Today we are delighted to have Tamara Lackey as our guest. Tamara Lackey is a renowned professional photographer, speaker, and author. She’s a children's and celebrity portrait photographer, who uses a lifestyle approach, humor and friendliness to create beautiful portraits. Tamara has created multiple creativeLIVE courses and regularly educates photographers in the reDefine Show. She is also the co-creator of Lush Albums and the heart behind Beautiful Together, a non-profit in support of children waiting for families. Tamara has her feet in many areas, and as you will hear, she has such passion behind everything she does.
WordPress/Photography Related News:
WordCamp US just finished up in Philadelphia. One of the biggest bits of news out of WordCamp US is that WordPress powers over 25% of websites. That means 1 out of 4 websites you visit, run on WordPress. That’s massive!.
- State of the Word, 2015
- Social by Mailchimp
- Comments Evolved
- Yoast SEO
Where to find Tamara:
- Beautiful Together
- Lush Albums
Scott: Welcome to the WordPress Photography podcast where we strive to make work risk easier for all photographers around the world. I'm your host, Scott Wyden Kivowitz, and I'm the community and blog wrangler at Imagely. I'm joined by my co-host Rachel Conley, who is the founder of Photo Scribe. This is episode 3. Hey, Rachel.
Rachel: Hi, Scott. How are you?
Scott: Good, how are you?
Scott: We spoke last week twice doing episode 1 and 2, and now we're doing episode 3 with someone special. Today we're delighted to have Tamara Lackey as our guest. Tamara's a renowned professional photographer, speaker, and author. She is a children's and celebrity portrait photographer who uses a lifestyle approach, humor, and friendliness to create beautiful portraits. If you have seen any of her lectures in person, then you will understand why I say humor, because there're a lot of giggles that go on when she's doing her sessions. Tamara has created multiple creative live courses and regularly educates photographers in the reDefine show. She's also the co-creator of Lush Albums and the heart behind Beautiful Together, a non-profit in support of children waiting for families. Tamara has her feet in many areas, and as you will here, she has a passion behind everything she does. Welcome, Tamara. We're so glad you're with us.
Tamara: Thank you. That was a lovely introduction. Thank you.
Scott: I'm available for hire if you ever need an introduction anywhere.
Rachel: Yes, and I just wanted to chime in. I really do believe that you are the heart of the photography industry right now. I love what you're leading, in terms of the Beautiful Together and how that connects to Lush Albums, and just allowing photographers to see how creative and passionate you are, and then learn from you and be creative and passionate in their own businesses.
Tamara: Thank you so much. That was wonderful. That was great, guys. Thank you. Bye. [crosstalk 00:02:00].
Rachel: And we're done.
Scott: In going with the tradition of the WordPress Photography Podcast, we're going to start out with a bit of WordPress photography related news. Then we'll get on with the show. The only bit of news I have, which has come out before this weekend, the time we're recording this, at least, but it became official this weekend. Word Camp US just happened in Philadelphia, and I had the pleasure of attending. There were about 2,000 attendees over the weekend. It was huge. A lot of great sessions. A lot of cool booths to check out. There was one booth was giving out Google Cardboard.
Scott: That was fun. The instructions were in, I think, Japanese, so I had to figure out how to assemble it myself.
Scott: To the bit of news that came from that was actual that WordPress now powers over 25% of websites. That means that 1 out of every four websites you visit run on WordPress. That's massive, and that means that 1 out of 4 photographers use WordPress.
Rachel: Yeah, well, we hope.
Scott: That's pretty crazy. Either of you have any thoughts on just how massive that really is?
Rachel: I think that's so exciting. I watched the live-stream. I wasn't able to make it, and Scott had one job. I wanted that Yoast. The had a little LEGO thing. That's all I wanted. He couldn't find it.
Scott: So Joost and his, I think that's how you pronounce his name, his real name. His nick name is Yoast, but his entire team, the Yoast team, they were wearing sweaters that said "Yoast Team", if you found Joost, then you could actually get a custom LEGO that says "Yoast" on it. I did not find him. I did get some other cool swag, like the Google Cardboard. There's some cool stuff that I got, but I really wanted the LEGO thing as well, because I'm a big LEGO fan, and this-
Rachel: We all love ... We recommend that plugin to every photographer too. Yeah, I was actually going through my WordPress shirts. They've become gym shirts, and I have 20 different WordPress shirts that I wear to the gym over and over and over. I'm thinking, "Man, the people at the gym must think I do nothing but WordPress all the time."
Scott: Yeah, mine go from wearing them out to being PJ shirts, and then I'm saving the ones that just shrunk too much, and they're going to become a quilt, a WordPress quilt.
Rachel: Oh, that's nice.
Scott: Yeah, eventually, eventually.
Rachel: We may really be into WordPress, if you can't tell.
Tamara: I know. I'm listening to you guys like, "I don't think I'm in this club. This is a thing."
Scott: Yeah, so this is the beauty about this podcast is that we're having guests come on that like WordPress, that use WordPress, but aren't as geeky, nerdy into WordPress as Rachel and I. It'll be a nice balance. Speaking of you, what's going on with you, Tamara? What's new?
Tamara: First of all, just to comment on that. You said 1 out of 4 sites on the internet, I, from my narrow scope in the industry, I thought that number was a lot higher. You guys announced that it was a shock. I think that most people I know use WordPress.
Scott: Yeah, and it's interesting. There's, I think, BuiltWith is the name of the website, has some on-going [inaudible 00:05:45], and every year they push out an update of this is the percentage increase that WordPress had. This is the percentage increase that Square Space had, and so on. When you compare WordPress to all the others, and there're a lot of others, everyone else is small fries.
Tamara: Oh, so they're dominating, and then there's a bunch of other people in that 75%?
Scott: Yeah, so like Microsoft front page is one. Just as a funny note, Microsoft has their own front page that they sell, or at least used to. I don't know if they still do, and they use WordPress themselves.
