to be enough stuff for them to see that they were going to be interested in it. “Hi, I’m Adam,” is not going to get me back next week. I want stuff to read by the time I get there the first time.
David Nightingale: When I first registered my site for the first time photoblogs.org was the place to register your site, because that’s where anyone who was serious about it went. And people were quite well established in the early days there. I registered when I had 35 pictures on the website. So, if you’ve got there, people can go, “Click, click, click,” and out. If you’ve got 35, they’ll go, “Click, click, click, click, click….,” and they’re around for a few minutes. They’ll look, they’ll like it.
What you’re going to have to work out is who are you talking to? I can’t sell prints because most of my audience are people who take photographs themselves. Why would they buy my photographs? They don’t want to do that. They want to be able to take better photographs, which is why the tutorials work.
Because they want to know how I do what I do. They don’t want my art on the wall, but hey like my pictures and they like to look at them, but they don’t want to buy them. Because they’re not my people. They’re saying, “David, you could sell…” You could sell….
David Nightingale: You don’t want to, but you could. But you need to know who it is. Well, there’s two things. You need to know who you want and you need to know who you’ve got. And if you get those wrong then it doesn’t quite work out. And traffic as well. My busiest day ever I had 31,000 unique visitors and they came from Dave. I had an HDR sharp of direct votes and somebody put it on Dave’s, so it went on the front page on Dave. My server crawled for an hour until somebody realized what was going on. I got all this traffic, absolutely empty traffic, because people who come from Dave they go, “Oh yeah,” and then they’re off. They click the button to look for something else. So, it’s not just about traffic it’s about who you bring in. Because you need to think about it as a community. It might be a community of you and this guy over here because you both decide to setup a blog. Then, you might let us know you’ve got a blog and we might look as well and if Dave mentioned you know Strobist…
You need to think about what community do you want to setup. If you think about blog yourself promotion, you will fail. Blogging is community stuff.
David Hobby: I think, the thing about all of our stories before I get started they all were really, really authentic. Did anyone say that I wanted to get more business? It’s the last thing.
David Nightingale: I didn’t even have…
David Hobby: Yeah. It came around really late. It was like wow this is a great opportunity to share this stuff. I’ve been trying to share with 500 people at a time, now I can share with 5000 people at a time.
Audience Member: To start off photo blogging you had Fredrick Artson speak with you and I met with him a couple of times and I started photo blog back in about 2005 and then it sort of picked it up so sometimes I wish I…
David Nightingale: Yeah, I met Fredrick. I met Fredrick at photo blogs meet up. Photo bloggers networking….
David Hobby: Oh the irony. [laughs] It’s left with a question. Go ahead. Can I take it from the start again?
Mohammed: Obviously we want to start it. If we don’t quite finish, I mean it’s kind of an expectation of how you affect other people, or something like that. Now you have this experience. How do you think this would be, I mean ten years from now, how do you see the big picture? [crosstalk]
David Hobby: Right now, I’m on a one year leave of absence from a staff photographer job at the Baltimore Sun in the United States. Now, I’m thinking strongly of going back in August for several reasons. Number one, I’m a photographer, I’m not an educator. I like being an educator, but I’ve been a photographer for twenty years and I really love that. Number two, my site ironically I think will be at its best when I’m shooting daily. Multiple assignments a day and then every now and then choosing something to write about that’s particularly interesting. If I go for a year without shooting, I can keep it up for a while, but I don’t think it’s a sustainable thing for me personally.
Now, as far as the industry, I can tell you that in ten years from now the industry will be absolutely nothing like it is today because if anything the rate of change is increasing. I don’t make long term plans for my site as it is today because I can’t know what’s going to come in five years or ever two years.
But, one thing I do know is I’ve got an archive of a thousand or so of posts that are valuable to a lot of people. So, even if I move on to something else that archive will stay there and it will continued to be accessed as people find it through Google. On a typical day, about 5000 people will find my site through Google and that’s something that’s comforting for me. Because I know that if I move onto something else, I’m still going to have something going on there and there’ll be a value to the 22yearold photographer that come along and wants to pull his flash off his camera.
