It’s that time of the year again, when many get some time off, are contemplating over this year’s progress & results and making business goals (strategies) and resolutions for next year. Most of you are also asking yourselves – “Do I need a new photography website this year? Mine’s fairly new and doing a great job so far” – or maybe it’s not how you would like it. If your style has changed/matured, if you’re narrowing down the type of clients you want to work with, if you’re switching locations or entering the international, destination photography industry – your message & prices must reflect that. And what better way to reposition yourself then through a brand new website, meant to attract a whole new clientele?
Hence, if you do decide to revamp, check out our Current Hot Deals on websites. If you’ve recently redesigned, make sure you’re not guilty of the following 14 Website Mistakes that many photographers make.
Mistake #1: Not mentioning your location
This is core information, don’t play hard to get. Even if you target a global audience for destination weddings, it’s still useful to mention where are you from. One – this can boost your Local SEO. Two – a potential client will know for sure if they have the budget to fly you in from the other side of the world. Three – you may be missing out on potential local photography events/networking opportunities and Award Lists just because people can’t pin point you on the map.
Solution: If you want to highlight your destination photography services and travel availability – that’s fine. Just mention where you’re based on your About page. However, if you target a local market, or a certain region close to your home – mentioning your location and including it in your keywords is a MUST!
For those of you targeting a local market adding the destination in the footer of your site can give you a boost for Local SEO, include any relevant contact details also, and make sure that this information is consistent across all social media platforms.
If you’re guilty of this common website mistake that many photographers make – please go edit your website right now!
Mistake #2: Not stating clearly who you are & what you do on your homepage
Again, this may seem obvious but we constantly stumble upon websites where it’s not exactly clear what’s the brand about and what type of services are provided. While “visual storyteller” sounds fancy, you have to be clear and straightforward – photographer, videographer, event planner, stylist, fashion blogger, etc.
Don’t beat around the bush. Besides, from an SEO point of view – nobody goes on Google to search for a storyteller. People look for a portrait photographer, wedding videographer in a specific location. Hence, failing to clearly describe who you are & what you do, on your homepage, will most likely reduce your chances of getting ranked high on search result pages.
Solution: Ask 3 friends, or even better a few strangers (members of a photography group on Facebook that you are part of) to take a quick look at your website, and share some general feedback + answer the question of whether it’s clear who you are and what you offer.
Mistake #3: Not sharing any photos of yourself, not even on your About page
While this website mistake won’t have any effect on your SEO, it does leave some users wondering who you are, what you look like and why the heck are you hiding. “Is he/she too shy?”, “Do they look weird on photos?” “Don’t they have any photos of themselves?” This is what most users think when there’s zero images of you (or the team) on the website.
Sorry for the cliche phrase, but a picture IS worth a thousand words. A friendly, smily portrait or a photo of you with your family, will say more than 3 perfectly written paragraphs. It can also help you connect with your site visitors on a completely different level. Let’s say you include a portrait of you with your dog – pet lovers will definitely fall in love with you.
Add an image where you do windsurfing, skydiving, dancing like nobody’s watching – and voila, all those adventurous, energetic couples already want you as their photographer. Add a photo of you and your family, and those who have strong family values will pick you out of the other 7 candidates, just because they perceive you as a strong family person. Get it?
Solution: If you’ve been hiding before, add a cool picture of yourself on your About page or Homepage. Afterwards keep an eye on the page traffic and user flow for this page. Has anything changed after a few weeks? Share your results with us in the comments section!
Mistake #4: Badly written website copy
While taking great photos and writing amazing texts, comes naturally to some people, it’s a huge struggle for others. We get it. It’s difficult to describe the same type of service & passion – photography, in a thousand different ways. However, unless you have a very different, unique style of photography and editing that highlights you on the client’s radar – you’ll need words to build a strong emotional connection with your potential clients.
Don’t use boring text that nobody identifies with and wants to read. It kills your marketing. Don’t use standard phrases such as “I want to tell your story. I want your photos to take you back to that special day”. If your site visitor has been doing some research and you’re the 5th-10th photographer she/he is checking out, chances are they already saw this same message at least 3 times. Where does that put you?
Solution: Keep it simple. use your own words, as if talking to a friend. Then have someone proof read it for you. Sure, it may not be as evocative, but it will be honest and it will be You.
