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More than ever, it’s prime time for every photographer like you to get a virtual exhibit of your masterpiece.
Whether you’re creating a portfolio of your output to get a new job or get new clients to find you, a photography website is an accessible online studio to showcase your work and get in contact with people for projects.
If you’re interested in getting started with your round-the-clock virtual salesperson, this post will get you ready in creating your functional photography website in 8 easy steps.
Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Set Clear Goals
Before deciding what website builder and hosting to use, it’s best to ask yourself first these questions:
- Do I want to attract new clients? (Get an SEO-friendly website builder)
- Do I want to land a photography job? (Get one that allows you to make a great About Me page)
- Do I want to sell my displayed work? (Get one with great eCommerce functionality)
- Or do I just want a portfolio to raise my profile? (Get a cheap but well-rounded website builder)
- Do I want to offer photography courses? (Get one with high bandwidth and large storage capacity)
Knowing the purpose of your website will help you determine which hosting plan and website builder has the required storage capacity and features that go in line with your goals.
Setting your goals will also help you choose the right images to display and the right way to organize them. It’ll also influence your layout and template choices.
Simply said, determining your goals set precedence for other decisions you’ll have to make about your website.
Step 2: Choose A Web Hosting Plan, Website Builder, Domain Name
Some website builders come with a hosting plan bundled with it. But in case you opt-out of this package here’s what you can keep in mind when choosing these website-building essentials independently.
Web Hosting Plan
As mentioned at the outset, the purpose of your photography website plays a big role when choosing a hosting plan that fits your needs. As an example, a portfolio photography website will require less storage space compared to an eCommerce photography website.
For basics, it has to be fast and reliable web hosting.
If you’re stuck deciding what web hosting plan to choose, here are some key factors to consider:
- Uptime (accessibility or how much it stays online)
- Scalability (ease of performance upgrades and downgrades)
- Bandwidth (speed of processing interactions, if you expect few website visitors at a time, a low bandwidth will do)
- Storage (needs to be large if you need to upload lots of content and images)
- Security (does it offer an SSL certificate? Does it have the latest security updates? Does it have active security protocols in case of cyberattacks?) Does it have security measures for monetary transactions?)
- Customer Support (Is someone available to help you with any concern 24/7 via chat or call?)
If you’re unfamiliar with website coding, choosing a drag and drop website builder or hiring a website expert will take the heavy lifting off your shoulders.
Other than that, you also have to consider:
- Flexibility (does it allow you to easily switch up the display of images)
- Ease Of Use (does it allow you to upload quickly without needing extra coding)
- Integration (does it allow you to integrate your website with your social accounts)
- Login Feature (if you offer membership or courses, does it allow a login feature for clients)
- eCommerce Functionality (if you want to sell your work, does it have order fulfillment forms, checkout fields, and other eCommerce essentials)
- Subscription (if you run an email marketing campaign, does it allow you to add a contact form)
- Domain Name (does it allow you to connect with an existing one or require you to pick a new one?
Speaking of domain names, many free or website builders only allow you to create a domain name with the website builder’s name attached to it. Instead of “photogeek.com”, you’ll be getting “photogeek.wordpress.com”. You also have to keep that in mind.
But there’s more to think about when choosing a domain name.
Again, a website name with the website builder’s name attached to it is not the catchiest to have. It’ll make it harder for clients to find your website.
So what makes a good photography website domain name?
It has to be: easy to spell, short, and memorable. Another thing that will help is if you incorporate words like “photo”, “photography”, or “photographer”. It helps clients recognize that it’s a photography website easier.
Step 3: Create A Layout And Find A Template
According to a study by webfx.com, a website's design accounts for 75% of its credibility. Simply said, the more professional your photography website looks, the more likely it will be for visitors to trust you.
Moreover, your creativity as a photographer will shine with how you design and layout your website. So finding the right template will depend much on the layout you’re built for your photography website.
Here are some layout questions to get you started:
- What type of display do you want your photos to have?
- Do you want the photos displayed together in a grid or individually?
- Where do you want the site menu to be located? On the left? Right? Header? Or footer?
- What color schemes will represent you best and make your photos stand out?
- What font should you use?
- How will you display your name?
