Before we get stuck into it, heads up, this blog’s going to be an absolute BEAST because we’ll be diving into the nitty-gritty of how to create a brand-new website for your photography business in 2023 – from scratch. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the industry for a while, bookmark this blog because it’s the ultimate 101 guide and chockful of gold nuggets.
First up, let’s tackle the ever-popular, always-debated “Does a photographer need a website?” question!
Yes, if you want your photography business to gain and grow an online presence in today’s digital world. A whopping 97% of people use online search to look for local businesses (e.g. “Best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne”).
While you may still receive word-of-mouth referrals and/or enquiries through your Instagram profile, a website can expand your audience beyond your inner circle.
1. Boosts your credibility
As Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales says “If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.” People are actively searching online for solutions to problems they’re wanting to solve, using a mix of generic, specific and branded search phrases, as well as asking questions and using locations.
If you don’t have a website, you’ll have zero chance of getting clicked on – and unless you’re happy for your competitors to dominate the search results, you NEED those clicks.
2. Attracts new leads
84% of consumers believe a business with a website is more credible than one that only has a social media page. People are relying on your website to provide them with the credible information they need to make an informed decision. It lets people know who you are, how you can help, why they should care, and most importantly, TAKE ACTION.
Your website acts as your shopfront, bringing in leads and giving you an opportunity to convert them into paying clients. Show off your unique personality and amazing portfolio, and let them know exactly how you can serve them!
3. Streamlines your workflow
Available online 24/7, your photography website will save you time and energy. Providing all the information potential clients are looking for, from your location and hours of operation to available packages, you’re cutting down the back-and-forth emails.
You can integrate your CRM with a killer contact form, embed meeting scheduling tools, make announcements, build your newsletter database, sell albums, and so much more!
Just like asking “how long is a piece of string?”, there’s no straight answer. While you can technically build a photography website for “free” with platforms such as WordPress, Wix, and Pixieset, to name a few, there’s always a catch. Just one example, you won’t be able to create a professional custom domain (e.g. www.queenmelindaphotography.com) and will be stuck with something cumbersome like www.queenmelindaphotography.wordpress.com instead.
Limited by the platform’s free plan offerings – which is ALWAYS the bare minimum – you also won’t have creative control over the aesthetics and layout of your website.
If you’re opting for the DIY route, with more flexibility than free plans, you’ll be able to find semi-decent subscriptions starting from $20 per month.
If you want to have an entire custom website built professionally, the average cost of website design can range anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000+ in Australia. However, you’ll always be able to find “cheaper” options, especially if they’re starting out and wanting to grow their portfolio. But remember, you get what you pay for so do your due diligence when researching and clearly communicate your expectations.
Rather than trying to save money now, and then having to redesign your website all over again in the near future, set yourself up for long-term success. Always consider the realistic opportunity costs – would you rather settle for a poorly-designed website that costs you visitors and enquiries to save money in the short-term – OR – would you rather have a beautiful, functional website that does justice to your biz while converting browsers into leads from the get-go?
From pre-build background research through to post-launch testing and announcing your new website, I’ve broken it all down into 21 steps.
To keep it as simple as possible, I’ve also linked to additional helpful resources and other articles should you need to dig deeper into particular topics.
You can use the below table of contents to skip straight to specific sections.
Everything you need to know about creating a photography website
- Choosing the best website domain name
- Sourcing inspiration
- Choosing the right website platform
- Establish a consistent brand look & feel
- Map out all required pages
- Plan the layout of each page
- Draft your website copy
- Collate FAQs
- Start building your website
- Linking your socials
- SEO basics
- Mobile-friendly website experience
- Create a pre-launch checklist
- LAUNCH YOUR SITE!
- Set up Google Search Console
- Implement Google Analytics & check integrations
- Test user experience – again
- Check your website speed
- Back up your website
- ANNOUNCE & celebrate your new website!
A domain name is your website’s address. For example, our root domain is jailong.co. It’s important to try and get your domain right from the get-go because changing it down the track can be challenging, from potential traffic loss to unwanted downtime.
