How Responding to a Photo Challenge Focuses Your Writing and Increases Your Followers

How many pictures do you have that sit unused and unseen in your files? Hundreds, thousands? Be creative and put them to use where you and others can enjoy them time and again.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Terri.  When I started this series on hosting challenges, the intent was to focus just on writing challenges. However, many bloggers do some of their best writing in response to photo challenges. 

If you host a writing or photo challenge, please contact me. I’d love to set up an interview/guest post with you.

Please, give Terri a huge Always Write welcome with tons of comments and likes. Don’t forget to participate in her challenge, Sunday Stills

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Guest Post by Terri Webster Schrandt, Second Wind Leisure Perspective

Ⓒ 2020

My Blogging Journey 

I began blogging consistently in Fall 2014, as I neared retirement from my 32 years with a public parks and recreation organization. Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers. As I neared retirement, I thought I would start a consulting business and blogging seemed like a good fit for promoting it. Once I went back to university lecturing, teaching 15 units a year, I found I lacked the time to sustain a side business. 

I blog on the WordPress hosted platform which sponsored several blogging how-to’s and challenges. Some readers may remember the Blogging University which taught new bloggers about the basics of blogging (Blogging 101) and Photography 101. In 2014, not only did I meet and follow new bloggers, but I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

It was during this time I realized I had a knack for photography and used my background in art and journalism to write posts about recreation and leisure using my original images. 

I learned quickly that including an image with a blog post created visual interest and attracted more readers. Over time I was inspired to write my first short book Better Blogging with Photography which continues to sell worldwide on Amazon. 

Better Blogging with Photography cover
Better Blogging with Photography

Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge?

Challenges bring new readers, interest, and engagement to any blog. Challenges fit well within the framework of hobby blogging. 

I always enjoyed the WordPress Weekly photo challenge early on in my blogging journey and I discovered other challenges and participated in link parties. This was during the time I was building my readership and meeting new bloggers. I enjoyed the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, but the original host announced he was through with blogging and called it quits. 

My own blog morphed into photography with emphasis on fitness, leisure, and recreation. After a lengthy blogging break in early 2018, I woke up one night with the idea that I could reinstate and host Sunday Stills myself. The timing was rather interesting. I jumped back in with Sunday Stills in May 2018 just as WordPress announced the end of its ridiculously popular weekly photo challenge. 

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers?

The purpose is simple: to inspire others to create images related to a weekly theme. I am challenged, too, as I select each month’s themes in advance. Many photo challenges out there are very specific to photography techniques and their hosts are not only a wealth of information about photography techniques, but accomplished photographers in their own right. 

Photobloggers help each other in this way by sharing techniques, ideas and continuing support and enthusiasm for each other’s work. 

One photographer in northern California went so far as to recommend a camera to me. For that I am eternally grateful for his advice and support. 

I also believe that images help create the idea for the story when inspiration is lacking. 

Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images.

How much time does it take to create a blogging challenge?

It can take 5-10 hours a week. Just creating my own post and prepping my images for publication often takes me 3-5 hours. Being that this has a weekly theme, I first decide on each month’s set of themes. I publish this on my Sunday Stills page so the planners of the blogosphere can plan their images and posts in advance. Of course, I must find my own images for each theme, post-edit them, and write a post that not only showcases my images but provides examples for other participants. I comment and share each post on Twitter and Facebook when possible. Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images. Some of the time spent is checking daily for new pingbacks and approve, comment and share. 

What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

At the end of each month, I choose themes and post them one month advance on my Photography page. I choose photos that highlight the theme while writing a title and post that is general but inspiring to other bloggers.

How do you follow up with your participants? I post every Sunday at 7:00 am Pacific Time and bloggers read and many link to the challenge. I approve links, read and comment on each post and share on social media.

How did you attract people to participate? 

I have a good following and many folks seem to enjoy my photography. Sunday Stills had been popular, and many were excited to see it come back. As I join other challenges, other bloggers find my blog and participate in my challenge.

Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post? 

Not really, but I have a Sunday Stills image widget on my sidebar where bloggers can click to the page for more information.

Do you determine winners? If so, how? 

No, everyone is a winner! I share posts of new bloggers in the first day of the month’s post with links to their blogs. 

I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere? 

I share Sunday Stills posts to my Facebook Page or Twitter, sometimes on Pinterest.  When I began Sunday Stills, I hosted a link-up on INLinkz for a few months. Not as many linked to it, so I stopped after a few months.

For my favorite photos, you can see more at  https://secondwindleisure.com/2019/11/24/sunday-stills-your-favorite-photo/

Bio

Terri is a writer, self-published author and retired recreation and parks practitioner living in Northern California. As a university lecturer teaching various courses in the recreation and parks major, Terri takes leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really!

Her active lifestyle involves stand-up paddling, camping, hiking, reading, writing, gardening, walking the dogs, traveling, and photography.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives is her blog about leisure, fitness and photography.

Connect with Terri

Blog: https://secondwindleisure.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SecondWindLeisurePerspectives/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/windigenredhead
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terri.websterschrandt/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aquachica/

More about the images I chose:

I added five of my favorite images that represent milestones on my photography journey and some good luck!

This one titled Autumn in Quincy, taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera in 2010, was the first image where I received many compliments and suggestions for entering it into contests.

I captured the plumeria with my galaxy edge mobile phone. It was the first plumeria I grew in 2019.

The sunflower with the bee was also captured with the same mobile phone in 2019, truly a lucky shot!

The windsurfer and my dog Brodie were taken in July 2017, with my Lumix FZ300, my beloved bridge camera with a long travel lens. Both represent action shots that were taken in major zoom mode but details still stood up to the wind and action.

Thank you so much, for participating in this series on writing and photo challenges, Terri. It was great having you here.

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