Even if you decide to build your website from scratch, getting ideas from existing templates will get you closer to your goal.
Here are some layout tips you can consider:
- Position your winning image at the center so it gets the attention it deserves automatically
- Go for a refined color scheme with minimal hues. A dark background (black or midnight blue) will give the most contrast to your images. A white background will give the page a clean look. Either way, a refined color scheme will reduce visual clutter so much of the focus will be on your winning photos
- Add a dash of color (or personality) to your text, navigation, and sidebar
- For a large-to-endless amount of photos use a grid to display photos
- Place the site menu on the top or left side of the page. This is where people instinctively look first (just like what 3Wishes did with their costume page.
With these in mind, choose a template that can make these work. A template that allows you to personalize the background, text, navigation, and menu.
You can test out a few templates first to see what fits best with your preferences. The most important point is to make your website look professional and allow your photos to stand out.
Step 4: Add Important Pages
What are the most important pages your photography website should include? Here are the big 3:
- About Me Page - introduces you and your credentials
- Contact Page - lets clients and customers get in touch with you for queries and projects
- Gallery - of course, to display your work clients and customers can reference from
About Me Page
The About Me page allows potential customers and clients to see the person behind the lens. Talk in the first person and add a professional photo of yourself. This way you become more personable to visitors.
Other than that, the About Me page should also include your biography, an artist statement, a brief CV, core values like what Close did (a predictive dialer), and links to any published work.
Identify what kind of work you do whether it’s nature photography, wedding photography, product photography, or a mix of others. It’ll make it easy for potential clients to see if you’re the right fit for the job.
It’s also good to add a link to your contact page so they can easily get in touch with you if they’re already convinced to buy your photos or work with you at this stage.
If you have social media accounts about your photography, adding links to those on this page will also help potential clients see your skills better.
Or you can add social links to the footer so it’s visible on every page just like what GloriaFood (a restaurant website builder) and iDevAffiliate did.
To show your professional qualification, create a LinkedIn account if you still don’t have one and link in here too.
A dedicated contact page will make it easy for potential clients to see all the ways to contact you on one page.
If they’re in pages without your contact information like the homepage of the gallery, they’ll instinctively look for a Contact Page if they want to do business with you or if they have queries.
The contact page must include your name, phone number, email address, and Skype ID at the very least.
If you have the social accounts for your photography, it’s also good to include them here.
If you think the contact information won’t require a whole page, you can do it like Everytale did where they incorporated it in the footer of every page.
The gallery is where website visitors automatically go to check out more of your photos. Some say this is where the magic happens (if not on the homepage).
Choose a website builder that allows you to display your photos in multiple ways. It should allow you to display grids, slideshows, or individual photos so you can change the layout from time to time when you update your photos.
Also, update your photos from time to time. This allows returning visitors to discover new things and also lets you improve your lineup to get more people interested.
Other than those 3, you’ll also need to create a strong homepage. This is where you can make a lasting impression by capturing the imagination of the website visitors.
While the gallery displays many of your photos, you can add the best ones on the homepage. This is where they’ll land when they enter your website and putting your images right when they come in will create an impact enough to keep them interested to discover more of your work.
Plan your homepage carefully; it'll be marked to be remembered by every visitor your website gets.
If you’re planning to sell your photos, the gallery can double as a product page. However, you can also create a separate page for photos you sell if you have multiple purposes for your photography website.
If you have hundreds of photos to sell, you can pattern it to a marketplace where photos are categorized by topic just like what Spores did to their marketplace feature.
You can make the photos in the online store downloadable and allowed to be printed once paid.
Step 5: Adding Photos And Blog Content
You don’t need to upload every photo you take to the gallery. The photos you add to your homepage and gallery must be a curated selection.
Choose the best ones, those that you’re sure will capture the interest of the visitors. 20-30 photos per gallery will do. If you’re using a grid, you can add more.
The key here is to help the visitors focus on one or a few images at a time. Upload too many and you’re spreading their interest too thin.
It’s also good if the photos are clickable and shareable, this allows visitors to promote your photos to other channels for more people to discover your work.
If you have photos on different themes, you can divide the gallery into sections or create subpages for each theme.
