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How To Be More Popular on Flickr

October 4, 2008 by debbie T | Digital PhotographyFlickr

A few weeks ago, I received an email from another Flickr member asking “how do you get SO many people to comment on your work? how do you manage to not get it lost among the zillions of photos here?”

Ha! If I had the true answer to popularity on Flickr!! Seriously, I don’t consider myself to be one of the most popular photographers on Flickr, and I am not claiming to be an expert. But I guess I do alright.

This article is a snapshot of my journey and how I came to my place in the Flickr community today. It’s just a few things I have noticed along the way.

Create a User Profile and Change Your (Buddy) Icon

First, if you are serious about Flickr, edit your profile and make sure to change the default profile icon to another photo. A lot of regular Flickr members will automatically “block” users w/ default icons, without even looking at the photo stream or profile. Your profile icon is the first impression! When you are blocked, you won’t be able to comment or fave any of their photos.

Post Comments On Photos You Like

Start commenting on other Flickr photographers’ streams; post a thoughtful comment that says something about their photo. Get the photographer’s attention…and hopefully they will reciprocate on a photo in your stream.

Add Contacts

Add contacts/friends, and visit their streams and comment regularly. You will start to build relationships, and in turn, they will visit your photos.

After I gained a few contacts, I started to change some contacts to “friends” and I visit their streams daily; I visit other contacts when I have extra time.

Join Flickr Groups

There are so many different types of groups on Flickr. Some will bring visitors to your stream, and some might not. It also depends on how the thumbnail of your photo grabs the other group visitors. Sadly, a beautiful shot might not stand out in the pool of some busier groups.

Join a few Flickr groups and post your photo to the photo pool. But before you do, make sure you read the group rules before posting. Make sure you understand posting limits, and if there are any other requirements.

Besides posting photos to the group pool, there might be active forum discussions; it’s another good way to get to know other members.

Which groups to join?

Join groups that are interesting to you. There are groups for almost every subject like specific cameras or lenses, regions, software (Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom), food, nature, seasons, critiques, and a thousand others.

You might have noticed there are a lot of “award” groups. Add a photo to the group pool, and you might be required to post a certain amount of award comments to other photos in the pool. Some award groups require an invitation comment to be posted to your photo first before you can post it in their pool. Some award groups require both an invite and award comments.

The good thing about award groups is they bring visitors to your stream. They are a good way to get your feet wet in Flickr and to meet other photographers.

I was “into” the award groups for a short time, and I even offered the community a Firefox Greasemonkey script that I edited to easily comment with awards/invites.

Soon, I got tired of the award group circus; it was too time consuming, & I decided to concentrate my energies on building relationships w/ contacts and smaller niche groups.

Limit Your Daily Photo Uploads

I think when a new member joins Flickr, they immediately add a huge bunch of photos, and just expect that people are going to find each and every one. It doesn’t work that way.

Since there are thousands of photos uploaded to Flickr each day, you need to stand out in the crowd. Be honest with yourself and decide which photos are the best.

Pick one photo (or two at the most) per day. Choose to upload and promote only your best photos.

Don’t upload multiple photos of the same scene or person, with a slightly different perspective or composition. Most visitors don’t have time to browse multiple uploads. They will probably view the more current one or two, so that means the ones deeper in your stream will go unnoticed. And those could be the best ones!

By uploading multiple photos per day, your visitor count will be split among all those photos. If you concentrate on one photo, all the visitor counts will be on that one photo, not divided.

If you would like to upload more than one photo, keep them spaced. Perhaps upload one photo in the morning and another in the evening.

Add Titles, Descriptions and Tags to Your Photos

Start adding titles, description text, and tags to your photos. A lot of photos are “found” through flickr’s search engine, especially if you use good descriptive text and keywords.

Keep in mind, if you tag a photo with provocative words like sex, sexy, nude, naked or skin you will probably get a ton of visits, but they will be from visitors you might not want. It always gives me the creeps when I see photos of little kids on Flickr, and some of the visitors that “favorite” them. eek.

Search Engine Visits

Besides Flickr’s search engine, other search engines index Flickr photos. Personally, I have my privacy preferences set to disallow indexing through external search engines. Yes, it has lowered my visitor count, but I like retaining a little bit of control; Not that it prevents theft, but it keeps some of outside world from even knowing my photos exist.

A Word About Explore

I am not going to write too many details about Explore; there are a lot of other helpful sites that offer much more advice (listed below)

Explore is Flickr’s popularity contest. It’s an ever-changing record of the 500 most “interesting” photos for that day. Every day has its own Top 500.

It’s not based on photo quality, but how other flickr members react to a particular photo. Visitor counts, along w/ comments and favorites affect the rankings in Explore. Explore also likes it when you spread the love and comment on lots of other photos. But there is no real clear cut answer on what the Explore algorithm likes; the only ones that know for sure are the ones that work at Flickr/Yahoo.

Some helpful Explore Links:

Give It Time

Flickr popularity doesn’t happen overnight, at least for most. 😛 It’s going to take time and patience, but if you are persistent, it will pay off. All it takes is one person to find you, and then another and another.

Flickr popularity is based on give and take. Sorry to say, Flickr members (including me) are a fickle bunch. If you slack off and post photos without visiting and commenting on others’ streams, you will not get visits back at your stream!

My personal opinion is the amount of gained popularity is attributed to the amount of work you put into Flickr. it’s time consuming and a lot of work sometimes, but it’s worth it.

It’s not just about popularity! During the last 15 months as a Flickr member, I have learned so much about photography and I have grown as a photographer, developing my own style. I have met the most wonderful and generous people at Flickr. It’s definitely an addiction and something that I enjoy!

So, if you love photography and want to share your photography with others, sign up for a free account over at Flickr; while you are over there, check out my photo stream and say hello!

There are 4 comments

  1. Thanks for posting the good tips! Can’t wait to check out your stream.

    Comment by Doug on July 1st, 2009
  2. Hello Debbie, this was exactly teh information about flickr I was looking for. Thank you for the post !

    Comment by Eric Geidl on August 14th, 2009
  3. thanks for the great tips! I googled about Flickr pools and your site came up – it definitely seems time-consuming to build a presence on it… some people have placed a specific photo in dozens of pools!

    Thanks again

    Comment by jen on October 13th, 2009
  4. Yes, it’s very time consuming, which is why I am taking a long break from flickr. I miss my online flickr friends, but sometimes you just need a break!

    Good luck, Jen!

    Comment by debbie T on October 13th, 2009