Just a quick update on the latest experiment that I’ve been doing at my Digital Photography School blog.
A couple of weeks ago I had a few emails from readers who started to make suggestions about how they’d like to share their photos, work on group projects and meet other readers.
I considered adding comments to the blog but then began to wonder if there might be another option. As a result I started a Flickr group for the blog – you can see it here.
The main aims of the group where:
- A place to share photos that readers are taking
- A place where I can set ‘assignments’ that relate to the tips I’m writing about on the blog
- A place where readers can discuss what they are learning and ask questions about their cameras/photography
I considered starting my own forum for it but decided to go with a Flickr group in the mean time for a number of reasons:
- I’m pushed for time at the moment and will be for the next month or so and thought this was a quicker/more immediate solution.
- Many of my readers already hang out in Flickr and I suspected that the pick up rate would be much higher this way than trying to convert them to a forum that they were unfamiliar with.
- Flickr is an amazing place which is filled with many many thousands of digital camera users. It makes sense to become a part of that community because they are the type of people I am writing DPS for. I’m interested to see what flow on impact getting involved in that community will have.
- Hosting pictures can be expensive and I’d rather let Flickr pay for it.
On the downside:
- It means sending people away from my site
- It’s not a very customizable setting for either photo sharing or discussion
- I can’t monetize it (it’s against Flickr’s rules to set up commercial Flickr groups that directly monetize the group)
Ultimately I think I’ll move towards a forum and try to get users to host their pictures on Flickr (or another photo sharing site) but in the mean time it’s an experiment that is working very well.
The Flickr group has 289 members who have shared 187 photos so far and who are really getting involved in the discussion and assignments. I’m particularly amazed by the numbers of people who are doing the assignments I’ve set. This takes blogging into a new and more interactive direction than I’ve gone before and I’m really enjoying the interactions.
The other benefit of the group is that it’s actually driving traffic to the blog. I mentioned above that one downside is that having it off the blog’s domain means I send people away – but I’ve also noticed that some of the new readers for the blog are finding it through the group itself as new users talk it up in other Flickr groups.