Rachel: Right, and I think that's where the photography industry gets a little skewed too because I think there're a lot of people that have their home pages on a different platform, and then there blog page is on WordPress. We're trying to educate moving into a content management system where you have everything on WordPress; even we're running this podcast through WordPress. It has so many applications, and we're focusing strictly on the photography industry because I think that's where a lot of that confusion comes in. What can I use WordPress for? Our answer is everything.
Scott: Right. Yeah, so anyway, yeah, it is, I think, some people do think it's much bigger than it is. It is still quite large, so that's always good, but yeah. What is going on in your world?
Tamara: Obviously time of year, our studio, I run a portrait studio with several [inaudible 00:07:12] photographers, and everybody's just slammed. We're all just trying to get everything done. I actually am in a better position, because I'm focusing more on some commercial work right now, which isn't as deadline driven this time of year, and I like it a lot better. It's really nice.
Rachel: Yeah, this time of year is killer. I'm trying to tell everyone, "Keep blogging. It's so important," but they're like, "We are slammed. Wait until Christmas."
Tamara: "We can't breathe." Yeah, yeah. There's a lot of that. I was definitely in the thick of that for the first few years running my business. I remember wrapping up client takeaways at 10 pm on Christmas Eve. It's just kind of nuts, and I have not done that since very consciously and on purpose. We just keep moving our deadline dates back, but I find that everybody appreciates it, because they want to get their stuff done too. Anyway, in the photography world it's kind of a maddening pace for some people right now, and I feel, like I said, fortunate to not be as thickly in that space.
From the perspective of Beautiful Together, you guys mentioned that that's obviously where a lot of my focus and attention is right now. We've been able to do some good fundraisers this time of year, which is excellent. It's nice, because not only do ... Beautiful Together is a non-profit in support of children waiting for families, and we do projects, which are very end-to-end. Specifically we start a project, we get it ... Actually, we should identify a project, like renovating a bathroom or an orphanage. We get it funded by taking photographs and sharing it and social media and everything. We get some incredible donations from very big-hearted people who want to support that. We take that money, pay a project team, and kind of oversee it as best we can, and then we're done.
End-to-end projects, of which we've done four in the last six months, but we also have these funds that are ongoing, and we're partnering with organizations that are doing amazing work but may not have the reach that we can help provide [inaudible 00:09:06] together. Those are ongoing sort of things. We've just written two nice checks that are 100% just pass-along donations to two organizations that are doing grass roots work on the ground in Africa right now. It's really good.
Rachel: That's great.
Tamara: Yeah, that's kind of the best part of this work is when you just kind of say, "Here you go," you know?
Rachel: Yeah, and you were on there this summer, correct?
Tamara: Correct. Yeah, I went back this summer. That was our fourth time, and I'm going back again in February again.
Rachel: Yeah, as a photographer, how do you find traveling with your cameras and equipment when you go to places like this for charities like this? Do you find that it's difficult?
Tamara: I made a decision ... My family and I, we travel every summer for two solid months. We live in North Carolina, Chapel Hill. We leave at the beginning of the summer, we come back at the end of the summer. Part of that is because we just have a commitment to travel and see the world. Part of that is because summer in North Carolina is brutal. The idea of raising your children to be citizens of the world and better understand the dangers of this "us versus them" philosophy, all of that, but along with that, seeing all those places, you want to document it and photograph it. The first couple years I brought a lot more gear with me, and I learned very quickly that I don't want the entire summer to be a photo shoot. I want it to be an experience that I'm documenting. That's very different. By that very nature, I started eliminating gear. This past summer I got it down to one camera body, one lens, one polarizing filter, and that was it. No, no, and an add-on microphone for video, to do some video clips for Beautiful Together.
Scott: What's that lens that you typically take with you?
Tamara: For this one, I brought the Nikkor 24-70 F 2 8 lens. I brought the Nikon D8-10. That was my camera. That was my lens. Polarizing filter, and then a Sennheiser mic that I was able to add a little boom mic kind of thing. I got a lot done with that little kit. I always recommend to people if you know you're traveling, especially where there's a lot of physical movement, where you're moving around a lot, pare down the gear and rent in certain places if you need additional equipment as you go.
Rachel: That's a great idea.
Scott: That's for sure.
Rachel: Did you find ... I know the 8-10 has really big files. Did you find that traveling and not being ... How did you handle file management while not being at your studio?
Tamara: External 1 terabyte drive.
Rachel: Oh, yeah.
Scott: I use a Western Digital My Passport Wireless, which is really great, because I just take the SD card out of my D8=10 or my D F, throw it into there, it sucks it in automatically as soon as it sees the card, sucks all the photos in, and then I can access them through wi-fi if I want. I know that they're safe on a, I think it's a 2 terabyte internal drive in this thing. It's that big, not that big.
Tamara: I like how you say "sucks it in" versus "import". Is that like the new technology.
Scott: Yeah, so I just like the term "sucks it in" rather than "import". I just think it's a little bit ...
Tamara: Less aggressive?
Rachel: The geek terminology.
Scott: Yeah, it's like I want your photos on my drive instead of-
Rachel: Right now.
Tamara: I want them now.
Scott: Yeah, "Give them to me. Give me those photos."
Tamara: I like it.
Rachel: We're all Nikon users. That might be the first time that's happened on here. Yeah.
Scott: This episode's sponsored by Nikon.
Rachel: I know, right?
Tamara: I know, right?
Rachel: We've talked about gear and sort of the travel stuff. How do you use WordPress for you, your businesses, all of the entities that you oversee and manage?
