In this information age, one of the most important tools for a photographer is their website. It acts as a marketing tool to reach out to potential clients, and it helps define your photography style. When people look for a photographer, where is the first place they will look? The internet. If you do not have a website, you will be out of luck and out of a potential job.
Your website is the most important marketing tool that you as a photographer have.
Find Photography Websites That You Like
Before you go off and create a website for your business, you need to have a sense of what you personal want your site to look and feel like. A good place to start is to find other photography websites online. Pick out what you like and do not like, and jot down some notes.
There is no set design for a “good” website, but the best sites usually have some common features. They are all easily navigable and load quickly. They disseminate information clearly and concisely and most of this information can be accessed with no more than one or two clicks. Most importantly for a photography website, your photos must be showcased. This usually means that your photos are large, but you must make sure that this does not slow down your page load times.
- Find photography sites that you like and do not like.
- Use these elements to help brainstorm what your website will look like.
- Note the important elements that make a good website.
Purchase a Domain and Get Hosting
Your first step to create a website will be to purchase a domain name. Natural, your website should be named after your business, but sometimes a domain name will already be in use. If this is the case, you may want to think about a different name for your business unless you have already begun the process of creating a legal business under this name. Also make sure that you use a .com domain extension. Other extensions include .net and .co, but these sites tend to rank lower in Google searches.
For the technically challenged, this next step may get a little confusing. After purchasing a domain name, you will need to find a place to host your webpage. A hosting company essentially stores your website on their servers. This is something that you cannot do by yourself. You need to purchase hosting from a company.
Both your domain name and hosting can be purchased on sites like GoDaddy or BlueHost. These two companies offer very good customer service that will help you create your site. In terms of pricing, purchasing a domain is usually done yearly and costs around $10 per year. Hosting, however, can cost you a pretty penny. Depending on what type of plan you sign up for, you can drop over $10 per month to host your website.
- Purchase a domain name and hosting at places like GoDaddy.com or BlueHost.com.
- Your domain name should be the same as your business name. If it is not, you should consider a different name for your business or for your domain.
- Always use a .com file extension. Your site will rank better in Google searches.
The Design – Do it yourself, or pay someone else?
Most photographers are artists at heart and thus want to design their website. While this might be a great artistic exercise, designing a website can take a lot of time and energy. Of course, if you are starting out a photography business, you probably will not have enough money to hire someone to create your website. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways for you to create a website inexpensively and efficiently.
Use “What You See Is What You Get Software”
Computer software like Adobe Dreamweaver will help you create a website without any knowledge of html, java, or flash. In these programs, text, pictures, and tables that you format will be converted to internet “language,” thus making it easier on you. So, what you see on the screen is what you will see on your website.
These WYSIWYG programs can be good tools, but they can often become cumbersome for photographers. Usually, professionals will want to adjust their website a few times a year. If you are not constantly working within these programs, you will need to re-learn this software every time you change your website. Many photographers think their time can be better spent… well… shooting photographs. Thankfully, there are a couple of other options that will make it easy to update and maintain a great website.
Make a Photography Blog
Blogs are no longer just random ramblings of people wearing pajamas in front of their computers. Today, blogs have the ability to have photo galleries permanent pages just like any normal website does. With this being the case, blogs are probably the easiest and best way for photographers to create their website. Platforms like Wordpress and Blogger have already taken care of all the web coding. The only thing that you need to worry about is content.
On every blog platform, you can upload a “theme,” which is essentially your site’s design. Do-it-yourselfers can design a theme from scratch, but you will just get to the same problem you had before with WYSIWYG programs. There are many decent free themes available for both platforms that can be conducive to photography. However, the best themes come with a price, and it is highly recommended that you find a theme that actually works for you—not just a theme that is cheap. Look at ProPhotoBlog, which creates one of the best photography themes available for Wordpress. Changing colors, menus, and creating galleries has never been easier than on ProPhotoBlog.
Pay Someone Else Or Use Other Online Services
Hiring a person or company to create a full photography website will probably cost in the neighborhood of a few thousand dollars. However, other online services exist that make it easy to upload and manage a photography website. Look at inexpensive services like VisualServer to take the burden of your website off of your back.
- You can use WYSIWYG software, a blogging platform, or other online services to create your website.
- A Blog will give you the most freedom and will probably be your least expensive option.
What to Include on Your Website
Ultimately, you decide what content you want on your site, but a few pages should be on every professional photographer’s website. You should include at least a few photo galleries—potential clients will want to see how great your work is. Make sure your contact information can be prominently seen, or include a contact and biography page about yourself. You should also include some information on pricing and booking a portrait session. Many photographers completely leave pricing off of their websites, but make sure your site viewers know this. You could put a note on a pricing page that says “Please contact me for portrait and wedding session pricing.”
- Be deliberate about your site’s content. Make sure to include photo galleries, a contact page, and a pricing page.
- Make it easy for users to find content. Do not overwhelm them with text.