For the last month, we've teamed up with Wix for a series called "How to Build a Website." In this series, Lee and I talk about some of the advantages and mistakes photographers make when creating their own website. Today, we are releasing the last video in the series, and it might be the most important information in making sure your photography business becomes a success financially.
When the website design company Wix reached out to us, asking if we would be interested in creating sponsored content for them, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most important tips we have learned running our photography business. So, instead of simply sharing what Wix can do for you from a website design standpoint, this video series is aimed at helping you plan, build, and grow your own successful photography business. If you want to watch all the videos in this series, you can watch all four parts from the How to Make a Website YouTube Playlist.
At this point in the series, you have created a name for your business, bought the appropriate domain name, registered all the social media accounts for your business, built your actual website, and published your new portfolio to the world. The last step is by far the hardest: getting potential customers to your website. There are a lot of ways to attract clients, some free and some paid, and hopefully, this video can give you some good ideas and places to start.
I'm not going to dive into all the techniques we discuss in the video above, but I do want to explore one of the most powerful techniques you can implement into your website that works every time. The top tip I can give for helping your website rise to the top of Google is to simply create content. I say "simply" with a semi-smirk on my face, because creating any kind of content can be difficult, and it can be even tougher creating content consistently. Here are a few ideas you can use to make sure your website keeps being rewarded by the Google webcrawlers.
1. Create a Blog
The easiest area of your website to create content is going to be your blog. Sure, you can upload photos every week to your main portfolio, but images are not rewarded nearly as much as actual written text. By installing a blog on your website server and linking it as a subpage of your main website, your overall site can grow from maybe six pages to hundreds of pages. The more pages on your website, the more legitimate it will appear in the eyes of Google.
One issue I always had with running blogs on my photography websites was making it appear that my site was still active even though my blog posts had not been updated in months or more commonly, years. What I decided to do was simply hide the publishing dates from my posts, so that potential clients always saw a stream of content without knowing exactly when it was created.
2. Hire a Writer
I can guarantee the hardest part of creating content for your website is going to be setting time aside to actually write the content. Photographers are amazingly talented at created beautiful images, but most of us, myself included, are not the most profecient writers. One of the best decisions I ever made when I first started my wedding photography business was hiring a copywriter to build up content on my site. If I remember correctly, I paid him $100 per four articles, and I made sure each article was over 2,000 words in length. Building up your website so that it ranks higher with Google is a slow game, but your ranking will increase much more quickly the more articles you publish. By hiring a writer, you can either focus on your photography itself while they write content for your website or you can also write for your website and get twice the amount of content with the extra help.
3. Write Specifics About Your Market
The purpose of writing and creating content on your website is to rank higher above everyone else writing about that same content. You essentially are trying to create a traffic funnel that casts a wide net but escorts that traffic directly to your photography business. Most photographers try to win the SEO game with photography-related search terms, but that is often a losing battle. Instead, write about the venues, locations, and culture that make your town or city unique.
When I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, it was one of the top wedding destinations in America. Instead of writing long articles about wedding photography, my hired writer and I both wrote about specific venues. My goal was to have one of the most educational and informational pages on the best wedding venues in Charleston. I would then include my own photography from those venues. I'd write about the history of the venue. I'd also write about the wedding planner and how much I enjoyed working with them. If there were any tips about the venue like seasonal differences or things to consider when booking a wedding there, I would write about those too. This type of information is what my potential clients were looking for even before considering hiring a photographer. Shockingly, I wound up having a few articles about specific wedding venues rank higher than the venue's website itself. To this day, I still get a couple phone calls from a venue in Charleston because brides think my number is the venue's number.
If you are a commercial or portrait photographer, you can take these same techniques and write about your favorite photography locations within your city. You'd be shocked how many Hollywood scouts and television producers have booked my friends because they have used these same techniques on their own websites. When your website makes you look like the most knowledgeable photographer for scouting, networking, and knowing a specific region, potential clients will take notice.
4. Google Images Is a Powerful Tool
Okay, I get it: you hate writing, and photography content is what you really want to produce. Luckily, a huge part of Google search is based on images. One of the easiest things for us photographers to create is images that stand head and shoulders above the average person with a camera. If you simply publish some of your less than portfolio-worthy images on your blog and name them with good SEO titles, they will rise to the top of Google Images even more quickly than your articles.
How many times have you looked up a location on Google Images to cyber-scout a location? This is something everyone does, not just photographers. If you have a bride considering your town for her wedding, she is definitely going to search that location and click the image tab on Google. Potential clients behave the exact same for other genres of photography too. If you are a real estate photographer and have dozens of images around town that aren't quite right for your well -curated portfolio, write a few articles about those photos and publish them on your blog. It might take a while to book a client directly from that article, but in the long run, that article and those photos are going to help your site earn a permanent position in the search results.
Building Traffic Takes Time
Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet for increasing your website's PageRank and gaining tons and tons of traffic. Over your career, you will find many snake oil salesmen who claim they can get you to the top of Google instantly, but the true reality is like the old saying: Rome wasn't built in a day. Creating content on your website takes time and will definitely wear you out from occasionally. The goal should be to build your website's content slowly and steadily, and over time, Google and other search engines will reward your effort. Today, many photographers are working hard to build up their content on social media sites like Instagram, but many of those sites aren't indexed by Google. My recommendation is instead of building up content on another platform that you do not own, first invest in your own platform. We may not know who the next Myspace or Facebook will be 10 years from now, but if you invest in creating strong content that lives on your own server and your own domain, you can guarantee that content and those backlinks will live forever.
Get Your Own Website With Wix
Hopefully, my website and my use of video has inspired you to revamp your own website and to start capturing video clips of yourself for future marketing. If you don't already have a website or if you want to test drive a website from Wix, head over to Wix.com/fstoppers and try out a site for free, and then save a little if you decide to upgrade to the full site.