You can check if your preferred domain name is available to use with free tools such as https://www.domainregistration.com.au/domains/
You can learn more about domains here.
The keyword here is “inspiration”, NOT to copy or imitate. You are one of a kind so the last thing you want is to come across as same-same and risk getting lost in the sea of digital clutter. However, if you’re not sure where to start, it’s always a good idea to research other websites and gather inspiration for what you like and/or don’t.
Plus, don’t restrict yourself by only stalking other photography businesses! Source ideas from other industries, whether they’re beauty/ furniture/ lifestyle brands or your favourite indie band, there’s inspiration everywhere.
Here’s a peek at the Pinterest boards we created for our Jai Long Co. rebrand, everything from the website to the branding shoot!
Once you’ve gained a clear idea of an overall style, make sure you also reflect on how you want YOUR brand personality and messaging to be perceived.
Now that you have a rough idea of how you’d like to present your business, it’s time to choose the best website builder! Factoring in your tech-savviness and design capabilities, choose a website builder that you’re sufficiently comfortable making updates on in the long term. Rather than always outsourcing it, you should be able to add new testimonials, update copy, upload new images or post blogs yourself.
Showit, Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, and Pixieset are currently the most popular website builders for photographers. Research the pros and cons of each website builder by checking out their pricing plans, demo templates, functionality and customisation abilities.
Instead of building your entire site from scratch, you can also purchase customisable templates for your preferred website platform from professional web designers.
We personally recommend Showit because it’s a drag-and-drop website platform that’s been created for photographers and visual creatives. No coding is required. Showit provides 100% creative freedom over the layout and design of your website – on desktop and mobile!
Check out Studio Leelou’s scroll-stopping Showit website templates for some inspo!
Alright, I know what your next burning question will be…
Yes, not all website builders offer the same level of SEO tools. To date, WordPress is often looked upon as the holy grail of SEO-friendly website platforms but times are changing and options are growing. If you are confident in your SEO prowess and navigating a less design-intuitive platform, then you’ll enjoy WordPress’s optimisation plugins and scalability.
Most website builders will come with basic on-page SEO features if you know how to use them properly. However, your website won’t magically rank just because you’ve used an SEO-friendly website builder and thrown in some keywords.
SEO is a long game that requires your ongoing dedication to learning, strategising, and staying updated with the latest ranking factors. If you want to maximise your online search presence, you’ll need to implement a mix of on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
TL;DR: Regardless of your SEO knowledge and/or technical skill, it’s ultimately best to choose a platform that’s easy to learn and matches your specific long-term business goals.
Whether it’s your website, socials, price guide, business card or packaging, all your online and offline touchpoints should reflect consistent branding. From your logo to your chosen fonts and colour palette, it’s essential that everything flows together. This is the key to creating an on-brand experience that helps you to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re tired of messing around in Canva, invest in a branding designer who can help you brainstorm and establish your visual identity. As your business grows and evolves, you can always undergo a brand refresh or overhaul down the track.
Your website will act as your online shopfront, educating (and exciting) people on why you’re the best decision they’ll ever make! So, you’ll want your website to have a menu that clearly and quickly navigates people to the information they’re looking for.
Image credit: Studio Leelou
Serving slightly different goals, each page of your website should take your audience on a personalised journey. For example, your homepage will navigate people on where to go next while your service page will provide information about your packages and set expectations of what it’s like to work with you. So, you’ll want to take the time to map out the layout of each page to determine the flow of copy, images, and calls to action.
You can simply do this the old-school way, using pen and paper. However, if your chosen platform offers the design flexibility and customisation you need, you can also use professional wireframing tools like Figma and Adobe XD to mock up the entire website experience. The wireframe will visually represent the skeletal framework of each page on your website.
Image credit: Elementor Blog
Pre-planning each page’s layout will save you a heap of time because you’ll have a clear idea of how everything should ideally look and flow. Rather than fiddling around with the design WHILE learning how to navigate and use your website builder’s functionality.
