With a multitude of template-based services offered, website building has never been easier. But wedding photography websites demand specific functionality that need to be considered in the design process. Here is a guide on setting up your first, or rebranded, website for a modern wedding photography business.
What Is Your Workflow?
This is an important thing to consider at the beginning of the process, because if your workflow is for delivery of wedding photography through only prints and a USB drive, then you won’t need to pay out for cloud storage for online delivery. I believe that a cloud-based wedding photography delivery workflow is far more efficient and safer, and if you agree to go down this route you’ll need to decide which workflow to invest in.
Now there is plenty of competition in the online photo delivery market to choose from, and I’m not going to tell you which one is the best (although I’d love for you all to share your personal experience with your preferred providers).
In my own workflow, I use PhotoShelter which costs $49.99 a month for an unlimited memory allowance which is necessary for a busy wedding photographer. The Lightroom plug-in is useful when uploading to the site, organizing folders and file data in the back end is extremely intuitive, and the advanced print sales options makes it easy to set up your own vendors direct from client galleries. But it’s far from perfect. Client galleries are spoiled by small previews and file names that you can't remove from view, a commission is taken from print sales compared to Pixieset which has commission-free options, and the templates for the included website builder is very limited in its customization options.
Make sure you do your homework before deciding which service to pay out for and try some for free if there is an option.
Fact: you will be judged on the quality of your website. While the quality of your photography work is king, displaying this along with the right brand message takes lots of care and attention. Having formats for different mobile devices is also vital.
While there are templates built inside these all-in-one photography delivery services, I have found the ones I have used to have frustrating limitations, so I decided to buy a WordPress template and utilize the flexible power of the most popular website building tool in the world.
This way I get to choose a template from the thousands that are out there and then feed my clients into a client gallery section which is managed by PhotoShelter. I have rebranded myself just this month and spent days deciding which template to start out from, and ended up going for a theme by FloThemes to the tune of $200 after a discount.
Yes, this is quite a large investment, but remember that your website is one of your most important marketing tools, and FloThemes provides templates that seem to be built mainly with wedding photography in mind. Usability is a doddle with detailed videos around each and every piece of functionality, and their customer service is quick and helpful. If this is too steep for you, then check out the templates on ThemeForest.
I think “Investment” is a better word, and I am firmly in the camp that beleives you should publish prices. It’s a better user experience to have prices known right off the bat, and it saves lots of back and forth with queries from clients that are looking for something smaller in budget.
Should I Blog?
Blogging is a great way to build real interaction with your site which is great for getting up those search rankings (SEO). It’s also a nice way to share some love with the other vendors from a wedding who will then be more inclined to mention your name to newly engaged couples. Blogging regularly will also be a serious tick mark for SEO.
I genuinely believe that only 50 percent of shooting a wedding is about taking pictures. The other half is about the person you are with your clients. In what is one of the most intimate and special days for newlyweds, you are essentially a stranger to them and their families. So I work hard to break this barrier down by encouraging a face to face consult and always having a pre-wedding shoot. How do you get this across in your website? Make it personal. Add some real info about yourself in an "about me" section, and try to make it sound more friendly than corporate. I also got a graphic designer to design my logo as this wasn’t my forte, and a professional will lean on their years of experience to give you’re a logo a unique voice.
Lastly, don’t feel like you need to publish every image you have ever shot on there, even if you have only shot a few weddings. Only publish your absolute best work. I like to make a “highlights” client gallery after each wedding and limit this to around 50 of the best pictures. This is perfect for clients to share with loved ones, rather than sending around galleries of 800 pictures.
There seems to be more wedding photographers out there than ever, and it was in fact my avenue to becoming a full-time freelance photographer. My website has gone through three redesigns now and each one a vast improvement on the last as I learn more about what will best display my work. I hope that my journey will help save some valuable time to those of you who are looking at joining the wedding photography industry.
Try to think of what you’d like the end user experience to be and then start filling in the blanks. There are plenty of online services out there to make your life easier, so do your homework before picking one. Always remember to keep it beautiful and simple to use; I have seen many fantastic one-page wedding photography websites.
This will be your first chance to make an impression on potential clients, so why not make the best impression you can? Having a clean and simple workflow from delivery to print sales will be the cherry on top that will get your name mentioned before any others at dinner parties.