Tamara: I've used WordPress forever, and when I say "I use WordPress", I have hired people to set up WordPress for me, to be very clear. I have slowly and somewhat grudgingly learned enough about WordPress on the backend that I can now make adjustment and update things and be more handy with jumping in and out. I really wrestled with that, because as a studio owner and just a business person in general, I always advocate for outsource it. Do what you do really well, get very, very good at it, be able to charge at a level that's [inaudible 00:13:40] with your effort and your ability, and hire everybody else to do the rest. By that same token, I have had people who work in web development who can basically help build customized sites for me over the years. I really recognize that the lay of, "I need something fixed," or, "I need a shift," and then having to wait to hear back, it was worth learning more. I kind of buckled down and spent probably about six weeks just getting up to speed a little bit more on the stuff I'd need to do so I could just drop in and help something out.
By that logic, over the course of, I would say about ten years now, I've had about seven sites developed in WordPress used for different things. Currently, my big sites that I'm using are tamaralackey.com, tamaralackeyblog.com, beautifultogether.org. I'm trying to think. Two other sites are now have been built in Squarespace that we are going to transition over to WordPress, which I talked to Scott about for very valid reasons. Specifically having jumped in both ways, you can see the difference building in WordPress and the longevity and the richness of the experience in WordPress over time versus other experiences I've had.
Rachel: What was your decision to choose Squarespace for those few other entities at the time? Was it just ease of use? Was it trying something new?
Tamara: It was. I wanted a site up, and I wanted it quickly, and I wanted a template that was pretty good that I could customize right away. I felt like it would take too long, and they would require additional customization that I didn't want to pay for at the time for other sites. That's why I chose Squarespace at the time, not just for lushalbums.com and capturinglifebetter.com, two sites that are built on Squarespace, but also for a portion that I added onto tamaralackey.com that's all built in WordPress.
Rachel: Oh, interesting. Do you see Google Analytics change between having two of those things connected?
Tamara: I see a hit to my SEO since I started doing stuff with Squarespace, unfortunately.
Scott: Yeah, search engines tend to favor WordPress. What I'm going to say kind of goes against what we typically say about WordPress. Search engines tend to favor WordPress SEO wise, because search engines look at it as a blog that you're going to produce blog content, and that's fresh content that's ever changing. Even though we know that WordPress can be a static website without a blog, search engines know if you're using WordPress, you're most likely blogging. It's going to look at that first and favor that because it knows the content's going to be moving and adjusting. Is there any features inside of Squarespace that now that you've got a couple of sites on Squarespace and a couple on WordPress, are there any features in Squarespace that you think need to be in WordPress that you haven't come across yourself?
Tamara: Yeah, when I'm talking to new photographers, a lot of my mentor sessions or workshops, people want a website up. They still feel like they've got to do it all. They feel there's this mentality that if I haven't made money yet, I can't spend money, which I'm always trying to reverse. I'm like, "You have to spend." Anyway, but if I haven't made money yet, I have to do it all myself, and so they become kind of web developers. I've seen people working on their website for three months in WordPress just trying to figure it all out as they go versus honing their photography craft. I will always suggest start with a Squarespace or a Zenfolio. Get a great looking site up right away that's super simple that maybe isn't extremely customized and may not give you the best SEO, but get something out there right away, because I think they struggle with feeling there's this perception that WordPress is going to take a while, whereas you can grab a template site and be up and running pretty quickly. That's one of the suggestions I give to people, versus trying hard to learn the ins and out of WordPress or even coding their HTML site. I've seen people doing all of it.
Scott: Do you think one of the things-
Tamara: Wait, did I answer your question? Did I answer your question?
Scott: A little bit. A little bit.
Tamara: A little bit, okay.
Scott: I think where you're going with this is what I'm going to ask is going to solidify that.
Tamara: Okay, you're going to bring me back home. I like that.
Scott: Do you think that what WordPress needs is the ability for somebody to just do a couple clicks, get up and running with a site designed with some dummy content there that you could just go and adjust and not have to do much design at all?
Tamara: Yeah. What WordPress needs is a turn key solution where you jump in and you've got a gorgeous looking thing there, but you get all that back-end richness. By that I mean you can do a ton more with it. You're not limited. You're not frustrated by the fact that when you're trying to ... Squarespace, the idea of it, the template driven go is great. When you try to do more modifications to it than are inherently possible, you're banging your head against the wall, whereas you can do a ton of that with WordPress, especially with the right theme and plugins and such. The flexibility of it can be astounding with WordPress, and that's just not what you're going to get when you want to quickly get a site up and running, which is why my suggestion's been like, "Get something up and then slowly create a great WordPress site." WordPress could have that now, and you could skip that kind of getting [inaudible 00:19:22] this, moving this, et cetera. That'd be awesome. That'd be the perfect solution
Rachel: Squarespace is nice too, because you can start developing content, you can start blogging once a week at the same day and same time, which is what we recommend for what they call "dynamic content", and that's what SEO likes. Then there are plugins in WordPress that'll pull in all that Squarespace content, so you don't just lose it. It can actually get transferred over. That's the worry with some of the other types of ... That's why if you're not using WordPress, I actually do recommend Squarespace, because it's all in one. It has everything. It's easy to get up, and then you can start creating that content, and pull it into WordPress easier when you're ready.
Tamara: How do you pull it in? When you mean pull it in, you mean you can take all the content over, and then just do some reformatting, or it's ready to go, or what?
Scott: I think she really means it sucks it in.
Tamara: Of course it does.
Rachel: There you go. I think it just pulls in ... It's the database to database connection, because both WordPress and Squarespace are built on sort of that database platform. It'll pull in the text and the pictures. Then you always have to go in and sort of reformat it when you're doing a new ... Even WordPress to WordPress, having a new theme, but at least you don't have to re-write, and you're not going to lose all those blog posts, and you're not going to lose all those keywords and stuff that you've done. [crosstalk 00:20:46]-
Tamara: Yeah, so that's just within WordPress that having upgraded my website or blog over the years, some of the older posts are just like, "Oh god, they're a mess." I've got to go in and re-format, and is it worth it, et cetera. Yeah.
Scott: Right. Yeah, unfortunately there's going to be some styling loss, but there is a way for anybody who is on Squarespace and wants to go to WordPress, there is a way ... There's actually multiple ways that you could actually get from Squarespace to WordPress. Same thing if you're on-
Tamara: How does the average person do it? What do you recommend?
