Everything on the web is about context, and Flickr is no exception. If you provide tags for your photos then people can gather more information about the photograph, search on the tags, and find your image when they need one that meets specific requirements.
You can tag images for your own purposes, but if you want other folk to find them, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and use tags that people might use in a search.
More tags are generally better, within reason. Where two or more terms might be used for the same thing (silverware, cutlery) use them all. Where different forms of the same word might be searched for, try to cover the ground (buttered, buttery, butter).
You can use multiple word tags as well, but the effectiveness usually drops off pretty fast.
if you have trouble thinking of suitable tags, try running through a list of different sorts of tags, such as place, time, objects, colours, events, people, actions… and then pick up any text that might be in the image, perhaps on signs.
An image can belong to any number of groups, and Flickr contains a scary number of the things. It’s sufficient to say that there is a group for almost anything you can think of, and many things you would rather not. For example, I’m involved in a group for images that are both blue and rusty. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find people with similar photographic interests.
You can search for groups easily, and you can generally join a group on the spot. Mostly the group owners will let you see the images that are in the group without joining, but you’ll need to join the group to add your own images. The exception here is that if you receive an invitation on your photo then you can add the image without going to the hassle of joining.
If you can’t find a group to join, you always have the option of starting one of your own. Be prepared to get involved in inviting other images and members, or you’ll have a very small group.
A set is a lot like a group, except it’s all yours. It’s just a way of assembling a number of your images together on some basis or other. Common uses for sets are to showcase your most popular images, or to put all the photos from a single event in one place. Flickr members with children often create a set for each of the people in the family. Or you might have sets for photos taken in different places.
The advantage with regard to getting noticed is that when a searcher finds one of your images, there is a link on the page to all the other images in the same set.
If all this set business gets a little cumbersome, there is also a facility in Flickr to create sets of sets, called collections.
It’s very easy with a digital camera to take a few dozen very similar images. It’s also easy to upload them all to Flickr, and if your intention is to keep a record, or back up your local storage, that’s fine. But if you want people to be interested in your photographs, consider wandering through all thirty eight pictures of your cute nephew, and upload just the best two or three.
The image itself
If there are three billion images in flickr then there must be at least a few million opinions. Mine is just one. Make your own decisions.
However, as a general rule, most folk prefer images which are correctly exposed, have some compositional value and contain interesting colours, patterns, events or ideas. If your image doesn’t have any of these then it’s going to be difficult to get anyone interested in looking at them. So give it some thought before hitting the upload button. Of course it’s not clear that I’m in a position to say this. Blue and rust, remember?
So that’s my five pieces of advice to get your images noticed in Flickr. Do you have anything to add?