The news is out this evening that Robin Williams has died of an apparent suicide and many including myself are trying their best to process this. Many like me grew up with this guy as a constant in our lives, from Mork and Mindy through Good Morning Vietnam to Good Will Hunting. He was a never ending source of energy, only restraining it for a deep well of emotion when a role called for it.
My favorite Robin Williams movie is "What Dreams May Come" where he is the husband of a woman who commits suicide and has to retrieve her from her final fate in the depths of despair for the rest of eternity. In real life, it was Williams himself who had to fight the battle, and ultimately succumbed to the demons he battled.
Depression is a nasty beast. No one chooses to have it, and it isn't easy to defeat. Many live with it on a daily basis, hanging on one day at a time. I know depression and anxiety and it is a war, where each battle is tough and victory is short lived until the next time. Getting help is a necessity, and having someone who understands and knows how to respond is of utmost importance.
Mr. Williams, you made the world laugh and feel better about itself. Now the world mourns your passing. The world is a little less funny today, and we will miss you. Rest In Peace, Robin Williams.
I do a fair share of my photography business online and sell in a lot of different venues, and one of the things I've really had to do my homework on is keywording my photography listings and website in order for them to be found by a customer. Every site is different in how they handle their keywords. If you're not sure what I mean by keywords (or tags), they are the words assigned to items, blog posts, websites, or pretty much anything else on the internet that helps tie what is being posted to what a searcher is looking for.
Each site has their own algorithm that brings back results in what is believed to be most relevant to the person who is searching. Google has their own, Fine Art America has theirs, Yahoo, Zazzle...you name it. Each has their own way of optimizing the search of an item. It's up to the photographer, seller, or blogger to figure out the best keywords that will get their item seen amongst millions and millions of other listings.
So what can you do? There are no magic keywords that will be a one size fits all, so here are some steps to help navigate the SEO waters.
1. Be your customer. - If you were purchasing the item you are selling, how would you search for it? If you were selling a large print of a thunderstorm, would you search "large print"? Maybe more specifically you would be searching for a "thunderstorm print", or even more specifically "24 x 36 thunderstorm print".
2. Don't be afraid to be specific. - In the thunderstorm print example above, maybe you captured the photograph in Oklahoma and there is a sunset on the horizon. So being more specific with your keywords would be "24 x 36 thunderstorm print, Oklahoma, sunset". The more specific and creative you are with your keywords, the more likely it will be that someone searching specifically for the item your are offering will find you. Chances are someone isn't searching "large print" and buying the first thing that comes up. Most people already have an idea of what they are looking for. It's up to you to make sure yours is what they see..
3. Learn your venue's SEO strategy. - This is perhaps the most challenging because each site has their own strategy and won't be posting exactly what needs to be done. Google may prefer phrases, Smugmug may put emphasis on two word phrases in the titles, etc. Take time to study each site and knowledge of others to develop a strategy to be found on the specific site you are selling.
4. Tweak and Re-Tweak. - Watch your stats and see what works well and what doesn't. Make changes to the weakest items and see what gets results and what doesn't. You should see steady increases in views if you are making the right changes.
5. Change with the times. - What you used for keywords five years ago may not be relevant now. If a site used single words back in the day, they may have moved on to phrases, two word combinations, or even full content to make sure the most relevant results are returned to the user. Don't just set your keywords and let them rot, keep working and updating them as you go.
I'm still learning, and I spend plenty of time working on how to be found in the sea of photography. It's a never ending job. But, when someone finds my photography and buys it I know that my hard work is paying off, and I'm going to give my photographs every chance they can to be the choice of the next customer.
It's hard not being on the cutting edge of technology sometimes. It's even harder being on the back end of technology all the time. We are the few. We are the owners of the dumb phone.
Dumb phone talks, and it texts. You can save your contacts in it, and even use it as a stop watch. It stores images very poorly, and transmits them to other users sometimes depending on the size of the file and the cell connection. It flips, or slides and you have to press buttons in order to call or type something. It costs about $50.
And that's the way we like it.
Being the owner of a dumb phone is like being in a special club these days. I may run into another member once in a while and share in the delight of how crappy our phones are. There are so few of us around that people actually look at you funny if you are in the club. How in the world can you function without a smart phone? How do you live?
See, there are a few reasons us dumb phone users stay in the club. In a way it's our way of rebelling, not being like anyone else. It's like a tattoo before tattoo's became cool for everyone. It's a statement that says we know how to get where we are going on our own, we don't need tools to tell us how many calories a hamburger has in it because we know there is a lot just by looking at it, and we actually put an emphasis on interacting with the people around us.
We like owning a phone that is just a phone. We made it this far with one, we can make it further.
As with the dinosaurs of yesteryear we are thinning out quickly. And I myself am getting the tug. I want to post storm photos instantly. Dumb phone can't do that, smart phone can. Internet is so entwined in our lives now, having it everywhere is almost a requirement, especially if your business depends on it (like mine!). Dumb phone doesn't allow it. Smart phone does.
I really do enjoy being in the dwindling numbers of folks who own dumb phones. I'm doing everything I can to resist changing teams. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out, but for the moment I love being a dinosaur.
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