David Nightingale: I’m going to say the same thing again. You’ve got to think about what it is that you do. So, since I’ve turned professional a little bit over a year and a bit ago my blog has suffered and I’ve lost visitors. The worst pictures I put up were a commercial shoot that I did in the Bahamas for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. So, this is the biggest commercial shoot I’ve done and my readers hated it. We don’t want to see pictures of models. With an open vote of models. We don’t want to see this we want pictures of your kids. So, I build up an audience. One like north west coast of England. I take photographs. There’s pictures of my kids and suddenly I’m doing this commercial work and I lost readers who didn’t want to see that sort of stuff.
David Bobby: Ironic really when you think about it.
David Nightingale: Yes the other way around. So, you need to think about what that you’re doing that will bring people in. I was blogging and was making transition and the blog was making transition as well but if you started from scratch, what it is that you do, who are you going to bring in, what are they going to be looking at? So you need to think quite carefully about what you are doing.
Audience Member: Having said that, somebody from Google was here. I can’t tell you his name. He was here about four months ago.
David Bobby: Eric Schmidt?
Audience Member: I think so, and they were talking in the conference that the Arab world is one of the least Internet savvy in the world. We have the users of Internet here in the whole Arab world 250 million people. There’s as many users here as in Estonia. So, I have about 400 users that come into my website on a monthly basis. And this is like the third website of photography in the region.
David Hobby: Now, you are saying that like it’s a bad thing. But, as you’re saying it I’m thinking, “Wow, he’s early.” Number one, this hasn’t caught on here. Do you think it’s not going to catch on here?
Chase Jarvis: My question was where I’m coming from is how can we make it… How can we have people going to…
David Hobby: Participate in the community. You guys are all sitting here and if all of you guys started blogs, people who don’t have blogs started it tomorrow and you all started collaborating and sharing. What do think would happen with photography in Dubai. Get smarter, get better. What would your relationships would do? They’d get better.
Audience Member: It’s just like our photographs. I mean that’s a community itself. Photographs has actually nurtured the whole thing. It’s exposed.
David Hobby: Absolutely. A rising tide floats all the boats you guys. And that’s one of the things when photographers started turning their back to one another it’s ridiculous. Now, there’s a built in, free program for you to share all this stuff. And you guys can be responsible for your own growth. And how do you do it? One click at a time. And it sounds crazy, but exponential growth happens online.
Chase Jarvis: And you know, it’s not like you’re in some back order someplace where no one’s ever heard of this town either. I mean, you guys put a building up I would say what every three hours here? [laugther]
Chase Jarvis: I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous. The rest of the world is looking at Dubai right now and frankly trying to figure it out because it’s different from anything else in the rest of the world. Every company that is anybody, that is international either is here or plans to be here. So, things that kind of open up and peel back the onion as to what Dubai is, what its culture is, and what it really means to be here. You don’t think it has value outside? And apart from that, the other middle eastern region clearly is in the intellectual cross hairs of many people right now.
As someone in the west, I can tell you that I find the regional activities in the Middle East far more interesting and far more intellectually stimulating than I did five years ago and it’s not because I’ve changed, but it’s because the world’s changed.
You’re early. It’s 2003 for you right now.
David Hobby: Celebrate amigo.
Audience Member: Yeah, it’s a good thing.
David Hobby: Seriously. You’re in a vacuum. That’s the way things…
Audience Member: [offmic question]
David Hobby: It’s a little creepy sometimes to be honest. I mean I try to write to myself twenty years ago or tried to talk to three or four other photographers around the water cooler. When I stopped and think that in a given month I’d have 200,000 photographers read something that I write, it’s a scary thing. You have to watch that. It comes up strain. You get a series of comments, “Oh this is great what you are going. Da da da da da…” And then somebody, I don’t know if it was a vote of something threw the faith of lighting guru up and I’m just like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” But then, my wife saw it and it was too late. “Hey Mr. Lighting Guru, you’re going to put the seat down…”
David Hobby: So, I’ve got a seven year old and a nine year old and I really honestly try to divorce myself from the idea that when I type something at two in the morning and trust me, I might not be very coherent at two in the morning I might wake up at nine in the morning “Oh what did I say.” I’m going to change that. So, it’s a strange thing. It is. It’s kind of neat when it starts out but you kind of have to keep that “feel,” how it felt when it started out and things start changing because if you change in regard to that, you are going to lose what you had when you started out. It’s great.
