One of the first things you need to do when starting your business is to set up a photography website that shows off your work and gives your prospective clients the information they need to hire you.Your website is your virtual storefront. Not only is it a great way to get more clients, but it’s a really cheap photography marketing tool that you can control completely and find clients outside of the people you already know.
With all the options and technical language out there, it can be frustrating to know what kind of website you should create. Not only that, but prices vary significantly between the options, so in this post I’m going to make everything clear. I’ll discuss what kind of website you should create, what all those technical terms mean, and tell you exactly what I’d do if I was just starting out and needed a website (including sharing what my blogging strategy would be). Let’s dive right in!
What is the difference between a website, a blog, and a blogsite?
You’ll see these three terms thrown around in forums and groups, and there’s very little difference between them.
A website, traditionally, is a set of pages that don’t change often. So think pricing pages, contact forms, portfolio galleries, etc. It may also contain a blog.
A blog is a page on a website that updates regularly with new content. So on a blog, you’ll create new posts with recent client images, news, promotions, or other things that you want updated regularly.
A blogsite is really just a term that someone coined that means you have both a website and blog together, with the blog part of your website generally being the focus of the site and the first thing that people see.
But honestly, this is all just fancy talk, as most websites have blogs, and all blogs have pages that don’t change, and blogsites are just websites with more focus on the blog. So really there’s very little difference. I really only mention it because I want to clear things up a bit before moving forward.
What kind of photography website is best for getting clients?
There’s a number of things to consider when setting up a photography website. Let’s walk through them one by one.
Domains, Hosting, and some other nerdy stuff you need to understand
A domain name, or URL, is just a fancy name for the web address people use to get to your site. For this site, the URL is www.TheModernTog.com.
Your domain name will send people to your website, which will need to be hosted on a web server. Your website is just a bunch of files that people can access online. “Hosting” is the place where these files are stored, and when they type in a domain name, that domain name takes them to the correct server so that they can see your website.
Then you need a platform to build your website on. This is basically some type of software that allows you to build your site. WordPress is by far my platform of choice. It’s like the foundation and inside frame of a house that can be built in various ways and can have various looks applied to it, and you can do almost anything with WordPress.
You have two options: use a free service like WordPress.COM that offers free hosting and a free wordpress.com domain name, OR you can have a self-hosted site where you pay for your own hosting service, your own custom domain name, and create your website there on your own. You can still use WordPress for free, you just have more flexibility and control with a self-hosted site.
You do NOT want the free website. I know it’s tempting because money always seems tight when starting a business, but it doesn’t look nearly as professional to not have your own domain name, you don’t have full control over your website, and you don’t have as much flexibility. There’s other dorky reasons as well, but we’ll just leave it at that for now. Trust me on this one. I never booked clients I didn’t know until I moved from a free blog to a self-hosted blog, and then the new clients started contacting me. Wish I would have started this way right from the beginning.
But never fear – it’s really cheap to get a self-hosted website. With SiteGround you can get hosting for less than the cost of a drink per week at Starbucks, so there’s no excuse for not doing this.
Part of the reason I love SiteGround is because they have 24-hour online support via chat, so you can reach a customer service rep pretty much immediately to get any questions answered. Not only that, but it was super easy to buy both hosting & domains through them, and they have one-click WordPress installation, so all you have to do once it’s set up is to install your theme (they’ll come with instructions, but it’s as easy as uploading a .zip file and clicking “activate”. Even I can do it!) They will even migrate your current website over from a different hosting site for free for me when you choose to use them, so you don’t have to worry about doing this yourself if you already have a website and aren’t starting from scratch.
Another reason I love them is because their server speed is faster than most other shared servers out there. This is one of the factors that Google uses when it determines where you show up in search results, so it’ll make it more likely for you to show up higher when people are looking for a photographer like you! Click here to check them out now.
Use themes to easily make your website look professional
WordPress itself can be coded from the bottom up, but that’s far more work and learning than anyone who is trying to start a photography business needs to know, and I can promise that it will look better if you buy a theme than if you start from scratch and build it yourself (unless you have extensive training in this, of course).
If WordPress is the foundation and internal structure of the website, a Theme is the design, decor, and visuals that make your site look the way it does. A theme is what most people think of in their mind when they think of buying or creating a website.