Scott: I think there's two or three different plugins that actually will do the conversion for you.
Rachel: I've done it. I don't remember the exact plugin I used, but it was very seamless compared to ... I've pulled in older WordPress installs and had a harder time getting that into a newer WordPress than Squarespace to WordPress.
Tamara: Wow. I did not know that. That's interesting. Is there a cat there, or is someone subtly sad.
Rachel: No, can you hear that stupid thing? Hold on.
Tamara: No, it's sweet. I just didn't know if someone was ... Every time I hear a cat slightly in the background, I think someone's really sad.
Scott: She locks her cat ... We both lock our cats out of our rooms when we're doing this. Mine usually just scratches. It doesn't whine.
Tamara: We can bring all our animals together, because I have three dogs. Can you imagine if we just brought them all on in a room and tried to talk?
Rachel: We interrupt this podcast. You'd think the children in my life would be more ... No, it's the cats.
Tamara: It's the cats.
Rachel: Always. Right.
Scott: There's also, for anybody who uses Tumblr or Movable Type or LiveJournal, there's a whole bunch of different importers that WordPress can do if you're on a ... There're some very popular photographers that use Tumblr, and I never understood why they use Tumblr because you're very limited, more limited to what you are with Squarespace. The advantage of Tumblr is you get that social network atmosphere going with it, but for anybody who wants to go from a Tumblr to a WordPress site, there's an importer for that, and it works well. Yeah, it's-
Tamara: Oh, I have a question.
Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tamara: I have a question.
Scott: Go for it.
Tamara: I've been trying to solve this issue for a while, and I've had two or three developers tell me they can, and then it didn't work. When you post something like a blog post, and then you share it on social media, it seems like the ability to have those comments aggregated in one solid place that's there and doesn't make people do triple sign ins and this and that. It doesn't seem like we have that technology working yet. Am I wrong, because it seems like you're cannibalizing the audience so often by taking one piece of content and sharing it everywhere? What's the deal?
Scott: It's kind of funny. Literally episode 2, Christine [tremmolay 00:23:39] mentioned the plugin that does exactly that.
Tamara: Does it work though? What is it?
Scott: She uses it. I've never tried it. It's called Social.
Rachel: It's called Social.
Scott: It's called Social.
Scott: Made by Mail Chimp, the email marketing company.
Tamara: Tell me more about this mythical Social.
Scott: Social, you connect your Facebook, you connect Twitter, all that kind of stuff. Then it literally monitors mentions and discussion, public mentions and discussion with your URL in it, and sucks it all in as WordPress comments on your site.
Tamara: Sucks it all in.
Rachel: That's number three.
Scott: Yeah, I got ... Hey.
Tamara: So it sucks it all in. Go on.
Scott: It sucks it in. That's really funny. When we do the transcription and I do the grammar checks, it's going to be like, "Overuse of this phrase."
Rachel: I think we have to add the caveat that any plugin that does all of this, it connects with Facebook or Twitter, it's all subject to their APIs. Facebook breaks things all the time, which is part of the problem.
Tamara: Because I remember Disqus was supposed to fix this issue, and it didn't.
Scott: Yeah, there's Disqus. There's also another plugin. I can't remember what it's called, but it ... I'll have to look it up. It's something like Comments Plus or something like that. All it does is gives you the ability to have people comment with Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Facebook or whatever all on the one comment field. I don't know if it imports the comments from the outside sources.
Tamara: That's what I wondered, because case in point, even beyond what we just mentioned, I'll have a blog post, and I'll share it on Facebook. Then I have to share it on my business Facebook, because I started out on Facebook, and then it capped me at 5,000. Then I had to open up the other account. Now I have those two. Then it'll put it on Twitter, et cetera. Someone on Facebook 1 will ask a really great question that I'll answer in detail, and then somebody on Facebook 2 will as the same question. Then somebody on the blog will ask the same question, and I'm like, "Just get together, people."
Rachel: There's the comment stuff that you're talking about, but then there's also the re-sharing and Christine ... We talked about this in episode 2. There's the Social plugin, our plugins to make all the comments go in one place, but then there's the next tier, which is the Co-Schedule, or Buffer, or Hootsuite of the world which then can take your one blog post and push it out to different places so that you're not manually doing that. It doesn't exactly solve the problem of the comments, but, at least, it helps it so that you're not manually putting it in all those different places. It-
Tamara: [crosstalk 00:26:19]. My understanding from SEO perspective, especially with Google+ and all that is that you should be rephrasing it anyway. You shouldn't be just blasting it across.
Rachel: Yeah, I found different times helps if you don't have the time to do the different copyrighting. Just scheduling it so that one goes live, and then an hour later goes to a different social media, and then an hour later it goes to a different social media. Google thinks all those balls are still juggling. It's hard. What do you automate and what do you keep personal? At what point do you just let it go a little bit, because it just gets so overwhelming? It's like a full-time job.
Tamara: Right, but like ... Okay, so my concern about the automating and the reason why I've never done it is because, gosh, look what just happened in Paris recently, how horrible that was. Everybody online was just sharing grief and horror, and it was very emotional. Then you've got somebody like, "Nabisco crackers!" It's just like, whoa, not a good time. I say that all the time when we have a big international incident or international, those times, I think, can really backfire and be very insensitive.
Rachel: Yeah, we discussed that too, and it is timely. It's interesting. I was a television major at September 11th, 2001, and we were studying the habits of television because we didn't have the internet like we did now. After September 11th, all of these television stations pulled their ads, because they didn't want to have that be associated with this tragic world event. Then again what you mentioned with the Paris stuff, we still have these ads going out, just like you said, but they're modified, and they're sort of cloaked as tweets and Facebook posts. I think matter no whether you automate it or keep, you always have to be aware of what's going on in the world. If something goes out, it's okay to delete it or to retract it and say, "I'm so sorry guys. That just went out, and I agree with the sentiment or this sentiment." It's hard.
