I’ve been a little bit side-tracked this week and haven’t given the blog much attention. Life does that sometimes.

Everything is going well though.

I have been editing more moose photos for the stock catalogs the past few days. I set a goal of having a minimum of 4,000 images online by the end of 2020. I’m well ahead of that pace and here it is only the end of January. My current tally is 3,740 images online. That leaves me a grand total of 260 photographs to add to the portfolio by the end of this year. I love being ahead of the game. You’d be hard pressed to look for a moose photo on any stock agency and not find my moose showing up. But, i’m not just uploading moose photos, though they are a big part of my sales catalogs. Actually, the vintage train shots are generating the best sales at the moment. The real trick to stock is to find the types of images that people are looking for and work on improving your presence with those kind of shots.

I recently added some new Bison photos, which do pretty well. I need to get out again and get more of those, they are good sellers.

My next photo trip will probably be to Monte Vista in March to photograph the Sandhill Cranes. Last year’s trip sucked, so did the year before, but for different reasons. Last year was bad weather, the year before was automotive failure. These things happen. I feel like I haven’t got a full session completed in several years and I do get bites on the Sandhill Crane photos. Enough sales at least to cover the expenses of the trip, which isn’t that much.

One of my favorite pastimes at the moment is wheeling and dealing with used photography equipment. Sorta fills in the gaps of the long, dreary, photography challenged winter days. This has been an extremely boring winter so far, with zero snowfall in January, so I’m not out getting winter landscapes like I had hoped to do. Good thing winter lasts until May, so there is plenty of time to catch up.

I have a few articles in progress, but I’m not really feeling the mojo on them yet so they’ll sit there in the draft folder until I find the motivation, thoughts and words to complete them. This writing business is a challenge at times. I think I do best when I have more social interaction, which isn’t really robust in the winter months. I get these great ideas for writing about something but by the time I sit at the computer and lay out the brilliant thoughts I had, the completed ideas elude me. I used to carry around a small notebook to write my ideas in to keep that from happening. I probably should get back in the habit of keeping that notebook handy if I intend to write my self imposed quota of words each day. My quota is a minimum of 500 words a day. Judging by the count on this blog post, I’ve achieved my goal for today.

 

A while back, I wrote a photography article with the intention of sharing it with an overseas based website. Sort of a favor to the owner, something I felt was worth doing.

I posted the article on my own blog and forwarded it to the owner of the other website, with my permission to use the article on their site without compensation. Their readers weren’t my readers and I saw no problem publishing my work in a foreign country.

It was no big deal to me. I like sharing my work. It was an interesting article that I felt had some literary value somewhere out there amongst the plethora of Internet ramblings. So I thought.

The response from the foreign website owner was something to the effect, “I can’t use this, you’ve posted it on your website and Google will penalize me for it being a duplicate.” They went on to ask me to rewrite the article into something more of a technical gear-head piece that didn’t resemble what I had originally wrote.

My first thought of course was “who cares what Google thinks, I don’t work for Google”, “They’ll penalize me as well if that’s the case.” I was also a little miffed about the fact that I wrote the article specifically with the intention of fulfilling a commitment I had made to the foreign website owner, and now they were irritated that I didn’t write some canned techno-jargon article that is so common to the internet photography press. None of this was elaborated upon prior to my making the commitment. If they had indeed read any of my online literary masterpieces, they should have been quite aware that I write human interest stories, often with a photography theme. I don’t write canned technical or commercial articles designed to get web hits from consumers. After a few less than collaborative words between ourselves, it soon dawned on me that we had no common ground on the issue of what my writing was about. They wanted some commercialized drivel from me that they could use to promote their own web presence and I wanted to write about my view of the road in the photography world. Ultimately, it ended our relationship and on a sour note.

No good deed goes unpunished. Lesson learned. I moved on.

More recently, I took a position as a writer for a large Internet Photography Website. I had submitted samples of my previous work, expecting to be ignored. To my surprise they took me on and even published my first article without hesitation. I made the commitment to them to write more articles on a schedule and was looking forward to seeing how commercially viable they would be in a world filled with redundant writings on the same subject.

Well, the publisher sat on my articles and never published them. That happens. The problem with the articles was that they were human interest pieces with a photography theme, not photography articles with the hooks needed to sell photography gear. Obviously, they didn’t read my previous writings and were expecting me to bend my writing technique to meet their need to get web clicks. I should have known better too. I knew the Website was geared towards fluff pieces, depicting the wonderment of new photographic equipment and how to photograph lightly dressed young women in a studio. Their editorial content wasn’t about older people living a life in photography away from the environment of faux fashion and gear worship. Different demographics.

