Lots of photography sites pop up these days, and as competition is growing daily, it is becoming more and more difficult for truly talented individuals to make their online portfolios stand out. Content management systems like WordPress made it easy for pretty much anyone to build a great-looking website in a matter of hours. What this means is that people with at least some basic knowledge of Web design and SEO principles can make their photography sites look attractive and win a lot of business, even if their actual work is at amateur level. And the fact that you have years of experience is not enough these days to set yourself apart from all these so-called photographers. In order to turn your website into the best possible representation of your work quality, you need to avoid some of the most common mistakes made by the majority of your competition.
1. Ignoring SEO
One thing many photographers do is pay no attention to the names of the files they upload to their sites, thinking that as long as the image looks good, that’s all that matters. The truth is that you are making it practically impossible for your photos to get ranked by search engines or be found by any potential clients if you don’t provide at least some very basic information in your title and alt tags. WordPress makes it very easy to add these attributes to each image you upload, so there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be optimizing your files for search engines. All you have to do is make sure you give the photo a brief but descriptive name before uploading it, and exclude any spaces from the name. Use dashes instead of spaces and stick to titles no longer than three to four words. Aim to include at least one or two keywords into the title.
Once the image is uploaded, click Edit and scroll down to enter the alt field – this attribute is the most important one for many search engines, including Google. Once again, include relevant keywords into your alt text and make it presentable. Keep in mind that people who have image loading disabled in their browsers or who are waiting for the image to load if their connection is slow will see this text in its place.
2. Using a Generic Theme
Most photographers don’t hesitate when it comes to purchasing high-quality equipment for their business, but try to save as much as possible when it comes to establishing their online presence. This is another major pitfall to avoid. Even if you are old fashioned with it comes to advertising and still find the majority of your clients through word of mouth, you really need to start thinking of the power of Internet and its ability to take your business to a whole new level. If you settle for a free generic site template that makes your site look like a hundred others, why should your potential clients think that your work is any less generic? Invest in your site as you would in any other tool of trade. Buy a premium template or better yet pay someone to have it custom made. This will ensure that your site is one of a kind and that it was designed specifically with your type of photography and your unique style in mind.
3. Not Adding a Blog on Your Site
Many photographers think that their work should speak for itself, and use their sites with a single purpose of displaying their portfolios. If you do this, you are significantly lowering your chances of good search engine ranking and missing out on a lot of potential traffic. Dedicating part of your photography site to a blog provides an easy way to keep things fresh and relevant around your portfolio, even you haven’t updated any new pictures for a while. You can provide advice to other photographers, write technical tips on equipment, record video tutorials for various photo editing programs or even just keep a journal of your photography adventures. A site with an active blog is a lot more likely to generate leads for you, as opposed to a simple portfolio that won’t provide any calls to action.
4. Choosing the Wrong Image Size
When uploading images to their sites, photographers often struggle to find the right balance between quality and optimization for better loading speeds. The copyright issue crosses most people’s minds as well – how do you keep your files protected without giving up the ability to fully showcase your talent? As a result of this dilemma, most photography websites have images that are either too large or too small, either one of which can have a negative effect on your online portfolio. WordPress has multiple plugins that will let you prepare your images for the Web without sacrificing any visible quality, starting with the popular Smush.it plugin, which is an extension of the Yahoo Web-based service under the same name. You can also use Photoshop or a similar program to compress the images for the Web, but plugins will do all the work for you, saving you a lot of time in the end. You can also use a simple plugin to protect your files from anyone who tries to illegally download or copy your work without your permission.
Aim for a decent image size that will look well with your website theme, display nicely inside the lightbox, yet won’t have any negative effect on your website’s loading time. To further speed up your photography site, limit the amount of images you upload to it as well. Select only your best work and use the rest of the site to provide your contact information, rates, a brief bio and a blog with a lot of useful information for your readers and potential clients.
5. Failing to Provide Important Details
Oftentimes photographers (and many other online merchants) fail to include an easy way to contact them on their site. Unless you specialize in stock photography only and don’t need to talk to your clients directly, you should always provide at least a couple of ways in which people can reach you. A contact form is a must, but if you offer local services like wedding or event photography, then an email address, phone number, and even a physical address should also be included. Many people won’t trust businesses without this type of information, and your potential clients are not likely to hire someone they don’t trust for their important private event or business function. The top right corner of every page, as well is in the footer is a great place to include contact information. Don’t pick one, use both. Also include the contact details on the About Us and Contact Us pages.
Not including your rates on your website is another major mistake. If you ask potential clients to contact you for a quote, you are setting yourself up for a failure. Most people will want to know your pricing immediately and be able to quickly compare it to the rates offered by other photographers in the area. Come up with a breakdown of all the services you offer and put together a clear pricing list to immediately grab your site visitors’ attention.