Colby Brown is a photographer, photo educator and author based out of Boulder, Colorado. Specializing in landscape, travel and humanitarian photography, his photographic portfolio spans the four corners of the globe. Throughout his work, one can see that he combines his love of the natural world with his fascination with its diverse cultures. Each of his photographs tells a story of life on this planet. Colby can be found providing education in many platforms including his website, through Sony as a Sony Artisan, courses on KelbyOne and much more. Colby also runs the amazing non-profit photography company, The Giving Lens.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, has released Dyad. It’s a new theme that’s very visually oriented. It’s designed more for food bloggers but can work really well for photographers. It’s free and available now.
Shopify just launched a new plugin for WordPress, which is free. It allows users to add a buy now button anywhere on their site and load the checkout from Shopify, for a somewhat seamless feel. It does require a Shopify account to use, though.
Where to find Fundy:
Scott: Welcome to Episode 12. My name is Scott Wyden Kivowitz, and I'm joined by my co-host, Rachel from FotoSkribe. Hey, Rachel.
Rachel: Hey Scott, how are you?
Scott: Good. Last week or last episode was with Andrew Funderberg from Fundy Software, Fundy Designer. That was a great conversation even with little live demos of the new version seven, which is amazing. That was a lot of fun. Then you got to see him a couple days after we recorded the podcast at the Connecticut PPA.
Scott: That's got to be pretty cool.
Rachel: Yeah. I thought he dropped some good nuggets about WordPress itself and then storytelling and how it all comes together for blogging and content creating. It was a great episode and then good to see him in person.
Rachel: I'm excited about today's episode.
Scott: Yeah, today we have my friend Colby Brown with us. Hey, Colby.
Colby: Hey Scott, how's it going? Hey, Rachel.
Scott: Good. Colby Brown is a photographer or photo educator and author based out of Boulder, Colorado. He specializes in landscape, travel, and humanitarian photography. His photographic portfolio spans the four corners of the globe literally. Throughout his work one can see that he combines his love of the natural world with his fascination with its diverse cultures.
Each of his photographs tells a story of life on this planet. Colby can be found providing education in many platforms including his own WordPress website, through the Sony websites and social media, because he's also a Sony Artisan, and courses on KelbyOne, I believe you have more than one there, correct?
Colby: Yeah, I think I have two or three over at KelbyOne right now.
Scott: Yup. Colby also runs the amazing nonprofit photography company called The Giving Lens, which we'll dive into a little bit during the episode.
Rachel: Yeah, I'm excited to talk about that. I just checked that out, and it's awesome. [
Colby: Always excited to talk about The Giving Lens.
Scott: Before we dive into what's going on with Colby, let's do the traditional. Let's talk about the WordPress photography related news. I got two short ones for everybody today, one being … By the way, before I even talk about that, in the last episode we talked about 4.5 Beta 3 of WordPress. Now Beta 4 is out by the time we're recording this. Then by the time this airs, 4.5 should actually be out because it has a release date of mid or early, mid-early. I think it was the 12th, of April.
Rachel: That's the one where you want to make sure about the image compression, right?
Scott: Correct, yeah, the image compression, that's a big thing. Listen to the last episode, Episode 11, to learn more about that. Okay, two bits of news. Automatic, the company behind WordPress.com, has released a new theme called Dyad. I think that's how they're pronouncing it, D-Y-A-D. It's a new theme that's very visually oriented. It's designed for more food bloggers but can actually work really well for photographers. It's free and available now in the WordPress theme directory.
Rachel: That's great. WordPress.com and WordPress.org, there's always a lot of confusion between the two. WordPress.com is the for-profit version of the WordPress.org. Anything that they release, you would assume has gone through a ton of testing and really been through the WordPress. I don't even know the word. WordPress wheel. I tend to really trust things that come out from that, from WordPress.com.
Scott: Yup. Automatic also makes the year. The default themes that are based on years like 2012, 2013 that come with WordPress.org when you install it. The other bit of news is Shopify just launched a new plugin for WordPress, which is free. It allows users to add a buy now button anywhere on their site and load the checkout from Shopify for a somewhat seamless feel. It does require a Shopify account though.