David Nightingale: I was going to say the kind of thinking of the stuff I’ve posted of my family. The picture that got the most comments is when my son was born. Because at the time, I’ve gone back to it now, posting at the same time every day. The picture was light and I got 212 comments on this picture. “Oh congratulations.” It’s not a great photograph. It’s just a picture of my son when he was about five days old. But, the people there, they’re waiting. You’ve got a whole world wide audience of people waiting for my son to be born. But, why? I don’t know these people, but I recount some of them as friends. I haven’t met them and I probably never will. But, they comment, we exchange emails.
There are people I’ve met and we exchange information. They’ve follow my kids growing up. There’s one I’ve walked through Durham Township done by a girl we were talking about earlier, Kathleen Conally. It’s all set in this rural area of the US and I feel like I know the area. I doubt I’ll ever go, but I feel like I know it.
David Hobby: Beautiful, beautiful blog, by the way.
David Nightingale: Absolutely.
Chase Jarvis: What are some of the biggest mistakes or missteps you’ve made, bringing everything online? Or, regrets that you pulled back?
David Hobby: For me, it’s giving the blog as much time as it wants. It’s this vacuum and it will take whatever you can throw into it, and it’s, sort of, a negative vicious cycle. I’m, “Oh, wow! I tend to get more traffic when I post more.” There goes your life, too. One day I woke up and I started answering emails at 9:00 and I finished at 11:00 that night, and I had lost ground. So, those are the times I realize that I need to pull back. I actually took my email address off the blog for a while. You can’t let it take everything that it wants because it wants everything. It’s like working for a company that would work you to death if you let it. It’s a bottomless pit so you have to be selective about what you put into it. And you have to post at a sustainable pace, because if more is always better, man, you’re dead. There is no endgame to that. So, I would say to watch out for that. That’s a big thing.
David Nightingale: It depends what you post, as well. When I first started posting pictures, if a picture got a bad response I took it really personally. If people left a negative comment, that’s when I would, “Jesus! Who is this person?” [laughter]
David Nightingale: You’ll soon drive yourself insane if you go down that route. So, now, I know if I post it enough, that it’s not going to get very many comments. I might post something different though, that I’ve done before that had done well. I’ll get loads of comments, “Ooh, yeah, ” “Ooh, wow, ” “This is different and great!” I am bothered about the feedback that I get. There’s no point in having a blog where people can comment if you don’t have a dialogue or have an exchange, but don’t take it personally. I can put stuff up, and the blog is not my soul that I’m sharing on the Internet. It’s aspects of my life, it’s aspects of my children, it’s aspects of my day, but it’s not my soul.
And you have to learn that, here’s a way of presenting yourself to the world that’s not like if you go to a friend’s house and you’re all sitting around talking and they, all of a sudden, turn on you. That’s upsetting. So, if that happens in a blog, and everybody goes, “This is terrible, Dave. This is rubbish, can’t you take a decent photograph?” And, that has happened. You have to say, “Well…” and not worry about it.
David Hobby: It’s hard sometimes, though.
David Nightingale: Yeah, yeah, it is!
Chase Jarvis: For me, sometimes I ebb and flow. Sometimes it means a lot to me, other times I have good perspective and…
David Nightingale: Yeah. It always means a lot to me, but the extent to which negative stuff should get through and upset me varies.
Chase Jarvis: The volume thing is something that you guys need to be careful of. I used to answer a lot of email and I have a guy who archived my mail for me, recently. He said, “Hey, Chase, do you realize you sent 37,000 emails last year?” So, that’s 100 outgoing emails a day, for an entire year. So, for every day I missed one, I had to send 200 the next day. I know that I haven’t sent 100 on any of the days that I’ve been here because I’ve been working really hard with you guys, so there are days when I’m going to have to send 300 or 400, to keep up. And that’s a pace that is the result of creating something good. You’ve heard people, “Boohoo!” You’re a movie star, like Brad Pitt, and all these people, crying, “Why don’t the paparazzi leave me alone?” And we’re all thinking, “Sweet! I’d have $500 million and hot girls crawling all over me. That would be great!” But, there is a downside to Brad Pitt, and we’re very, very different than Brad Pitt…
David Hobby: Speak for yourself!
Chase Jarvis: … But, there is a certain responsibility. We all have it pretty cool in that we’re not recognizable, for the large part. Video has changed that and if you try and keep it relaxed and you don’t let it get to your head, I think it can be a wonderful thing. Like I said, I ebb and flow in and out of that.
