Most photo artists don’t particularly enjoy the acquisition side of business. This should not come as a surprise – after all, nobody will pay you for the time spent out and about, looking for clients. As a freelancer, customer acquisition via telephone is particularly time-consuming, and can be rough on the nerves, too.
Of course, it would be much nicer if potential customers simply found you and contacted you on their own. A portfolio website can help you with that, always assuming that it appears at the top of search engine listings, in popular photographers directories, and in social networks.
A photography website has some other advantages, too, though:
- A personal brand: You can stand out by advertising your specialization. Position yourself as the best in a narrow field – much better than being a dime a dozen.
- Contacting you: Your website acts as your central communications hub for any and all requests and inquiries. You can also link your website to all of your social networking profiles.
- “Buy it now” packages: Make it convenient for your customers to directly purchase your services on the website. Create standard packages catering to your customers’ needs. Your biggest advantage? No more sleepless night due to customers not paying.
- References: Show off the projects you have worked on for other clients.
Creating a website – can I even do that without being technologically savvy?
Generally speaking, yes. Over the past few years, some excellent website building solutions hit the market, many of which are great for photographers, too. The designs some of these services have to offer are very professional, while some others are less ideal.
The great thing is that most services have a free plan. A free plan usually restricts access to some features, but the parts included are more than sufficient to get to know the software.
But don’t worry, most of the time, you are spared the technological details. You don’t need FTP access, you don’t need to maintain a database, and you don’t need to deal with a webhosting interface written in IT jibberish. You can also forget about security updates. Programs like WordPress will require you to do those yourself on a regular basis, but the website builders this article outlines take care of that for you, in the background.
Obviously, this simplicity comes with some constraints. You don’t have access to the same range of professional functionalities and tools that full-blown content management systems offer. But really, most of those features are well beyond the scope of what a simple portfolio website needs anyway.
In this article, I’ll take a look at three recommendable website builders I have used in the past. They all offer free plans.
Website Builders for Photographers: Three Providers, their Advantages and Disadvantages
If you’re looking for a whole load of design options, Wix.com is the service for you. Anyone involved in the arts should take a closer look at Wix.com. According to their website, it has served as the basis for nearly 40 million websites.
Advantages: One-of-a-kind design possibilities, additional functionality can be added via the App Market.
Disadvantages: Loading speeds are not always ideal, search engine optimization is also somewhat lacking. Design cannot be changed after the fact.
A detailed review of all this website builder and others can be found here. Thanks go out to our friends at WebsiteToolTester for their videos reviews.
This website builder from California has its own successful story to tell, despite its relative youth. 20 million websites are built from and managed with Weebly’s homepage editor, which recently underwent a complete overhaul.
Weebly is just as intuitive as the website builder Jimdo – you can drag and drop modules onto your website.
Advantages: Design templates are very flexible, neat photo galleries, mobile app
Disadvantages: minor SEO limitations (search engine optimization)
If you want to know more about Weebly, check out my review.
This company is fairly well-known all over the world. About ten million websites are run and managed using the Jimdo software, which has earned its reputation for being easy to use. The company recently released an app for iPhone and iPad, which enables users to edit their website from their mobile devices.
Instead of using abstract forms, you can edit your website “in-line”, which means you can see the results right away.
Advantages: A wide range of functions (e.g. a blog, an online shop module, display options optimized for mobile devices, etc.), a complete package covering the website, your domain and a personal e-mail address, search engine optimization (SEO). A mobile iOS App that enables you to edit your site on the go.
Disadvantages: Some layouts are a bit on the dainty side.
If you want to know more about this site builder, check out my in-depth Jimdo review.
This video by WebsiteToolTester shows you a nice overview of Jimdos strenghts and weaknesses.
If you mainly want to create a blog there is also Squarespace. I use it for CoolPhotoIdeas. It's a bit pricier than the other tools but it does have pretty advanced features.
Advantages: It's the only site builder out of the pack that has fully responsive templates that dynamically adapt to tablets and mobile phones. It's also great to showcase a portfolio due to their choice of designs, mobile iOS app
Disadvantages: it's certainly not as easy to use as the other three providers and I find the editor to behave clunky and slow at times. You can find a detailed Squarespace review here.
Whether you take up the task of creating your photography website yourself or find yourself a web designer is completely up to you. Doing the work yourself is definitely less expensive.
And, should you realize that, after having tried a few things, you would prefer a professional to do the job: You will have at least gotten to know how a website builder and editor work, giving you a better understanding of how website creation actually works. Of course, you can outsource certain aspects to a graphics designer, too, which will give your website a top-notch look and feel while keeping costs from skyrocketing. After all, if clothes make the man, then images make the website.
Should you have any questions or feedback regarding this article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
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