There's a lot of photographers that sell ebooks. For example Colby does, I do, Rachel does. Sometimes there's photographers that use Shopify instead of WordPress. To each their own, of course, because everybody has their own specific requirements of what they want. Now photographers who are using WordPress and Shopify have a solution that somewhat blends the two together. My friends at WebDev Studios actually designed that with the Shopify development team. I'm happy to see it out there because there's always room for e-commerce in the WordPress space. Again, it does require a Shopify account, which is a paid account in order to use this free plugin.
Colby: It's nice to see it happen for sure. Shopify is a pretty powerful program. Obviously we understand the benefits of trying to work in the WordPress ecosystem, but it's nice to see them work together. I actually just had my web designer create a new Shopify shopping cart for my own website that I actually haven't launched just yet. I'm actually excited to see this, to see a little bit more integration between the two, and let them play well together hopefully. At least on paper it sounds good.
Scott: Yeah. Let's dig into what's going on with you. What's new in the Colby world?
Colby: Travel, travel, travel. I travel about six months out of the year or so. I just got back from three works working above the Arctic Circle in Iceland and Norway, leading some workshops and working on a few marketing campaigns for some partner companies. I leave on Friday for Patagonia. I'll be gone for three weeks down there, setting up projects for 2017 to explore there. It's been about five years since I've been back down there, I've been prepping and planning for a nice fun adventure down in one of my favorite mountain regions in the world. Yeah, it's same old same old.
Just keep traveling, keep working on projects. Stuff in Iceland and Africa this summer, all over the place, but the whole idea of photographing the four corners of the world is pretty much true every single year because of the projects I work on which are quite nice.
Rachel: I love that.
Colby: I spent a lot of time and energy to get to where I am today, I've been doing this for 10 years now, I pretty much only work on projects that I want to, whether it's for my own companies or in tandem with other companies to partner with. Every time I leave the house, which is unfortunate to leave my family, at the same time it's always on my own volition. It's a nice setup.
Rachel: Can we back it up and talk about how you started and what companies you run versus what you were saying where you work with other companies?
Colby: Yeah, absolutely. To start off, I right now own two companies. I'm starting a third this year. The main company is Colby Brown Photography. Then I also have The Giving Lens, which Scott mentioned before, which coincidentally Scott was a part of the initial inception. God what, five years ago now?
Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Colby: Something like that. The Giving Lens is it blends the idea of photography as an art form to help make a difference in the lives of people around the world. We partner with local NGOs, we champion a specific cause for each one of our trips that we offer, child education, clean drinking water rights, species preservation, women's vocational programs, all sorts of stuff. Every trip is different.
Then each trip acts as a fundraiser. That keeps some of my staff busy. I have a few employees, a lot of independent contractors that help me run that organization now all over the globe. We run about 8-10 trips a year doing these fundraiser/educational trips in different developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, stuff like that.
The Colby Brown Photography is a little bit more standard. Marketing campaigns with big tech companies like Sony, Toshiba, Wacom, Microsoft, Samsung, stuff like that. Also do some destination marketing wrapped around social media. I have about 3.6 million people that follow me through different social channels as well as through my WordPress website. All that gives me a lot of leeway in order to have the conversations with companies to not only create interesting content through these different marketing avenues, but also to leverage my followers in order to be essentially my own marketing arm.
Even companies like Microsoft or Sony or Samsung want to work with me a lot of the time because I have these large following numbers, and then I get to leverage that to again work on the projects that I want to work on.
Rachel: Great. Why WordPress and how did you build up that following? How did you get to where you are? What advice would you have for photographers just starting out?
Colby: I guess let’s start with the, “Why WordPress?” Scott knows I've worked with SmugMug for a few years on just gallery hosting for some of my stuff. That seems to be a slow transition. I'm trying to work away from that a little bit. They do great work with certain things that they, do but I've always felt that WordPress gave me the complete customization that I always want them as a meticulous entrepreneur.
It’s really hard to me to take away some of that customization. At the same time, one of the biggest driving forces for my brand, which has been instrumental in helping with social media is the blog, is the fact of a blogging platform. it’s cliché to say that content is king and everyone needs a blog but in my world, the blog is massive. I have always taken what I consider to be a grand central station strategy or philosophy towards marketing in general, which includes social media. By that, I mean that my grand central station is my website.