Scott: To tie that into photographers specifically, I've seen this firsthand happen, and I've talked to a bunch of wedding photographers who have actually ran into this exact situation. A lot of wedding photographers will schedule out a year out from a wedding a happy anniversary, congratulations, blah blah blah, one year, you've done it, woo-hoo, you rock [crosstalk 00:28:50].
Tamara: [crosstalk 00:28:50] dangerous. You see the danger in that. Go on.
Scott: Imagine when that couple gets divorced and you, first, don't know that the couple got divorced, and second, let that go out. Here's one that's ... This happened to me recently. It has nothing to do with scheduling, but it's sort of related to that. I photographed a couple that got engaged, and they were supposed to get married the week after photo plus on Halloween. They broke up. They did not get married. Now I had their engagement photos in my portfolio. I forgot to remove it from my portfolio. I was speaking at Canada Photo Convention next October. They aggregated some of my photos for a graphic that they put together and sent it to me for approval, and they used that photo. I had to ask them to swap it out for a different photo. Same sort of thing. You got to be careful. Automation's great because it does save time, but at the same time, really got to pay attention to what you're automating. Can it have bad timing for the people you photographed or the subject you photographed or an event? Can it relate to an event somewhere somehow?
Tamara: Yeah, and the same thing that you mentioned with wedding photography, it's true for family portraits. Families break apart, and couples break apart, and I've had over the ... I've been shooting for almost 13 years now, and I've had not an incredible amount, but I would say probably, at least, a handful of times where people have reached out and just said, "You know what? When I search my name, our family photo comes up. Can you take that down?" I've had to ... Most the times if there's a way to take quickly it down, I happily do. I may not know about it until they contact me. Another case where it becomes more difficult is on a site that you think is dead, like an old blog that you didn't even remember that's still there, because you transferred to another site, and you didn't officially shut it down. I've had time where it appears like a photo's just ghosting up there. I don't know how to find this anymore.
In the one specific case, that's what we found. We found an old blog that I didn't even realize was still there that was just being auto-renewed, and I had to scroll down and find this one post. I was shocked it was there. All of it.
Rachel: Yeah, and that's a really good another point for WordPress. WordPress, I've been using it for 10 years. If you have one installation for all those 10 years and you've changed themes and you've changed plugins, but your actual database has stayed relatively the same, you don't have those same kind of problems of Blogger to LiveJournal to WordPress to Squarespace. Because once it's up on the internet, it's really hard to find and take down, but it does. I think the other thing that we're not talking about, and it applies to both weddings and families is that people die, children die, parents die. Your blog can also become sort of a memorial in a positive and a negative.
I had a wedding client who shot the wedding, she blogged it, and then the groom committed suicide. He was a member of a band, and so the blog itself went hugely viral. At that point, what do you do? What is the ethics behind it? Do you take it down? She reached out to the bride and said, "What do you want me to do?" For the bride, she said she wanted to keep it up in his memory, but there has to be that communication between the photographer and the [crosstalk 00:32:33]. "What do you want me to do, because I will ..." At that point, it's not about marketing. It's not about ... It's about you, and it's about your emotions. This is a good discussion, because WordPress can do it all, but should it?
Tamara: Right, right. Exactly. The photographer did the right thing reaching out, because we automatically sometimes feel like, "Well, if it were me ..." But that doesn't mean that's what they would want.
Rachel: Right, right, and you can't ... She also printed, because they were in discussions for the album. This all happened so suddenly. She printed every single print and brought it to the funeral. I thought that was such a nice gesture, because we don't necessarily have those prints in our lives. After all this, when are you going to get it printed? Not only is there online component of being a photographer, but there's also that tactical like, "Here's your print. Here's your image. Here is your memory of that person."
Tamara: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Rachel: How do we transition out of this, [inaudible 00:33:31]?
Scott: Yeah. Let's move on to what you recommend as far as different WordPress products, like themes, plugins, anything like that. Are there any that are your favorite that you like to use on multiple sites, or ones that you just fell in love with? One of the obvious, which we talked about this before we started recording, and it also came up already on the show is our favorite LEGO creator, Yoast SEO. I know that is one that you enjoy that we all enjoy, and it's one that we recommend every photographer to be using to help improve their SEO. What others do you really, really enjoy?
Tamara: Yeah, one of the reasons I like that one is because what we were just talking about, I can get really lost in the work and the words and imagery. I'm not sitting there thinking about keywords or count or anything like that at all. It's really nice to kind of feel like there's someone right there just saying, "Okay. Red, yellow, green."
Rachel: Yeah, I love that.
Tamara: "This post sucks. This could be better. This is exactly how you could do it." Yeah, I love that. Shareaholic, it's interesting enough, because ... I think there's probably other plugins similar to it, but that's the one that we use on our blog. I like the fact that you can not only suggest people share it, but I also found that initially when I had it on there, it was at the bottom of every post. By simply just adding it to the top of the post as well, it seemed to increase shareability too. It kind of gets people thinking, "Oh yeah, I should either like that or share it or whatever." I like that for that reason. It's the top of mine. "Hey, if you like this," without saying, "Hey, if you like this, share it."
Scott: Those Shareaholic has another feature built in that is great for keeping people on your site looking around. It's a feature called "related posts".
Tamara: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Scott: That's a great feature inside of that to turn on as well. Now you have the social sharing aspect and you have related posts, which show up underneath each blog article and are either related by post or tag, depending on how the algorithm is made.
Tamara: A moment, please. I'm taking a note.
Rachel: I know. I love that part of that plugin, because I have clients who manually do related posts, because they want it to be ... That is so much work, and you have an extensive knowledge of your blog posts. What did you blog a year ago? I don't know.
Tamara: I don't know.
Rachel: Yeah, so it's-
Tamara: Exactly. Related posts, I'm going to add that. Thank you. Let's keep going with the recommendation.
