Following the general outline from my program at this year's ShutterFest, I want to stay unplugged, and let's talk about your website! This is the third component in the Unplugged series.
In today's market, your website is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar business ten years ago. It's your storefront and for many consumers, their first introduction to who you are and what you're offering.
Here are some key points, so you don't disappoint them!
- Make your galleries the first tab! Since a picture is worth a thousand words, get your target audience to your images immediately. Make your second tab your "About" piece. Next comes your "Information" page if you really have enough to share, then a "Contact", your "Blog" and last on the list, many of you have a password protected client page.
- Stop burying people in an endless stream of boredom! Use your galleries to show great images and your diversity. Don't show mediocre images that anybody's Uncle Harry could get. Here's the rule - only show "wow" images. A "wow" image is a shot so good you could get hired only showing this one photograph! Let your images tell the story of your skill set and, in this case, less is more!
- You don't need hundreds of images to tell your story. The average consumer is not interested in looking at tons of images. Show 6-12 in a category. Again, only show your best work. However, a great way for wedding photographers to show not only their work but their storytelling ability is to show a complete album. Put an entire album online to further show your skill set.
- Stay on topic! Your galleries need to have a natural tie-in together. Brides, babies, family, pets all go together, but dropping in a section on fine art or commercial work doesn't fit. An ad agency looking for a commercial shooter, for example, isn't going to explore your work if they come in through the wedding door first or babies or family portraiture.
- Your bio needs to sound more like an artist's statement than a bio on a job application! Remember, your target audience doesn't care about how you got started, what gear you shoot with or even what awards you won. They do care about why you're a photographer. This is where you get to share your passion for the craft and capturing memories.
- Write your bio in the first person and remember to sign it or have a facsimile of a signature. Make it personal and it's okay to sound romantic. Remember, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait social categories.
- Use technology to your advantage. With the ease of shooting a video today, there's no reason not to have a self-promotional video showing your personality and combining still images to show your skill set. In fact, there's still time for you to enter the Photodex/SCU self-promotional contest. We extended the deadline to the end of this month.
- If your head-shot is bad and you're a photographer, what do you think that says to your target audience? Use more than one image and make at least one of them a shot of you working with a camera in your hand and a subject in the background.
- Stop posting policies on your website. So many of you have an "Information" section but are posting statements about cancelation policies and deposits that are worded wrong. They're just too strong. In most cases, they'd scare an IRS auditor away! Save the policy statements for the contract discussion.
- Your contact page needs to look like you'd honestly like people to contact you. I understand if you work out of your home and don't want to put down your address, but there's no excuse for not sharing a phone number and email address. Don't put a contact template up there and then expect that to be enough. Be accessible!
- Make your site easy to navigate. Don't make your audience mine for the information that's most important. Also, if you've got something you'd like people to print then don't make it reverse type. Just stay with good old black type on a white background. Make it easy for your clients to read, print and save.
You can't be in business today without a website, but you need to make it an experience. In the same way people like shopping at a particular department store, it's up to you to decide if you want to be Nordstroms or Kmart!