David Nightingale: So, how much time do you spend on your blogs? I see, David, you’re currently blogging fulltime. Before blogging became one of the dominant things you do, how much time were you actually spending on it a day or a week or… whatever?
David Hobby: It depends…
David Nightingale: Chase, you don’t publish every day maybe every week or two.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. I’m at once or twice a week.
David Nightingale: You see, again, you’ve got to have something sustainable that fits into your life. We’ve got six children, from one to thirteen, so a lot of stuff goes on when I’m working at home; a lot goes on with my family. But, I will go out and shoot. I’ll go out for a couple of hours. If I’m shooting for myself, I’ll go out for a few hours, I’ll walk up the coast, I’ll shoot various stuff on the beach, and I’ll come back. In the evenings we’ll sit and watch television and I’ll do a bit of postprocess on the laptop. To post an entry on Chromasia… It’s when I put my son to bed at 7:00. So, I’ll go up with him, read a story and I’ll sit with him because he’s terrible at going to sleep. If I sit with him for half an hour he’ll go to sleep. He’ll lay down, and I’ll sit there and write my entry. I’ll upload the images and if I’m ahead of myself I’ll “schedule” it, if not, I’ll hit “publish.” So, my half an hour of putting him to bed is when I finish up on the blog. So, I fit that in around putting him to bed. You know, we’re not communicating, you’re going to sleep, I’m sitting here I’ll sit with you until you’re asleep I’m working, you’re going to sleep. So, my half an hour of blogging is when I write my entry and upload the images. That’s one aspect of it is that it fits into bedtime.
Postprocessing I love postprocessing! Post is shocktherapy, for me. I could sit for, like, five hours, straight, without having a cup of coffee. I can hardly walk when I’m finished, but…
David Nightingale: … I find it relaxing. So, that fits in as therapy. It’s been a bit harder here the Internet connection because I didn’t have the stuff in advance so I’ve just been posting stuff from here. So, I haven’t got access to my service. It’s slightly more convoluted, but I’ve posted every day since we’ve been here.
David Hobby: That’s interesting. [laughter]
David Hobby: My bad week was last week. I tell people, “My work is a little bit like a vacation and my vacation is a little bit like work.” And by that I mean, if you’re blogging fulltime, you’re never really off because you’re checking your traffic, you’re trying to stay ahead. On the one hand, I have lunch with my kids, at school, probably two or three times a week. I just pop in there. Which one am I going to have lunch with? It’s neat, I’m home when they come home on the bus. I tend to write from 11:00 at night until 3:00 in the morning, but that’s my time of day. That’s cool.
But, when we go on vacation, the laptop my wife calls it the mistress because I spend more time with that than I do with her. My laptop is with me. Our vacations are scheduled to where we can, at least sporadically, get Internet access every couple of days. The kids will go to bed and it’s time for me to go to work for a few hours, but I’m not complaining because I’m getting to see them more, maybe, than any dad on my block is getting to see his kids. So, that’s a very cool thing, but you’re never really off, and that’s something… You need a little vacation now and then a weekend, a week, anything and you have to force yourself to take that. Get ahead and just, “I’m not going to check my traffic for two days.”
David Nightingale: Mine is slightly different. That is right, in content. He has to think about what he’s writing. I can do postproduction offline. This is my pictures, up to date. It’s a shot of the IFC.
David Hobby: That’s a black and white picture, by the way.
David Nightingale: And blue. This is what I wrote about it, “Like yesterday, here’s a shot of the underside of the IFC, and also like yesterday night, using photomatics. Unlike yesterday’s though, it’s more angular, shot with a 16 millilens, blah, blah, blah. Tomorrow’s image is going to be a street scene, taken in LC.” So, I’m just writing about what I’m doing, and what I did, what I used to process it, where I am. I’m ahead of myself now, so when I’m flying home, the picture that goes up, “I’ve landed in Manchester, I’ll be on the train when it goes live.” That’s what it says. “If you read this just after it’s gone up, I’m on the train, looking forward to going home…”
Chase Jarvis: Dude! What if you crash? [laughter]
David Nightingale: It will be really, really weird for me.
Chase Jarvis: Exactly!