My website is where I control all different facets. I control how it looks. I control how the user experiences. I control how image compression works. I control color themes. Everything I can control. Whereas on social platforms, there’s millions of people and in some place billions in places like Facebook but you have no control. I can't control how much reach I have, I can't control the look of my page. Maybe I can upload certain photos or cover photo but that’s about it.
I try to think of social media as the satellite cities that essentially I'm creating content. A lot of the time, it’s content specifically for those social platforms and I'll create something specific for Facebook and then upload something different to Google Plus and then upload something different to Instagram each day because I think there’s a lot of crossover on for a lot of different platforms and I don’t like to bore people.
Ultimately with the idea of I have something important to share or to bring people, some important reason to bring people back to my website, then I include those links whether it’s a standard straight up link scrape or whether I'm just including a link with some visual elements, things like that. That has allowed me that cross linking and cross connecting has allowed me to leverage certain social platforms when they’ve reached their peak or pinnacle or I've had momentum in to benefit my other places so that if Facebook got big for me, then I can use Facebook to help me grow my Instagram followers or Instagram [inaudible 00:11:45]. I can help that to grow my Snapchat which I'm getting more and more involved in.
That idea of cross-linking with the intent of creating unique content that is specific to the market demographics for my readership or my blog or through the idea of satellite cities has allowed me to grow exponentially big. Now I'm not the most followed photographer on the internet by any means but I'm pretty high up there in terms of that “influence” which is not necessarily a label I like to use but it’s certainly pretty standard within the industry.
Rachel: I love how you said meticulous entrepreneur. I think that really exemplifies entrepreneurs who do what you do which is encompass all sorts of social media. You mentioned the team in some capacity. Do they help you with some of that social strategy or is that something that you do yourself?
Colby: There have been contractors that I hire and few employees do a lot of things for me. That was definitely a very important challenging lesson. It was the idea of the value of outsourcing because I think as any entrepreneur understands, as you gain more success, as you build more of a brand, your biggest commodity, your biggest asset is no longer your skill. It’s time. Once you get to a certain level in any industry, and photography is certainly no different, everyone is creating good content.
After that, it matters of how you're leveraging your brand and what you're doing with your time and energy. For me, it’s really important to push out and to let other people help me in areas that I don’t feel that I'm strong in. Social media is something that I've been very fortunate to have a pretty firm grasp on whether it was my light backroom in psychology when I was going through college to just being very meticulous in statistics and all those things. I love the idea of social interaction.
For me it’s always just come a little bit easy for me. I don’t necessarily want to say that in a condescending way but it’s a lot of the different strategies that have worked successfully for my brand over the years have been pretty standard thought processes. It wasn’t like I was like, “Oh I need to do x, y and z and the next these four things and these five things and that [inaudible 00:14:26] success.” It’s, “I want to be personal. I want to be humble. I want to be honest and I want to be connected.” I want to be reachable.
For me it’s very hard to separate my brand because my name is my brand compared to if my company was something else where then a bunch of people could do it. If I'm not answering my emails or at least in some regard or if I'm not responding to social media or jumping back in the comments, that’s taking away from the brand that I've built. That’s been a constant challenge as you grow, as you get bigger, as I push out and share something on Facebook and I get thousands of interactions and hundreds of comments.
I want to go back in as much as I realistically can and reply back to questions and things like that. It’s important to, me and I think it’s important to my followers and so because of that, I don’t outsource that stuff but one of the most common things that I get for example from my website, is through my contact forms. People reach out to questions all the time: Questions about gear, questions about how to make a living as a photographer, questions about travel. I always respond. Now sometimes it’s a week or a month away because I'm busy travelling like I'm going to Patagonia, I'm not going to be connected.
I always try to respond and 9/10, the response that I get from my response is that, “I can't believe that you actually responded.” In my mind, it’s like, “Who isn’t responding? Who wouldn’t take the time?” If you took the time to write me a question, why wouldn’t I take the time to write back? That becomes a hardwood time management but I think it’s vital and so because of that, I feel that my version of social media is very personal, and that’s hard to outsource. Almost impossible.