Before you yell “buuuut Mel, I can’t write for shit”, don’t panic. Just as your clients have booked you as their photographer, rather than settling for taking their own blurry iPhone pics, you can outsource your website copy to a professional. While I personally would LOVE to bring your words to life, and sneakily pitch myself as the best copywriter in the universe, my full-time commitment at Jai Long Co. limits my freelancing capacity. And hey, I ain’t gonna leave you hanging! Jai often recommends the SEO & Copywriting team at Pepperstorm Media.
But I digress. If you want to have a go at writing your own copy, YAYYY!! Go for it!!
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FAQs deserve a step of their own because too many people forget to include them! No matter how clear and well laid out your website is, people are always going to have questions. FAQs allow you to answer specific queries while preemptively addressing any hesitations and pain points.
Think about all the questions clients have asked you to date and shortlist the most popular, helpful ones. For example:
You can place your FAQs at the bottom of your service pages, using a click-to-expand accordion treatment so can quickly jump to their specific question.
GIF Credit: Code My UI
Make sure your answers are always positive and reassuring – and let them know that they can contact you directly via your contact form or email if they still have other questions.
Yes, it took us 8 steps to get to this point. But I’d like to think you’ll thank me later…fingers crossed. You’re already investing time, energy and money into this project, so don’t rush it. We aren’t aiming for perfection but we do want to set up the foundations of your website properly, right?!
By this stage, you should be ready to start bringing your website vision to life. You can begin building out each page, using your pre-planned layouts as a guide, and slotting in all the draft copy as you go.
If you have a couple of amazing client testimonials ready to go, you can weave these in on your homepage and service pages.
Don’t worry too much about uploading photos just yet. Let’s just get the bare bones of your website ready first!
If you can’t work out how to do something, it’s okay, don’t stress. Every website builder has its own how-to and/or troubleshooting guide, as well as a customer support team.
You can also jump into relevant Facebook groups and chat forums to ask for help. And let’s not forget the power of Google…if you’re asking the question, you can safely assume someone else has asked it before, and that our almighty Google has the answer you’re looking for.
Aside from your portfolio page, you’ll want to break up every page with your beautiful photos for aesthetic flow. Once you’ve decided which and where images should go, make sure you optimise them before uploading them to your website backend. Image optimisation will help improve your website speed and SEO rankings.
GIF credit: Studio Leelou
More detailed information on image optimisation here.
Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter or elsewhere, encourage your audience to get social with you by linking your social channels. From weekend adventure reels to exciting updates, it’s a great way to “show the face behind the brand” and have fun with your audience while cross-promoting engagement across all channels.
The most popular way to share your social accounts is by adding links in your footer.
You can also embed your Instagram feed directly on your homepage, just above the website footer so it doesn’t detract from the other information on the page. Embedding your IG feed adds a dynamic element, automatically displaying your latest posts which can improve the overall quality of your website content.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website’s visibility when people search for services or products related to your business on Google and other search engines.
The higher your website ranks in search results, the more people are likely to click on your website to learn more about your offerings.
Image Credit: Moz.com
As opposed to paid advertising where you pay for each click/ interaction, SEO delivers FREE traffic to your website. This means SEO should be playing a huge part in your overall digital marketing strategy!
With ever-changing search algorithms and user behaviour, it’s important to note that SEO is a long-term, multi-pronged strategy with on-page, off-page and technical elements.
Image credit: SEMrush
If in doubt, it’s best to outsource your SEO strategy and implementation to an expert. Check out Dylan Howell’s introduction to SEO for Photographers here. You can also dive deeper into SEO tips for beginners through these guides from Moz and Ahrefs.
There’s about a 50% chance that you’re reading this monster of a blog on your phone right now…and if so, power to you for sticking with me and scrollllllllling this far down the page.🙌🤪
I reckon it’s also safe to assume that you’ll be building your new website and playing around with the layout on your desktop.
PSA: Don’t forget about your website’s mobile experience!! In fact, make it a top priority.
Image credit: Studio Leelou
With mobile devices generating 54.4% of global website traffic, and Google prioritising mobile-first websites, it’s essential that your website is designed for both desktop and mobile.