David Nightingale: I’m only three days ahead, so…
David Hobby: Can I ask a question of the class? How many of you have either photo blogs or blogs? No, no websites. Blogs or photo blogs. Something that you’re updating regularly, either with information about what you went through or a picture.
Chase Jarvis: That means more than once.
David Nightingale: At least, several times a week, or at least once.
David Hobby: Are there blogs out there which you like?
David Nightingale: It depends where you want to blog and what you want to do. I use Moveable Type, which is a ridiculous learning curve, but extremely powerful. It’s a bit like WordPress.
Audience Member: There’s a thing, like Blogger…
Chase Jarvis: Yeah, David and I are on Google’s one, Blogger.
Audience Member: It’s amazing.
David Hobby: Google is free and they’re going to be around in five years, guaranteed. And I actually started worrying because my income was basically tied to what was essentially a free service. I’ve never paid a penny for bandwidth. So, I made some phone calls, pulled in some Rolodex, and I actually found the person at Google who heads up Blogger. And I called him and said, “I’m starting to get some traffic here. I’ve got 50,000 to 60,000 page views a day. Is someone going to call me one day and say, ‘That’s not really what we were planning for when we gave you the free blog.'”
I was worried. Because I don’t want this just to go away. And technical support: “Sorry, we can’t help you.”
Audience Member: What will guarantee that this will stay?
David Hobby: That was my worry, because the…
Audience Member: The backup system?
David Hobby: I’m not worried about Google’s technical problems I think they’re probably a little better than I am. But, I called him and he actually laughed in my face. He said, “Oh, no, we’re not worried about your traffic.” What they want is to facilitate the growth of real and specific and helpful and free content on the Web. They index it before you ever see it. I like being associated with Google because I know that those are some of the smartest people in the world. They’re going to be around in five years. And if my site goes down at 3:00 in the morning, there’s some guy putting on his boxer shorts in Mountainview and getting up and fixing the server, and I’m sleeping.
So, if that were all on me I’m not a technical person in that regard. People say, “Why are you still with Blogspot? Can’t you get your own domain?” No, I am happily with Blogspot. And I’m going to stay there forever, as long as they’ll have me.
David Nightingale: And going back to blogging, this idea of you deciding what you’re doing. One of the things I do occasionally is I’ll put up an original. So, like this picture here, which I quite like. It’s a reasonably straight photograph in the sense that the content is original. Then, I’ll post that shot. That’s a straight raw conversion. People will go, “Wow. Oh, wow. I see what you can do now.” So, one of the things I’ll do I kind of cropped it a little bit. So, people can look at the file I started with and they can look at where I ended up with.
I don’t post layered Photoshop files on the blog, but that’s one of the things I occasionally do, because people find it useful. “I’d love to see what the original looks like.” OK, here you go, there it is.
So, it’s not about hiding stuff. People say, “Aren’t you worried about giving away your secrets?” I’ll say, “No. I’ll tell everybody exactly how I do everything if you want.” It makes no difference to me. Because if somebody else says, “Oh, you should look at Chromasia,” because I’m the one that people know about.
And it’s the same with David with lighting. If he tells somebody how to do lighting, they’re going to tell somebody else, “There’s the man you go and see about lighting.”
Chase Jarvis: And in a weird way this whole thing, it brings about a bit of humility. I just made a connection between my friend David and Brad Pitt. However, think about the crosssection of the world. If I’ve got 100,000 people looking at the blog, and just by general consensus we can agree that 1% of the population of the planet is [does “cuckoo” whistle].
David Hobby: Just 1%?
Chase Jarvis: Exactly. You can argue that it’s going to be higher. How many nuts are on my site and willing to say something bad? Maybe I don’t get that much negative comment. But, when I do, what do I do? I’ll link to it. “Look at what this guy said about this. He’s probably right.” And it keeps you on the level. I do OK with being distanced from it. The five seconds after I read it I’m like, “Who is this person?”
David Hobby: It’s always anonymous. “This is ridiculous!” Signed, Anonymous.
David Nightingale: If I get anonymous comments, I will do an IP trace. Not because I want to go find him. But, right, that guy’s… [laughter]
Audience Member: How do you blog on your website? Do you have an interface on your website?
Chase Jarvis: ChaseJarvis.com/blog. You should check it out tonight. It’s just a straight oldfashioned blog where it’s linked, it’s got videos, and content updated daily. You can search it.
