How I Use Flickr To Grow Community On My Blogs

by Robb Sutton

Flickr is the #1 photo sharing website on the planet and if you are in a niche that is really into taking pictures…you are missing out on a HUGE community building tool if you are not taping into this valuable resource. When done correctly, a Flickr group for your blog can do the following:

  • Create a larger community atmosphere around your blog.
  • Increase traffic and new visitors to your content.
  • Create new, engaging content for your readers automatically.

In the mountain biking world, pictures are used as a way to share our experiences on the trail with riders all over the world. With the group function on Flickr, we can tap into the community aspect of biking through images outside of your conventional online forums. Building community on your blog is not an easy thing to get started, so it is up to you to find outlets like Flickr that you can bring into your content that your readers can contribute to easily and efficiently. Luckily for bloggers, there are some tools we can use to tap into this community and grow our blogs while making our readers feel like they are actually apart of something bigger instead of a site that they just read articles on from time to time.

How I Use Flickr Groups To Grow My Blog

If you are in a community that already shares a lot of images on Facebook or Flickr, this is a pretty easy way to get people more involved with your site. If your niche market is not big into taking pictures, it can be harder to get involvement…but it is not impossible.

When your readers share their images on Flickr, they are looking to share their experiences online. The #1 problem most Flickr users face is getting image views. They do not have a blog to draw traffic to their images and…at best…they have some Facebook friends they might be interested in what they have posted. Ideally, they would like to share their images with other people in their passion…and that is where you step in as the blogger and provide that audience.

Step 1: Setup Your Flickr Group

As I mentioned before, Flickr groups are a way for Flickr users to share their images with other Flickr users. There are groups for everything from the city you live in to the camera you use. Flickr makes it incredibly easy to add your uploaded images to groups within your profile page and it is probably one of the most used features on the site.

The first step for the blogger in this process is to create a Flickr group for your niche site. In my case, I created the Bike198 Flickr group so my readers could add their images to the group. As you can see on the page, I added a little note about how these images show up on the website so you can gain more exposure to your images. While that gives new users an idea on where they will see their images displayed, it also covers your ass by being up front and honest about how you will be using their images which will be copyrighted in many cases. By submitting their images to the group, they are agreeing to let you link and preview them on your site.

Also, I like to limit the amount of images the members can submit a day to 2 or 3 to keep variety in the stream (done within your group admin). I do not want readers thinking it is a waste of time to include their pictures because of a couple of users completely flooding the pipeline.

Once you have setup your Flickr group, you will want to add your own images that relate to your niche to get it populated a little bit.

Step 2: Get The Images Live On Your Site

The next step in the process is to get your group’s images live on your site. I do this by installing the FlickrRSS plugin for Wordpress. It makes displaying your images in the sidebar like you see below incredibly easy and it has some other options as well. All you have to do is enter in your Flickr group number (which the plugin helps you find) and then put the widget in your sidebar. I even edited the CSS within the plugin to make it match the site a little bit better.

Bike198 Flickr Group Displayed On Site

Step 3: Get Your Readers Using The Flickr Group

Like with most things in blogging, just setting up the tools is not enough. Now you must promote your new feature to get your readers to actually use it. Just as you would promote your Facebook fan page, email your newsletter to let them know it is live (don’t forget to include links to the Flickr group), write an article on your blog, tell the fans of your Facebook fan page, Tweet it out on Twitter, hold contests for the editors choice submitted photo, etc.

You can also invite images to your group through Flickr from users that have zero clue about your blog. This is a very powerful feature that can populate your group in the early stages and bring more visitors to your content. Again, you are providing an audience to photographers that want more targeted eyes. By providing that value, you are filling that need.

Once you have users submitting their photographs to your group, it will start to grow and the images should come in on autopilot.

Step 4: Create Content Around Images

Your readers are going to be very visual by nature. They like bold headlines, descriptive pictures and bullet points to engage with content. Your Flickr group is creating content that your readers will like to see.

If you have done this right, an interesting thing will start to happen. You will attract some incredible photography from your niche that you are going to want to feature. Every now and then (about every 2 weeks), I put together an article of some of my favorite new images submitted to the group. I resize them to fit the page (decreases page load speed and makes it so you are not sharing their high res images) and link their Flickr profile page below each image.

Flickr Photo Sharing Article

Doing this not only creates engaging content on my blog, but it also provides additional exposure for the photographers while promoting my Flickr group.

After that…rinse and repeat. The Bike198 Flickr group has become a nice asset to my blog by creating more user interaction with high quality content that is done automatically. In the blogging world…that is the trifecta.

Balloon Image by luvi

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Black Seo Guy January 31, 2011 - 1:58 pm

Creating content around a great imagines will really get it shared across FaceBook and Twitter…you don’t have to be professional..just willing to take the picture..

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

Tweets that mention How I Use Flickr To Grow Community On My Blogs | Blogging Labs -- January 31, 2011 - 2:11 pm

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Keith Bloemendaal February 2, 2011 - 12:26 am

Good stuff Robb, I have been on Flickr since early 2008 and I still don’t use it to it’s potential. Too many people just use it to get creative commons images they can use on their sites but forget it can be a great community too!

OpportunityLOL February 5, 2011 - 11:26 am

How many readers would you think are necessary to really be able to start a Flickr community that wouldn’t be slow and empty?

Robb Sutton February 7, 2011 - 12:41 pm

Well…the nice thing about this asset is that you can invite pictures you like from Flickr. I wouldn’t recommend spending all of your time scouring Flickr for the best images related to your niche, but it does make it so that…with just a little bit of time…you can keep the images fresh and expose your blog to some new people.

That said…your readers submitting pictures is a different story. For some niche’s that are heavily involved in taking pictures and using Flickr, it might not take that much traffic at all. For niche’s that are not used to taking photographs…it could take a lot of traffic and subscribers to get things going.

You will only really find out by testing it and seeing what happens.

groceryalerts February 7, 2011 - 10:26 pm

How do you invite pictures to your group?

Thanks for the great ideas!

Robb Sutton February 7, 2011 - 10:33 pm

After you have created your group, when you see an image you would like to invite…go to the images page and at the top you will see a button that says “Actions”. When you click on it…you should see a item in the drop down that says “Invite To Group”.

OpportunityLOL February 9, 2011 - 7:30 am

Thanks! It took me an hour max to invite people and set mine up and it’s already at 12 images perfect for my group a couple hours later! I think this’ll be a great way for my site to generate traffic/engage it’s readers.

LLB November 30, 2011 - 2:42 am

Great content, Robb. Here’s a question for you. If you go through pictures and find pictures in your niche which are perfect for your article, can you e-mail them personally and ask them if they would allow you to use their picture in your blog article and give them credit for it? If what you say is true, they probably would like that, right?

Robb Sutton November 30, 2011 - 4:02 pm

Absolutely! Just don’t use anything without prior consent if there are ownership rights attached.


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