This article will walk you through the 9 steps to creating a photography website, from setting a clear goal for your site to pressing Publish – and beyond.
You’ve got the camera skills, now it’s time to show your talents online. Building a website is the easiest way to do this. Forget a generic Facebook page; in just a few hours you can create a personal, professional-looking website that will impress clients, colleagues, and customers alike..
What’s more, if you add an online store to your site, your camera skills can pay the bills. Adding ecommerce functionality to a website builder couldn’t be easier, allowing you to display your talents while making a few bucks on the side. What’s not to love?
That said, it’s important that you pick the right platform to suit your photographic needs. But don’t worry, we’ve done our research and found the best website builders for photographers. Here’s our top four:
We’ve picked these four platforms because they’re affordable, easy to use, and offer some really cool photography-specific features.
‘What about WordPress?’ We hear you ask. WordPress is popular, for sure, but it’s not for beginners. Building a WordPress website requires coding and lots of technical experience, which is something most of you photographers may not have time for. You’re busy taking beautiful snaps, after all!
So what can you expect? This article will take you through the steps for building a photography website, from goal-setting to site-publishing, and everything in between.
Ready to get started? Great, let’s get your gallery online!
Before you start any project, you need to set your goals. This way, you’ll know exactly what to do throughout the process, making your life a lot easier. When it comes to creating a photography website, there are three things you should ask yourself…
- Who will your audience will be? If you’re looking to attract new clients, you need to decide whether they’ll be individuals, publications or brands, and design your portfolio accordingl
- What type of photography are you best at? Are you an editing pro? Or do you specialize in shooting regular 135 format film? When building your website, you should focus on displaying your strengths.
- What are you photography ambitions? If you’re looking to mix up your portfolio, think about the next steps for your career. For example, if you want to move from event photography into fashion work, make sure you include that in your bio.
Once you have answered these questions, you’ll find it much easier to start creating your online portfolio. Step 2 is our favourite – picking a website builder!
Picking the right website builder is important. You need a platform that won’t cost the earth, and can scale with your ambitions. Luckily for you, we’ve tested over 50 builders (and counting); we’ve found the best photography website builders on the market, which are as follows:
And here’s how they all performed in our independent research:
To help you make a decision on which website builder to choose, we’ll briefly discuss each platform and its price plans.
Wix is the best overall website builder on the market today. It’s user-friendly, versatile, and offers sublime photography templates. There is a free plan, but this comes with Wix ads all over your website, limited storage, and a ‘.wixsite.com’ subdomain, all of which makes your site look unprofessional.
We’d recommend upgrading to a premium plan at just $5 per month. On this plan you can add your own custom domain and URL, and access more templates and features. If you want to start selling your images, you’ll need to upgrade to an ecommerce plan costing $20 – $35/month.
It’s no surprise that Squarespace, the leader of design, is the best website builder for professional looking portfolios. There’s no free plan, but there is a two-week free trial period, and the premium plans start from just $12/month, which also let you connect your own domain.
Costing $18/month, the Business plan lets you sell a few items. But if you’ve made it to the big leagues and want to sell a large number of photos, you should opt for an ecommerce plan, costing $26 – $40/month.
SmugMug is a website builder designed specifically for photographers, so comes with a ton of relevant features. Like Squarespace, there is no free plan – but with plans starting at just $5.99/month, it offers great value for money. You can even sell physical images with this cheap plan – a huge bonus. To sell digital products, though, you’ll need to upgrade to the $12/month Portfolio plan at least.
The best website builder for small business, Weebly makes it easy to get online. It offers a free plan, but that comes with an ugly ‘.weebly.com’ subdomain, so it’s definitely worth going for a premium plan to make your portfolio look more sleek and professional.
These premium plans are cheap, costing $5 – $38/month, with the $12/month Pro plan letting you sell up to 25 products.
As a photographer, you want your creativity to shine through in your photos. Your website should be no different – you should be able to make it ‘yours’. That’s why picking a website builder offering lots of customization is crucial.
Website builders offer templates which you can customize. Some platforms even let you create websites from scratch using code. That said, if you’re a tech beginner we’d strongly recommend starting with the templates provided.
Each platform we’ve recommended has a wide range of beautiful templates to choose from, which are all categorized into different industries. Simply click on the ‘Photography/Portfolio’ category and then pick the best template to suit your photographic ambitions.
Once you’ve chosen a template, you can personalize the text, background images, menus and navigation bars. Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are known as ‘drag-and-drop’ builders, letting you click, move, and drop elements anywhere you like. In short, they offer complete creative freedom.
Now you’ve picked a template, it’s time for the important stuff – adding your photos and content! You need to plan what you want, and where you want it. We’ll explain how to add content to each section of your website below.