Scott: I originally had one topic to bring, up but I think I want to shift a little bit because you brought up one thing, really two things that I want to address. First one I think will be a quicker answer. I'll start with my number two first. You were doing a lot of Google Plus when it first came out. You even wrote a book on Google Plus. You still use Google Plus but has it shifted more lately to Facebook as the more important avenue for yourself and why do you think that is that there’s a shift, if there is a shift.
Colby: It’s a good question. I think there definitely is a shift. Well I think there’s a shift internally within these social platforms. What I saw was that when Google Plus came out, a lot of people were fed up with Facebook and to be honest, most people are still are. They wanted a different alternative. They were bored with Flicker and so Google Plus offered a pretty beautiful and [inaudible 00:17:16] at the time, a very good image compression. Images looked good.
It was a thriving photo community. Now that’s still there but what happened was that, and I wrote about this in my book. My book came out in 2013 I believe. I think it was 2013. Maybe it was 2012. Anyway it was not that far after Google Plus first launched. In it, I'd lay out in my introduction the idea that Google Plus is not a social network. It’s an interest network. That was my interpretation of that is that on social networks where I'd go to connect with my wife or my son or my family or my friends, my colleagues, places like Google Plus are interest networks.
It’s like Pinterest where you're going to connect with other people that share your interest and your passions. They're strangers but they're strangers with a common ground. I think for Google internally, they wanted it to be a social network, and they fought for it, and I'd probably say that they made a few bad choices regarding forcing it on people. Then that shifted and changed with all the internal structure and changes that happened with Google in the last year, separating into Alphabet. Google has now streamlined itself a little bit more regarding its focus.
It’s still around and it’s still viable. It’s still important. It still drives a lot of traffic for more. It’s still a great place to connect with photographers but because I personally do a lot of … I have my hands on a lot of different pots between the ebooks we talked about to the workshops, the marketing campaigns, I have different reasons to be on different platforms. For me, Google Plus is still important and it still allows me to fill workshops. It still allows me to sell some stuff and it still allows me to drive traffic.
Now maybe some of the conversations are getting better on Facebook but a lot of that has been because of competition. If your remember correctly when Google Plus first came out, Facebook freaked out a little bit. They started making some changes pretty quickly, which was awesome.
Scott: They’ve been mimicking design.
Colby: Absolutely. Mimicking design, they brought back the idea of keeping metadata that was stripped out for a long time. They’ve done obviously crazy both good and bad things in terms of the algorithm which used to be Edge Rank and now I don’t even remember what it’s called now in terms of how people are seeing what. I think the conversations, where the conversations are happening are certainly shifting a little bit.
I don’t think that Google Plus is any more or less important. It’s part of a cog or a wheel. It’s a great place for photographers if you're interested in inspiration or connecting with other photographers. They still do the weekly challenges, the photo challenges. You have communities. You have the new collections. There’s still a lot going for, it but I think a lot of people are also still looking for alternative stuff. I've seen some people leave, I've seen new people join. It’s very different.
I think that’s a really important thing. When it comes to social is for photographers that are listening is to find out why you're there. I think a lot of people don’t understand or haven't really taken the time to fully dive into that question of, “Why am I social media?” A lot of times photographers reach out to, me or they're on my workshops and they're asking these questions and it’s like, “I want to sell prints.” I'm like, “Okay great.”
Playing devil’s advocate, if you're connecting with other photo communities, you're connecting with other photographers now, what are the percentage of other photographers that actually want to buy your stuff rather than hang their own. If you're selling workshops or ebooks, connecting with other photographers is great. if you're trying to book weddings, that’s a very different demographic. Try to figure out which platforms to focus your time and energy on really depends on what you're trying to get out of it.
It’s really interesting because things like Instagram in the last few years and more recently things like Snapchat have drastically changed specific avenues of social media influence or marketing because of the real-time nature of things like Snapchat and the fact that content dies after 24 hours or Instagram up until recently had a real time feed to allow people to see everything assuming that they're online and checking it have really disrupted the whole social sphere. It’s really interesting to see how the cards fall in the next couple of months to a year or two to see where people are starting to put their influence.
Scott: Let’s talk about Snapchat because that was my first question, which is now number two. I'm on Snapchat; you're on Snapchat.
Rachel: I'm on Snapchat.
Scott: Rachel’s on Snapchat.
Colby: Rachel’s on Snapchat.
Scott: You're using Snapchat more in your overall marketing efforts.
