If you’re reading this, you cannot ignore the fact that the Internet is where IT is at.
It is where EVERYONE is at.
If you have just settled for any ol’ website but it doesn’t have functionality, exudes your branding, or is bringing in clients…then what is the point?! To be able to obtain a good website or blog that brings clients in the door, it is important to understand the working parts of each. Even if you have it all set up, checking out the tips for each never hurts! So let’s delve into how to set up a legit website and then run over some some legal information you should know about running your site to keep it legit!
Setting Up Your Website
Set Up Hosting
The first step is to set up an area to host your website. This will be where your website (or blog) will be hosted (parked or sitting). It is important to find a reliable host to ensure that your website is accessible to your clients.
Choose a Domain Name
A domain name is the address of the website or blog. This is where you can choose the fun www .______.com name! (Or .org, .net, or any other variety out there!). The key is to look for something easy to remember but reflects your brand and business. Domain names can range from a couple dollars and into the thousands depending on popularity and demand.
Tip: Most hosting sites provide domain name purchasing services. Keep in mind that you don’t want to have too many long letters or similar to another website.
Consider making an investment in alternative domain names that differ from your business name as well. Such as this site’s name name is TheLawTog, however, as a vendor of photography contracts the domain www.digitalphotographycontracts.com is also used and pointed to www.TheLawTog.com. So when the alternative name is typed in, it will still load TheLawTog to potential visitors.
Another example would include instead of www.janesmithphotography.com would be to secure www.STATEweddingphotography.com.
Build your Website
This one should be pretty self explanatory in what you are to do. Build it! The website acts as your virtual storefront and should be treated just as important (if not more) than an actual storefront.
Determining the type of website or blog platform can be overwhelming as there are many different options out there. One of the most popular blog platforms, albeit with a learning curve, is WordPress. The use of plugins, themes, and widgets allows for a completely customized view with limited or no coding knowledge needed to set up your blog to your preference.
Tip: I strongly suggest finding a theme to place onto WordPress. This will come with a preloaded skin on the site that you have chosen, and often these sites provide tutorials for finding your way around to easily customize.
Build Your Blog
The website is your hello or storefront; your blog is the handshake or hug that you will give to your clients. This is actually where a majority of your potential clients should land if you are using a blog as an efficient marketing tool for your past and current clients to talk about you.
Note: If you want to work with a theme for a WordPress platform, you will need to acquire a WordPress.ORG (NOT .COM), and then the theme will load onto the wordpress platform. It’s like wordpress is the cake and the theme is the icing and decorations!
Once the blog is set up, don’t just let it sit there! Institute blogging into your normal client workflow by efficiently blogging (LawTog Recommends BlogStomp for quick resizing of photos) on a routine schedule with fresh and engaging content.
Make It Work For You (SEO)
What is the point in having this all online if no one is finding it? If no one can easily navigate it to find what they need to book you?
One of the most important aspects of web traffic is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. In layman’s terms, this is how your website catches the eye of the search engines and delivers it to the searcher. It’s no fun blogging and blogging and blogging, only to get no traffic! Here are some tips to increase your search engine optimization and your web presence which will result in PRESENTS!
*Tips to optimizing your time online:
- Name your site appropriately – You’re probably thinking DUH! But seriously – put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. What would you search to find a certain type of photographer in your area? Try to incorporate this into your site title!
- Site description – Same as site title! Write a real description to grab the attention of your audience, but also make sure to include the key words needed. If your key words now aren’t working, try googling your area and find how your competitors pop up!
- Update frequently – People want fresh content. Web searches want fresh content. Make sure you’re updating frequently. Set a goal and blog. For me, I blog every Monday and Friday for you to read.
- Have relevant content – No sense in blogging if the content isn’t relevant! Find an area that you are knowledgeable in and that you think your readership will like to read!
- Categorize your blog posts – Be consistent in categorizing of your blog posts. Make sure these categories are relevant!
- Keywords– We discussed this above, but beware on writing TOO many keywords! Search engines are coded to label these sites as spam, thus, making your labors a waste!
- Pair Flash Sites with words– Without getting into technical computer mumbo jumbo, flash sites look pretty but don’t drive SEO. Make sure to include a description or descriptive text title on your flash splash page. Without it, the computer spiders that are searching wash right over you! Tip: Many mobile devices cannot properly operate flash, look at having a site that is not flash based.
- Image Descriptions– As photographers, we probably get into a groove of labeling our pictures by our client name and date of session. Potential clients have no clue about this! Rename your images before you upload them. (i.e. Austin_Texas_Wedding_Photography_1.jpg)
Now what? I’ve done all the above!
- Use a analytics tool such as Google Analytics – TRACK your audience. It is amazing how much traffic you may actually be getting but never comment!
- Link on social media– What good is having relevant and fresh content if you’re not going to get the word out. Help out the search engines and post on your social media accounts!
- Give it time!– It doesn’t happen overnight. Seriously! It’s like rolling a snowball; it takes sometime to get going but once its big people will notice!
Law Tog Recommended:
- Irresistible Website by Psychology for Photographers
- FindMe – An SEO Cookbook for Busy Entrepreneurs: Whether you are just starting out or needing successful search engine optimization recipes to be found – this is the ebook for you.
Set Up An Online Gallery
Want to have the option for online proofing? Maybe your clients are far away, or would like to have a gallery available after the in-person session to order more. Maybe you (or they) are so super busy and must do an “in-person” session via phone and use the gallery. No matter the situation having a gallery option available in your backpocket helps!
Get a newsletter list going!
If you are letting people come onto your site with no alternative to get your information except to contact you, then you are missing out! Capture these bypassers with a newsletter list that entices them for future information blasts!
Tip: Don’t spam or over email them! They will unsubscribe or delete emails!
If you’re still confused, here’s a little recap with (hopefully) some better ways to understand how this all works.
- Domain Name: Address of your home
- Hosting: Neighborhood where your home (website or blog) will be built
- WordPress (or like website platform): Foundation of your home (upon which your home will be built)
- Theme or Skin: Exterior set up (what client sees) such as your shutters, paint, etc. with interior controls
Legal Tips for Running a Website
No sense in spending all the time and money on a website if it isn’t legit! Don’t just stop with business formation and contracts, make sure all areas of your biz are ready to rock and roll (legally!)
- Terms and Conditions – Each website should have a list of terms and conditions that regulate a user’s access and use of the website. The most important aspect for a photography website is to include the use of permission by client (and entering of their information) to give you permission to contact them. The exact terms and conditions of a website are going to vary dependent upon your business and photography focus.
- State Your Conditions of Sale – State whether sales are final or are subject to sales tax. Always put the client on notice of these important sales condition.
- Obey Copyright Laws – Site and link back to credit where it is due. Never assume text is available for your use on website without permission of the creator.
- Comply With Other Laws – Always make sure you’re complying with applicable state and federal laws. It is best to consult an attorney or business consultant for this.