Another alternative is to hire a professional copywriter to do the work for you. A good copywriter will analyze your personality, portfolio and target audience, and come up with text that you’ll feel comfortable with. This copy will make working with you sound exciting, and ideally (if it’s a good copywriter) offer some boost to your SEO.
Bonus: Here are a few great examples of clients showcasing their personality and inspiring a great deal of emotions and admiration through copy:
Mistake #5: Uploading huge images to your website
One out of 4 photographers that we work with here at Flothemes is guilty of this mistake.
Why it’s bad to upload large image files to your website?
1. It slows down your website, making your users’ experience painful if not impossible – the heavier your website is, the longer it takes to load.
2. You use up your hosting’s server space a LOT faster, and need to spend more $$ to get additional storage space.
3. Site speed is a SEO and Google Ranking factor. A slow website screws up your SEO efforts and chances of getting found by potential clients on Google and other search engines.
Solution: Optimize your images before uploading them to your site. No one needs a 5000px wide image, when they’re checking your website on their phone. It won’t make any difference, even for a standard 13-15” laptop screen. Better focus on functionality, strong CTAs and a smooth user flow. That will make a huge difference for your business growth!
If you’re not sure how to prepare images for the web, here’s a comprehensive guide.
Mistake #6: Not including CTAs or having unclear ones
A CTA is short for Call to Action, or in other words the buttons and quick links that you include on your site’s pages, as an invitation for users to check out more of your work, read about you and take action – contact you, fill out a form, buy a ticket and so on and so forth.
A beautiful website is not enough to get you sales. You need to guide your users strategically through your pages. Figure out what do they need to see to get excited and ready to book you. Then build out that path for them, through recommended links, featured galleries or posts and CTAs. For example, a person who never heard of you before lands on your homepage. What do you think they should see? Some of your work? Ok, include a block with your favorite/best galleries. So they can see it, click on it, and browse through your portfolio.
Now what? Well, they should probably see who you are and what drives you. If you have similar interests, live nearby & share an analogues perspective on life – they’re your ideal client. Include a button on your About page, linking to your contact form, so they know exactly what to do next.
A clear user path (flow) not only helps you guide your potential clients through your website. It also filters out people who aren’t a good fit for you. For example, if you love shooting couples on top of mountains, with a trash the dress type of approach, include those galleries in your user flow. Those who want a very classy, clean & luxurious experience for their wedding day, won’t bother messaging you. You both get to save time on useless email exchanges.
Solution: Not sure how strong are your CTAs, or what user flow you currently have on your website? Use a tool, such as Crazy Egg to record videos of users interacting with your website. You’ll know if anything is wrong, it’s usually where users abruptly leave your website.
An alternative would be asking a few friends to access your website, while you simply sit next to them and watch what they do, where they click.
Mistake #7: Unclear navigation menu
This one is similar to #6. Make your navigation menu as simple and as crystal clear as possible. Don’t make them guess which information is where. Don’t make them look for your Menu, Contact or About pages. Consider a sticky menu, if your pages are very long and include lots of blocks – so your user doesn’t have to scroll up forever to access a different page. When it comes to navigation, it’s always practicality over design.
No matter how beautiful or unique your page may look with a Menu bar at the bottom right corner – DON’T DO IT. People are used to seeing the menu at the top, or left side bar. They won’t look at the right bottom corner, rather feel frustrated or lost and leave your site due to confusing usability.
Solution: Keep it simple and under 6 main items. Include a navigation in the footer for additional bonus points.
Mistake #8: Not trying to add socials networks
Perhaps the user hasn’t decided yet if they want to choose you or not. Maybe they’re still comparing, or doing research for future. In any case, you don’t wan to miss the chance of establishing a connection with them, be that via Instagram, facebook or your newsletter.
Solution: Submitting an inquiry is scary for some people who haven’t made up their mind about you yet. Hitting “follow” on your Instagram account however is easy. So make sure to add that small camera icon to the top or bottom of your website. If you like to send newsletters, add a witty “Subscribe to My newsletter” block, and give them a good reason to leave their email with you.
Mistake #9: Ignoring metrics
Don’t just assume that your website is doing a great job. Track its performance, analyze the data and make improvement decisions based on numbers. Find out where does your site traffic come from (location, platform, device, etc). Optimize your pages & content based on that information. Keep testing different ideas, and implementing the ones that bring better results. Don’t just go with your gut feeling, you have so much free information at your fingertips, waiting to be used correctly.
