So you’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge and start building your photography website – (whoop whoop!)
I couldn’t be more excited for you to take this next step, and I know it’s going to next-level your brand for real – especially if you’ll do it right!
Having a website to showcase your work is so important as a photographer, because it establishes your authority and expertise, and gives potential clients a seamless experience when viewing your portfolio. (You know, instead of just scrolling through endless facebook albums and your insta feed.)
Having a solid website can uplevel the value of your brand, (which in turn allows you to charge higher prices and not feel weird about it, cough cough.)
Three years ago, I decided to finally quit the never-ending cycle of purchasing a website template, customizing it, and then never launching it. I was like a serial website template hoarder. (Seriously, I did it FOUR times.)
I wanted nothing more than to hire a graphic designer to help me build my brand, but I just couldn’t swing it financially at the time – so I stayed on the hamster wheel.
After a year of mulling over the fact that I’d never be proud to launch a site until I had someone help me, and one breakdown over having been in business for 3 years and never having a site to show off – my husband helped me hire a designer to uncover and build my custom brand. (Which I was actually able to pay him back for before it even launched – cause God had a plan.) And to be honest, it was the greatest thing we ever did for my business.
I remember listening to one of Jenna Kutcher’s “The Goal Digger” podcasts about 4 years ago on my way home from a Florida vacay, and she was talking about how when she went to design her site, she was looking at everyone else’s websites for inspiration. (As in – all the other photographers around her.)
And then it dawned on her – only dead fish go with the flow. She realized that in order to be HER, (truly her) – she had to build a brand around her, and it wouldn’t look like anyone else’s. (Thanks Jenna for that one!)
And that’s what the team at Refinery Original helped me do. We dug deep into who I am, what I love, and why I feel I was placed here – and through it, we developed my brand. We embraced my southern roots and fierce faith and built this little photography/ministry love-child you’re now interacting with today.
But before all that – there was some major research that had to take place on my part. So without further ado, here are the top five things I WISH I knew before building my photography website – (or attempting to.)
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE CREATING A WEBSITE FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS:
1. Find your why before building your site.
A huge part of building a brand, (especially a personal one,) – involves knowing why you do what you do. And honestly, prior to working with Erica & James, I didn’t really know my true “why.” I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of “finding your why” at this point, it’s preached everywhere – and for good reason.
Knowing this helps you out in SO many aspects of your business. It helps you:
- develop and share your brand story, (which in turn naturally attracts your ideal/dream clients.)
- get clear in your marketing and sales copy, (so you’re putting out the vibe that attracts your own tribe.)
- narrow down your services to the ones that fire you up, (so you’re actually filled with purpose and passion when you work, (can I get an amen!?)
There are so, so many benefits to knowing this, so please take some time and dive into uncovering yours before building your photography website.
Figuring out my why eradicated the competition; because nobody was doing what I was doing. Nobody has the purpose I have. (Just like nobody has the purpose YOU have!) And when you’re wrapped up in your purpose, you don’t have eyes for anybody else’s. You’re too captivated living out your own calling.
2. Get introspective.
When I dug in and investigated who I was, I actually found my unique style. I literally found a home in myself and potential brand, and then I created a Pinterest board based on what I truly LOVED – and it didn’t look like ANYONE else’s. (Not even in the slightest.)
It was seriously so different, and it lit. me. up. ya’ll. It was SO freeing to have a vision of “the perfect JVP brand” that didn’t look like anything anyone else was doing. I so deeply want YOU to experience the freedom in that process.
SO – go ahead, create a secret Pinterest board and pin literally EVERYTHING that makes you happy to it – but only one rule: NO website templates or branding mood boards – not yet. 😉
Here’s an idea of some things you can pin:
– Outfits that inspire you and that you’d actually wear, (or would love to photograph other people wearing)
– Landscapes with colors that inspire you and that you’d love to travel to
– Home decor that you drool over, and would actually decorate your house with
– Unique experiences you want to have one day (for me, that’s living out of a campervan temporarily & buying an overlanding setup)
– The things that make you the absolute happiest (for me – it’s spending quality time with my husband, pups and family; and living a simple life in the country.)
Wanna see an example of the JVP Mood Board on Pinterest that served as the foundation for the site you see today?
