How to get started on building a website: for people who are photographers–and not web developers, SEO experts, or marketing professionals.
Whether you’re an established photographer or just starting out, creating your own website gives you a space of your own on the internet. While you probably already understand the value of having your own website, the trick is figuring out how to get started building one, and what content to put on it. We get it–you’re a photographer, not necessarily a web developer, SEO expert, or marketing professional.
With the following tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a kick-ass website that will show off your skills and attract new clients.
Use a template and ensure it is mobile-friendly
Unless you have a ton of free time to learn the skills to build your own custom website (or wads of cash to pay someone else to build it), a website template is a great way to build a professional-looking website without a massive learning curve. There are plenty of templates and vendors to choose from out there (some popular ones include Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace). They include no-nonsense tools and features that enable you to do things like drag-and-drop photo uploads to the right spot on the page.
You may find that a high percentage of your traffic is coming from mobile (Google Analytics will be your go-to in finding this breakdown, among other helpful web stats). With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure that the website template you choose is responsive (you don’t want your beautiful photos to appear distorted when someone’s looking at them on their phone) and easy to navigate on a mobile device.
Michelle Doucette’s site (michelledoucettephotography.ca), is built using Squarespace and includes a few features on mobile that help a visitor out. It includes a hamburger menu that contains expandable menu items and a “back to top” link that sticks in the footer brings the user directly to the top after scrolling on a page.
Get some testimonials to build credibility
Referrals and word of mouth are valuable ways to advertise and build your brand in any industry, but are especially huge for budding photographers. Building credibility as a freelancer or small business takes time – and you can start instilling trust in potential new clients by including testimonials from happy clients on your site.
Happy Tails Pet Photography (happytailspetphotography.ca) cleverly shares testimonials on their home page by displaying a note from each client when the user hovers over an image.
Integrate your social media accounts
If you are pouring in time and effort to establish your brand on Instagram, make sure you integrate your feed into your website. Most website templates give you the ability to easily add a feed of your recent Instagram photos on your site. If you take the time to set it up, you will have fresh, dynamic content on your site with minimal effort.
Nicole Ashley (nicoleashley.ca), international portrait and wedding photographer, has over 48,000 followers on Instagram and integrates feeds and CTAs to follow throughout her site.
Use the right call-to-action
Attracting potential clients to your site is a success in and of itself, but you also want to think about what you want them to do once they get there. A call-to-action is the thing you want your visitors to do once they decide they like your work. It could be subscribing to your newsletter, inquiring about package pricing, or sending you an email to schedule a shoot. Whatever it is, make sure it is clear and easy for visitors to take action on your website.
Don’t bury your contact information
A contact form, with custom fields to ask questions up-front can be a great initial point of contact from new or prospective clients. While a form can be useful, you’ll generate more potential leads if you also include your email address for more direct communication.
Canmore-based Photoflow (photoflow.ca) has a simple contact form that includes the event date – this would help determine how urgent the requests are.
Let your specialty shine
Your mom was right about one thing–you are special. And to be a successful photographer, you have to be.
You can’t be everything to everyone, so make your specialty clear on your website. If a client is looking for a photographer, they probably have a specific purpose in mind and are focusing their research to find the best local person that will meet their needs.
One of the first things you see on Shamit Tushakiran’s website (shamit.ca) is Movement and Lifestyle Photographer || Ottawa. There’s no guessing what his specialty is or what area he serves.
If you visit the homepage of ryanszulc.ca you can quickly see a theme emerging. While Ryan is likely talented in other genres of photography, he clearly puts the focus on food by choosing to only display galleries of delicious things on the homepage. Hang on, currently drooling over so many great galleries from this site (check out sweets or caesars).
Put your photos front and center
Foodivine, a studio in Montreal dedicated to food photography (foodivine.ca) says an image is worth 1,000 bites and it’s true! Their website shows the power of having a visual-heavy site. It showcases their work effectively leaving you hungry for more!
Register a .CA domain
Most photographers attract clients from a very specific geographical area. An important element in letting your visitors know that you’re local is a .CA domain name. Having a .CA domain name also helps with local SEO, in addition to making your city or area of the country clear on your website.
Many website builders offer a free domain service when you start out. Thanks but no thanks. Adding your own customized .CA domain name adds credibility to your business and helps build your brand (and go a step further by getting their own customized email address with it as well).
Start your website-building project by securing the .CA domain name you want, then do your research and select a vendor (or “Registrar”) that works for you – some offer deals with web builders, or email addresses, promotions on domain names – you name it.
See if the domain name you want is available by using our search tool: