Every career photographer owes their success to a great portfolio. Your professionalism, networking connections, and competitive rates only matter if you have excellent work to show for it. Your portfolio does that.
Today, people expect to see your portfolio hosted on a professionally designed website. That website defines your brand and explains exactly what customers should expect when hiring you.
The way you present your portfolio can be as important as the portfolio itself. Photographers who take the time to build engaging, high-quality websites can rightfully charge a premium for their services.
Investing in a professional portfolio website used to mean spending thousands of dollars hiring a development agency. However, today’s free and low-cost website building options have dramatically lowered the barrier to entry.
Now, you can create an impressive portfolio website or your photography business on your own, with no coding knowledge or development expertise. Creatives from every industry are doing this using WordPress as their go-to platform of choice.
With the right selection of WordPress plugins and features, you can create a portfolio website that constantly brings new business to you.
Step one: Choose a site builder
WordPress is by far the world’s most popular content management system. It is powerful and flexible, and built entirely on an open-source framework. However, this framework is designed for developers and technical professionals. It doesn’t offer the most user-friendly experience for beginners – not on its own, at least.
This doesn’t leave non-technical users out in the cold, though. It just opens up an opportunity for developers to create intuitive, high-quality website builder plugins for WordPress. These site builders allow users with zero coding experience to add website components onto web pages and develop unique, customizable websites from scratch.
The very best site builders use intuitive, drag-and-drop interfaces to make the process as simple as possible. Elementor divides site components into individual widgets, which users can drag onto web pages in any order they wish. A single widget may create a title heading, an image, or a login field. Every website is simply a collection of organized widgets working together.
Templates are also tools for photographers building their own websites. With a web page template, you can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes you to publish new web pages. Simply configure the content, swap the stock imagery with your own, and you’re done.
Most site builders have templates, but only Elementor allows users to swap and configure Full Site Kits. These kits work like templates, but include much more than just text and imagery. They are fully functional websites, with e-commerce modules and other complex functions already built-in. With the right Full Site Kit, you can publish a stunning portfolio website in minutes.
Step two: Incorporate a dynamic Instagram feed
Social media will play an incredibly important role in the success of your photography business, and no social media platform is as vital as Instagram. As the most image-oriented social media platform out today, Instagram can play a huge role exposing your work to people who are actively looking for it every time they check their app.
Connecting your Instagram feed to your website is more than a simple branding synergy. It can help you commercialize peoples’ interest in your work and prevent them from getting distracted in the process.
Incorporating your Instagram feed onto your website allows you to show reviews and testimonial Instagram posts directly on the website. This will boost your social proof and show how much real people actually appreciate your work.
Your website’s dynamic Instagram feed can also help you drive visitors towards your social media profile. This will help you generate a sense of community that will help push your work further as people continually interact with it over time.
Keep in mind that while Instagram is definitely good for photographers, it still makes its money by showing ads to users. It wants to keep those on Instagram, engaging with Instagram content, as long as possible.
You want to get people from Instagram onto your website so they can buy your images or hire your services. So you should always be careful to create content that compels Instagram users towards your website – not the other way around.
Step three: Leverage non-intrusive popups
One of the most important benefits to running your own portfolio website is that you can choose exactly what content users see, and when. This simply isn’t possible on social media platforms where you’re sharing space with hundreds of thousands of other creatives. Your website is all about you.
So how do you increase engagement, make sales, and get more commissions for new projects? Use popups.
Popups are one of the most valuable tools your website makes available to you. When configured correctly, you can use popups to show the right content to the right users at the right time – potentially clinching a big commission, or selling a major work.
Getting popups right can be challenging. Bad marketers have abused them for years, disrupting the user experience and pushing people away from an otherwise valuable tool. As with all digital marketing technologies, effective targeting is the key to using popups right.
Triggering popups to targeted users with the appropriate message at the appropriate time is key. With a best-in-class popup builder on your website, you can precisely target users according to multiple parameters. Send decisive messaging to users who have already visited your website several times, or to visitors who spend more than a few minutes perusing your photos. You can even show popups to people who scroll past a certain threshold on your page.
The important thing to remember is that these popups are designed to be non-intrusive. Instead of disrupting the user experience, they enhance it. They extend that experience and help website visitors convert into leads, who may then become customers and clients. You can also use session replays for better understanding.
Step four: Ensure your site is responsive
Almost 54% of all web traffic comes from mobile phones. If you have integrated your website with Instagram, there is good reason to believe that the majority of first-time visitors who click onto your website will be using mobile devices.
Yes, it would be great if your website visitors took advantage of the larger screen a desktop computer offers. Your photography deserves to be shown in the best possible light. In order to convince website visitors to log back in on a widescreen device, however, you’ll need to give them an excellent mobile experience first.
Responsive websites are able to adjust their content to accommodate the size of the device accessing them. A mobile-responsive website will look radically different than its desktop counterpart – and be much easier to interact with, as well.
Google has been prioritizing mobile responsiveness as an SEO ranking factor for years. If your website doesn’t offer a smooth, intuitive experience to users on mobile devices, its ranking will suffer. Not only that, but people who have come to expect a smooth, mobile-optimized user experience will be disappointed, and your brand reputation will take a hit as a result.
Fortunately, using a modern website builder allows you to verify how your website looks on various mobile devices. You can check how it looks in smartphone portrait orientation, or wider tablet landscape orientation. You can even configure the specifics of how certain assets – like your all-important photographs – are displayed in each case.
Step five: Create easy, intuitive forms
Forms are incredibly important tools for website owners – and photography portfolio websites are no exception. A comprehensive web form allows website visitors to get in touch with you and provide you with the information you need to perform photography services for them.
When done right, this approach simplifies the otherwise complicated back-and-forth discussion that happens before a photography commission is sealed. By getting all the information up front, you can provide an accurate quote and prevent misunderstandings from the start.
Take event photography, for instance. In order to photograph a wedding, you need a lot of information from your client. You have multiple contact people, multiple addresses, and separate ceremony and reception venues to keep organized – and you can’t call the bride on her big day because you got lost.
If you’re photographing a different event – like a concert, or a corporate fundraiser – all of this data changes. Your website needs to make it easy for clients to select the kinds of services they expect from you and to furnish you with all the information you need to perform those services. A simple Contact page won’t do.
Use forms to make it easy for interested clients to contact you and hire your services. Create comprehensive forms that show your professional expertise in the field, and get pertinent data from your clients without having to spend days going back and forth via email. Embed consent forms and data privacy forms into your website and maintain compliance the easy way.
Your website is more than your business’s digital address. It’s also the one place you have almost unlimited control over how visitors perceive your brand. Your portfolio doesn’t just show what a great and talented creative you are – it also demonstrates how professional and reliable you are. Show website visitors that you take your work seriously, and they will reward you with higher rates and better commissions in no time.