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Hello, my name is Jeremy Hyler. I'm the creative director at PhotoBiz. Over the last six years, I have been a part of the PhotoBiz team and have seen the online world change in many ways, especially for photographers. Newer technology and how it's delivered changes rapidly. It's hard to believe the iPad will be a decade old next month. Smart devices and the rise of social media has given artists, creators, and makers different outlets to express their work and products.
Websites change too but more subtly. The most significant change was the end of flash design websites. HTML and code have always been vital to web development, but making it easier and more accessible was a recent innovation within the last decade. It led to drag and drop features and all-in-one solutions like PhotoBiz.
What makes a great website so great? Does it look nice? Does it have good SEO? What about products? I've seen tons of sites, I've seen effective ones and ineffective ones. Some can look nearly identical but have completely different results. In this article, I'm going to talk about what makes a great website and how you can benefit from using our platform to get results for yourself.
1. Pick A Template
You're in luck because you can make a website without code. That's right, you don't need to have a degree or know-how or that one nephew who knows computers anymore. It's built 100% for photographers, so it has all the tools photographers need. It's also super easy. Start by picking one of our templates, there are dozens of them to choose from. They were designed by our in-house professional designers to make you look good right away.
When picking a platform, these key features are vital:
Fast Loading: Slow websites are not great for your customers, nor are they great for Google. Google doesn't like a slow loading website.
Mobile Responsive: Nearly 80% of web traffic is done through phones these days. Your website has to be optimized for mobile. If your website looks good on desktop and not on mobile phones, you are putting your site at risk of not being viewed. Google knows if your website is optimized for mobile! Make sure your website looks great on all devices.
PhotoBiz Templates are 'magically mobile' meaning, you only have to design it on desktop, and it is automatically beautiful on mobile devices. It automatically resizes and adjusts as needed with a designer's eye, and you don't have to do more work.
Easy to build on: As a designer myself, I love to build fast. With PhotoBiz everything is drag and drop, you select a block type, like an Image Block, and choose where you want it to be and modify what's in it. You can load images, text or code into specific blocks, and they will work just as they say. You don't have to think about how big something should be, and you can choose how it looks in the layout settings.
A website shouldn't feel like rocket science, and we're constantly making updates and upgrades in the background. They don't affect your site, just enhance it. You also don't have to worry about plugins because there are none!
Beautiful: A website has to look good to sell. Over 80% of customers leave a website if it doesn't load fast and if it isn't appealing. You know when something doesn't look right, you get a feeling of "is this spam?" Customers feel the same way about your website if it doesn't look beautiful. People recognize imperfections quickly and avoid places that don't look safe online. Makes sure you pick something that looks good, but also makes your images look authentic and beautiful.
Reliable: Choosing secure hosting with dedicated support is a wonderful thing to have. Many providers may have secure hosting, but it costs extra, or they have support, but you have to pay a fee to get expedited support. Some have zero support at all, making you rely on the community for answers or yourself to search the web.
PhotoBiz is excellent because we provide secure hosting and phone support to all our customers as part of your membership. You can call or email us, and our award-winning support is there to assist you when you need it. We want to make your online journey smooth and safe. In the last fifteen years, PhotoBiz has produced 99.98% uptime for all our clients, meaning you don't have to worry about your website not being there.
Finding a template is essential because you have to select one that embodies your brand and personality right away. Pay attention to where the logo and menu are placed on the site. Is it at the top, bottom, or the side? Does the menu go away when you scroll or stick to the top? These are key when choosing a template.
Think about what you like when you visit a website. Think about your client's experience. It has to be easy to use with simple navigation. The fewer drop-down menus, the better. You want to drive clients straight to what they are looking for. Don't overthink it, just start building it, you can change it any time.
2. Plan Your Pages
What is the main goal of your website? What's everyone's goal? To make money. Making money is what many people build a site for. When you are creating an online portfolio, you're trying to drive clients to buy your work or purchase your services for a session. As a business owner, you have to create a website with goals in place to drive traffic and earn money.
