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Get More Flickr Views



Flickr ( is an extremely popular photo sharing

website owned by Yahoo! and its rich web UI and programming interfaces

make it a great destination for exchanging photographic content among

photographers and consumers. This HOWTO gives tips on how to improve

view counts on your photostream and get your photographs to be noticed

not just by your friends but also unknown people who might be

interested in content that you have photographed.


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Before moving on to specifics, we take a look at the high level

objectives of Flickr, and therefore yours, that would direct traffic

to your photostream:


* Sharing: Make your content discoverable, easy to find and easy to


* Community: Engage the Flickr community with your photostream,

instead of just dumping photographs in it.

* Quality: Flickr community is highly sensitive to photographic

quality. Make efforts to improve your photographic skills and end



In the following sections, I shall elaborate on each of the above high

level objectives and arrive at specific tips on how to meet them.




1. Licensing: Choose a Creative Commons license by default. You can't

stop theft of your content by just slapping a © label and you

prevent legitimate consumers from using and popularising your content

by not choosing a CC license that appeals to you. I use a BY-NC-ND

license by default and grant explicit permission to make derivatives

that don't "alter the depicted content" (thereby allowing

cropping/resizing, etc.) when someone asks.


2. Tagging: Tags are a significant source of traffic to your

photostream, especially through hundreds of Flickr API

consumers. Choose your tags wisely. You should tag your photos with

whatever you want a particular photo to be searchable by. You should

also consider the likelihood of someone using a particular tag to

search. "Birthday Party" is a tag far more likely to be searched upon

than "John's Birthday Party", and "John's Birthday Party at HRC,

Universal Studios" is practically never going to be searched

upon. Those things are more suitable for the photo descriptions.


3. Titles and Descriptions: Needless to say, no one ever wants to

search for "_DSC9087" in an image search engine, but this is the only

searchable content you expose when you dump your photographs without

making any efforts at describing them. Use meaningful titles for your

photographs, that people are likely to search for. Include enough

detail in the photographs' descriptions to capture all aspects of the

photograph for which you might want them to be discoverable.


4. Sizing and Resolution: Many professional photographers choose not

to upload full resolution originals to Flickr to prevent content

theft. Figure out how important copyright theft is to you, not just

in principle but in terms of actual damages incurred. Search engines

give a strong boost to high quality images. If you upload full

resolution originals to Flickr, and allow people to download them

through a CC license, you can be assured of getting significant

amount of love from image search engines.




1. Upload Frequency: One of the easiest ways to turn away potential

audience among your Flickr contacts is to dump 50 photographs at

once. Let me assure you, none of your contacts is going to look at

more than 10 of those 50 photographs. Throttle your upload frequency

and try to keep it not more than 5 photographs, once a day. This

ensures that your photostream keeps getting bubbled up on your Flickr

contacts' home pages and gives them a chance to view all your

photographs. The limit of 5 is quite important since the last 5 photos

get surfaced better on the contacts page. I can't overstate the

importance of regulating your upload frequency.


2. Comments: One of the most potent ways of keeping your contacts

engaged is through comments. Make it a point to comment on every

photograph from your contacts that you find interesting enough to

reach the photo details page of. Also make it a point to respond to

each and everyone who comments on your photographs with a thank you

note or any other response that may be appropriate. This helps a lot

in making your contacts feel that you are engaged with their

photostreams and they, in turn, feel obliged to be engaged with

yours. Of course, this being a two-way exchange, you should ignore

contacts who never revert and focus more on those who care.


3. Strategic Descriptions: Another reason to be creative with the

descriptions is to make people viewing your photostream click through

to the photo details page. A description that begins telling a story

but gets truncated on the "browse photostream" page is an open

invitation for viewers to click through to the photo details in order

to find out how the story concluded. Back in the pre-Flickr Stats

days, some of us used a GreaseMonkey script by Sumeet Mulani that

reported changes in the count of visits to the photo details page,

so getting people to visit this page was a prime objective that was

best handled through this tip!


4. De-duplication: Strongly avoid posting photographs that are near

duplicates of each other. It is quite understandable that sometimes

in difficult shooting conditions, you need to take several shots of

the same scene but you need not upload all of them on to

Flickr. Nothing turns people away like a bunch of scene-duplicate



5. Group Participation: Flickr groups are a rich resource for

information exchange and you are likely to find groups that belong to

your areas of interest. Typically, these groups serve the purpose of

introducing you to more like-minded members of the Flickr community,

serve as a platform for showcasing your work to an audience that

might appreciate it better and also help you improve your content and



Avoid groups that are centered around artificial boosting of

comment/fave counts like the plague. They will pollute your photo

details page with meaningless comments and drive away traffic from

your friends. I would rather lose out on view count than lose out on

friends' engagement with my photostream. Also note that Flickr has

some smarts for detecting such groups and using them as a means of

getting on to the Interestingness Hall of Fame is futile.




There are no specific tips to address this objective. Just remember

that Flickr is about photography, before everything else. The more

passionate you are about developing your photography skills and

keeping your content interesting, the more likely you are to find

audience for your content.


One of the most important things to be highlighted here is that you

shouldn't treat Flickr as a backup for your photographs -- at least

not for the content that is accessible to the public. You ought to

keep up and maintain your reputation as a skilled photographer on

Flickr and that often requires ruthlessly cutting down on the photos

that you choose to upload.


If you are as much of a view-count freak as I was a year ago, you

might also want to weed out (yes, I mean _delete_) photos that fail

to gather enough views to keep up your average view count numbers





After going through this HOWTO, you might end up feeling like you have

come away without any ground-breaking insights. What I have mentioned

above is all common sense stuff. Sometimes, however, common sense

requires organisation, articulate expression and reminders. I hope

that this HOWTO serves that purpose. You might have found some easy

tips here while some require a lot of investment in terms of time and

effort and one thing this HOWTO never promised was an easy, effortless

way of boosting view counts. Also note that some of these steps work

better together than in isolation.


Finally, I have no verifiable proof that these tips work and I

wouldn't spend any time trying to prove their efficacy. Convincing

yourself is an exercise for you. I would like to mention, however,

that through these tips I managed to boost my average view count on

photo details pages from 16 to 20 (over 1000+ total photographs) in a

span of less than six weeks, and it now stands at 235.



Tahir Hashmi

07 October, 2008


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Taken on January 9, 2009