If you want to run a business as a photographer, there are really two essential things you can’t do without: a camera, and an online presence.
Without something advertising your presence online, you won’t be able to find new clients who want you to take pictures for them. It doesn’t matter what genre of photography you do: portraits or product shots, landscapes or fashion – you won’t be able to get work without at least having a portfolio site.
But how do you set up your photography website, especially if you’ve never done something like that before? Here’s our best tips to help you through the process as simply as possible.
Choose a domain name
Every website needs a domain name, the URL that people will type in in order to find it. For example, ours is Summerana.com! This should ideally be the name of your business, and it should also be short and sweet so that people can type it in easily. If you have the word ‘photography’ in your business name, you could consider shortening it to just ‘photo’, for example.
You have to purchase your domain name before you can use it. You can buy it for just a year, or a longer period of time. You will always have to renew your domain name – you can’t just buy it outright – and you can’t use a domain name before you own it.
There are lots of sites selling domain names out there. GoDaddy is probably the biggest and most well-known. They do tend to have a lot of great deals, but do your research to see if you can find a better price. Another domain selling service is 123Reg, and some hosting companies will give you a domain name as part of their package (more on that in a moment).
Find a host
This is one of the trickiest and most technical bits of the process, so if you’re not tech-minded, it might seem daunting. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell: it costs money to put a site on the internet, because it requires real energy and power to get it up there. A host will give your site a place to sit, so that everyone can access your site without problems. It’s hard to get your head around, but think of it like having a physical store. You need your premises that you would normally rent (your host), and you need your business to have a registered name (your domain).
If you aren’t tech savvy, we would recommend finding a host which also gives you templates to build your website, making it easier to run everything. Here are a few of the options out there on the market for you to consider.
If you listen to podcasts, you’ve likely heard of SquareSpace, as they do a lot of advertising! SquareSpace allows you to choose from a number of templates and set up your site with full customisation options. You can get help from one of their experts if you don’t know what to do, but it’s all very easy to do once you get stuck in. You can easily upload new content to your site and also change how it looks whenever you want.
Almost all of the sites on the internet are built on WordPress, to a staggering degree. They have huge market coverage, and the reason is because they are cheap but also really powerful. WordPress again allows you to choose a template and easily set up your site, and update or post to it whenever you want to. What sets WordPress apart is the huge library of plugins they have. There are even so many user-created templates you can purchase that you would never be able to try all of them. Because it’s so widespread, WordPress will also be the easiest site builder to get help with, and if you have freelancers writing posts for you, they’ll know how to use the system.
Particularly targeted towards creatives, Format is based on the idea of showcasing a portfolio, so it might be great for you as a photographer. This is very simple to use, but not quite as robust as some other builders can be. The blog side of things is quite limited, as you can’t schedule posts ahead of time, but you can get a free store addition to your site which would allow you to sell prints, sessions, or anything else you have in stock for free. All you have to pay is the PayPal transaction charge.
If you have a Photoshop CC subscription, you might have access to a free Adobe Portfolio website. If you’ve already got it, then it’s a really good idea to take advantage of it, as you’ll only need to pay for your domain name. Adobe Portfolio is a really simple site builder, especially compared to things like WordPress. You can’t do a whole lot other than adding new posts and pages, with galleries being one of the options. It does have a blog system, but you can’t schedule posts in advance. Still, it’s pretty good value considering you don’t have to pay for it so long as you keep up your subscription!
Wix is another of the general website builders you’ll see out there. It can be cheaper than other options but it’s also seen as a bit cheaper, so you definitely need to upgrade to having your own domain name. You don’t want anyone to know you’re using Wix! The controls in the user interface are a bit more clunky than something like SquareSpace, but if you’re comfortable with it, it does the job.
There are lots of other options out there for website builders and hosts, and all of them will make it very easy for you to set your website up. Once you’ve designed it and filled in the pages, you just click publish and you’ll be done – nothing like the days when you used to have to code everything yourself!