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When you decide to take the huge step of getting into professional photography, the logical way to promote your work is via your own website. However, there is one common problem – unless you have proper knowledge of web design and marketing, you will surely be spinning your wheels, because of the content you publish not reaching the public to the extent you need.
You may ask, “How can I attract people to come to my website?” Let us picture for a second what a good website might look like: you enter a carefully crafted website with tags and menus that enable you to locate what you want to find easily. Along the way, however, you find that there is more content than what you actually came for when you first clicked the address. Visitors rarely stay in just the area they come to see – if the site looks attractive enough, they will likely go visit almost every single work you have published, either because they like it, or because they want to be sure of your reputation or level of competence.
At this point, you want to entice your visitors to come back or to buy the products you offer (photos, presets, Photoshop actions, etc.) Typically, this is how regular stores work, and it is the main purpose for advertising. Sometimes a photo is not worth a thousand words, and for this reason, it is essential to select your work carefully, so you can target the largest audience possible.
Below, we are going to go through the top ten elements that must be an essential part of your photography site, if your aim is to make your brand successful.
1. A Good Design
This seems obvious, really, yet it is the main reason why many photographers fail to get enough exposure to the public. It is a common belief that the more you upload to your website, the richer it will be… this could not be further from reality. A minimalistic site may get more attention than an overloaded one, because it will show transparency and experience on the part of the website owner in classifying content as well as in designing a friendly interface.
If you don’t know where to start, or if you don’t have enough money to pay a professional web designer, you can visit sites like Colorlib, Themeforest, etc. for access to nice looking templates, crafted by professional designers. Remember that regardless of the job you do, the visual impact of your site will be the first impression people have of your brand.
What do I mean by feeling? As photographers, we always let emotions speak when finding the right spot to take a picture. When it comes to creating your website, it is important to apply feelings, intuition, or whatever you may want to call that sixth sense most photographers have.
The aim here is to have your site tell a story, to show your inner self, your tastes, and your interests. This makes for a much richer experience than you would get at a purely commercial site that pushes users all the way through to the shopping cart. Be sure that many users can relate to the stories you tell as well as to the experience you convey.
Is there a better way to promote your work than having your own logo and banners? Even if that logo is just your name written in a fancy font, that’s all you need to make a brand. People will start recognizing your brand, thereby improving the reach of your work.
Don’t just keep posting your brand every two seconds, but rather do so thoughtfully and in critical areas, for example headers, bottom banners, watermarks, etc.
Ask other sites to let you write guest posts, and embed your brand via links in parts of the post, as well as mentioning its name. This is an efficient branding method that won’t bother others.
4. Built-in blog
This is essential as a way of interacting with users on a constant basis. Blogs allow you to post tutorials, share experiences, and do reviews, etc. Blogs also boost SEO ratings, and they give your clients insight into the way you work. They allow you to reply to a question asked or to solve a problem reported in real time.
Another great element you can add is a live-chat application. This is great if you happen to have many people working on your project, or if you can spend a lot of time online answering questions users may have. Some apps even have mobile versions of the app, meaning you can be connected 24/7 with your users without any delay. However, please make sure you are available to answer if you are logged in, that’s part of the credibility you want to build for your brand.
5. Social media
Social media is not just a matter of sharing content on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. It requires proper training as well as knowing key elements to utilize the net properly.
Knowing the right time to publish your content in order to attract the public, as well as using SEO to enhance the reach of your site when people search content related to your topics are among the best things you can do to boost your business.
Be sure to have a set of accounts ready to attract the public at social media sites. For photographers, the main platforms you need to have are:
- Deviant Art
Instagram, Pinterest, Behance, and Deviant Art are platforms meant specifically for designers and photographers. Facebook and Twitter are intended for the common user, whereas LinkedIn can grow your business contacts and Tumblr can attract cult users.
6. Product information + pricing guide
Users must know the conditions under which you created the work you are selling (if you are selling photos) or how the elements you sell actually work (for presets, actions, etc.)
A good way to do this is by labeling your work with keywords, for example by geotagging your pictures and adding a brief statement about the location of the picture and camera/lens brand plus settings.
If you happen to be selling presets or actions, please provide users before/after results of the job they can perform with the software you sell, as well as detailed instructions about the contents of the package/element you sell, any compatibility issues, an installation guide, and so on. That is the way designer companies like Sleeklens work.
Adding prices to all the products you sell will avoid many headaches, as will being clear about any discount coupons offered on the site. Clarity will ensure a long-lasting business relationship.
Add a “sign-up” area to your website interface. That way, you will not only attract users, but you can also provide a newsletter – which should be weekly – to give users constant updates of key elements of your site, such as:
- New products
- New posts
- Critiques and reviews provided by other sites with a good reputation
Also, alert your users that certain mail providers may label your mails as spam. Hopefully, that will not happen, but better safe than sorry.
8. Mobile optimization
What is the point of creating a fantastic site, if it is not viewable on mobile devices? You will most likely to lose a wide segment of your audience if those who want to log onto your site cannot do so properly, unless they have a laptop or a pc on hand.
9. An area to attract new users
This can either be an area for giving away free content to users, a contest, or sharing top news from the industry. Anything you can come up with that matches the topic of your site and draws attention to it will work. Analytics sites will show how these elements can bring users on a constant basis.
It goes without saying that if you do not update your site at regular intervals that encourage users to keep coming back, all of your effort is for naught. Try to keep publishing limited to 2-8 posts per week, depending on the number of people working for you. In general, it is best to keep adding content, even if this means delaying publication of certain content to other dates, rather than publishing every single element you have on a single day and then be short on material to publish later.
Using all the elements we just went through, there should be plenty of opportunity to increase your brand, but constant dedication and staying up to date with the latest trends can become a key element in determining whether you are set to succeed or will remain at your current level.