Recently I reached out via surveys to gain a little insight on some specific "things" I wanted to hear about from my audience (you!) Thank you to those who chimed in and filled it out for me! If you are a photographer, the link to the survey is right here in case you missed it and still want to help me out! Anyway, the feedback was incredible! Part of the reason I wanted feedback was to figure out some topics to discuss on my blog. And now that wedding season is wrapping up and my calendar is less insane, I'm anxious to devote more time to writing. I've also been out of town for the past month and I'm finally home and happy to be back in my creative space to do what I do best! One person who filled out my survey expressed that they would love to know what should be included on their website. I've put together this post to hopefully help you first understand why you need a website and also what should be included. At the bottom I've included a link to download my free checklist but if you're already a newsletter subscriber, you can access the list on the resource library link right here! If you forgot the password go ahead and email me and I'll send it to you.
So here's the thing, there are a LOT of photographers out there. It's not like you didn't already know that.
So many in fact, it can be overwhelming. I've said it before and I'll say it again though, I truly believe that you won't find your own success if you are constantly comparing yourself to others. While there are definite technical things you can learn from others, it's important to focus on you and your business. I've found that it doesn't help you grow or find your own way in the industry. I've worked really hard to develop my own style and what works for me. The time I spend editing now is MUCH LESS than ever before. I know exactly how I want my images to look and I've developed techniques to achieve that quickly and efficiently to keep my images on brand. Even though there are a lot of photographers, I also believe that there is room for all of us! We all start somewhere. I don't know what my photography future looks like, but one thing is certain that I will always make myself available to answer questions and help anyone who reaches out. We are in this together and all have something to learn from one another. Yes, I'm doing my own thing and focusing on my business, but that isn't to say we can't work together and learn and grow together. That's exactly why I created my private Facebook group for fellow dream chasers! It has already become such a warm and inviting community and I love watching everyone work together to help one another learn and grow. If you are a creative business owner and looking for an awesome group of fellow entrepreneurs, you can join here! But please know I will not accept you into the group if your Facebook page looks spammy. I need to see that you aren't a robot and that you really are a fellow dream chaser!
Alright then Emma, what can I do to stand out as a photographer in a crowded marketplace?
I preach a few things regularly, but this one gets me the most excited! YOUR WEBSITE! I cannot express the importance of having not only a website, but a fabulous website. So here is a quick example I'd like to share with you. Which site would you be more willing to peruse around more or even book with based off your first impression?
It's kind of a no brainer on this one. At least I would hope you would be more drawn to the right (yep, my site!) I've worked hard to develop a website that not only creates a strong first impression, but one that is easy to use, beautiful, on brand and has good flow. Alright, so let's dive in to today's topic on what your website needs to stand out. Before I get to the PDF checklist for you to use, I will first discuss WHY you need a website in the first place. Maybe you already have one, or maybe you have been holding off because you simply don't know where to start...either way, I want to start from the beginning on the "why". This is something I'm grateful for learning early on in my own career as a creative entrepreneur!
First impressions are everything.
In life and in business, first impressions have the power to completely make or break an experience. I cannot tell you how many first impressions have left me feeling icky or running for the door while others have left me excited to get to know someone, or the service that they offer. First impressions will either book you the client, or cause them to look elsewhere. I've included a screen shot of what potential clients will see when they land on my portfolio page. They are going to see beautiful and consistent images that will keep them scrolling (that's the hope at least!) I want whoever comes to my page and scrolls through my work to say to themselves, "I have to have her as my photographer and/or graphic designer." Have you ever landed on a website and you had to buy it because it was displayed so perfectly? Yep, that's me with Anthropologie. I have to make myself stay off their website because I always buy something, even when I go in with every intention of NOT buying anything.
You want your potential clients to be wowed. You want them to develop a sense of trust and connection with you and your work. First impressions are so important and could be one reason you aren't booking the right clients or many at all.
here are a few more examples of beautiful home pages that leave a wonderful first impression.
Convenience is so important these days!