The point of me reliving these disappointments is to emphasize how the Internet publishing world has become straddled by the need to present advertising to the consumer and not really about finding interesting or unique literature to read on any specific subject.

A large reason for this stale status-quo is Google.

Google and the other Internet behemoths, have taken advertising into a new realm, to the point that if what you are publishing on the Internet doesn’t meet certain Google requirement or you aren’t handing cash over to Google to get placement in web searches, you’re not going to get a lot of search hits no matter what you do.

When you think about it, just about every electronic gizmo that connects to the Internet is designed to deliver advertising to your face. You can’t control it. Log on to Facebook and check your news feed. I’ll bet you have something thrown in there in the form of paid advertising.

Years ago, I jumped through Googles’ hoops, modifying and configuring my websites to adhere to the current Google standards. Those standards would change frequently and with those changes I’d initiate a new round of hoop jumping. Nothing I did ever changed the amount of traffic my websites generated. I quickly discovered that I could get a page one Google search listing on any workshop advertising page I generated, a link nestled in among other paid placements. They would generate a few more page hits, but what they weren’t generating was actual income. It was a lot of work, this constantly jumping through Googles’ hoops. I now refuse to give them money for AdWords paid listings, money I had realized was wasted on my endeavors, but quite lucrative to Google.

Did you know that over 70% of Googles’ 110 billion dollars of revenue comes from AdWords paid advertising? They make billions of dollars, the rest of us pay up thinking it’s going to promote our business, but for the vast majority of the small publishers and business owners who live and work in niche markets, it’s a waste of time and money.

Google has rounded up all the cattle and put them in a pen. They want to control what your website looks like, what content you publish, and all of your advertising exposure. And website operators pay for them to do it.

To this day, I get occasional emails from Google Analytics telling me what’s wrong with my website according to Analytics. They point me to a page on one of my sites that has been fairly static for years, just an online brochure. But something about their analytics has changed and they want me to jump through some hoops to make it more friendly for their search engine.

Thanks Google. I’ve been patiently waiting for more guidance on how my website is supposed to help you make money.

The fact is, most people on the Internet aren’t there to read for enjoyment. Unlike the days when a magazine or publication could provide interesting and unique points of view without having to resort to marketing blitzes and advertising saturation, today, we are on our own to find our readers and our place in the world. A place where we aren’t pushing products and services. A place where we simply do what we do for artistic and literary freedom, away from consumerism and fake promises. A place where you won’t be seeing the same thing, wrapped in the same package, and sprinkled with the same glitter. A place free of click bait.

As for large corporations with millions in sales and with a large consumer presence, they may have the advertising revenue. In the wide array of competitive products, keeping your name on the minds of the consumer is mandatory.

Small Website operators, publishers, and small businesses around the world have given into Googles’ need to make billions in profits. Google isn’t the least bit interested in what your website is about. They just want you to give them money.

Nope, no paid advertising for me. No paid Google ad placement for me. No Facebook advertising for me.  I’ll continue to rely on organic web hits and being who I am on the Internet without shouting louder than the next guy.

Why? Because my soul isn’t for sale.

Shiras bull moose in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I’ve been semi-sequestered in my office lately, learning and relearning how to write with a consistent style. This new job at Fstoppers has tweaked my thinking. With my first article submitted and approved for publication, the editor’s notes have reminded me that I’m going to have to polish my style a bit. Nothing egregious mind you, but I’m reminded that my college English courses were taken some 30+ years ago and the things I learned and have embedded in my writing are not really current by today’s standards. The linguistics of a Kentucky boy aren’t quite up to par. I keep reminding myself though, it’s the flow of the story that matters most to me. The technicalities can be learned, but learning to write with interest and flow, perhaps that’s something a little more difficult to learn. Learn I will. We never stop learning.

Ah, the laments of an amateur. It’s a question of new tricks for an old dog.

Happy Moose Monday by the way.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted a position as a Staff Writer for Fstoppers online photography website.

With over 1.5 million page hits per year, Fstoppers is one of the largest photography related websites on the internet and I’ll be starting in July.

This should be a win-win for both my business and for Fstoppers.

When I begin publishing my Fstoppers articles, I’ll share those links here and on Facebook and Twitter.

My articles will primarily focus on Nature and Wildlife photography in Colorado, but I’m sure I’ll be writing about a wide variety of things beyond the borders of Colorado.

I’m excited about this development and I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons as well as providing interesting and educational photography articles for the world.