5 “Basic” Mistakes To Avoid With Your Photography Website

For some of us photographers, it is difficult to objectively assess the usefulness of our photography websites. Once our website is up and running, regularly assessing it for ‘basic’ mistakes and potential problems before they take a toll on our website traffic (re: customers) is critical. Also, however, it is important to recognize that it is very difficult for us to be objective.

Many photographers outsource the development, building and maintenance of our websites. (In my opinion, photographers should always build and maintain their own websites – web designers aren’t internet marketers. The websites that they build just sit in cyberspace – without visitors. Also, most web designers build websites to impress other web designers – not normal web surfers) Technology has advanced so that professional-looking photography websites are relatively simple to build and maintain – almost as simple as learning to use a new camera.

Know Your Photography Website Purpose And Avoid ‘Basic’ Mistakes

Even if you outsource the work of building a photography website, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have clear ideas about how your website should look, feel, and operate. Determine in advance what you want your website to do (display work, provide info, and sell photos, or combination of those); determine what level of involvement you can commit to photography marketing with your website; and establish a timeframe or schedule when you will assess your website for ‘basic’ mistakes. Unfortunately, there are mistakes that too many of us not only fail to avoid, but, we actually proudly practice these costly ‘basic’ mistakes.

The basic mistakes that too many of us photographers make with our websites include:

Going online too early – before the website is ready to be published. Far too many websites make this mistake. Your visitors come looking for information. They don’t want to know that your site is “under construction.” Never use an “under construction” page. Only publish the site when it’s ready to be published. Of course, you can publish the website and build it up over time – in fact, that’s what you should do. But publishing a website that tells the world it is “under construction” is actually telling visitors that the website owner is not ready – and there is no ‘real’ reason to remember it or return!
Lack of clarity of purpose – sometimes, we photographers, like other ‘creative types,’ are too creative for our own good. Our websites are pretty, fancy and slick. But, the visitor doesn’t know exactly what we do – or, worse yet, doesn’t see how we can help them! They click away to sites that have clear purpose(s) and are much easier to use.
Bad navigation – once again, some of our websites are too fancy for the visitors. Many websites make the mistake of not having a navigation bar on each page of the website. Maybe it’s because we’re so familiar with the website, we think that getting around the site is ‘common knowledge.’ Sometimes, what we see as ‘simple-to-use’ is too complex (and bothersome) or doesn’t provide enough information for the website visitors. As a rule, website visitors don’t like to get lost on a site.
Failure to respond to email – either you check your email regularly and respond immediately or people won’t come back. Remember, a website is a communication tool. You, the website owner, must communicate. A key way to do so is to respond to emails and request for information. Because of spamming, I prefer to use a ‘contact us’ form instead of providing my email address. However, I use email a lot in my responses to visitors contacting me.
Poor marketing – websites must be kept ‘fresh’ both for humans and the search engines, so you must keep finding ways to make your website search engine listing rise to the top by website ‘freshness.’ Displaying your photography work in online galleries on your website does two things: 1.) It is an easy and effective way to keep your photography website ‘fresh;’ and 2.) It gives visitors to your site a reason to return.

These ‘basic’ mistakes are so common that many of us just ‘duplicate’ the mistakes that we see when we visit other photography websites. We see the ‘basic’ mistakes on so many websites that we, sometimes, assume that the mistakes are ‘normal’ and inevitable. Photographers that know this is not the case are the more successful photographers and visitors regularly use their website. And, at the end of the day, that’s what we want.

Kalem Aquil is a ‘semi-burnt-out’ photographer that dispenses free, unsolicited (yet, very good and accurate) tips and advice to budding photographers that want to take their photography business to the next level. He dispenses such advice to budding

Tips on How to Build a Photography Website

If more photographers knew how to build a photography website, they would easily take their photography business to the next level. Most photographers know that without a website, they aren’t taken seriously. A photographer that is not taken seriously is simply not successful. This is known and understood by most. What isn’t known as well is “how to build a photography website.”

Building websites is like riding a bicycle and like driving a car. Both are methods of transportation that require specific knowledge and specific skills for each. For the most part, the specific “how-to” knowledge is very simple and very easy – for those who already “know!” If you don’t know the specific skills required (regardless of how “easy” and “simple” they are), it might as well be “rocket science!”

Knowing how to build a photography website has been a serious challenge for many photographers, until now.

The Myth of “Web-Designers”

Similar to transportation options, someone else can be hired to do the work. Usually, this is a “web-designer.” This isn’t the best option for the long term. Web-designers can design, build and publish your website – but they don’t (can’t) “drive it” for you. Besides, building and publishing a website is only about 10% of what it takes to have a successful and profitable photography website.

The Myth of “Simple and Easy”

There are many website building products available. A great many of them are very, very good. Quite a few of them are actually “great!” However, too many of them have their instructions and directions written by people that already “know” how to build a photography website (and wrongly assume that the rest of us “know” what they know).

Often the “simple and easy” products require us to take the tedious time to learn far more than we really wanted to know. And we still find that “simple and easy” is relative. It isn’t a matter of intelligence or being smart. Photographers would rather spend their time “doing” photography – not becoming an “internet-techno-wizard!”

Also, many of the “simple and easy” photography websites wrongly assume that “one-size-fits-all.”

Website Builders To The Rescue

The advancement of technology has, once again, come to the rescue of photographers. “Website Builders” are the tools that put the full capacity and control of how to build a photography website totally in our hands! Really! And, many of the great website builders are FREE! As you may know, on the internet, free has value. Many vendors are so confident in the superior quality of their products that they offer them for free. They are convinced that once we try their free tools we will want to pay for continued use of the tools and/or other products that they sell. Some vendors even provide full versions of fully functioning website building tools for free and allow use of the free tools forever!

The beauty of “website builders” is that users can “test-drive” the tools again and again until the users are completely and fully satisfied that the tools are user-friendly and can help them to be successful! These tools continue to get better and more powerful. Competition among the website builder companies is fierce. Improvements are always taking place. All of them want you and me to use their product to learn how to build a photography website. No knowledge of HTML or coding is required! Most website builders let us drag-and-drop what we want on our website. All of them allow 1-2-3 publishing. Your competition and customers will be stunned by the professionalism and quality of your website. You can make changes when you want to by a couple of clicks.

And it even gets better! Many of these “website builders” are FREE! Do an internet search for “free website builders” in Google, MSN Live, Yahoo, etc. and you will have the choice of thousands and thousands of free website builders. You may have to spend some time trying them out. But, you will spend significantly much less time trying them out and finding a great website builder for yourself than you would be spending trying to use one of those “easy and simple to use”

Your quest for how to build a photography website has found the answer: website builders. Do yourself a favor and take your photography to the next level – find a website builder that meets your style and works for you. Test-drive them and be more profitable.

Kalem Aquil is a ‘semi-burnt-out’ photographer that dispenses free, unsolicited (yet, very good and accurate) tips and advice to budding photographers that want to take their photography business to the next level. He dispenses such advice to budding photographers such as “where to start,” “what to charge,” “how to know if you’re really, really ready,” etc. etc. etc.