These are the 3 pages you should start with:
Your homepage is the essential page that shows the who, what, when, and where of your business. It's where you wow your audience right away with engaging images and other content. The homepage is where you should blow them away with what you do, describe who you serve, and where you do it. Calls-to-action should lead them to other pages where you let them see more. If you have a contact form at the bottom of the page, even better. You never know how far a customer will get on your site, so always give them the ability to reach you.
This is where you can be as personal as you want. When a customer comes to your site, this might be their first impression of you. I know many photographers are not comfortable showing a photo of themselves, but remember, this may be the first time a customer meets you. Let people get to know you. Your "why." This is where you can list awards and how long you've been working in your profession.
Showing your experience and skills is critical here. Your About page is like a first date. This should answer, "Why should I choose you?"
It's exactly what it's called; you want to be able to make sure clients can contact you no matter what. The end goal is for them to reach out to you to buy or book time. You can create a contact page with just a contact form or with options so you can narrow down the client's needs as much as possible.
After you get the core pages built, you can focus on supplemental pages. Build your galleries, showcase your store and services; all of this can come after your first three pages. We recommend the menu have up to 7 main options before it gets too crowded. The fewer options, the better. Focus on where you want customers to go, don't let them wander.
3. Pick Your Images
As a photographer, your images are the most important thing for you to show off on your website. It's important to show your most recent, best-looking work, and also have restraint to keep from showing too much. Less is more. Too many images can overwhelm a customer. If you can tell people what you do in 35-50 photos, you are set up for success without being redundant.
If you are selling products, make sure your products look good. In the Instagram era, many people use their smartphones to shoot their products. Those types of photos are better suited for lifestyle photographs or when a client takes a photo of your product. When it comes to selling, make sure your product looks it best. You want to look professional and stand out by having good lighting and good composition. High quality photos will go a long way to help selling your products
Image quality makes a huge difference.
4. Pick Your Words
Words. You have to have words on your website. Even you, the photographer, have to think about content on your site, and words are essential for Google search. For SEO you have to write content the search engines find valuable. That means you can't do what was done in the past:
Hi, my name is Jane Doe of Jane Doe Photography. I shoot photography in the New York City Area. I am a portrait photographer in New York City. I like living in New York and shooting portraits in New York City...
Keyword stuff is a swift way to make your website not rank high or at all. Think of Google's AI as just that, Artificial Intelligence. It's learning. As scary as that sounds, it wants to read and speak like humans. It likes natural word flow similar to how people write and speak versus something mechanical and forced. It wants to read keywords, but it doesn't want to feel them. The more natural your content sounds, the more google will enjoy reading it.
If you make Google your number one fan, it will start to make sure other people can see the words you're writing.
Two hundred words per page, that's all you need to make engaging and searchable web pages. It shouldn't be a wall of text but enough to get people to understand what you do. Break it up with images and design to make it less overwhelming.
If you don't feel confident in your writing, ask a friend or hire a professional, it's okay to ask for help. You want to make sure you look and sound right to your customers.
5. Sell & Get Customers
Now that your webpages are set up, make sure people can purchase, contact you, or book with you. Create funnels for customers. Never leave a dead-end, always direct customers where you want them to go. In blog posts, make sure they end with options for people to contact you or make a purchase. Don't give them the option to leave.
Make sure you use Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons, and tell people what you want them to do—click here, learn more, book now. Make sure your navigation is easy. If it's hard for you, it's hard for them.
That's it! Your great website is ready with those five simple tips. In the future, we'll talk about how to be found on Google with no effort and how to make a game plan for SEO. Building a website can seem scary, but it shouldn't be. When you follow these rules, it makes it a breeze. I hope this article was a helpful starting point to building a great website.
If you are interested in getting your website built and set up, check out PhotoBiz. Our all-in-one platform makes it easy for photographers. You get tons of tools built right in so you don't have to spend time looking for third-party tools. Best yet, if you're stumped, we have our support team you can lean on and Pro Services to help you along the way.