Building a website that helps potential clients choose you over others is not always an intuitive process. Here are six ways that you can upgrade your website.
Do You Need a Website if You Have Social Media?
There are different categories of online presence, and each serves its own purpose. If you have a large following on social media, even if you book clients through social media, it is still important to have a paid website with a custom domain. Social media is full of a lot of hobbyists. Having a website sets you apart from the hobbyists and lets potential clients know that you are a business professional. The public expects businesses to have a website, so if you don't have one, you are giving off a bad impression and losing potential clients who think you are not serious.
A website is also important because it allows you to organize the flow of information that you want to present to a potential client better than you can on social media. Having a pretty gallery on Instagram is important, but it doesn't answer any questions about your booking process or who you are. Likewise, on Instagram, for example, you can't organize your photos into galleries. Potential clients would have to needlessly scroll down to see all of your work.
Important Changes to Help You Convert Potential Clients
It's not enough to just have the information on your site. You have to have it organized and digestible for quick consumption. Don't assume that just because you have the information somewhere on your site that someone is going to read your entire site. You have to give them a reason to stay on your site by having it catch their attention and letting them know how you can help them, or you risk losing them. If your website has just a gallery and a contact page, here are some things that you can do to make your webpage serve your clients better.
Who Are You? Where Are You?
One of the most overlooked and simple things to do is to include a bio about who you are and what areas you serve. If your website is called something ambiguous like Digital Dynamic Aperture and you don't list your name anywhere on your site, it's going to look suspicious. Unless you are Banksy, you should let people know your real name. If a potential client wants to work with you, they might skip to the next site if they have to spend too much time on your website trying to figure out where you are located.
What Makes You Different?
Would you hire you at your prices? Why? Are you communicating that effectively and concisely with words or pictures? Assume that there are 1,000 people in your area that offer similar services and that most of them are going to be at free or unsustainable prices. Why would a potential client choose you over the others? Is it your lighting style? Is it something technical? Is it your satisfied clients who have left reviews? You need to be able to communicate to your clients within the first 30 seconds of them being on your website; otherwise, they will go to the next person on the list to see if they can get their questions answered there.
Make It for Mobile
At least 60% of your traffic is going to come from mobile devices, but we design most of our websites on computer monitors and often ignore how they look on a phone. I use Wix, and if I change the settings on how a gallery will display, it doesn't change it on the mobile version. You should also pay attention to how the different elements on your page get rearranged when they get moved to a narrow column format for phone screens.
Here is a screenshot of my mobile stats. 83.3% of my clicks are on phones.
Make Galleries for Fast Loading
One of the important things that search engines look for is how fast your page loads. If you have a slow loading page, you will get penalized in the search rankings. You can audit the speed of your site here and get a breakdown of what you need to fix on your site.
Including picture galleries or videos on autoplay can have a significant effect on your site speed. I try to keep the file size of my images to about 800 KB to 1.2 MB on the outside. Don't forget to change the filenames to search engine-friendly names. If your file is named "0001.jpg," rename it to something like "[Your City]PortraitPhotographer.001.jpg." I converted the galleries on my homepage to screenshots of galleries to reduce load time. Clicking on the screenshot of a gallery on my homepage takes you to that actual gallery. Likewise, having unnecessary fancy features on your page, like transitions or fancy menus, can bog down your site.
Anticipate Questions of Your Potential Client
Put yourself in the shoes of your potential client who is looking to book someone like you. What questions do they have? What services are they looking for? Have you done projects similar to what they need? Once you have that figured out what a client needs to know before they decide on which photographer to hire, give them that information so they can see it within the first 15-30 seconds, or you risk losing them.
Make It Easy for Them to Book You
Put a call to action or a contact form at the bottom of each page to make it easy for your potential clients to get in contact with you. A call to action can be a link to your booking or contact page. Having a call to action will drastically increase the chance that your potential clients continue on to take that next step to contact you or read more or look at your gallery or wherever you are directing them.