Flickr’s Explore is a ranking in which the best 500 photos of the day are selected by using an unkown algorithm.
This algorithm (called “interestingness“) doesn’t really select the “best” photos of the day, but getting into explore is a good way to gain visibility on your photos, because when a photo is on explore some of the people which is seeing the explore page (or some other sites showing current photos on Explore) can see your photo (aka more views, comments, etc).
Once on explore, the photo will be moving up or down the ranking (from #1 to #500) during the day, depending on your photo comments, views and other, but also by other photos entering on explore.
To see which of your photos are on explore, there’s the Flickr Scout.
I’ve had 40 explores just this year, so I wanted to share some of the things I’ve noticed. Some may be very obvious but I wanted to share all the steps I usually do:
Use as many (useful) tags as you can to gain visibility, not just about the subject of the photo but also the technique and gear used.
Add the photo to some of your sets or collections (if it’s a b/w macro you can put the photo on two different sets).
Add the photo to a max of 5-6 groups. Not the kind of groups in which commenting is mandatory (like P1A50). Instead, add it to a more general groups (Canon/Nikon..) that aren’t about any specific subject so you can use the same groups for each photo you upload.
Getting favorites and notes is also helpful, especially if they aren’t contacts of yours. This is more complicated to control, but I think it influences too.
Once the photo is on flickr, you can share the link on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to gain some more visibility.
Upload time may be important too. I always upload my photos between 20:00h and 23:00h (GMT+1). If that same night I get about 50 views, 8 comments or so, sometimes the photo appears on Explore the next day.
One interesting trick I’ve seen, is that you can change the upload time of photos which already are uploaded, so you can “refresh” the upload when you want, and all the contacts seeing the last photos will see your photo again (maybe they didn’t see it the first time). If you didn’t get explore the first day, you have another chance using this trick. Using this, I’ve had the same photo two and even three times on explore on different days. It can also be boring for your contacts if you do this too much…
Of course, uploading a great photo will help too, or at least a subject that a lot of people likes (shallow dof, bokeh, colorful captures, beautiful portraits, cats, landscapes…).
As I said, appearing on Explore doesn’t mean having the best photos, but it helps to get more visibility.
Thanks for sharing!
I’ve got to say, the point about repeatedly changing the upload time of your photo is a real pain in the ass for the contacts who actually use the ‘contacts photos’ page to see what’s new from their contacts. I don’t know why Flickr allows that to be edited, but I don’t think this is the reason. If that became common practice, it would just appear like everyone was clamouring for an Explore. Just let the photo stand up on its own merit.
I agree, it can be frustrating to see the same photos a hundred times. I don’t know why they allow this, but I’ve noticed it’s something useful to get more views (and explores), so this is why I added it to the list. The “merit” is something very relative, and the only way to measure that automatically is by comments, views, etc, so I wouldn’t see explore like a quality measure.