Other than the theme, you can also categorize the photos into:
- Type of work - commercial, personal, documentary
- Subject matter - landscapes, portraits, fashion, sports
- Client - by client type or client name
- Location - for travel or documentary photos
- Medium - digital, 35mm, 120mm
An arguable element when it comes to gallery photos is to add watermarks or not.
A watermark can protect your photos from illegal copies when you position them somewhere conspicuous. It also acts as an advertising strategy.
On the other hand, some feel that adding a watermark can be distracting and can undermine your abilities. They also argue that photos can be easily edited to take out any embedded watermark, making watermarks useless.
There are no hard and fast rules with watermarks. It highly depends on what matters most to you, aesthetics or photoprotection.
In case you go for aesthetics, you can resort to adding copyright information beside or under the photo.
Blogs are worth adding to your photography website. It can help you position yourself as an expert as you talk about tips and guides about photography.
With blogs, you can incorporate search engine optimization strategies so that more people will notice and visit your website when they search for a photography website or anything related to it.
Simply said, you’ll get more traffic which means more clients knocking on your virtual door.
Here are some things you can do to start optimizing:
- Add the keyword at least 10 times throughout the blog (ex. Time billing software for Timecamp’s billing blog)
- Add an ALT text so search engines can “read” your photos
- Use keywords to target the right audience. It’ll also help make your website visible for local clients when you add the location to the keyword. (ex. Wedding photographer in Atlanta)
- Minimize file size but don’t compromise quality. This makes the page load faster preventing high bounce rates
- Edit site titles and meta descriptions and add targeted keywords
- Change auto-generated URLs to include the target search terms
- Make a custom 404 page
You can also apply SEO strategies on the eCommerce page of your photography website.
Step 6: Install Apps
Appropriate apps will boost areas like marketing, sales, shipping, social media, and lots more.
As touched on earlier, it's useful to integrate social channels. Certain apps allow you to immediately post new photos and blogs on social media so more people will know about it and be moved to check out the website.
There’s also an app that allows you to quickly get back on queries - a live chat feature. Such one you can find on websites like MannequinMall and Mixam, a catalog printing service.
Apps also help with email marketing. You can add pop-up CTAs or email subscription forms for audience retargeting later on. It’s one growth hacking strategy you can try when scaling your website.
Make sure to use an email marketing software that does email verification. This ensures high deliverability so your effort and resources won’t go to waste.
One of the best apps you can find is those that make orders and purchasing seamless. Apps allow visitors to make transactions with the least friction to prevent abandoned carts which means higher revenue if you’re selling your work.
Step 7: Optimize For Mobile
The majority of internet users are using mobile phones. Ensure that your photography website will be scannable, easy to navigate, and responsive on small screens.
To make website photos responsive but mobile-friendly, keep the photo display resolution to at least 800 x 800.
When choosing a website builder, choose one that allows you to create responsive website designs so it's user-friendly when scrolling, resizing and panning on different screen sizes.
Optimizing for mobile almost means creating short paragraphs on blogs so visitors won’t be exhausted looking at a wall of text. Great examples of this are how Aura did it with its Amazon automation blog and how ReferralRock did its referral marketing blog.
You can also break down text by utilizing bulleted lists just like what Roketto did with their SaaS marketing blog.
Step 8: Review Before Publishing
Before you make your website live, make sure everything is in place. The last thing you want to happen is to see erratic image sizes and a chaotic layout that makes your website look unprofessional.
It’s also best to double-check the details on the contact page to ensure they’re getting in touch with you and not another random person.
Once you think everything is ready, have some colleagues or friends do the last check. They might be able to see errors you haven’t noticed yourself or they might have suggestions that’ll make the website look more appealing.
To wrap everything up, make sure:
- The layout and content aligns with your photography website goals
- You use the winning photos
- You check the page on different screen sizes to see if the layout holds
- Plan for future updates in photos and blogs
When everything is set, hit publish!
Author Bio: Christian Cabaluna is a finance blogger at Novum with 5+ years of first-hand experience. When he is not writing in his favorite coffee shop, Christian spends most of his time reading (mainly about money-related topics), cooking, watching sitcoms, visiting beaches, and catching beautiful sunsets.