Which gets you more views: Flickr Explore Front Page or Flickr Blog?

Photo of the rusty interior of a watch

I have been very fortunate in the last couple of months to have two of my photos featured prominently by Flickr. The first time it happened was on March 4th; my Twister stormtrooper photo was chosen for Flickr Blog to help celebrate Star Wars Day as chronicled in my previous blog post. The second time it happened was May 22nd when my Stopped Watch photo made its way to the Flickr Explore Home Page.

When I was starting out on Flickr, I heard about Flickr Blog and Flickr Explore, but I didn’t really understand what they were or what it meant to have your photo end up there. So I will first explain what these things are, and then I will reveal how they increased my photo view stats.

What is Flickr Blog?

Flickr Blog is, simply, the official Flickr blog written by Flickr staffers. Several times a week photos are chosen to be highlighted in the blog, often related to some holiday or idea. It’s not unusual for a Flickr Blog post to feature several different photos picked to help represent the topic of the day.

Photos featured in Flickr Blog also appear in the upper right-hand corner of Flickr users’ home page.

What is Flickr Explore?

Flickr Explore is a daily list of 500 photos picked from the vast sea of images uploaded to the Flickr service. The precise selection process is shrouded in mystery, but it is largely believed to be driven by an algorithm that at least in part weighs the number of comments and favorites. Flickr Explore does not claim to feature the “best” photos. Instead, it is said the photos that appear there have a high degree of “interestingness.” Bear in mind, this is “interesting” as defined at least in part by a computer.

The main page of Flickr Explore is the Flickr Explore Home Page. Out of the 500 photos chosen for Flickr Explore each day, a small subset are put into rotation as the current splash image on the Flickr Explore Home Page.

Recent photos from Flickr Explore are also shown in rotation on Flickr’s “interesting photos from the last 7 days” page.

How did Flickr Blog affect your photo views?

To answer this question, I should first stress that my opinion is based only on my very limited experience having photos featured in both places. I currently have about 1,500 photos in my Flickr photostream, which ordinarily attracts about 2,000 views per day.

On March 4th, when my Twister stormtrooper photo suddenly appeared on Flickr Blog and simultaneously on every Flickr user’s home page, my stats chart showed a huge spike of an additional 11,500 views beyond what I would normally receive. The next day was much the same, resulting in a total of 23,000 additional views directly from the Flickr Blog posting.

A few days later George Takei (Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu) posted the very same photo on his Facebook page, which generated around 8,000 additional views. Since I am convinced that the Flickr Blog post directly or indirectly inspired the George Takei posting, I chose to include these views as well.

So including the Takei Facebook numbers, Flickr Blog generated for me about 31,000 additional views.

How did the Flickr Explore Home Page affect your photo views?

Six weeks later on May 22nd, when my Stopped Watch photo appeared on the Flickr Explore Home Page, I saw another traffic spike, but this one not so dramatic. I received only about 1,500 additional views. On subsequent days I experienced about 500 additional views, which based on prior experience I expect to be the case until May 29nd, when the photo will no longer be seen on the “last 7 days” page, .

So by next Tuesday the Flickr Explore Home Page appearance will have generated for me about 4,500 additional views.

So … which venue drives more views for your photos?

Venue Additional Views
Flickr Blog 31,000
Flickr Explore 4,500

The winner is easily Flickr Blog, which gave me nearly seven times more photo views than the Flickr Explore Home Page.

This revelation came as a surprise to me as there seems to be so much chatter in Flickr groups and forums about Flickr Explore and very little about Flickr Blog. I suppose because it’s easy to imagine how a photo ends up in Flickr Blog and difficult to figure out the inner workings of the Flickr Explore interestingness algorithm.

Again, I want to stress that these numbers are based on my photos and my own personal experience. Any number of unknown factors can contribute to Flickr traffic. Your mileage may vary.

Please consider adding JD Hancock as a contact on Flickr; I will follow you back.