Scott: Now this question is coming at you from photographers to consumers and also photographers to business. Do you see Snapchat as a platform to gain new clients or to engage with current clients?
Colby: Oh, good question. It depends on who we’re defining as client because my client might be different than your client. For me, for getting new clients, Snapchat absolutely. For me, I'm again working with businesses. I can sit there and say I get x number of interactions. To Microsoft, let’s do a campaign wrapped around this or with that. If you're doing event photography or wedding photography or other things, it might be a little bit different.
It’s interesting because I wrote off Snapchat for a long time and for the most part, I have my ear to the ground with social media because it’s so important. It’s my brands. I knew that it was gaining steam and I just couldn’t get my head around why it was important until probably six months ago or something like that. I was like, “You know what, I finally get it.” What clicked was the fact that the idea of exclusivity. If we think of analogy in terms of prints. If you’re selling prints, you're a fine art landscape photographer say. You're selling prints and you're selling normal prints.
You sell 100,000 of standard prints. Every print is the same. You're going to charge $100 for a 16x12 or whatever it, is but you start doing limited runs and all of a sudden the shelf life of those prints is much smaller. The exclusivity, the value of it has grown. The same thing is happening with Snapchat where that value for brands is gaining so much steam because it’s now. When your followers interact with you, they interact with you in real-time. They're following you every day. Now if I share a Snap out there and I get 700 or 1000 people interacting with, it and then you multiply that maybe 10 snaps in a day for a trip. I'm coming up to Patagonia.
All of a sudden, I'm reaching 10,000 people live that are watching every single bit of my story on Snapchat. That is a huge level of influence, of being able to use that for branding. I use it to teach people about [inaudible 00:24:10], how I'm planning, packing for trips. You can exponentially see the value for that type of that stuff. For me, I think branding, using things like Snapchat to engage with followers from a brand level in terms of marketing I think is the next big thing. I think it’s the next Instagram.
Instagram has had its bubble for a while. I don’t think it’s burst just yet but I think we’re going to start seeing a downwards slope especially with the new changes to the algorithm where companies like Mercedes-Benz were spending 8-10 grand per post getting influencers to create stuff about them. Now I wasn’t at those numbers but a lot of the times I was making anywhere between $1,000-$3,000 a post for some of the marketing stuff that I did for certain companies.
That’s decent money for this type of stuff. I think we’re going to see people move over to things like Snapchat because of the valuation of that instant interaction and instant feeling. Now I hope that they change a few things. It would be great to have some more interacting or hyperlinks or all sorts of other stuff but that’s more of a utopian ideal. Not my drive to drastically shift the valuation of where the content is coming from.
Rachel: This is where I struggle is now. Not that I struggle with it but there are now things like Periscope was the first and then [inaudible 00:25:25] and then bringing on Facebook Live on Facebook. We are podcast but WordPress because we believe that WordPress is a great place for your website, it’s a great place to have your content and keep your content so that people could come back a year, two years from now.
My issue with Snapchat and the question that I have, do you ever think that just because it goes away, do you lose some of the marketing pop by it being limited to that 24 hour window?
Colby: I think that was one of my biggest hold backs as well is that idea of why am I creating content? I think as content creators, I'm probably sure we all agree but the idea why we’ve been able to find success in our specific verticals is because we understand how to maximize our skill sets and maximize the content we’re creating. I create a content for a Microsoft or for Australia government or Canadian government, whatever.
I'm trying to leverage that content into 12 different places. Even if I'm getting paid for two, I'm going to sit there and build into the contract the fact that I can leverage that sets for other places. That mentality held me back from Snapchat where it’s like I'm creating this stuff and then what the heck am I going to do? It’s gone. Once I wrap my head back around that idea again of the instant interaction and the fact that you can save my story. What I do when I go on a day like that, on a trip or just in Iceland and Norway like I mentioned, I'll create maybe 10-12 snaps a day.
Like I said, I'll get that interaction 500-1000 generally per snap. After a 24 period, the same time every single day, I'll save that my story and that essentially gives me that 24 hour window in a … I don’t even make it 720p. It’s something pretty bad but then I can then take that video, which unfortunately is a vertical video which is another problem. Then share that onto Facebook or share that on to Twitter or Google Plus and then use that content to more people into my Snapchat.
