Lessons learned from a photography website gone wrong
Photography July 31, 2022 Wilko van de Kamp
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In one of the travel photography shows I participated in, I ended up having a conversation with a fellow photographer I had not seen for quite some time. She was just starting out in landscape photography, and had joined my photography class to learn my tricks of the trade. After all, especially in the art world, competition is a thing of the past. We’re here to help each other out.
After catching up on her progress, she started talking about her photography website. She had just launched her new site, custom built only a few months ago, to promote her best new work. She asked me to have a look at her new site, and let me know what I thought of the design and functionality.
What I found in reviewing the site is what I see happen often in artist websites. The website did not have a clear call to action of what the visitor needed to do in order to obtain a fine art print of one of my friends photographs. In this particular instance, the goal of the website should have been to show visitors their print and customization options. Instead, it highlighted a handful of travel galleries, showcasing example photos taken. In itself that is definitely a good thing to do, but without a clear call to action it also leaves a potential customer to figure everything out on their own, potentially having to search all through the website to find the information they’re looking for to potentially make a purchase. Simply put, all of the things that make an artist money are hidden somewhere deep in the options of the site and extremely difficult for a potential customer to find.
In addition to not being customer friendly, the website was also not designed to be found by the major search engines. In my friend’s case, the only way you could find her website would be if you knew her name. In theory this might work if you already established yourself as a well known photographer, who people look for by name. Reality is that while anyone can build their personal brand, few are currently in a position that can rely on their name recognition only. The rest of us can’t just rely on online advertising, print marketing, word of mouth, and other “offline” methods to get the word out about our websites. Focusing exclusively on offline marketing methods means you’ll risk missing the boat on all of the free customer leads that search engines and social media marketing can bring to your photography business.
The good news is for her is that after my assessment of her website we’ve started to work to move her portfolio over to SmugMug, which will correct the previous shortcomings in her website while leveraging the SmugMug framework and infrastructure. It’s one less thing to worry about as a photographer, freeing up valuable time and resources to focus in doing what you love (and hopefully are good at).
In the weeks and months following the transition to her new website, my photography friends noticed an uptake in visits to her portfolio and with that came an increase in print sales. Making the changes and starting afresh with a proven framework positively impacted her business. Interested to explore the opportunity to do the same with your website? Whether you are looking to create an online portfolio to just showcase your photographic artwork to friends and family, attempting to market your work to potential buyers, or trying to run a full blown photography business – it is important to know that not all web design companies are the same in what they deliver and in most cases, you get what you pay for. Give SmugMug a try and see for yourself the impact they’ll have on your online presence.
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