What does it take to build a photography website
Hello my photographer friends, have you’ve been wondering how is to build a photography website and what does it take to do it?
If you are a photographer is more than necessary to have a website.
Before to start, I want to mention the fact that this post does not contain any affiliate links or paid promotion. It is just my honest review.
A website can be used to connect you with your clients, to expose your work and portfolio, to attract more customers and build an email list, to share experiences with others or like in my case, to help other people learn photography.
Those are just very few of the reasons you may want to build a website.
Furthermore, to simplify the content of this post I am going to divide it into multiple categories, each related to a specific section
Now the real questions are:
What type of website are you exactly looking for?
- A static website for displaying photographs only (portfolio)
- Static website for displaying photographs and occasionally posting blogposts
- Mainly creating blogposts and occasionally displaying photographs (my website)
- To sell prints / open a photography online shop.
What is going to be your budget?
- Somewhat around £100 per year
- I can invest a bit more
- The budget won’t be a problem
How are your computer skills and web design?
- Quite okay
- Won’t be a problem
- I am a web designer
How to build a photography website
Okay, to get back to our main subject, how to build a photography website, I had to simply ask you those questions for you to make a note what is better to pick accordingly to your photographic needs and skill or budget.
Building a static website to display photographs / your work or portfolio, probably is the easiest part with no much work involved and no advanced skills required, and can be widely done in different ways, from creating the website through self-hosting services to fully hosted platforms.
My first recommendation for a portfolio website is to build your website around a fully hosted platform with a monthly or yearly subscription.
When you build your website for portfolio only or to display your photographs, there are on the internet fully hosted platforms with the required themes and plugins or software preinstalled which can support portfolio display on high quality and relatively safe way.
Those websites platforms such as Zenfolio, Squarespace or Smugmug usually have everything ready to use and they are specially made for photographers.
The level of skill you need to do it is relatively low but the prices are pretty high.
Wix is a cheaper alternative with a very modern interface and easy drag-and-drop function.
But the problem with the fully hosted portfolio websites is that they don’t fully support or not support at all the blogging system.
If you are looking to do a bit of blogging, share your experiences with others, I would recommend looking forward.
A while back I was using Zenfolio for my photography display. With honesty, that had an absolutely amazing design and photoprotection overall.
The ability to create a specific folder with unique access for customers on the website, with a password-protected section and the ability to view the photos and download them, it was fantastic!
But I needed more than that. Not technically speaking, I wanted to write also!
For your case, if you are aiming to use the website to only display your work, platforms like Wix, Zenfolio or Smugmug can be more than enough, but:
Keep in mind that you will need a minimum monthly investment for the subscriptions. Wix, for instance, supports a free version but with displaying Wix ads and with the inability of having a custom domain website. I strongly do not recommend that
Wix is cheaper than the others and it does have an amazing photography display, modern design but kinda let you down when you are going towards marketing side
With Zenfolio and Smugmug is another story. Their subscriptions are more expensive but allow you to easily sell digital copies of your photos, prints (ordered from custom labs or your own prints) and some physical products.
But if you are aiming to open an online photography shop, this is definitely not the solution.
Although for opening an online shop I recommend to go for a self-hosted platform with the website such as wordpress.org, I do not recommend it for displaying photos only.
I do recommend it if you are going to share your photography experiences with others by writing blog posts.
Building a photography website for displaying photos and writing blogs (or sharing experiences)
Many people will say “Go Tumblr “. I say I don’t know, never used that.
What I do say, from my personal experience is to either focus on investing in a self-hosted website or something like Squarespace.
But building a self-hosted website instead is a bit more complicated and costly than web hosting services and can be either cheaper or more expensive.
This requires an intermediate skill level to create websites, as you will need to buy a hosting platform, install the website service, the theme, required plugins, to properly configure the website and so on.
As I’ve mentioned probably already a few times before, in this case, I would recommend going for WordPress. You can also use the wordpress.com web-hosted platform if you don’t want to go too much technical about creating websites, but the actual price is high
This probably would be more than enough to get you started in building a photography website and be able to get a bit of blogging, but:
You have to keep in mind that with WordPress both .com web-hosted platform or .org / self-hosted website, you will have to buy themes designated for photography and probably few plugins also
In this case, you will also need intermediate computer skills and web design.
Building a photography website for blog posts and sharing photographs
Why would you want to do that? There are two options here:
- You want to build a website with the blogging system where you share your photographs in a blog post with a story behind, share your experiences.