Rachel: Well, tell us what you like?
Tamara: Oh right, that's my job. Okay. I like that. I like the Shareaholic. I like ... Well actually, this is something that I worked with a web developer to semi-create. It's not exactly done there, but it's called Subscriber Counter. I don't think that's an actual plugin so much as a modified aggregation of social count, which can be very helpful, in terms of altering people to other social media accounts that you have, because everybody kind of has their favorites. There are people who would never jump to Twitter, but they love Facebook, et cetera. It's a way of not only alerting people to other accounts you've got going on, but also if as you're somebody who wants to work with different sponsors or companies, that can be actually really helpful. I first saw an option of it on an author's blog, and I found it really helpful, because it helped me to jump over and see some of the other accounts and find what I wanted to follow. As I say that term, I don't know that that's a thing. I think it was kind of a cobbled together effort.
Scott: Yeah, so you're saying that you had that custom made for your site?
Scott: Okay. Yeah, so there's a bunch that exist that-
Tamara: The custom making thing is super cool.
Scott: Yeah, it is.
Rachel: It took a little bit of money to find a developer though. That's the problem nowadays is there's so much with WordPress, but if you hire someone that you don't necessarily trust, it's sort of like with photography. You get what you pay for. There's the $50 photographers and there's the $500 photographers. That also exists in the developer world. I don't know. I personally recommend plugins when in doubt, because you know that there's a support team, with the caveat that it's a plugin that's been supported.
Tamara: Yeah, because they do kind of just stop being supported.
Rachel: Yeah, and this is where the WordPress world gets overwhelming, and this is where photographers dive in and they think, "I want that, but wow, to get it, you have to go through a thousand different hoops."
Tamara: Yeah, yeah. I'm ... Yeah.
Scott: I do have a recommendation for somebody who wants one that's already made. Now this recommendation is actually going to take care of two of your recommendations in one shot.
Tamara: Wow, it's a multi-recommendation. It's going to suck it all in.
Scott: Yes, yes, there you go.
Rachel: That's four.
Tamara: All right, I'm ready. I'm writing.
Scott: Although I love Shareaholic and they've been around for a long time, the people over at Elegant Themes have a plugin that I love that once it came out, I switched right away. It's called Monarch, and it's basically just like Shareaholic as far as the social sharing goes, but it also has a follow option with subscriber counts.
Rachel: I'm going to write it down too.
Scott: It's a very light-weight plugin, so it doesn't slow down sites at all, and Elegant Themes keeps up to date with all of the social media algorithm changes like what Rachel said with Facebook changing non-stop. Since owning the plugin, I think they have updated it twice with Facebook updates specifically. Yeah, so Monarch is cool, and I'll link to that as well. It does not have-
Tamara: [crosstalk 00:39:43] like the butterfly?
Scott: Yeah, like the butterfly. It does not have related posts built in like Shareaholic does, but there's other plugins that do related posts for anybody who wants that separate. Yeah, but Monarch, as far as social sharing goes and as far as social follow goes, extremely flexible, extremely light-weight, and very pretty.
Rachel: I really like Elegant Themes as a ... Tamara, you had mentioned a theme that you use for your Beautiful Together.
Tamara: [Avonna 00:40:16].
Rachel: Yeah, and you want to talk about that? I know you mentioned that a little bit before we sort of ...
Tamara: Yeah, so the web developer we've been working with for a while, 8 Dot Graphics, initially Sarah, we had recommended to her a specific theme that I had found that was built for what Beautiful Together does. We showcase projects. We help try to solicit donations, be able to showcase where the work's going to. It was built pretty much ... I'm trying to think of the name of the theme. It was some ... I don't know. It was [inaudible 00:40:50] kind of charities. There are three main charity site kind of themes. When I first suggested it, the feedback was that the concern was it was pretty rigid. It does exactly that and nothing more, so if you want to change, you want to grow, you want to adjust the focus, it's going to be hard to do that, but we still implemented it and had it for a few months, and found exactly what the warning had been to be something that was too restrictive.
We just couldn't make anything shift, so we switched to [Avonna 00:41:18], and customized it to look exactly like what we'd initially built. The transition was really seamless looking to the outside viewer, but now we had all this great ability to adjust things, both on the backend and on the front-end in a way that really helped make a lot more of these projects come to life, gave us a lot more flexibility to showcase unique ways people were raising funds, doing really cool things. Just stuff that we weren't able to do. It's funny because you can get a little bit into a theme and then find that you're completely locked down. I appreciate the most flexible themes that let you just kind of ... The sky's the limit. What can I uniquely do here?
Rachel: Yeah, and that's also the benefit of using WordPress. I always describe it as the theme is the dress, and the WordPress backend is the skeleton. You could change the dresses, and you still will have what we talked about before with the formatting issues, especially if there're any short codes in your theme. Going from theme to theme with short codes will mess up formatting things, but I love the flexibility that you're not going to lose any of your data. You're not going to lose those blog posts. You're not going to lose those little text blurbs that take how long to write, but by putting on a new theme, you have a whole almost new re-branded site.
Tamara: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Scott: On that topic, there're a lot of themes that include this functionality, different short codes and whatnot inside of the themes. In more recent years, I'd say in the last year or two, it's the whole methodology of theme design has changed. They want themes to themes, and the functionality to be plugins. Even the Photo Karate theme, the gallery system has always been built into the theme. E-commerce and the galleries were always built in. Then when we built NextGEN gallery and NextGEN Pro, we decided actually to strip out that gallery system and replace it with the plugin functionality instead. Actually I think today or tomorrow, we're actually releasing the updated Photo Karate theme where you're no longer using the gallery built into the theme. We're not using the plugin. It's important that when you get a theme, any photographers that are listening or watching, when you're looking at a theme, make sure you get one where whatever functionality that you like that the theme comes with, that that functionality is actually a plugin included with the theme, not just a theme, because typically if it's a plugin, you can use it on any theme.
