Remember the day you decided that you needed to get a website? It might have been at a time when photographers thought of their websites solely as a digital version of their printed portfolios, or as a brochure for their studio/event businesses. But today, your website is much more - it's arguably the most important part of your sales and marketing strategy. If you don't already think of your website that way, then it might be time for an upgrade.
Building a successful photography website might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Depending on your clientele and addressable market, your website will need to focus on some features more than others (e-commerce vs. file delivery, for example). But regardless of your specialty, all photographers should bear in mind these 5 pillars of a successful photography website:1. Separation of Church and State.
If you have multiple lines of business, like shooting weddings and
politics, create a separate website for each. If a potential new client comes to your website looking for coverage of the latest political debate and sees a galleries full of wedding photography, they're likely to leave and move on to another photographer who's more closely specialized in what they need. Don't lose business by mixing your audiences - instead, maintain separate websites that are focused on one specialty.
James and Julie Branaman have one website for their photojournalism work at branaman.photoshelter.com.The Branamans have another website for their wedding photography at branamanweddingphoto.photoshelter.com. 2. Clean, simple, and uncluttered
. Clients are most likely visiting your website because they're interested in your photography, not your web design skills. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a nice logo and site design - just keep it simple. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they're looking for. That means focusing on well-organized and aptly named featured galleries and information pages that are easy to navigate to from your homepage.
Megan and James of Solas Wedding + Portrait Photography have portfolios for both their wedding and portrait photograph, which are both easy to find from the homepage. 3. Search engine optimized.
One of the most important factors to think about when building your website is whether it's search engine optimized. Although search engine optimization (SEO) - the way you structure and edit your website's content to maximize your ranking in search results - may seem difficult, a good photo website makes it easy. Rule #1 is no Flash, because search engines read Flash websites as basically a blank page; it's the plain, on-page text and web page meta data that gets your website to rank. Also, make sure that your gallery titles, image captions, and other text is optimized for the keywords that you want to rank for. You can learn more in this free guide, SEO for Photographers
4. The faster, the better.
You might think that a fancy intro with your logo slowly fading in is great, but it's almost certain that your clients don't. Photo buyers, consumers and clients tell us time and time again that if your website doesn't load in under 10 seconds, they're moving on. Make sure that you're working with a company that builds websites that will load and advance your images quickly. And if you absolutely insist on starting with a slideshow, make sure the visitor can control or dismiss it.5. Easy-to-find contact information.
Whether the goal of your website is to land you assignments, book weddings, or sell prints, make sure clients know how to contact you. This sounds simple enough, but clients frequently comment that they fall in love with a photographer's work and then can't figure out how to contact them. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to include your contact information in the footer of your website so it shows up on every page. You can use a "contact" link, but be sure to provide your email and telephone number since some clients don't like using standard contact forms.
Travel and lifestyle photographer Ken Kaminesky includes his email and telephone number on the contact page.
Tuning up your website is a key marketing tactic for any good photography business. Of course, there are other strategies that should be part of your photography business plan. In PhotoShelter's 2012 Photo Business Plan Workbook
, we help you assemble a concrete plan to beef up your marketing and grow your business. Use this step-by-step guide to build your business plan and stick to it!