Building a photography website can be tricky. First, there's the decision on whether you want a template, a custom site, or a DIY solution. You can certainly end up with a great site using any of these - depending on the balance between how much time you want to invest, and how much money you want to spend. But even once you decide how to build your website, there's still the question of what to put on it. Here's my list of 5 things every photography website MUST have.
1. YOUR NAME
Even if your business uses a name other than your own, somewhere on your website, people need to know who YOU are. Wedding Photography is personal, and people want to know who the man (or woman) is behind the curtain. Even if your business isn't solely based on your personality, people still want to know the faces, and names of the real-life people behind it all.
2. YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER
Did you know that having a contact form isn't the same as providing your email address? Sure, it goes to your email - but the experience is different. I also know it's easier for you if people complete the form, and if you have a form - most people will contact you that way. At the same time, there's really no good reason to not provide an email address. What if I want to contact you but my question doesn't fit into your form. What if I'm already a client, and I have a question - do you really want me filling out your lead form? Make it easy for people to contact you.
By the way, you should also provide a phone number. If you're not super-excited about random people calling your home phone, or your cell phone, get a google voice number. Not only is it free, but when people leave you a voicemail, it transcribes it and sends it as a text or email. You can also set up where you want your calls to forward. My business number is set to ring at my office during business hours, and to my cell phone when I'm out. In the evening, it's simply set to go to voicemail.
3. WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED
I was just looking at a photographer's website to see where they were from, and NOWHERE did it even give you a clue where they were located. Not a single clue. In fact, on this website - it wasn't even in the metadata! If your goal is to generate leads, why on earth wouldn't you want people to know where you're located?!
I know the arguement - "I want to be available for people anywhere, so I don't want list my po-dunk little town I live in cause then they won't contact me." You're right. They won't. More than 98% of weddings are shot by someone local. And most of the rest are shot by someone the bride and groom had a previous relationship with. It basically NEVER happens that someone will randomly google for photographers, find your site, and hire you regardless of where you are. It doesn't happen. Never mind that you're totally screwing your chances of being found on google anyway if you don't list your city!
You don't have to list your address (especially if you work from home), but at least tell us what city you're in!
4. INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PRICING
Do you know why people look at your website? Sure, they want to see your photos - but if they're interested in hiring you, they want to know two things - "are you available?" and "how much do you cost?" While it's harder to answer the first question without constantly updating a calendar on your website, you can make it easy for people to conact you (see above).
As far as the second question, I've written before about how strongly I feel that you should list information about your pricing on your website. While I don't think you need to list every package, and every print price, I DO think you need to give people the information they want. They want to know if you're even in their ballpark. Do you charge $2,000 or $20,000. Don't waste their time and yours, by making them contact you and scheduling a meeting to find out.
At a minimum, list your starting price, and/or a range. For example; "our wedding commissions begin at $3500, and most of our clients spend between $4,000 and $5,500 for a complete collection including a handcrafted album" You can spend your time responding to unqualified leads all day, and you can kid yourself into thinking that you can talk that $2,000 budget into spending $5,000 but more often than not, that time would be better spent investing in your ideal client.
5. YOUR BEST WORK
And only your best work. In fact, you should probably leave off a lot of your best work. Your website should only include your best work that represents the type of client you want to book. What you choose NOT to show says as much about your brand, as what you choose to show. Your website should only contain your A+ work, even if it means you show less photos. As soon as you start showing work that is off-message, or work that isn't your very best, you start to dilute your brand and lower the impression of your artistic value.
Your turn - what do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know what every website MUST have (and what to avoid).