This article is part 2 of this Creative Transmissions guide to launching a professional photography website. You can find part 1 here: How To Launch A Professional Photography Website With No Free Time.
A modern website is more than a static page or resource. It is constantly changing, growing and includes systems and connections to external networks to help it catch the eye of its intended audience.
If you are new to running a website this may sound daunting. Fortunately as the Internet has evolved many new services have been created to take care of the technical details involved.
This article is a list of the essential tools and services you will need to set up to maintain a professional online showcase for your photography and a brief explanation of what you will use them for.
The only services which cost any money are your domain registration and hosting account, both of which cost very little.
I recommend putting aside some time to work through this list setting up accounts for each service in order. If you use the Internet regularly it should only take an hour or so to have everything ready to start building your new website.
An Address For Your Website
Your Domain Name is your websites address and should be the first thing you set up.
I won’t go into domain names too much here because I have already written this previous article so please take a look if you would like to know more about what domain names are and how to choose the right one.
If you already have an idea for your domain name you can use this handy domain name checker to see if it is available.
There are 3 reasons why your domain name should be the first thing you set up.
- It can take a day or so for domains to become active so you would need to wait for that to happen before setting up your main website
- They cost very little – usually a few pounds or dollars for a year or two.
- When you own your domain name your website chages from an idea to a reality. Taking this first step and becoming the owner of myprophotographywebsite.com will give you momentum to move forward.
A Place For Your Website To Live
All websites must be stored or hosted on a computer that can be accessed by the Internet. Creating an account with a hosting company will allow you to store your website on their servers.
For our purposes you will need:
- A reasonably large number of megabytes of storage space
- WordPress available as a one click or automatic install
There are many companies that provide hosting at varying prices. Creative Transmissions has a hosting package especially for this type of website, so you can get an idea of recommended specifications here on the Visual Artist hosting page.
It is possible to find free hosting on the web, however free accounts are always restricted and usually require advertising another company on your website. This blog series is intended to help you set up a website that looks professional, so advertizing supported hosting is not recommended.
Talking To Your Fans and Customers
In order to receive and respond to messages from your website visitors you will need a dedicated email account based on your domain name. For example firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email accounts are provided as part of your hosting service so they only require setting up. While hosting control panels vary from company to company the general process is:
- Log into your website hosting control panel
- Find and select the option to manage mailboxes
- Select the option to add a new mailbox
- Enter the mailbox name (such as “andrew” in email@example.com)
- Choose a password to access the mailbox
Most hosting companies allow you to log in on a web page to access your email or to set up a mail program like Outlook or Thunderbird to read your mail. Your hosting company will provide instructions on this.
Your Website Administration Tool
WordPress is a content management system. This is the tool that you use to determine all aspects of how your photography is stored, presented and how your visitors can interact with it.
Most hosting companies provide a one click installer that does this for you. While control panels differ from company to company the general steps are as follows.
- Log in to your website hosting control panel
- Locate the WordPress Installer Icon
- Click To Install
- WordPress has a very friendly auto installer will then ask you to enter you username, email address and the name you would like to give you new website.
Keep In Touch With Your Website Visitors
An list of the email addresses of people who have visited your website is one of the most valuable resources you can have for promoting and selling your photography and services.
Among other things you can use this list to:
- Let your visitors know about new photographs, galleries or articles you have added to your website.
- Let your visitors know when new products are for sale.
- Ask your visitors for feedback to help make your website more useful to them.
There are a lot of technical barriers such as email compatibility problems and spam filters which can cause difficulties when sending high quality emails to large groups of people.
To avoid these problems you can use a company like MailChimp to collect your email address and send emails to your list. Even better you can send 12,000 emails a month to a list of up to 2,000 people for free, which makes this the perfect choice for anybody just starting to build their email list.
Encourage Your Social Circle To Share Your Work With a Facebook Page
I am going to assume that most people reading this article already have a personal Facebook account and probably already use it to share some photography.
To present yourself as a professional photographer a dedicated page will go a long way.
This will let you:
- Give your visitors and clients who regularly use Facebook a convenient way to stay connected to you and your work
- Share your new photographs as they are posted and encourages visitors to come back to your website
- Separate your personal Facebook posts from your best work
There is a lot more you can do with Facebook to raise the profile of your website. For now we are just setting up the basics. Facebook pages are free and to set one up all you need to do is:
- Log into your Facebook account
- Click on the options menu at the top right
- Click Create Page
- Choose Artist as category
- Choose Photographer as sub-category
- Name your page the same as your website
- Follow Facebook’s instructions to set up your profile
Reach Out To Your Audience on Twitter
Twitter is a great social networking tool for any business. With Twitter you can follow people who are likely to be interested in your photography. If you follow the right people there is a high chance they will follow you back and take a look at your website.
Setting up a new account is simple. Just go to twitter.com, click the sign up button and enter a few basic details.
As a photographer you are in an excellent position to make your social network accounts look amazing as you already have a collection of amazing photographs to draw for Facebook header and Twitter background.
I would suggest choosing a photography with high visual impact and using it on both profiles for consistency
For the moment I will not go in depth on what to put on your social network profiles as the main website should be set up first. The most important thing is to ensure you have the profiles in place and they all have the same name.
Congratulations! You have now got all the boring account set-ups out of the way!
The next stage will be to turn your WordPress website from a blank slate to a photography website by adding a theme to give it a structure, layout and a colour scheme.
There are a vast amount of themes and styles you can use for your website so at this point I would recommend doing some research into other websites your particular field of photography.
Search Google, Twitter and Facebook for photographers you admire, look at thier websites and try to get an idea of how your photographs would be best presented on your web page.
I will be covering choosing and setting up your WordPress theme in the next blog post in this series.
If you have a question about this post or the previous one and would like me to clarify something, go detail on a particular area or suggest a complimentary tool or service the please leave a comment below.