For example, if you're using the Photo Karate theme, and your galleries and e-commerce are built on NextGEN gallery and NextGEN Pro and you want to switch themes to something else, you can do that and retain all of your galleries and e-commerce. The Elegant Themes, they also have this thing called the Divvy theme. Right up until about two months ago, the Divvy theme, their drag and drop system was built into the theme. Now it's a plugin, so you have the theme and you have the plugin.
Rachel: We probably lost 50% of you, because that was really technical.
Scott: It was really technical.
Tamara: Wait, so if the WordPress is the skeleton and the theme is the dress, the plugins are the accessories?
Rachel: I feel like the plugins are the engine, like the heart.
Tamara: [crosstalk 00:44:46] the dress though? We got to stay in the [inaudible 00:44:49].
Scott: The plugins could be pockets and zippers.
Rachel: That's good.
Tamara: Pockets and zippers?
Tamara: That's because they're built into the dress?
Rachel: Right. Yeah, they have to work in conjunction.
Tamara: Right, but what you're saying is that you should have more and more of your site driven by plugins versus a theme.
Scott: Pretty much.
Rachel: Yeah, so a theme really should just be an overcoat. This is a hard analogy.
Tamara: Right, and the plugins are the bra and panties.
Rachel: Yes, I was going to go with underpants too. That's awesome.
Tamara: I like it.
Rachel: We should say that I think this is where the sites like Squarespace come in, because you hear everything that Scott just said, and you're like, "What is he talking about? How do I do that? How do I get that? Am I doing it the right way?" This is where I think services like Imagely are coming in because it's going to be a place where photographers can go and get an all-in-one solution and ask those questions. There's going to be that ... Am I correct, Scott? That they're going to be able to have a place where they can communicate and ask those questions? How do you envision that going?
Scott: Yeah, so for those who don't know what Imagely is or is going to be, because we haven't launched just yet, it's going to be turn key managed websites for photographers all built on WordPress. The beauty about it is that you'll be able to quickly-
Tamara: It's so overdue.
Rachel: Especially for photographers. Absolutely.
Tamara: So overdue.
Scott: You'll have the ability to quickly get a WordPress website launched with pre-installed themes and plugins for photographers. For example, Yoast SEO will be pre-installed with every single website, because every photographer needs Yoast SEO, but-
Tamara: But can you take it out if you don't want it for some reason?
Scott: The other thing is that you'll have ... It's still WordPress. You still have control. You can do whatever you want. If you don't want any of the themes or any of the plugins, delete them and just use Imagely as a host.
Tamara: You can keep the pockets sewn up on the dress.
Scott: Yes, yes.
Rachel: We're going to run this one.
Tamara: That might [crosstalk 00:46:59]. I know, right? Metaphor. That's the word I was looking for. Yes, go.
Scott: Nice. The way that we're going to be able to help photographers is through our email support, mostly. We do have social media. There are Facebook groups. I have one that I've started, WordPress for Photographers, it's a Facebook group, and I think it has-
Rachel: Yes, and it's great if you have questions.
Scott: Yeah. I think it has close to 300 members at this point.
Scott: We're getting ... I swear I get like ten requests everyday to join, but a lot of them are like the people that just join everywhere, and they're not obvious photographers, so I don't approve everybody. If you are requesting to join the WordPress for Photographers Facebook group, make sure it's obvious that you are a photographer.
Tamara: I hope I get in. I hope I get in. I hope I get in.
Rachel: Not you.
Scott: Tamara Lackey not allowed.
Rachel: I know.
Scott: The main source for any Imagely customers to get their questions answered are really going to be contacting support. Our support team's fantastic, but this is not about Imagely though.
Rachel: The reason I brought up Imagely is because that when you start talking about WordPress and the technical, and I experience it myself, if something breaks, your heart stops, because you're like, "Who do I go to to help fix it?" If you don't have the right partners, like Tamara says she's working with a development company, that's got to be such a peace of mind to know that you can ask those questions, not sound stupid. Especially as a woman entrepreneur, it's hard to manage through some of this and think like, "Wow, that might have been a really dumb question, but I really truly didn't know the answer until you just told me." The benefit of a service like Squarespace is you can email them a question and [crosstalk 00:48:46].
Tamara: Well people get intimidated.
Rachel: Right, and that's part of what we're trying to do with the podcast too is try to break it down and try to help where are the pockets, where are the zippers, where does it all go, and how do you keep up with it as it's changing? WordCamp Philadelphia thought-
Tamara: Dry cleaning.
Rachel: You've got to upgrade and clean up.
Scott: WordPress 4.4 I believe is coming out today, so for anybody who's listening, by the time that you actually do listen to this, WordPress 4.4 will be out through our-
Rachel: And you should be upgraded.
Scott: You should be upgraded. It's a big upgrade. There're a lot of cool things that have been improved. It's mostly accessibility stuff and a few other styling changes.
Tamara: I have a WordPress question since I'm talking to you guys right now. When you are prompted to upgrade WordPress, because you get the kind of ... I, in the past, have had an experience where it's broken things.
Tamara: I liken it to upgrading your operating system. All right, now it's time for El Capitan, and now this doesn't work for me anymore, or I just blew this application out of the water, because it doesn't play with El Capitan and all that sort of stuff. What do you suggest to people when they have an upgrade push like that?
Scott: Backup your website. Make sure you have a backup solution.
Tamara: Don't most hosts back it up for you? Aren't they supposed to have your last 24 hours, 48 hours et cetera?
Scott: Not every host does, but yes, you should without a doubt.
Rachel: I actually recommend VaultPress, which is run by automatic. It's $55 a year for the light plan, and it is separate from your host, because your host should have one, but sometimes they don't always capture all the database stuff. VaultPress is one. There are others. Do you have some recommendations for off-site backup?
Tamara: Wait, just real quick. Vault Press, $55 a year, and they basically just backup your online presence for you?