Audience Member: So, somebody did this for you?
David Hobby: No, it’s blogger. It’s free.
Chase Jarvis: I tweaked the template so it matches my site, so you don’t know you’ve left my site. And it’s all free. But, it’s just a directory on my…
Audience Member: It’s a mirror of the Google blog.
Chase Jarvis: No, it’s actually the Google blog. But, it’s the template. The template chasejarvice.com/blog. I use the Google template.
Mohammed: The suggestion is just if you have a Google account, give yourself five minutes, put up your registrations details and you’re ready to go. And think about learning it incrementally. So, one day you learn how to add the links to the site. Because it can be quite overwhelming. I use Pixel Post, which is a little bit of coding and the templating. But, I’m way far from David, who does the code building himself. And I learned first how to get a logo thing on the top, and then I learned how to link. And I still need to go do some changes, and I will when I get a chance.
David Hobby: One step at a time. If you’re looking at what other people do, pull their source code. Yeah, there it is. Figure out how to do it.
Mohammed: And I was fortunate, there was this guy who was offering his template for free. So, I used it, I tweaked, and I was happy to do that. I had a question, I sent him an email, he replied right back. And that’s the other thing, the communication between other bloggers, other photo bloggers. I get about 50 page views a day, compared to these guys who get, what, 15,000?
David Hobby: Yeah, some of the time.
Mohammed: So, even with the little blog that I have, I make contacts in far off places, from Germany to Afghanistan, to a number of places. It just demonstrates to me, if I put a little bit more time and effort, it can be just so much powerful a tool.
David Nightingale: I got an email this morning from a guy who was in Southampton, New Castle, which is a few hundred miles away from me. In the same country. He said, “I came across your work. Chase Jarvis in Seattle. So, Chase mentioned you.” And here’s a link to today’s work. So, some guy gets in touch with me and says, “I want to work with you.”
David Hobby: Right down there.
David Nightingale: Yeah.
Audience Member: Here’s a reallife example. I used to run a little newsletter before I started a blog, just a couple of weeks ago. And I met Adam at the dinner table the other day and he was one of the subscribers to my newsletter. So, that was really cool.
Audience Member: It’s a small world.
David Hobby: Getting smaller very fast.
Audience Member: The world’s a very small place. I’m curious, your blog posting, do you use an offline tool to write your posts, like Mars Edit or something like that? Or do you just put it straight into the Blogger interface?
David Hobby: A text editor, typically, because if Blogger crashes or something and you’re writing a post, then that’s a lot of cursing late at night.
Audience Member: That’ll do a spell check and just come in…
David Hobby: Yeah. Tweak it maybe.
David Nightingale: This is Moveable Type that I use.
Audience Member: So, you do it straight into the Moveable Type interface?
David Nightingale: Yes. It’s a blend, really, in terms of the text. It’s got a title, it’s got some categories. It’s got the text. It’s got the link to images. And it’s got a tag that tells it if there’s a highrisk version of particular job. And that’s it. And that’s scheduled too. So, if you look at my entries, you can see it’s three ahead of myself, which is literally a miracle.
Audience Member: I think, Blogger is lots easier. That’s the point.
David Nightingale: Yes. I set mine up in 2005. Your options for blogging in 2005 were a lot slimmer way more limited. So, you either had no functionality whatsoever, or you went for these quite complicated packages. So, I stuck with it because I married it.
Chase Jarvis: Think about in my estimation, the only thing you can do wrong in this whole field is to not do something. This is not going away. It’s going to change so dramatically. Software is going to change, the Web is going to change. But, the only thing that you can do wrong is not to get involved. It’s kind of like, in the US, not voting. That’s something you really should do. It’s not quite as extreme. But, you really should just get involved. You shouldn’t worry about holding yourself to something “I want to do this every day, every week.” That will happen over time.
When you’re rebuilding the old car that your grandpa gave you or something, you don’t do it overnight. You find a fender here, you just piece it together. And over time, I think you’ll find it’s just a really rich experience.
David Hobby: It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. It’s a wonderful, rich experience. And creatively for me, I have a lot of fun. I spend so much time attached to the back of a camera that it’s fun to write. And like I said earlier, I met every single person in this room save the two people over there, Kate and Scott via this thing that we’re talking about. How cool is that?
Mohammed: So, thank you guys for your time. Thank you, panelists.