Developing a Photography Website, Part 1: Planning
In August 2018, I purchased the zachfox.photography domain name and a Vultr VPS and wrote the first version of my personal photography website. I didn’t have too much of a plan at the time, besides “I want to show off and sell my photography and photography services.” I sold a few prints and digital wallpapers, but I mostly learned about web development and exactly how hard it is to sell photographic work.
Now, I want to develop a plan for running a successful photography business, and then I want to implement that plan. I invite you to join me in this learning process as I battle imposter syndrome and push through the mental blocks which have been preventing me from doing this for a long time.
First: A New Website
I want to start this journey by creating a new website, which will anchor my photography business.
My current website has at least the following problems:
- It puts my art first, instead of my services.
- Nobody is going to want to buy a 5×7″ print of an image that only means something to me.
- It doesn’t employ a standard photography website navigation pattern.
- It’s hard to figure out the services that I sell.
- My “Services” page has too many words.
- Some images aren’t formatted properly for certain screen sizes and aspect ratios.
- I only have one testimonial on the site.
- The custom zoomed-image viewer doesn’t work sometimes, and that feature isn’t important.
As I go through the websites of other photographers geographically near me, here are some of the problems I notice:
- Too many words are quickly overwhelming.
- Using the word “investment” to describe the pricing page feels pretentious to me.
- Some links on websites I’ve seen just do nothing when clicked…
- So many typos
- Lots of people are using third-party sites to handle their bookings.
With those problems in mind, here are some of the high-level qualities I want my new website to have:
- I want the website to be easy to navigate on desktop and mobile.
- I want to show off my photographic services first.
- I want a section of my website to show off my fine art photography.
- Perhaps I can have one rotating “limited edition” metal print for sale in a section of my site.
- I want pricing to be fair and transparent.
- I want a “book now” button to be visible to users on the very first screen.
- This button should lead users through a series of full-screen steps which asks: “what service?” (top three first, then a “more” button which shows all services), “when?”, “where are you located?”, “name?”, “email address?”, “anything else i should know?”, SUBMIT!
- I want my contact form to be as simple as possible.
Here are the photographic services that I can confidently offer:
- Family portraits
- Solo portraits
- Couples portraits
- Graduation portraits
- Pet portraits
- Professional headshots
- Engagement photography
- Wedding photography
- Event photography
- Real estate photography
- Product photography
I’ll have to choose which of the above services to highlight on the website, and how.
Here are some concerns I have about my new website:
- I’m a talented and versatile photographer, but not having one or two specialties has its problems, like being less attractive to search engines. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to sell my varied talents.
Website Structure, Design, and Implementation
I plan to divide my website into the following sections:
- Services & Pricing
I want to build some wireframes of each of those website sections, and I want to create mockups of some of the important design elements on each of those pages.
I want to build this site with NodeJS and Webpack. I have extensive experience with those technologies, and I know that I can accomplish my goals with them.
After the Website Launch
After the new website goes live, here are a few tasks I’ll consider, if not accomplish:
- List myself on Google Maps
- List myself on Yelp
- List myself on Thumbtack
- Review and update my Facebook page
- Review and update my Instagram page
- Delete my Twitter page (photographers don’t seem to use Twitter as a marketing vehicle)
- List myself on The Knot
- List myself on WeddingWire
There’s so much more to starting a photography business than just the above.
When I first started Zach Fox Photography, I created an LLC called “A Friendly Fox, LLC” in California. This cost me $800 per year in California tax fees for the two years I had it active, and I wasn’t making $800 per year with my photography work. I learned some about “being a business owner” from that experience, but it wasn’t worth the cost at the time.
Now that I’m feeling more serious about my photography being a business, I’ll need to, at some point, start up an LLC again to protect myself and my assets. I don’t know what that process is like in Maryland, but I can learn – just like I learned in California.
If you have any advice for me as I begin this journey, please leave me a comment. Thank you for reading!