Solution: The best tool you can use, which is also FREE, is Google Analytics. Set it up and start tracking and analyzing your website’s performance.
Mistake #10: Not showcasing social proof
Don’t underestimate the power of social proof. Most purchasing decisions are heavily based on recommendations and feedback that previous clients shared about your product or service. Include all those happy, warm and beautiful messages that you get from clients. These can be as funky, fun and hectic as they come. They express genuine feedback and client experience. They give an extra insight on how it feels to work with you. So don’t be modest, put those up!
Solution: It can be a small section on a couple of your pages – on Galleries, About, Pricing or Contact page. Or can be a separate page in your menu, solely dedicated to raves. Even better if you can link the testimonials to the galleries of those clients.
Awards & press publications that you got are also social proof of your awesomeness, so don’t forget about them.
Mistake #11: To show or not to show pricing, that is the question
There’s an ongoing debate on whether you should show your pricing on your website or not. And while it’s not exactly a mistake if you don’t put your pricing on your website, we believe that showcasing your packages or at least some starting prices will help.
You immediately filter out people who do not have the budget for your services, and cut down the no reply inquiries (when someone emails you asking about prices, you reply back with a pitch + some questions, and they vanish, no more answer – isn’t that annoying?).
By stating clear pricing packages, you save your time and the time of the person who’s inquiring. If they really love what you do, but have a smaller budget – they’ll still email you asking for some discount. If they’re just fishing for a good price – you weed them out on that initial stage.
Solution: Choose what works best for your business. A/B test if needed, and let the stats speak for themselves. There’s not right or wrong here. We do suggest using the wording, packages starting from XYZ price, as this means you aren’t fixing your prices in and can be more flexible.
Mistake #12: Website isn’t mobile-friendly
Is this still happening? Do we really need to explain why it’s VITAL to have a mobile friendly / responsive website? At least 50% of your potential clients will check out your website on a mobile device the first time. Does it look good? Is it optimize for mobile? If it’s not, you’re loosing leads, money and SEO points.
Google has taken a serious step towards ranking sites that are mobile friendly first. With more people accessing your website on their mobile first – you want to make sure you have a responsive site that loads fast on mobile.
Solution: Get a new website, a modern design from a provider who offers both – a fantastic experience on desktop and mobile, just like Flothemes does.
Mistake #13: Ignoring updates & trends
It’s not enough to just build a website and then ignore it for the next 3 to 5 years. Design trends change. Web functionality and SEO requirements change. User’s taste & preferences change. Hence you have to be versatile and quickly adapt to the continuously evolving world wide web. Like with any business, you want to keep growing & improving over time. This refers to your craft, your marketing strategy (includes the website) & sales tricks.
Solution: Keep your theme & plugins updated at all time. Do regular backups and revamp your site to a more modern design at least every 2 years. A site makeover gives you a great reason to remove old content, curate your new galleries, update pricing – therefore narrow down the type of client you’re attracting with your work & website.
Mistake #14: Your site is slow
We’ve touched on site speed as an important factor for SEO. It’s also super important for website usability. With site visitors’ attention span getting shorter and shorter, your website needs to load fast to prevent users from leaving before they even see your page. Google announced that site speed is a ranking factor in 2017, while in 2018 pointed out mobile site speed as an additional metric. Want to rank better for SEO and improve your sites usability? Focus on a fast performing website.
Solution: Speed up your site’s loading time. You’ll want to make sure your main pages load in under 4 seconds. If you’re not sure where to start and would like to learn how to speed up your WordPress site, check out this article or grab our Speed Optimization service and have our team do it for you.
While some of these mistakes are minor and will only take you 5 minutes to fix – such as adding your location, photo and clear statement of who you are and what you do. Other mistakes are more complex and require time, effort and knowledge to solve, such as – image sizing, site speed optimization, figuring out the user flow and implementing strategic CTAs, learning Google Analytics, getting better at analyzing your site traffic, conversion rates, and many more.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Identify the things you need to work on, break them down into 1-2 tasks per day and slowly work your way towards a website that brings you more clients & income!
Remember, your website is your online office. When a potential customer walks in, you want them to feel excited, welcomed and guided to get what they came for. Right?
If you’ve enjoyed the 14 key points described above and are craving for more information and advice on how to improve your photography website – check out this article we wrote for PhotoBug Community on 5 Things Every Photographer Should Do When Building Their Website.