A few notes about WordPress
WordPress can actually function as a traditional website, a blog, a blogsite, or any combination you want to make it into. You can create “Pages” that don’t change and have information about your business or contain your portfolio and you can have a blog component as well. It’s all integrated into one framework, and it’s super easy to use once you’re set up. It’s also coded in such a way that it’s easy for search engines like Google to see what is on the site, giving you more chances for people to find you when they are looking for a photographer on Google. Sweet!
What Photography WordPress Themes are best?
Last year I wrote about various photography website themes that were available, and since then I’ve found loads more resources that I think are even better choices for people as they build their websites. So I’m going to talk about a few popular ones here.
If I was starting over, I would buy a theme from Flothemes. I think Flothemes has created some of the nicest looking, modern and mobile-responsive themes I’ve seen to date. You can easily tell that they were created with the creative professional in mind, as all of their themes are very image and picture-driven (which is perfect for photographers!).
All of their themes are easy to customize and set up, and work well across any device. This is important if you want your website to show up in search results, as Google gives better rankings to sites that are mobile-friendly.
Plus, depending on what package you choose, you can even have them install the theme for you and do other things like hosting migration, layout setup, and social integration. For the price, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who isn’t 100% familiar with website setup and installation.
Check out all their themes by clicking here now.
Theme Forest: $75 or less
Theme Forest is nice because of the abundance of themes that are very cheap. You can buy a theme for about $75 or less, and you only ever have to pay for it once and then you can use it forever, so it’s a very economical way to get a website.
The main downside with Theme Forest is that you have to make sure you’re buying a theme from someone who has good customer service. You can look through the comments people have made about the themes before purchasing them and get some idea of if they are quick to respond or not. Not all themes are supported long-term or have much for customer service, so you need to be careful on which themes you pick.
The theme you choose may also require a lot of customization and a small bit of coding to make it look the way it does in their previews. This is especially true of the themes that claim to be highly customizable. So if that’s not something you want to deal with, I’d stick with Flothemes or some other theme that doesn’t require techy work, just simple customizations like uploading images and content.
There are however tons of different WordPress themes that would work for your business, and there’s a huge variety of looks and designs. There’s hundreds of portfolio themes and photography themes that will make your work look its best.
ProPhoto Blogs: $199 (or $189 with coupon code below)
ProPhoto is one of the most popular photo blog templates out there, mainly because it is SO EASY to customize and their customer service is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Truly. While their coding is locked down a bit so you’re limited to their options, they’ve expanded them so much in the last few years that there’s little you’ll want to do that you can’t do.
It also comes with several different looks ready to go right out of the box for free, so if you don’t have the time to customize to fit your branding, you can simply use one of their starter looks and go from there. Here’s a few that are included for free:
ProPhoto is a favorite of many photographers, but if you don’t do much customization, you’ll risk looking like lots of other people. You also have to pay for major upgrades every year or two (about half the price of the initial template) so that’s another thing to keep in mind. But it’s a great choice and you never have to worry about getting stuck because their customer service truly rocks. Learn more and click here now to buy.
ProPhoto Discount Code: Use Discount Code JAMSWA556 to get $10 off your purchase (no expiration date).
Custom Designed Websites
You can also have a designer create a website for you, but this is going to cost you $3000+ (likely far more), and honestly with the vast amount of premium WordPress themes out there, I have trouble recommending this to photographers. Because most of the templates listed above can be customized in some way to at least include your logos and match your branding colors, it seems like a waste of money that you don’t need to spend for your business. I fully believe a strong brand is important, but that doesn’t mean you need a fully custom design for your website and can’t just customize a theme like ProPhoto.
What I’d do if I was just starting out again (and a few important blogging tips!)
Here’s exactly what I wish I had done when I was first starting my photography business and the blogging strategy I’d use to get new clients:
1. Buy hosting through SiteGround with a custom domain name right off the bat instead of wasting time with a free site.
2. I’d pick out a Flothemes theme and get that set up and ready to go by adding my own photos and business information.
3. I’d then make these quick setup changes in WordPress to ensure that I had the best chance possible of showing up in Google when people were searching for a photographer in my area.
4. I’d make sure that I had these 3 essential elements so that clients could get the information they need and visitors would convert into paying clients.
5. I’d blog as many client sessions as I had, and then I’d use these other blogging ideas for photographers to make sure I had regular content.
Ready to optimize your blog even more? Check out the Ultimate Photography Website Guide with tips on how to get more clients, how to get more traffic, and all sorts of other things you’ll want to know.
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