Scott: Their lower plans do it once a day. Their higher plans do it more times a day. You can go as high and have real-time backups as well as security scans, and even hack, what do they call it, hack recovery-
Scott: -or something like that where they actually fix your site if you're hacked.
Rachel: Right. That's the other reason I like the VaultPress is that-
Tamara: I like that, because I've been hacked a few times.
Rachel: -because if you call ... Yeah, and if you call your host, they will walk you through it on the phone, and sometimes you're like, "What are you talking about? Can you just do it for me?" They say no, whereas VaultPress, because it's a paid service, you say, "Can you just do it for me," and they say yes, and they do it for you.
Tamara: That's always nice, just saying.
Scott: There is a host that's launching fairly soon that does have 30 day stored daily backups as well as security scanning built into their price plan.
Scott: Yeah. I do recommend having a secondary as well, because-
Rachel: So that ... Let's get all the way back to what Tamara had asked us, which was should you upgrade? Yes. You have a backup, so when you upgrade, if it breaks, you can always revert back. Then the second recommendation is wait a week, seven days, five business days. Let the first adopters break it and fix it.
Scott: Exactly. Now WordPress updates are tested thoroughly. What was I going with this? Even if it does break for you, yes, you can revert if you have a backup, but I do recommend waiting the seven days, just like what Rachel said. However, there are some updates that WordPress will push automatically. They will force WordPress to update. Those are only major security updates.
Rachel: Yeah, so in that situation it's more beneficial to the greater good to do it because then there'll be less hacking and maybe more slight plugins, but then they'll break it. The other key is if you upgrade your version of WordPress, also go in and upgrade your plugins. Then if the plugins release another update in two days, go in and update those as well. It's staying on top of all of the updates, not just one at a time and doing it and leaving. We've all been guilty of it. I've updated, and then walked away from my site for a week, and come back and been like, "Where did all these other updates come from?"
Tamara: Yeah, well see, and I think we bring up ... This whole topic is exactly why small business owners become kind of exhausted with all this. There's a lot of rules to follow with this. There's a lot of rules to follow with upgrading your machine. There's a lot of technology built into any kind of work you do to own your own business, especially if you want to do it efficiently and you want to keep up with the latest developments and technologies. Every small business person could have their own tech support company working for them, and it becomes a lot.
Scott: This is where in the past-
Tamara: This is assuming nothing's broken. This isn't assuming we don't have a lemon, you don't have a weird bug, you don't have a ...
Scott: This is why in the past couple to a few years managed WordPress hosting has been on the rise, because when you pay for managed WordPress hosting, the pricing is a little bit higher on a monthly basis, but they're making sure your site up. They actually have ... They built algorithms to have the automated [inaudible 00:54:14] done, but then they also have humans behind there to react if something does happen. They take care of the backups. They take care of the updates of WordPress for you, and if they get notified the site goes down after the update, they revert and then look into it for you. There's a lot of-
Tamara: So does Imagely do this?
Scott: Imagely is a managed WordPress host. There's a lot of that built into this.
Tamara: What, what? What, what?
Rachel: We should mention GoDaddy and WP Engine, and there are other options. We are talking about Imagely, because we're talking about for photographers. Imagely is a company built for photographers where WP Engine is a giant company and handles, who knows, CNN and everything. It's [crosstalk 00:55:03]-
Tamara: Is there a vault kind of hacking protection service with managed hosting as well?
Scott: Yeah, so most managed hosts have some sort of security scanning as well as security prevention built in. WP Engine I believe uses one of the top security companies for WordPress is called Sucuri, it's S-U-C-U-R-I. They even have a plugin in the repo that you can install and scan your website, but I believe WP Engine uses Sucuri to do monthly or whatever scans. Synthesis I believe has it, and they do more often scan, they do scans with Sucuri more often. GoDaddy has their own system. I'm not sure what they use for security, but they do have their own. There's Pagely, there's Flywheel. There's so many out there that do manage, and all the pricing just varies across the board.
Rachel: That's the problem is that you're paying more than just a hosting plan. You're paying someone to ask question.
Scott: Yeah, and that's one of the ... I wanted to get there too is the fact that when you pay for a managed WordPress listing, you're also paying for somebody to talk to with any WordPress questions. They're there; they're passion WordPress people that will answer whatever questions that you have, if humanly possible.
Rachel: This has been such a good discussion, but we are definitely over our 45 minute time.
Scott: I guess in closing, do you have any final thoughts that you want to bring up, share anything else with the listeners and viewers?
Rachel: And what was the-
Tamara: No, I mean just ...
Rachel: Go ahead.
Tamara: Say again?
Rachel: I just wanted to make sure you tell them where they can find you. We'll have it in the show notes, but in case they want to learn more about who you are.
Tamara: You can go to my WordPress site at tamaralackey.com, and then from there you can kind of hit all the social media sites and blogs and stuff, as well as Beautiful Together, beautifultogether.org. Yeah, I guess in closing, I like that people are paying attention to the fact that how do you make this easier for small business people, because you're ... In keeping with our whole idea of the metaphor, but really one of the things I've always said is that people used to think it was all about your store front or all that sort of stuff. It really is your website, even if you are in a really visible spot, people are still going to your website first and often. That needs to be taken care of and managed, and none of us want to be ... I should say none of us. I personally, and the vast majority of photographers I speak to do not want to be web developers, or else we'd be web developers.
Rachel: Correct. Right.
Tamara: That would have been our chosen profession, and instead we want to be able to utilize all the benefits of it, but stay focused on what we do and what we do well. I'm psyched.
Scott: Great, thank you very much.
Rachel: Thank you.
Scott: Thank you, Tamara, for joining us today, and thank you for Rachel for being an awesome co-host. You can find the show notes at imagely.com/podcast/3, and be sure to subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Rachel: Thank you.
Scott: Thank you, and we'll talk soon.
— Imagely (@imagely) January 15, 2016