Many professional photographers underestimate the value of a portfolio website, tending to promote on social networks alone. Although you can use social media to effectively communicate with prospects and share recent news, it’s not the be-all and end-all of promotion.
Making a photography website has a significant advantage over promoting solely on social media. What I mean is that a portfolio site is a strong trust factor, proving that you are a professional and take your work seriously.
Interesting fact: Before interacting with any business, 94% of people do some sort of online research, while 84.3% of them visit a website as part of it.
However, social media and website can be mutually beneficial. Think of social media and other external channels as a tool for attracting your prospects to your portfolio website.
What it takes to create a photography website
Follow these steps to make a photography website of your dream without hassle. Don’t worry if you have little experience in website design or SEO. You don’t have to be a pro to use these tips. We’ll walk you through all the tricky moments.
Step 1. Think of website goals and types
Here are the most common photography website types:
- Portfolio website
- Lead generation website
- Informational website
- Educational website
Step 2. Choose a way to create a website:
Coding from scratch
Using a CMS platform
Using a website builder
The main difference between them is the amount of time and money required to create a photography website.
1. Certainly, a professional web design studio can make a totally unique website. However, you should be aware that it will cost you a fortune and take a lot of time. That’s why small business owners rarely can afford such a luxury. That’s where CMS platforms and website builders come in handy.
2. If you go for a CMS platform, you need to mind some hidden pitfalls. Although marketed as a simple website building platform, CMS is not a piece of cake for beginners. You’ll need to spend quite a bit of time getting used to the interface and shuffling through the numerous functions in search of a particular tool. Of course, you can hire a web developer to help you set it up but it will entail additional costs.
3. Choosing a website builder is the best option for people with little to no experience in web design. Apart from being the cheapest way to create a website, it won’t involve any sort of coding.
You will be able to make a photography website in a visual editor just like you refine your photos. Besides, it would be really easy to keep your portfolio updated – just drag-and-drop new photos onto the site, and they’re online. Simple, isn’t it?
Step 3. Promote a photography website
The first thing you need to consider is search engine optimization (SEO). If you don’t want to be lost in the last pages of Google results, here’s what you have to do:
- Search for relevant keywords in Google Keyword Planner. When people are looking for a photographer online, they use specific phrases. These are the keywords you need to implement on your website to rank high.
NOTE: Don’t go for the most frequently used keywords – the competition there is too fierce, so chances are you’ll fall behind. Instead, choose long-tail keywords with fewer search queries. Thus, you are more likely to get to the top in Google in this case.
Example: A keyword “photography” has 100K- 1M monthly searches, while a long-tail keyword “professional wedding photography” – about 100 – 1K. Clearly, with the second option, you have better chances to rank higher.
- Create a title for every web page. Google analyzes pages one by one so make sure their titles are in line with the content and contain keywords. Keep the titles under 55 characters so that they won’t be cut off in search results.
- Add a meta description. Apart from the title, search result pages display a short description of the page in under 160 characters. Use this field to attract visitors by placing text that will make them check out your photography website. Special offers work great in this case.
- Optimize URL page slugs. Similar to web page titles, your URL page slugs should contain keywords, separated by hyphens (-). Yet, in this case, try to exclude stopwords if that doesn’t change the structure or meaning of the text. Stopwords are short function words that search engines usually don’t process. These include articles (a, the), prepositions (in, on, at, etc.), pronouns and determiners (which, that, etc.) and so on.
- Compress your media. We know that photographers often upload a lot of large-resolution pictures to the website. However, heavy media may have a negative impact on your site load speed. For this reason, be sure to upload images in JPG format and in the right resolutions. As for videos, use embedded YouTube and Vimeo players instead of custom ones to make pages load faster. These simple steps will help you increase website speed significantly.
NOTE: Steps 2-5 are essential regardless of the method of website building you choose. Yet, the input of time and effort differs. Website builders appear the most user-friendly in this case. You’ll just have to add a title, description, and page slugs in special fields, whereas your photos will be compressed automatically.
- Optimize your image description. Google can’t read the image itself but can analyze the file names and descriptions, so-called alt-text. Both should clearly outline what is shown in the picture. Google will use this information to demonstrate the relevant visuals in the image search. This is an indirect way of promotion as people may like the picture they’ve found in Google and visit your photography website to see more.
- Ensure security. Google pays a lot of attention to website security while ranking. Thus, make sure that your photography website has an SSL-certificate.
- Update your content. Regular updates to your website may have a positive effect on your position in search results. Whether you choose to run a blog, post news or new photos, search engines will definitely take it into account when deciding what site should appear higher.
- Add trust factors. Give your visitors enough reasons to trust your business. Your happy clients’ testimonials will work particularly well in this case. Should you have any awards or media reviews, add them as well. They prove that the quality of your work has been recognized by independent organizations.
- Get external links. Though it requires much time and effort, successful link building can become your most effective SEO tactic. Every link from a trustworthy website will increase your website’s ranking. There are many ways to get backlinks to your site: partner with other photographers, contribute guest posts to online media, appear in news sites, take part in contests, etc.
Step 4. Analyze traffic to your photography website
If you want to understand how effective each channel of photography promotion is, you need to set up web analytics. This will show you which channels work best at driving traffic to your website, which ones are less effective, and what can be optimized to find more prospects.
There are a number of tools for web analytics. The most famous are:
Google Analytics is free and has virtually all the functionality you’ll need. Hotjar is more sophisticated, allowing you to track user’s behavior through heatmaps and recordings of users’ actions.
Follow these steps to make your photography website smart
- Connect Google Analytics to your website. Use Google’s official guide to add a tracking ID to your site and assess your online performance.
NOTE: Even following the guide, setting up Google Analytics for a custom website may be pretty tricky for beginners. That’s where website builders have a clear advantage: you’ll just need to paste a tracking ID into a special field.
- Add UTM parameters to the links you post externally. Google Analytics itself can only show channels of traffic generation. However, it fails to demonstrate the exact link that brings visitors to your website. That’s where a UTM source code may come in handy.
Create unique UTM parameters for every link you post on the Internet. This will help you monitor what content format attracts the most visitors and what publications were the most successful. Here’s a handy instruction on how to do it.
As a result, you’ll be able to see where exactly your visitors came from and what links they followed.
Using modern website building platforms, you can establish a solid online presence without spending a fortune on it. Moreover, a website often appears to be a more powerful promotion instrument, thanks to various integrations with analytical platforms and well-thought-out SEO-settings.
It’s time you used the best of both worlds. Use social networks to bring more prospects to your website where you can finally convert them into paying clients:).
If you’re still hesitant, Weblium Studio has a special offer for you. We’ll make a photography website for free. All you need is to provide us with some basic information and wait for a couple of days. We’ll do the rest for you.