How to Conquer Your Content and Build an Awesome Website
Dec 3, 2020 | By: Elijah M.
If you ask most people what a website is made of, their answer might be something about programming servers or files and generators and all kinds of crazy jargon. At the end of the day your website consists mainly of text and images. The rest is just window dressing, designed to make your text and images look good and function well. The text and images make a significant impact on your website visitors and the choices they make, so they need to be strong.
Especially for photographers, 99% of what makes a good website is good images. When selecting your best work to put on display, think about the type of work you want to do more of and the images that best represent you. Your website should showcase the truest, highest example of your brand.
With a little training, anyone can pick up a DSLR and properly focus and expose an image. Only you are capable of producing your unique art in your unique way.
In curating images for your website, focus on the things that make you stand out. Maybe you’re really good at making babies smile, or you have a huge collection of props and backdrops that nobody can match. Maybe you edit your photos to look like Victorian portraits, or you’re a true master of dramatic in-studio lighting. Maybe you use an unusual lens for your area of work that produces a unique look. Maybe you just know that everyone who walks out of your studio had the time of your life. Whatever it is that sets you apart as an artist from every other photographer, find it and choose pictures to feature on your website that highlight it. At the end of the day, your website is a sales tool. The images you display on your website will encourage people to book with you, so it’s important to make the case for why your photography is the right fit for their needs.
Of course, once you’ve figured out what kind of photos to feature on your site, there’s the question of how many. We find that typically 15-20 photos for each area of your portfolio is plenty to get you started. This range has a couple of key benefits. First, it’s ultimately not that many photos to find, making it easier to get your content ready and launch your website in a timely manner.
This also forces you to really be mindful when selecting your images. Try to choose only those which best exemplify who you are as a photographer and artist. Stick with recent photos (within the last two or three years), although it’s okay to throw in some older classics as long as they still represent your current style. With 15-20 images in a gallery page which represents a given area of your portfolio, you show off enough photos to give people a strong sense of the quality of your work, but not so many that they become bored or overwhelmed.
Pro tip: As you curate your selection of photos, organize them into folders on your computer that match each area of your portfolio you want to highlight (e.g., seniors, babies, families, weddings, portraits). Each folder can become a gallery page on your website. You’ll thank yourself later when it’s time to actually upload the images to your website.
The same images you select for your gallery(s) can also be reused on other pages of your site. You don’t have to reuse images by any means, but it's alright if some of the photos from your gallery(s) are also on your FAQs, contact, or other informational pages.
The page where you do absolutely have to have a unique photo? Your About page. Yes, your About page should have a picture of you.
Plenty of photographers are camera shy, more comfortable behind the lens than in front of one. Your About page isn’t the place to be shy. This is your chance to really connect with your audience and it’s important to let a picture do some of the talking. Yes, you can make do with the old “picture of you taking a picture staged so that your camera hides your face” shot if you have to. But it’ll be worth it to treat yourself to some nice photos! Book a session with someone whose work you admire and give yourself permission to be the center of attention for once. Plus, it’ll be a great opportunity to connect with someone else in your field. You never know when that networking might come in handy down the road.
Of course, as important as your images are, they aren’t the only part of your website. The other major part — in many ways equally important — is your text.
Text can often be one of the hardest parts of putting a new website together — especially for photographers. In most cases, you already have the images you’ll be using on your pages (after all, you’re a photographer). It’s just a matter of picking which ones. Text is a little bit different. Especially if this is your first time building a website, this may be your first time sitting down to write about your business like this. The good news is that it’s not as hard to write your text as you may think.
First things first: how much text do you need?
While a certain amount of text is required when it comes to being able to rank on search engines, the good news is that you probably need less than you think. We took a look through some of our favorite sites, both ones our clients built themselves and ones we built for them. We found that, on average, the 200-400 word range is just about perfect for a given page. This range provides enough information for both search engines and potential clients to get a feel for your business without overwhelming (or boring) them.
One of the most text-heavy pages on your site is your About page, where you should shoot for roughly the same goal (200-400 words). For many of us this is the hardest page to write. I’m sure some people would write a novel about themselves if they could, but most of us hate talking about ourselves. The good news is that your About page isn’t really about you — it's about your business. Including relevant details and showing off your personality here is great! But make sure that what you’re writing is relevant to your photography business. People aren’t on your site to hear about the red bicycle you owned when you were six years old and living in the foothills of eastern Tennessee. They don’t care how fabulous your annual vacation to Hershey Park is. They want to know if you take the kind of photos they're looking for, what your approach is, how your sessions work, and if you are a good match for them. Mention the geographic area you serve, the types of photography you shoot, the philosophy you use to approach sessions, any other relevant information about your studio, and what you’re looking for in a client. That doesn’t mean your About text has to be dry and boring — feel free to get creative, this is your space to stand out! So just remember, there are loads of things you could talk about on your About page that have nothing at all to do with you as a person.
Unless you have a pretty specific need, your Home and About pages will probably be the most text-heavy pieces of writing on your website. And if you get stuck on these, I recommend starting with an outline. This can help you decide what you want to say, at which point it’s a lot easier to figure out how you want to say it.
When I’m writing, I like to start out with a simple bulleted list. I write down all the points I want to make, then organize them into an order that makes sense. Give it a try! Once you’ve done that, fleshing the thoughts out into complete sentences should be easier than starting from a blank page. An outline for an About page might start out looking something like:
I do headshots, portraits, and graduation photos
If I’m mentioning graduation photos, I should mention local colleges for SEO
I graduated from UNC Greensboro, and talking about that might help me connect with leads
I live in Greensboro but will travel anywhere in the Piedmont Triad for shoots
I love travel, so a fun way to spin this might be to talk about traveling all over the Triad and how I fell in love with Greensboro when I moved here for college
I don’t have my own studio space or lighting equipment because I’m just starting out
So I’ll talk about how I love to shoot outdoors, in natural light, and at locations that have meaning for my clients
You can see that I start with three bullet points, going over the things that I know I need to say. Then I build off of each one, coming up with a creative way to phrase it or brainstorming a way to expand on it so I can flesh things out. Once I have those bullets, I’ve got a path laid out in front of me, and it makes it way easier to come up with the rest of what I want to say. In fact, the outline alone is already 119 words, which means I only need to come up with about 100-200 more before I have a good length for my bio!
When it comes to both drafting your text and curating your images for your website, the most important thing to remember is that your PhotoBiz website is super customizable and designed from the ground up with photographers in mind. You can always come back and edit your site as often as you’d like. If the wording or your pictures aren’t perfect right away, that’s alright. It’s more important to get a presence for your business out there and start selling than it is to hold your whole business hostage because you’re still trying to find the perfect phrasing. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good”. Your website should change, evolve, and grow alongside your business. So don’t sweat it if it isn’t a magnum opus right at launch. And if you need help making updates and edits, let us know! Our Passionate Web Consultants are here to help you.
Our Pro Services Team has your back—let us build your website for you.