Home is where the art is. Aside from your actual portfolio, the homepage is the most important page on your website. You need to capture the imagination of visitors with just one page, so make it count!
How can you do this? Firstly, use strong copy. You need to send a message to the visitor, explaining why they’ve come to the right portfolio, and why they should explore more. It’s the same as a real life gallery where you need to entice visitors into walking around. And of course, you should add a powerful, clean image.
Your website’s shining light, the photo gallery needs to take centre stage. You are building a portfolio after all, and your images are the most vital aspect. Most builders have an option to integrate a gallery. On Wix, it’s called Wix Pro Gallery, which gives you total control of how your images look, how to price them, and how to lay them out.
Squarespace has the best design tools of any website builder, though. On this platform, you can design your photo gallery so that your visitors get a wonderful snapshot into your photographic prowess.
Prospective clients want to know the eye behind the lens. The ‘About Me’ section allows you to add a splash of personality, talk about your inspiration, and provide your contact details. You should talk in the first person, and we’d strongly recommend adding a photo of yourself to give your portfolio a more personable feel.
If you want to make a few cents from your snaps, then you need an online store. On Wix, Squarespace, SmugMug, and Weebly, this can be done by upgrading to a price plan which unlocks ecommerce functionality.
For your photography website, these are the most important places to add content. Follow these steps, and your portfolio should tick all the boxes that clients are looking for.
Apps can help bolster your website in areas like marketing, finance, social media, shipping, blogging, and so much more. Wix, Weebly, and SmugMug have app markets, which you can browse and buy from just like you would your smartphone’s App store. Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn’t have an app market.
For your photography website, we’d recommend integrating a social media feed application like Facebook or Twitter. This will link your website with your social channels, which can display your photos to a huge social media audience, directly from your website, in just a few clicks.
Active on Instagram? You can link your Instagram feed to your website, giving your website visitors a sneak peak into your social media snaps.
Email marketing is another great feature you can access through an app. By setting up an effective email marketing campaign, you can reach out to existing and potential clients easily, and share information on your latest gallery openings.
It’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay for some apps – a fair number of them are free of charge. We love Wix’s app market because it makes it so easy to install apps (and there’s over 250 on offer), but Weebly and SmugMug’s markets are also a breeze to use.
You’ve now built your website. Hooray! But that’s only half the story; now people need to find it.
There are a number of ways you can get eyes on your website – and we don’t just mean telling your colleagues, friends, and family!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a huge role in getting eyes on your website. SEO involves tweaking or ‘optimizing’ your site to help Google ‘read’ it, improving your chance of featuring high on the results page.
Never worked with SEO before? Not to worry – we’ll show you how to give your photography website more exposure on Google with our top SEO tips.
- Add alt text – Search engines can only ‘read’ your captions (they can’t see images!), so you need to add simple descriptions to each of your photos, using keywords if you can
- Minimize image file size – Use a tool like kraken to compress your images, without compromising on quality. This will decrease your site load time, keeping customers and search engines happy.
- Be mobile ready – Ensure your website is mobile friendly, so it reformats to look great on a smartphone screen (the website builders we mentioned have this feature built-in). Search engines prioritise mobile responsive websites on their results pages.
- Use keywords – Search for the top ‘keywords’ related to your type of photography using a search tool like Google Keyword Planner, and implement the words naturally into your copy, without overusing them. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer in Boston, use Google Keyword Planner to check people are searching for the term ‘wedding photographer Boston’, then incorporate this into your site copy.
Before you publish your website, you need to check everything works. Leave no stone unturned – proofread your copy, test your links, and reshuffle your gallery if you feel the need to.
Then you should ask some friends and family to check over your website. Having a second opinion can really help improve the user experience of your website, so make sure you get some feedback before you publish!
The moment you’ve been waiting for – publish time! When you’re completely satisfied with your website, it’s time to press that button to go live online. Feels good, right?
However, that’s not the end of your website building story. Even after you’ve publish, you need to update your website regularly with your most recent photos to keep it fresh. Also, the more you refresh your alt texts and keywords, your website stands a better chance of being found by more clients and customers online.
There you have it, our steps to creating a photography website. Follow these nine, and you’ll be fine! And with a website builder, it couldn’t be easier to showcase your creative talents online these days.
Excited to get started? We bet you are –signing up to a website builder is easy as pie, so let’s quickly recap the best website builders for photographers below…
We picked these four platforms because they’re affordable, easy to use, and offer superb photo gallery features. Use one of these website builders, and you’ll have the photography website you’ve been dreaming of, created in a flash. Good luck!