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 of their own accord. A website will do just that: once it’s up and running it takes care of the job of finding new clients for you, while you’re out and about taking beautiful photographs.
Setting up your own professional website is easier than you might think, especially if you’re using an online website builder. Just take a look at how flexible and easy-to-use a website builder can be:
Advantages of a portfolio website:
- Build your personal brand: You can stand out by advertising your specialism. 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 and online bookings: Make it convenient for your customers to directly purchase your services on the website. Create standard packages catered to your customers’ needs. The biggest advantage? No more sleepless nights due to customers not paying.
- References: Show off the projects you have worked on for other clients.
Can I create a website even without being tech-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 web hosting 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.
Let’s now take a look at what you should be looking for in a website creator.
Typical requirements for photography websites
- The site can be updated without any programming skills
- Relatively small site (about 5 to 30 pages)
- Different photo gallery options
- Elegant ways to present your portfolio
- Plenty of storage space for high-quality image files
- Social media integration (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest,…)
- Option for password-protected client access
- Domain name and email account included
- Attractive design templates (optimized for mobile devices)
- Possibility to optimize for search engines
- Blog option
- Appointment scheduling via website
- Technical support offered by the provider
- Cost: $8-12 per month, up to $25 with e-commerce
You probably don’t need
- Ability to manage hundreds of individual pages
- A big multilingual website or store
- A paid membership area
Best website builder for photographers
Made to Impress
Without a doubt Wix offers the most sophisticated designs and image galleries available from website builders today. That is the very reason why it has become so popular with anyone who wants to showcase a portfolio. As you were able to see in the U3 video above, it’s extremely flexible and allows for pixel-perfect designs.
What’s also worth noting is their App Market. It offers an unmatched array of additional features that you can activate with only a few clicks. Wix Bookings is a noteworthy app as it will allow your clients to book appointments with you directly online. It even syncs with Google Calendar.
Wix has a very decent blogging feature that’ll help you write about your passion for photography. If you are interested in selling your work, you should also check out Wix’s online store.
We think that it’s the top choice for photographers as its visual appeal is simply unmatched: Learn more in our full Wix review.
Wix Example Websites
Ease of Use Like No Other
Weebly is the perfect website editor if you don’t want to deal with a lot of technical details. Everything is very beginner-friendly yet powerful at the same time. Their themes are responsive and will display perfectly on mobile devices like smartphones, iPads, and other tablets. Though compared to Wix, they are not quite as cutting-edge regarding their aesthetics.
Another advantage is the blogging feature that you can use to write about your latest photo shoot. Weebly is also the only provider we know of that has a built-in video and audio player. If you combine that with the membership feature, you can even show exclusive content to your VIP clients. Lastly, there is also a powerful online store module that you can use to sell your photos.
Great Solution for Bloggers
Squarespace is slightly more expensive, but in return offers a very good blogging feature. You can also use Squarespace to sell photos and other digital and physical products. Keep in mind though that it’s not quite as easy to use as the previously mentioned website builders. Also is it nowhere nearly as flexible as Wix, for example.
Squarespace is one of the few site builders that offers responsive templates, i.e. they will always automatically adapt their size to mobile devices. Unfortunately their page speed is a bit on the slow side. Find out more in our detailed Squarespace review.
Show Off Your Entire Portfolio
SmugMug has a clear focus on photography portfolios. Thanks to unlimited web storage in all plans you can create a complete archive of your images. Creating a good-looking website, on the other hand, might take a bit of effort. They sport a couple of great templates, however, adjusting them can be tedious.
Prices start at $3.34 per month. To use your own domain name you need to at least opt for the Power package ($5 per month). What’s great is that you can sell photos and videos in both the Portfolio and Business plans. If that’s what you are after, it’s great! If you’d rather have an easy to use website builder with blogging functionality, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace would be a better choice in our view.
For More Sophisticated Websites
If you think none of the above mentioned site builders will match your requirements, there is also WordPress.org (see our full tutorial here). It’s a more high-end solution that has a much steeper learning curve than the three aforementioned site creators. But if you are after sophisticated e-commerce, blogging or paid membership features for your clients, it may well be worth getting your head around it.
Whether you take up the task of creating your photography website yourself or find 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 editor works, giving you a better understanding of the the whole process.
After all, if clothes make the man, then images make the website. Luckily, that’s exactly your area of expertise.
Should you have any questions or feedback regarding this article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!