Websites for the Business of Photography

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I’m just starting a third revamp of my own nature photography website, (the first two dating from 2002 and 2004), and I wanted to share my thoughts on creative, effective photography websites. While it’s tempting (at least for geeks like myself!) to drop immediately into the nitty-gritty of implementation details, it’s far more important to first plan out what your web site is going to be for and how it will function as a part of your photography business (or even hobby.)

First, consider how your website will fit into your sales cycle. What is the site supposed to do for you and your clients? The most common mistake I see from aspiring nature and fine art photographers is thinking that a web site of their images, by itself, is going to net them a significant number of print sales. Sorry, but that’s just not realistic. Unsolicited print sales from the web are a rarity from newbies to the big names of nature photography. Instead, having your images on the web serves better as a back-end sales tool. If a client has seen your prints before and wants to see them again, if they want to understand pricing or framing options, it’s critical that your web site gives them a easy way to get that information at their own time and speed. The images on your web site aren’t going to start those sales, but they may help close them. Make sure your web site is there to answer your customers questions when you aren’t. Websites may in fact be better as a front-end sales tool for other types of photography businesses (commercial work, perhaps?). But the important thing here is to identify how your site will function as a part of your sales strategy.

Also, think about what your web site could do in terms of supporting the mechanics of a sale, such as automated ordering, calculating shipping and taxes, and whether it’s worth the trouble. Setting up a full e-Commerce-backed site may not make sense for many photographers, particularly when most work is custom, when limited editions are involved, and so on: but it might make sense for other applications. In my case, I use it for greeting cards but nothing else.

Finally, social networking is an increasingly important aspect of your web site, and one I need to address more on my own site. I think of social networking as, in large part, a marketing tool. Blogging, as well as links to your presence on Twitter, Facebook, and so on give you a venue for advertising new products, sales, new shows, but more importantly, they ::amazon(“0738204315”, “create a conversation”):: between you and your client, they build a connection between you and your clients, an increasingly necessary part of modern business. So, develop a plan for what sorts of social networking you’re going to be able to stay involved in, how that fits into your business. Make sure your site supports that plan, by getting not only your new products out and visible, but also in getting yourself in front of the customer. Be sure to personalize that connection by including at least one good portrait of yourself that helps your customer see you as a person instead of an abstract web site.

Only after you’ve worked out your answers to these questions should you begin actually designing and implementing your site. I’ll cover that in a future installment, later this week.

From the Editor: See Also
Photocrati’s Photography WordPress Themes
DSLRBlog’s Review of Photography Website Templates

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The follwoing features too should be kept in mind-Keep the quality of your images as high as possible,Quantity is just as important as quality,Use reasonable Image Sizes,Navigation should be easy,Have good content besides images, If possible.Don’t have a “login page” before accessing content,Avoid reliance on Flash,Don’t use pop-up windows (ads, slide-shows, etc) and last but not the least-Don’t be pushy! Any comments on my observations, anyone?

  2. Thanks for the advice. I’ve just redesigned our site and I want to add eCommerce specifically for reorders. Your article has given me some ideas to consider. I love the idea of using the online ordering system for some things, ie: cards, but keeping the higher end products exclusive to ordering in person. I think this can decrease the amount of time I spend with clients who are indecisive and place modest orders. I think many photographers mistakenly think that people will place high end orders on a website, and I don’t believe this to be true.

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