Let's be honest, people get ticked if they have to wait any more than 0.000001 seconds for anything these days. Not really, but close. We live in such a fast paced world that is so focused on instant gratification. When you have a client who wants to book, they want the experience to be easy. There are SO many things you can do within your website to make it convenient for your browsers from what you include in the main navigation to simple and easy forms to fill out throughout your site. I'm also a big fan of providing PDFS for anyone to open and read if they choose to do so. Even with the guides/PDFS I have placed ALL over my site, I still get the same email every day, "Hey! What are your prices?!" Having my website ready and available, I've been able to streamline client conversations by sending them directly to my website to see everything for themselves and I then ask them to get in touch with me through my website if they have any other questions and/or want to get on my calendar. Before I got really busy I used to write out the same emails over and over again but quickly realized I was not only wasting my time, but theirs. Since those days I've implemented little things throughout my own website to take some the guessing out of what I offer, etc.
I also use a program called 17hats that has been instrumental in my success for both my photography and graphic design businesses. I no longer deal with cash or checks because every client is sent an invoice that they can pay online. All my clients sign their contracts online and answer their questionnaires. Stumbling upon 17hats was hands down the biggest game changer for not only productivity, but client communication altogether.
Street cred, yo.
Credibility is HUGE! I'm sorry, but if you don't have a website, you are missing out on clients. If you only have a Facebook business page to send your clients, it does not help you stand out. If you have a beautiful website to send potential clients to that maybe found you on Facebook...that is what sets you apart. I can tell you from personal experience that I have never booked someone for something (my wedding, various projects, etc) who did not have a website. I didn't trust the others who only had a Facebook page. Yeah, maybe their work was beautiful but I wanted to see more. I wanted to trust what I was investing my hard earned money into and trust that I would be well taken care of.
By building and maintaining a website you are giving your business the opportunity to tell potential clients why they should trust you. Your website allows you to back it all up with testimonials and examples of what you do for your clients. Most people will search the internet for a product or service before the purchase to check the credibility first. They need to trust you. Trust goes hand in hand with street cred. And let's not forget about word of mouth. My photography business has taken off in part to my hustle on the web, but word of mouth has been huge. People talk about my website and they talk about my online presence. Without my website, I wouldn't be here sharing all this with you today, because I wouldn't have a blog. I never understood blogging before and once everything finally clicked, both my businesses have exploded.
Why you need a badass about page.
There is only so much information you can put on other social media platforms to give your clients a feel for who you are as a business owner and individual. Your about page is so important and the only way you can truly let people in the way they want to be let in is by having one on your own personal website. Your about page allows you to build on that first impression from your homepage and allows your clients to really feel like they know you. They want to work with someone that they trust (have I mentioned that before?) and they want someone who is passionate about what they do. The energy you put off on your about page is what will set you apart from others. I can't even begin to tell you how many clients have booked me based off my about page. And I know this because they have told me so! I love my website because it is a place for me to be ME and let my personality and character shine through with beautiful imagery and words that leave an impact.
I have quite a bit of information on my about page because I have two different service and felt like I needed to include more! BUT with that being said, I have a nice little intro on my about page and then I invite my readers to continue on or click a button to contact me.
Why you are losing business by not having a website.
Based off what you've read so far, it should be pretty clear that if you don't have a website you are missing out on the opportunity for a potential client to identify who you are and if they are willing to invest their money with you. So yes, not having a website definitely creates lost opportunities but with that being said, a bad website can actually be worse than not having a website at all because a bad website makes your business look bad. As a graphic designer I'm going to say, YES HIRE OUT, but the reality is that there are so many template based websites that offer stunning and easy to use foundations for you to create a professional looking site. I don't need to get into all the details as to why I believe in putting such a special and important piece of your business in the hands of a designer, but it's very possible to create something yourself. If you cannot promote yourself and your business proudly with your current website, take it down. It's hurting you and your ability to grow. Take it down and hire someone to help you or just take it down and spend the necessary time to put together something that reflects you and your business more professionally. I've heard this before that a bad website is far worse than no website, but both are bad for your business.
I hope you find this helpful as you either already have a website or if you are wanting to start one! Like I said above, there are so many templates/hosts out there that make building a website pretty easy but I'll be the first to admit without knowledge or skill with graphic design, it's going to be more challenging. Yes, you can put it together, but by hiring a designer you are setting yourself apart that much more. Before you hire someone, do your homework. Read the reviews, ask the right questions before you invest your time and money with someone online. I've recently seen some horrible things online about disasters with working with a graphic designer found online. You should feel a connection with the person or team you are working with because your business and your branding is SO important. Don't be afraid to be picky and take the time to feel completely confident in your investment. For more about my own branding services, click right here to read the manual.
And last but not least, click below to gain access to the free resource library and to download your website checklist! There are other goodies in the library so be sure to check those out as well!