Rachel: You do share it.
Colby: Although I do share that stuff, it’s limited. That was a little bit of the saving grace. Now I still think the exclusivity is important and at the same time, I think it’s common for a lot of people, myself included at times to look at social platforms in the same way. I think a lot of photographers look at Facebook and be like, “Oh what I'm doing on Facebook isn’t working but I'm going to try that same thing on Flicker,” or “I'm going to try that same thing on Google Plus or on Twitter or in Instagram.”
As I mentioned before, I've shared different things to different places. I'll differently tag companies or use hashtags differently. I'll use words differently in terms of how I'm describing comments and things like that because all that matters on each of these different platforms and in that same vein of the uniqueness of the market demographics as well as the user interface to how people interact and engage with these different platforms. I think Snapchat is unique in the sense where I'm creating content that for the most part, I wouldn’t be creating content for other places.
It’s not like I'm in a Snapchat that I probably would Facebook, take a snap of a Facebook photo and then post it on Facebook. I'm going into with a mindset that I'm getting on my plane down to head down Patagonia and I'm going to give a few tidbits of what’s happening. That’s not something I would necessarily use to create a Tweet or to create a Facebook post or Google Plus or an Instagram piece. I'm creating content specifically with that platform in mind.
So because of that and the nature that I can still save it, it allows me to get around that idea of I want to leverage everything that I do to 12 places because that’s how I extend the value. That’s how I can work with companies and say, “Hey, this is going to be $20,000 project even if I feel that my time is worth more.” I then know that I'm going to be able to take that video content or those images that I've non-exclusively licensed to this company and then expand it out. It sidesteps those challenges, issues as content creators once I change that mentality of A, the value of exclusivity or the value of real time of shelf life and then the fact that I'm going to create content specifically for Snapchat knowing that I'm not taking away from this should be a Facebook post or this should be a Tweet. i have different strategies for each different platform.
Rachel: Our next, oh go ahead.
Scott: I was going to say let’s go back to WordPress for a little bit.
Rachel: Also I had actually a connection on this. Our next section is like Guest recommended WordPress plugins and/or themes and talking about all this social stuff and you're doing most of it, are there any tools that you use in WordPress or in these social to help plan out because I love what you said about the strategy. I think that you're spot on with doing different things to different platforms. How do you do that as a solo entrepreneur and what do you recommend for photographers who are doing it all themselves?
Colby: Absolutely. Let’s start with a few things I recommend in terms of WordPress focused plugins. Again with the idea of the grand central station, I'm creating a blog post say that will ultimately tie into other maybe products or services that I offer or at least getting people into my universe then that I can sell workshops or do other things in a very low key, not I'm in a market slap you in the face. I can't stand when I get to a website and I get hit with a newsletter subscription right off the bat. It doesn’t work for me.
For me, the idea of creating this content and then want to sharing it on to these satellite cities with the whole strategy I talked about. I use a handful of different social plugins and Scott knows this well because I asked him quite a bit of questions. Every other month I'm like, “What about this one? I want this functionality but this one does it better.” I actually recently moved to Social Warfare as my WordPress plugin of choice.
I went from using Monarchs for a bit. I've used a handful of other ones over the past years and I found that Social Warfare for me gave the most value for the type of interactions that I wanted. The main thing that I want is that of course, I myself like most of us have seen our traffic drastically shift over the years from purely desktop to at least half and half mobile, if not slightly leaning more towards mobile. For me, as people are reading my content or looking on my website, I wanted to maintain that social sharing aspects, including the social share numbers because I have a decently popular blog and large social numbers to sit there and always showcase that at the bottom of the screen.
There’s only a few apps out there that do it. SumoMe does it. I think Social Warfare does it. We’re on a mobile platform. As you're scrolling down at the bottom of your screen, it will hold the place holder for your social shares. If you're limited to three social shares, then it actually shows the share count. I can sit there and scroll down and say that, “Oh this post of mine was shared by 30 other. I have 30 Tweets about it. It has a thousand Facebook interactions and 10,000 Google Plus interactions.”