VIEW THE WHOLE MOOD BOARD HERE: https://pin.it/tict3aro4ovkrt
That mood board above resulted in this vision board that my designer whipped up:
And although my brand has evolved a tad since then (this was in 2017) – this still serves as a pretty dang accurate depiction of my brand aesthetic, and I’m all about it!
3. Define your ideal/dream client.
A pretty site won’t do you any good if it isn’t attracting your dream clients, and repelling those that aren’t a good fit for you.
In business, there’s a term called “ideal client” and it refers to the dream client you’d like to work with over and over. Someone you wish you could clone and only work with for the rest of your biz life. (You may already be familiar with this term, but if not – I want to educate you for a sec.)
Have you ever shot a session for someone that you just did NOT vibe well with? Either they constantly asked for a discount or extra things that weren’t included in the scope of their project, or they didn’t value your time or expertise during the session, or they had a bad attitude. (Really just anything that rubbed you wrong.) From that moment forward, you realized you did NOT want to work with them, or anyone else like them, again.
This is good, really! It helps you to see who you’d like to work with, so you can get clearer on how to speak to them, (and how to create a site that speaks to them too!)
Create another Pinterest board for your dream client/ideal client, and pin things to it that they’d love and would connect with. Then, look at your own brand board and this board side by side, and find the overlap. It’s there, and it’s gonna be GOLD for you when it comes time to design a site that converts.
4. Do your research.
There are SO many different options when it comes to choosing a platform for your photography website. (As I’m sure you’re well aware of if you’re reading this post.)
I first chose WordPress and used a Bluchic theme, then I purchased another WordPress theme, and then I purchased a Flothemes theme, and then a Showit theme. Out of all of them, I’d hands down recommend going with Showit over any of the others. My pick for a website builder was Showit before even hiring James & Erica at Refinery Original – (so I’m thankful that was the builder they designed on as well!)
Why did I choose Showit? Showit is a drag and drop website builder, (which means there’s no confusing coding knowledge needed in order to use it!)
This was a GAME CHANGER for me because trying to teach myself code just to make changes on my site resulted in a ton of headaches and sleepless nights. Ugh. Don’t remind me.
It was important to me to have a website that I actually knew how to use and change things on when I needed to. I didn’t want to have to find a designer or developer every single time I wanted something changed, that would’ve been an absolute nightmare, (both mentally and financially!)
I can preach about Showit till my lips fall off, but lemme just show you. Here’s a screenshot of the back-end of Showit, so you can see why I love it so much!
In Showit, I can literally click or adjust ANYTHING that you see on the screen. Anything on my site, I can change with just a few clicks and have the new version published immediately (or whenever I’m ready to!)
My site’s also responsive, which means it works on mobile too; which is VITAL nowadays, because of how many people are using phones to browse the web!
I just checked my Google Analytics, and 70 PERCENT of my website traffic comes from mobile devices on a monthly basis, so – ya gotta have one that plays well with mobile! 😉
5. Be Strategic.
Be strategic with choosing a customizable website template, if that’s the route you go. (Which is usually much easier on the pocketbook than hiring a designer to build you a custom site, which isn’t necessary at the beginning of your biz if you follow these tips.)
Showit has KILLER templates for sale now – (seriously, some of ‘em even tempt me!) Oh, and to clear things up, I’m not an affiliate for Showit. They don’t even have an affiliate program, I checked LOL. I legit just can’t rave about them and their customer service enough! (And when you’re having trouble… they respond with crazy helpful advice… and GIF’s. #sold.)
Had I known these things before trying to build a photography website, I could’ve saved myself from going down a THREE-year rabbit trail – that sucked up a lot of my time, energy, and finances.
Because let’s face it, you can’t drive traffic to a site that doesn’t exist; which means there’s a lot of potential clients and inquiries slippin’ through your fingers!
To sum it up, here’s what I wished I knew before investing in a photography website:
- Find your “why” before you build your site.
- Get introspective.
- Define your ideal client.
- Do your research.
- Be strategic.
Have questions about building your own photography website the right way? Drop ‘em below in the comments, or book a free strategy call with me so we can chat!
Disclaimer: I’m no designer by any means, but I’ve learned a heapin’ of helpful tips to make sure I’m putting my best foot forward on the web!
Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. 😉
Feel free to binge on these blog posts, or pin ’em on Pinterest for later! 👇🏼
If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.
Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? 😎🥂