Making sure your website is working the way it should and showing great images is critical, but how about another significant area that makes for an effective website?
“About Us” or “About Me” is just about the most abused category on most of your websites, no matter what your specialty. Here’s where you have a chance to create something amazing, yet over and over again, photographers miss the opportunity. They’ll waste the space talking about their accolades. They'll talk about their gear. They waste the most valuable piece of real estate on their site talking about how they got started in photography.
That would be totally relevant, IF you were doing a presentation to a thousand professional photographers at a convention. It would also be perfect if your target audience was aspiring professional professional photographers. I'm assuming your target is primarily consumers, so....
This is a wake-up call...your clients don't care how you got started!!!
What they do care about is why you're a photographer. They want to hear how much you love to capture memories. They want to know why you love doing what you do so well, because they need to know they can trust you. They're looking for a chance to look into your heart. Yeah, that sounds pretty sappy, but think about who you are and what you’re expecting people to do.
This is all about trust! You’re asking a potential client to trust you to be their eyes for the day at a wedding, for a family portrait, for a children’s shoot, either with a Day In The Life theme or a portrait session. With a commercial client, you want them to hire you because of the confidence they have for you to capture images of the concept or products near and dear to their hearts and livelihood. You’re asking a client to trust that your mindset and vision is the same as theirs!
So, let’s take a good look at your opening statement in your About section. There needs to be a statement about who you are and what you bring to the party. Scott Bourne refers to it as his “artist’s statement” and every photographer needs to have one.
I happen to love calling it an “artist statement” rather than “mission statement”. Mission statement is too much out of the 70’s and too corporate. Photography is definitely an art form and you’re an artist, so let’s give people something they can relate to.
Make your statement from the heart! You want to convey both your passion and your ability to capture an event in a way that exceeds their vision. Scott Bourne's artist’s statement, has a few favorite sentences that to me convey what he’s all about:
…”As a wildlife artist, my gift is to know how to “show up prepared” to interact with beauty that I do not control. I must learn to be at peace with my subject on their terms, not on mine.
I struggle with finding the patience and the path. But when that struggle becomes the hardest, I remember my calling. I speak for the creatures which have no voice. Perhaps this is why the experience is so emotional for me.”
Two other simple tips - do your about piece in the first person, because it's you talking to a visitor who just walked into your "store". Second, sign your statement with your signature or a facsimile. Make it personal, the same way artists sign their work.
I’m convinced you can’t be in business today without a website, but how well that website works for you is entirely up to you. There may be lots of technology short cuts in building the infrastructure of the site itself, but there are absolutely no short cuts to convincing potential clients you’re the one they need to hire!
I know this video has been all over the Internet. In fact, I have it up in another area of the site right now. It's Justin and Mary Marantz's about video. I'm not saying you need to have a video for your about section, but think about the message this conveys. It's considered one of the very best about pieces in wedding photography.
One last point...
Your about section and your galleries are the two most important elements on your website. My personal favorite is to show galleries first, your about section next and then information and your contact page, but you've got a lot to think about with just this post today. We'll hit a few more website tips on Monday.
Go and take a serious look at your about section - does it really convey what your clients want to hear? And if you want help organizing and restructuring your site, join us at Marketing Boot Camp on August 11 and then Summer Session for the next three days - I can promise you'll leave with a stronger message and a better identified target audience! Got questions? Just email me - I'll do my best to get back to everybody ASAP, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration Credit: © HaywireMedia - Fotolia.com
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.