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1. Buy a Domain
It’s always more professional to have your own website URL, so I recommend buying your own domain name, or a few versions of it to prevent other people from having similar domains. You can buy domains from a variety of places, but GoDaddy is a great place to start. I’ve always had positive experiences with their customer service.
2. Figure Out Your Website Platform and Get Hosting
Once you have that domain name it’s time to figure out how you want to build your website. You’re going to need hosting. If you’re not familiar with internet lingo just think of your domain/URL as your address. That tells people’s computers when accessing the internet where to go and what server to connect to that hosts all your website content. Your host will basically store all the files behind the scenes on your website. Some photography services below provide hosting, but others (like WordPress) you’ll have to purchase hosting on your own and that can also be done with domain services GoDaddy.
I’ve linked to several of the big-name photography website building companies below so you can check them out. I will elaborate on a few that I’ve had personal experience with, so if you don’t see anything by a specific company, just know that I can’t speak to their services. There are obviously more options than the ones below, but these are the ones whose names come up the most often.
Showit – My personal favorite. You don’t work with old fashioned coding, and instead building your website is sort of like moving around text boxes and images in Photoshop. It’s very easy and the company has built a wonderful community around their services where I’ve built some pretty tight friendships with other photographers. They have an educational blog and weekly videocasts for their users to learn from. It may be one of the more pricey website services, but the ability to customize everything and their customer service have always been selling points for me. Finally, they have an amazing fully customizable mobile website building platform. My mobile traffic has increased a ton because of it!
WordPress – Wordpress is one of the most universal website building platforms in the world. WordPress used to just be for blogging, but now people are building all kinds of websites off of it (in fact our website is a WordPress platform too!). WordPress is also one of my personal favorites because of the ability to customize it so much. I think customization when you’re a photographer is key when branding. You want your website to stand out and not be some generic template that everyone else is using too. With WordPress you’ll install them directly onto your hosting service (contact your host for instructions) and from there you can pick a design by installing a theme. There are loads of places to buy themes from. If you’re looking to save I’d head to themeforest.net – that in combination with WordPress is one of the most affordable website options out there. You can buy a theme for around $40 USD. If you really want to get fancy there’s an awesome company called Prophoto.com that has really awesome, fancy, themes for WordPress specifically for photographers. Prophoto is definitely my choice for themes and customization on WordPress. You pay a one time fee and it’s yours. Our website here is utilizing Prophoto and then another designer’s theme installed within Prophoto. If you use my prophoto link or the code CSWA7097 (which never expires) you can grab $10 off.
Bludomain – I considered leaving them off this list altogether. I’ve received extremely poor customer service from this company and I list it only because it exists and is created for photographers. I do not endorse or recommend them, but I know people who are happy with their services.
3. Create an Outline
Once you’ve got your domain, hosting, and the service you want to use picked out it’s time to start creating. This part can be really hard if you don’t have a ton of website building experience so I have a few recommendations. First, start out by looking at other photographer’s websites and take notes on the things that you like about their websites – whatever they may be. Once you’re ready to go you’ll need to start with a generic list of pages you want to create (About, Info, Galleries, and Contact to start).
Before I start creating the website I write down all the pages I want to have on my website and then outline what I’m going to write on each page and maybe pick out a couple photos I may want to try to use on that page too. An outline will make building your website so much easier and organized. If this kind of stuff makes you feel overwhelmed and outline can totally keep the stress down!
4. Start Creating!
Okay so once you have that outline finalized with names written down of your favorite photos and basic paragraphs of the information you want to include and on what pages then it’s time to start creating. The best part is you can use that outline as a task list and check off sections as you complete them. Website building can take some time so don’t rush the process!