The reason for me that’s important is that I believe that social media is driven largely by both mob mentality and by the whole snowball effect. I guess maybe not snowball. Let’s use the empty restaurant syndrome. I use that as a better analogy. You're walking down the street and you get two restaurants across the street from each other. One looks good but no one’s inside. The other place has a live music, and people are hanging out. Which one are you going to interact with? Which one are you going to go eat?
The majority of people are going to go to the place where there’s a wait so the food must be good, right? If there’s no one interacting then maybe this chef isn’t that good or the food’s bad or I'm going to get sick or whatever it is. That’s a mentality I feel happens with social media where people interact with content a lot of the time because they're interested in the content and a lot of the time they're interested in the content because they see that a lot of other people are interested in the content.
It builds on itself. Social Warfare gives me that ability to not only in desktop but also in mobile to sit there and say, “Hey this post has 70 comments and thousands of interactions,” so that adds value, perceived value for what it is. The other one I'll probably say in terms of WordPress plugin to not go too long winded in my answer is probably actually just Yoast. I find that …
Rachel: [crosstalk 00:34:15]
Colby: Yeah, it’s a super popular one and the reason that I like it and there’s probably a few others that do similar things but again being a meticulous individual, I like to control how my stuff is shared. For the longest time, when people would share my post on social media which I appreciated, I didn’t have the ability to control the link scraping. I didn’t have the ability to control what image was used as my header file.
It would just pull from the first one for my images. It was how my old website was chosen. That was actually a bad thing because the first image was actually a header file rather than the actual content of the blog post. Now with Yoast, I sit there and go in, and I control the description. I control the title; I control the photo for Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus so that when people share through those things, I'm controlling at least how it looks. To me, that’s pretty important. The SEO benefits decider are quite nice, but I think a few other places do similar things. I love that idea of controlling the link scraping for how those links show up when people share them.
Scott: Social Warfare and Yoast SEO both do the open graph features.
Scott: Now just for anybody’s who’s watching and listening, they play well together. Social Warfare was coded so that if Yoast SEO is active, it’s going to rely on the opening graph on Yoast SEO. Unless you end open graph data in the social warfare section, then it overrides what you did in Yoast.
Colby: Yeah, it makes sense.
Scott: Social Warfare also has a Pinterest option in which Yoast does not. You can specify what image you want and used for Pinterest which is important because Pinterest you want a tall image specifically for it to stand out.
Rachel: I think this is a good conversation because we’ve definitely talked about Yoast almost at every podcast recording at this point but it’s always been for the SEO benefits. I love that you’ve introduced it as because you can go in and control which image goes on Facebook and which image goes on Google Plus and what the titles are in that functionality. It’s a little bit harder to find. It’s hidden in the old version. It was hidden behind tabs. I don’t actually know where it is in the version.
Colby: In the new one, it’s actually on your post itself. As your create your post, just scroll down below the actual content box. You'll have just below it on based on mine is the Yoast section and there, you have multiple different tabs, vertical tabs actually and each one of them are for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and then I can sit there and like I said, control each different one.
Rachel: Before or prior to version 3 of Yoast, it was horizontal tabs. I know what the revision is. I wanted to move into, we haven't talked about your charity at all, The Giving Lens. Is there anything that you do? I'm assuming that’s the WordPress site. Is there anything that you do on that that’s different from your business site?
Colby: Not necessarily. Unfortunately, the blog over on The Giving Lens has been side shelved as I've gone through a few reconstructions and rebuilds of our WordPress universe of TGL. Finally now, I'm in a very happy place where I love the look and the feel and the UI across the board from desktops to tablets to mobile. Outside of the blog being neglected a little bit, most of the rest of the stuff is the same and I'm actually using the same theme, overarching theme for it which is the x theme.
For my website I use ethos which is part of that stack. For the TGL one, I'm using a different one actually. I can't remember offhand which one it, is but it gives a slightly different look and feel for it. The reason for that is specifically the visual editor they have called Cornerstone, has been instrumental in helping myself work with other individuals to really easily create templates for stuff that we’re doing.
For TGL, it’s really easy to create a template for our workshop pages, things like that for someone that doesn’t have a ton of HTML background can go in. I can show them and train them how to create new stuff very easily. I wanted to work in that same aspect but in terms of the overall focus, the feel, if you go both to sites, there’s a lot of similarities because that’s just how I wanted things. I know what I like but the usage is for most part the same although like I said, with Colby Brown Photographer, driving traffic is more of an important factor for us right now whereas TGL is still surviving and growing based on word of mouth and external contents being driven back to us.
