Here we are on day 7 and we are getting past some general ideas into some real work. If you don’t already have one, you need to get a website to show off all of your work and to get leads. I remember when I first started out 8 years ago. I ended up coding several sites on my own, and while this was an interesting thing to learn, it took a long time and the end results were only ok. Now, it’s a lot easier to build a website. Let’s look at how to build a photography website!
How to Build a Photography Website
As with everything, there are plenty of options and no right answer for everyone. I’m going to go through a bunch of options, and I suggest you look into a few of them. The big difference you’re going to see is the cost and amount of time spent on your end.
WordPress for photography websites
My website is built on WordPress, and it is one of the most popular platforms out there for photographers and for just all other websites. It’s free and it’s relatively easy to use, but it also can be customized if you know how.
There are two different versions of WordPress:.com and .org. If you go with the .com version, it is completely free. The main downside is that the domain will be connected to WordPress. This means it will look like www.yoursite.wordpress.com. I guess that’s not the end of the world, but it doesn’t look as professional as www.yoursite.com. Recently, they have added a paid version that gives you your own domain. It starts at $4 month. I do like that they offer this, but there are cheaper options out there. The big plus for using WordPress.com is how easy it is to set up things. They basically do it all for you.
If you choose to go with WordPress.org, there’s a little more work. First, you have to buy your own domain and set that up. I’ve been using 1and1.com for a long time, but godaddy.com is popular as well. Once your domain is set up, you have to install WordPress. This isn’t difficult, but it is something extra you have to do.
Now that you’ve picked which version to use and have everything set up, it’s time to design your site. The great thing about WordPress is that there are templates available. You can simply pick one and have a great start, and again, it’s free. It’s also easy to make other adjustments. When you’re in the dashboard, all of the main options are on the left like creating new pages or changing the appearance of the site. One of the most powerful options is plugins. You can get plugins that do about anything and the majority of them are free. If you’re really good with coding, you can go in and edit your theme and really make it your own. I avoid that, though.
Prebuilt Photography Websites
If all of this sounds like too much for you, you can go out and buy prebuilt photography websites. For several years I was using creativemotiondesign.com. They have around 20 different designs that look amazing, and it’s not that expensive. You purchase the design, and then you can pay $100 a year for them to host it and get your domain. The other option is to pay $100 and they will move the site to your own domain, and then you don’t have to pay them anything after that. I really loved how it looked and how easy it was to use, but it didn’t have as much customization as I wanted.
Another popular site is Zenfolio. They start at $5 a month. From what I see, it looks like it has many of the same features that Creative Motion Design has, but it would be a cheaper option since you don’t have to buy the template and then pay for hosting. I’ve never used Zenfolio personally, but I know a lot of photographers do. If you’re ok with spending some money and don’t want to deal with the hassle of doing much work, this is a good 0ption.
Custom Designed Photography Websites
Here’s where things start to get expensive. If you really don’t want to do any work and you want your website to look a certain way, you can pay someone to build it from scratch.
I honestly don’t know how much this costs, but I’d guess $500-$1000. The designer is going to be spending a lot of hours talking to you and then coding, so it has to be expensive. I imagine there is an additional fee if you want them to keep up with it or make changes in the future.
I’ve never considered this option. For me, there are cheaper options out there that work well enough. If I were a gigantic company, then I’d go this route.
What do you need on your photography website?
Now that you have an actual site figured out, it’s time to decide what to put on it. I know that sounds simple, but really there are a lot of different ways to structure a site and different pages to have.
The most important page is the first page. You have to hook people quickly or they will be gone. I have about 5 images at the beginning that rotate. These are my wow images. I want people to see them and be impressed. From there, I have some text that explains what I do. I do this again to keep them interested, but it’s also important to have text on the first page, so Google will find it. The biggest thing to worry about with your home page is loading time. If it takes too long to load, people will leave without seeing anything.
From there, you need to create a few other pages. Since this is a photography website, you need galleries. In my opinion, it is better to create several different galleries than one large one. Again, the problem with putting a ton of photos on one page is the load time. If you create multiple galleries, each gallery will be smaller. Another very common page is an about me. This is where you can talk about yourself and show off your personality. Mine is pretty goofy, but I think it makes me a real person and lets people know I’m fun. Besides that, you need a contact page. This can just be your contact info, but I use an online form that they can fill out right then. I believe people are more likely to contact you if they can do it right then and there instead of having to go and create an email. Another extremely important thing is having your blog. A blog is where you can share info and pictures, and it’s also great for SEO.
Building a photography website can be difficult. I’m still working on mine and trying to perfect it. There’s also a lot of things I didn’t go into, but if you’ve followed with this guide on how to build a photography website, you’ll at least have a basic photography website up and running. From there, you can always learn more and make more changes.