- You want to write photography tutorials and occasionally display photographs on your website
For any of the above cases, I would definitely recommend going with WordPress.org and a self-hosted platform
If you want to build a website where you write blog posts sharing stories of your photographs, there is no need for any sophisticated plugins and themes to buy.
Going to do that, you will be able to connect your account with the wordpress.com jetpack service. By doing that, you will access the WordPress social media platform where you will be sharing your posts and experiences with others. Same things goes if you are building your website on the web-hosted platform wordpress.com
In this case, you can easily get visitors and people interested in your work and stories, without to have to wait that google will boost your posts
I’ve seen many photographers with tens of thousands of followers on WordPress and with every photo and story shared throughout a post, hundreds if not thousands of people engaged.
I can’t say the same for Google unless you are going to share valuable content such as writing tutorials and guides, and here comes the second option:
Building a photography website to mainly write tutorials and guides and occasionally share photographs with people
This is the way I went and I can say from my own experience, although I have to update my website regularly and to improve my design, I have an active system in place.
If you notice, I have a menu tab called “gallery”. I am not uploading those images to my website, this is actually a live feed connected to my Instagram.
I am using tailwind premium where I can schedule and post photographs on Instagram, and automatically shared on my facebook page and Pinterest profile.
With one single action, I am able to post on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and have a live feed on my website. The advantage is time management and cross-traffic.
What about the blog posts? As you see right now I am writing a guide. I am also using most of the times my own photographs for the guide but sometimes I have to appeal on free-licence photos for my needs (I am using Unsplash for this, and credit is given every time)
With writing guides and tutorials, I can get search enginee and social media traffic to my posts. This is website traffic where I can serve ads or even build a shop and redirect people and possible customers to it.
The negative side is that as a photographer, I would love more than anything to go outside and shoot all the time, but I have to split my time between writing and photographing.
If you are aiming to have an income from blogging while doing photography as a passion, I would definitely recommend going for a self-hosted platform like wordpress.org with Bluehost as a hosting service (or any other), and start writing.
The budget is going to be a bit high at the beginning as you will have to pay for the host, the domain, SSL certificate, themes, plugins, advertising (if you are going to), and many more.
And the skill level to do this is above intermediate, but I would recommend following youtube tutorials to help you through the process.
Once you created your own system with your website, everything should be easier.
What about building a photography website to mainly sell your prints or to open a photography shop?
In this case, there are quite a few options, but wherever you are going to do, stick to it.
- Sell your prints through Zenfolio while having a portfolio display (for prints only)
- Open an Etsy or Spotify shop and integrate it with your main website
- Build your website on wordpress.org with a self-hosted platform, with WooCommerce plugin
- Affiliate shop
If you want to sell your prints, digital copies of the photographs, or use printing labs for clients to remotely order prints, there is no doubt that Zenfolio (or Smugmug) will be the case for you
As a bonus, you will be very able to display your portfolio, and if somebody likes a specific photo, they can directly buy it or order a print for it.
If you are aiming to sell more than prints and digital copies, I would recommend going to open an Etsy or Spotify shop where you can list your items, and integrate it with your website (in the main menu) to redirect traffic to your shop
But if you are going to take things even further, I recommend you to integrate directly your shop into your self-hosted website on WordPress with plugins like WooCommerce.
In the case of an affiliate shop, this is another story.
Listing products from amazon, DJI or many other sellers, you can join an affiliate programme which allows you to earn a few percents of the product if this is sold through your affiliate links
You do not have to stress yourself to own physical copies of the products, all you do is advertise them.
Sometimes, depending on the product sold, you can earn even tens of pounds or dollars per product sold.
In the case you are going to do affiliate shop, I recommend creating a specific affiliate website through self-hosted platform on wordpress.org
But heeey! I was supposed to tell you how to build a photography website, right?
Sweet&Love my camera! Conclusion
Whichever option you are going to do, once you build your website you build your brand.
Stick to it no matter what and promote it smartly through social media or any other means.
As I’ve said, every photographer will eventually need to build a website. Do you have one?
Leave your comment in the section below and tell us what platforms are you using or going to use for your website
Thank you for reading this post. You can check a few other posts below:
- Should you add watermark on your photographs?
- Weekend photography trip – What gear to take?
- 50 Random photography tips
Publish your photos with #photornia on Instagram! It would be great to share your results with us and others!
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