While some website platforms will adapt your desktop design into a mobile-friendly layout, you will still need to make adjustments to ensure the best possible experience. If you choose to build your site through Showit, you’ll be able to create your mobile design from scratch which offers much-needed flexibility!
You want to have a checklist that you can refer to, and make any necessary notes, BEFORE officially setting your site live.
Your website will never be 100% perfect – and you don’t want it to be perfect either. Treat your website as a living, breathing thing that’s always evolving with your biz, committing to checking and updating it regularly. Never set and forget it!
But if you are satisfied that you’ve covered all the above steps, more or less, then it’s time to launch your website! The sooner you launch it, the sooner you can start enhancing your online presence, attracting visitors, and making further improvements.
At this stage, we’re just setting your website live (without announcing it to the world) so we can proceed with the next post-launch items.
Google Search Console provides all tools and reports you need to track your site’s search traffic, review issues, and improve its performance. You will also need to submit your sitemap/s to Search Console for Google to crawl and index.
More info on how to set up your Google Search Console.
If you want results, you must actively track your website’s performance! Firstly, you’ll want to link your website with Google Analytics to capture all incoming data and analytics. If you are new to Google Analytics, get started here.
GIF credit: Google Marketing Platform
Secondly, set up and install a Meta Pixel on your website so you can track visitors’ interactions on your website. Even if you’re not planning to run any Facebook or Instagram ads yet, the pixel will start collecting helpful data right away – and the more data you have, the better!
You will need to have a Business Manager account to manually connect your unique Meta Pixel with your website. More info from Meta here.
Now that your site’s live, it’s essential that you go through your website with a fine tooth comb AGAIN, to triple-check the overall user experience. Ideally, you’d want to do this on multiple devices to note any necessary tweaks – for example, on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and mobile. It’s also a good idea to test on different mobile phones, e.g. iPhone vs. Android, as there will be differences between all devices, makes, and models.
While it’s impossible to perfect the experience across every single existing device, please ensure the mobile and desktop experience is optimised functionally and aesthetically. Remember to test-run all forms on your website to check that all submissions are being alerted and stored successfully.
This is also a great opportunity to ask your family and friends to explore your website and provide feedback on their experience.
It doesn’t matter how amazing your website is if it’s taking too long to load. The speed – or lack of it – can make or break your website. The longer it takes to load, the more people will abandon your site to find a solution elsewhere. In fact, 53% of visitors will leave a site if pages are taking longer than 3 seconds to load. This not only creates user frustration but can also negatively affect your SEO rankings.
Test and cross-check your website speed across a number of tools such as PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. Review (and implement where possible) their collective feedback to see how you can further optimise your site loading times.
After all your hard work, you’ll want to make sure that you have a backup solution available if worst-case scenarios happen. This will allow you to restore your website to its previously saved state, minimising downtime.
There are many ways to back up your website, from manual downloads to plugins and third-party tools, depending on your web builder/host.
Ahhhhh, we’re finally here. WE MADE IT! Now that you’ve satisfactorily tested your live site, you can prep for the big celebratory announcement.
While you can start preparing for the website announcement and build hype alongside the testing period, just make sure you give yourself enough of a grace period to refine and/or fix any issues.
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W O W. You’ve made it THIS far, so hats off to you, my friend! I TOTALLY agree that this blog has turned into a bit of a word vom. #mybad But hopefully this complete breakdown will empower you with the clarity and know-how on how to approach creating and launching your new website.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s only normal – and you’re far from alone! Building a website is no easy feat and takes lots of TLC to get right. The more you equip yourself with the right knowledge, tools, and support, the more confident you’ll feel.
Plus, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) tackle your entire website yourself! Revisit your budget and capabilities to decide which parts can be reasonably outsourced to the experts.
As with anything in life, progress is better than perfection. Better to make a start somewhere than to procrastinate altogether, so start taking the small steps towards your big goals today! You’ve got this!!
Loved this blog? Here are other helpful blogs for elevating your online presence:
P.S. We’ll be working on a comprehensive PDF with even more website tips and tricks, so subscribe to our newsletter and keep your eyes peeled!