Rachel: We’ve heard a lot about the x themes. Sounds good.
Scott: Yes, we have. In fact, I think three Imagely investors are using the x theme.
Colby: It’s good stuff. It’s not perfect. Every once and a while, they break stuff. Again to be honest, I know especially with Imagely, all the new themes and stuff that are coming out and all the stuff, they're crazily beautiful. I think I told you Scott, as soon as I'm ready for a shift or a change in the look and feel, I totally would see myself going with one of those.
For the longest time, there were so many struggles that I felt with a lot of WordPress themes out there that had certain elements that were good or whatnot. For me specifically, that ethos theme was just so beautiful because of my emphasis on my blog was so great and then being able to integrate that fairly seamlessly certainly with a little bit of help with you Scott in terms of using next gen pro galleries and stuff like that for both my blog as well as the rest of my site gives a little bit of the best of both worlds for my specific needs. It works out quite nicely.
Rachel: We’ve heard too. We’ve talked about themes on the podcast. It all seems to come back to that drag and drop thing that the cornerstone achieves in the x themes.
Colby: Absolutely. Like I said, every once in a while, there’s certainly frustration because a new update comes out and things that are supposed to work don’t. For the most part, I do want to say that the way that it’s worked has really helped, like I said expedite a lot of different things for me where I now have a template created for my workshop pages.
When I create a new one, it literally takes me two seconds to duplicate that and then within that, I can save different sections of my actual pages or posts if I want to recreate those and pull from templates instantly. Stuff like that, when it works is phenomenal and it takes the difference between getting a new page, copying all the HTML texts and then having to balance something else back over. It makes it much more of a fluid experience.
Scott: Definitely. Anything that you want to add before we close up. Anything about something to look out for that you're doing either at The Giving Lens or on your photography site?
Colby: TG, we always have new trips coming up. We just announced return to Africa and Nicaragua this summer. I think we still have some spots there. I'm not sure. They usually sell out pretty quickly with my own stuff. I think it was interested in visiting places like Iceland or Patagonia or Myanmar, stuff like that. Certainly you check it out at Colbybrownphotography.com.
In the near future, we’ll have a bunch of new content in terms of video tutorials and some new ebooks coming out later this year. That’s usually a couple of months down the line. As soon as I invent a few more hours during the day or extra days.
Scott: It’s funny. We just had an internal meeting last week I believe it was. We were talking about stuff and we were like, “Oh if only there was time.” I said to one of our head developer, I said, “You know I think the next project from Imagely should be to develop software that just adds an extra couple of hours of the day.”
Colby: I would be okay with that. I'd be very happy. I could not go wrong with that.
Scott: That would be awesome. I'm pretty sure that would deserve a Nobel Prize or some crazy cool award if a developer actually managed to. Oh, and the coding would be called Einstein.
Colby: [crosstalk 00:42:44]
Rachel: There needs to be algorithms for times children are sleeping. There’s a lot that would go into that.
Scott: Everything is conditional.
Colby: That should be easy, right?
Scott: Yeah, that should be very easy. Definitely check out Colby’s website. It will be in the show notes. Check out The Giving Lens, also in the show notes. Also, we’ll link to everything that Colby brought, all the different plugins he brought, the theme he brought up.
Rachel: We’ll tell all of our Snapchats because it sounds like for photographers, I think that there is something there. Check it out if you're not on it. See what it’s all about, play around with it, you can't break it.
Colby: Absolutely. Experiment, lots of fun. My only recommendation is try to find out that strategy from the get-go because I see a lot of people, they're mixing, they're doing not a seamless mix between their personal and their business. I think you have to pick a little bit of one or the other. I don’t necessarily want to see your coffee drink every morning.
I'm not going to follow you on Snapchat but if you're showing some cool stuff you're using for education or inspiration, absolutely. Jump in there and have some fun and be a personality.
Rachel: Well great. Well, thank you for being here.
Colby: Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me.
Scott: You can find the show notes from today’s episode at imagely.com/podcast/12.
Scott: Until next time.
— Imagely (@imagely) April 14, 2016