A website is an essential tool for any photographer to have, especially with the proliferation of people using the internet. There is no better way to reach a wide audience and display your work than with a stylish and well designed website. Without a website you are missing your money earning potential as a photographer, as well as missing out on a great source of exposure.
One of the main reasons why photographers need a website is to promote themselves and their work. Making a name for yourself as a talented and skilled photographer among the right people will go a long way to benefiting your career. With a website you have a platform to draw people’s attention which is easily accessible to them. Before photographers make any money at all they need to show their talent and gain the interest of their target audience. Putting the effort into leading people to the website where their work is displayed is the first step to this.
However, there are plenty of things you’ll need to be aware of when you build a website and plenty of things that can make or break a customer’s experience on your site: the navigational structure, the organization of content, your choice of verbs. Those ubiquitous annoyances that creep into so many websites and drive even the least savvy customers into fits of frustration. So if you’ve done half your job correctly, which is getting people to your website in the first place, don’t screw up the other half by sending them packing.
Mistake #1: About me page
Who are you and why should I give you my hard earned cash?
One of the biggest mistakes that we see photographers making is creating a Pollyanna style About Me page without a lot of relevant information that a consumer would want to know. About Me pages that proclaim, “I love taking pictures” or “My passion for photography began with the birth of my child” tells us absolutely nothing about your skills and qualifications as a photographer. Would you go to a dentist whose website states that they “Have always loved brushing their teeth and enjoy scraping plaque out of children’s mouths?” How about a builder whose only qualification is that he is “passionate about hammering nails into wood.” We don’t think you’d hire that guy to build your house, right?
So why should someone trust you to take professional photos of their family just because you “…love chasing children through cornfields and capturing those precious moments.” At the very minimum, include your qualifications as a photographer. Don’t call into question your sincerity and professionalism by insulting your audience’s intelligence. It’s wonderful to tell the world that you are passionate and love what you do, but if you want someone to respect you as a professional, give them something tangible to use to make an informed decision. You’ll likely find that people will take you more seriously as a photographer, and the quality of your clientele will improve.
Mistake #2: Not revealing a little bit about your pricing
Let’s face it, many of you (including yours truly) are afraid to publicly disclose your complete price list for fear that the person next door is going to take your well-thought out packages and prices and undercut them. But at the very least, you should always give people a starting point. What is your lowest session fee, your lowest print price? Do you have a minimum purchase requirement?
That is enough for anyone to know whether or not they want to know more or if you are out of their budget. Offering absolutely nothing about price on your site gives the impression that you are going to be too expensive, and people will move on. Think about those real estate listings that read: “Call for price.” Everyone knows that’s code for “You can’t afford it” and that is exactly what people will think if you don’t provide at least something in terms of cost.
Mistake #3: Your Contact Form
There’s a lot to be said for an effective contact form – and no, we don’t mean a contact email address, some lazy info@ or a free Hotmail account. First of all, putting an email address on your web site is an invitation that says, “Hello, please send me spam because I was too cheap to hire someone to program a contact form.” Secondly, it doesn’t help customers provide you with the information you’ll need to do your job correctly. Why would you want someone to send you a poorly constructed email and give them the option to fail to provide you with a name, phone number or any useful information at all? Thirdly, it simply looks unprofessional, especially if you’re not using an email address that’s related to your domain and have chosen the cheap route instead.
So forget the email address and stick with a form. But don’t annoy your visitors with it and inadvertently sabotage yourself in the process. Watch out for these common traps and you’ll be a step closer to a successful website.
Mistake #4: Your Photos Have Low Quality Or Low Resolution
This one is a killer and also surprisingly common. Some photographers are afraid to upload high quality images to their portfolio because they think it increases the chances of unauthorized usage. Forget about this!
This should be a given yet so many photographers continue do this. And no, adding a little Gaussian blur or a texture over the image isn’t going to fool anyone. That shot may have been beautifully composed, but if you missed focus it has no place on your website. In addition, be sure to size your images appropriately for the space on your site. Nothing screams “I have no technical knowledge” like a 400×600 pixel image stretched to fit a 500 x 875 pixel space.
Mistake #5: Copying verbiage from other photographer’s websites
What’s mine is not yours.
Sadly, this has happened to us and many photographers we know. They have had the unfortunate experience of coming across a site where someone has stolen carefully worded text from their site to use on theirs. Writing for your site is not rocket science. If you are not a good writer, ask someone who is to create some good material for you. If you have nothing original to say about yourself or photography, then don’t say anything. And by the way, Google doesn’t look kindly on that sort of thing either, so you could be setting yourself up for a drop in your SEO results in addition to a call from an angry photographer if you lift text from another person’s site.
If you are making any of the above mistakes it is costing you your customers, with so much competition out there you want to have every advantage possible. So there you have our top 5 photography website mistakes that we see regularly, do you have any to add?