If you are not yet online…why not?
It is so important these days for any business to have an online presence. You need somewhere to direct offline customers, or potential customers that you would otherwise lose.
Your website is a showcase for you and your work and is fast becoming the first port of call that any clients go to. It needs to look professional, well designed and easily navigable….and fast loading.
There is so much you can do online to get yourself seen and the sooner you start, the sooner your online presence will mature,, get indexed and become grounded.
For your photography website where you will host your portfolio, details and maybe your images for sale, there are basically two types, Flash and HTML.
Flash websites can look amazing but they are much harder to optimise for the search engines, i.e. get found.
It is difficult to get the text “readable” by the spiders (robots from the search engines that search for fresh content) and many are slow to load images so many Flash sites go missing on the web.
HTML sites on the other hand are way easier to optimise and can still be made to look like a flash website.
As I write this, I am in the process of building my own HTML site that hopefully looks more like a flash site…http://www.nickstubbs.com.
I don’t personally like music on my websites because if it annoys me, it will probably annoy other people, save it for your slideshows. Many people listen to their own music whilst surfing or they may be in a public place, and having “Ave Maria” suddenly belting out of your iPhone whilst at work may not be so cool!
Make sure you only upload your absolute best work and never display other people’s work and pass it off as your own (I have seen this done before).
Try not to include work that is in danger of, or already is a bit “old hat”. I for one am now cringing at my spot colouring shots whereas I used to love showing them to brides when it was new and trendy.
Pages to Include on Your Website
These are suggestions for what to include in your main menu after researching and working on websites for 5 years.
Make this as appealing as it can be. It needs to hit the viewer from the moment they reach your site and entice them to look deeper and find out more about you. A poor homepage will put people off at the first hurdle.
Have your absolute best image/s there or a slideshow that plays on loading. Make the navigation simple and without any clutter, most people just want the facts and a gallery sample not a link farm, ads or a ton of B.S. Keep it professional.
Obviously you need a gallery but again, keep it fairly simple with a small gallery for each topic that you cover (weddings, portraits, commercial etc) and include only your best work…not ALL your work. Too many images can bug a lot of people or it can keep them on your site for ages until they get bored.
Hit them with a short, sharp visual treat which will lead them straight to your packages/services page!
Try to give the option of a slideshow or manual navigation through the images and even upload a video slideshow with music to show them a finished product that you offer with weddings for example.
Leave them wanting more (and a meeting).
I get so angry if there is no “about” or “about me/us” page on a website. If I am booking someone and paying them for this type of personal service, I like to know a little about them. Write a short bio about yourself, make it easy to read with a friendly professional feel to it and even include a good photo…it all helps give a more personal touch with a professional approach.
Once again, keep it fairly short and sweet and let the people know you are professional, experienced, willing and available. As long as they feel comfortable after reading it, you have ticked another of their boxes.
Let people know what you do! Weddings, portraits, commercial, travel, fashion, glamour etc and have a synopsis and gallery for each. Tell a little about your experience in each genre and why you should be good for them.
Some photographers include a schedule of their fees, some include only a “starting from” figure and others show nothing at all. Whatever you decide, it is important to have a schedule of prices that you know inside out and can call upon when asked, either on the phone or during a meeting.
Structure your pricing so that it is competitive for your area but also gives you a healthy profit. Do some research from other photographers in your area to work out your own fees but please do NOT call them disguising yourself as a potential client. This happened to me a lot in Spain when the “hoards” of new photographers arrived and it pi**ed me off greatly by wasting my time.
We will cover pricing in much more detail later on.
We discussed this earlier and it is a good idea to gather testimonials for your work as you go. Even if you have only shot a small portrait sitting up to now, get a testimonial from the client and include it.
As we mentioned before, try to include a blog on your website and again, keep it professional.
People like to see the real person behind the business and if your blog is filled with images and congratulations to past clients as well as the occasional personal “diary” of your working life, then all the better to personalise yourself with them. It makes you a real person in their eyes.
Obviously you need a contact page where potential clients can get hold of you. Include a telephone number (and mobile), an email address and links to any other places where you may be contacted.
If you have a professional looking MySpace or LinkedIn account, include them but do not include your personal Twitter or Facebook account if that is where you display and vent your private, personal and possibly rude or unprofessional thoughts. Keep your professional website professional!
One great way to get your website found by the search engines is link exchanging but don’t be fooled, here are some quick tips:
- A simple rule is to try and get more incoming links than outgoing and there are many ways to do that as we discussed earlier (articles, press releases etc).
- Only link with similar websites, i.e. photography, as becoming a “link farm” for all and sundry will do you no good with Google and the like, keep it related.
- Make sure the person linking back to you does so from a page that is no more than one click away from their homepage. Don’t allow them to hide your link deep within their website and don’t do that to others.
- Don’t get sneaky with Google by making links and SEO text white or the same colour as your page…that will infuriate the search engines and could get you banned. It is known as a “black hat” technique and they know them all trust me.
- Ask for good, well researched anchor text in your reciprocal links. Anchor text is the text that another website places your clickable link in, i.e. “Wedding Photographer Dorset” is the anchor text and when someone clicks on that, they get directed to your website. That helps you get found for that specific term. Many links like that will serve you well.
- Ask them to use text and not an image or your logo.
- Keep the page clean and don’t include too many links. Also, don’t link to other sites too quickly, this may alert the search engines to possible spamming.
You could of course always have more than one website, maybe even one for each type of photography you shoot. That would keep your work in tight niches which are much easier to optimise well for the search engines.
As well as your main website, see the internet as a big arena or trade show where you can mingle, rummage around and leave your mark where you can. Be a part of forums and online communities, be a help to others. Use business directories to get established with some powerful inbound links.
Set up a fan page at Facebook for your website and business but keep it strictly business, don’t invite all your friends just to fluff it out. Allow it time to mature with good content and genuine followers and clients. Do the same with LinkedIn.
Start a YouTube channel and add all your wonderful photography slideshows from weddings, portraits or whatever…just get online and do the same at Pinterest.
Write articles and use press release agencies to announce new offers etc. All of this is a slow but stable process, it has been called the “Butterfly Effect” by some marketing “gurus” and we will come to this later…very interesting theories that work.
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Next Page – Networking and Social Media