5 Tips to Consider Before You Build/Buy a Website

It's no secret that in order to share your passion with the world you need a website to do it, whether it be photography, graphic design, videography or anything in the creative industry. Websites have always been essential but haven't always been in the forefront of people's minds, in the ‘Jurassic age’ of when the internet came about, there were no social media platforms so a website was a must. During the last 5 to 10 years social media became the go-to websites for people to communicate, share experiences and also generate work. Websites took a back seat around this time, businesses and individuals were more focused on driving traffic to their social media accounts, building up likes & followers, communicating via various messenger services and offering discounts and competitions.  

The tables have once again turned back in favour of websites, more people focus their social media posts on driving audiences back to your website, so when a new tab opens on your audiences' browser it needs to be as responsive, fast and good looking as that main stream social media platform they have just come from! 

Your website is a huge marketing tool, in most cases it acts as a tool to generate leads and work, so whether you're a hobbyist photographer, a semi professional or an aspiring wedding photographer, these 5 tips may help you on your web building journey! 

Write Down Your Aims 

If you haven't even begun building a website, this is the perfect advice and if you already have a website up and running, use this tip to take a step back and re-evaluate your website's aims. A huge mistake creatives make is to throw all their work onto a website and assume it will suffice, without any prior aims and goals for what they want to achieve from their online presence. 

Consider why you plan to build a website, is it to replace a tired existing site? Do you plan to use your website as a place to generate leads and sales? Are you using your website solely to share your great work with the world? Do you want people to pick up the phone and call you? If your website could do one thing what would it be? 

Research How You Plan to Build Your Website

Seriously, set aside a few hours to understand how you plan to approach your website building. As photographers, most of us are lucky that the fantastic imagery you create can speak for itself but you still need a professional, easy to use and clean website.

If you plan to build the website yourself, make sure you research the websites out there that will help you with that. The list of web hosting platforms is endless, make sure the one you pick has: 

    •    Templates that suit the website you envisage.

    •     Is affordable and reliable

    •    You understand fully how it works

    •    Good Industry Reviews

    •    The company offers support (Twitter, Email and Phone)

There are plenty of free trials out there so try your hand at a few, some may ask for your bank details, just make sure you set a reminder on your phone and laptop to cancel before the trial ends. 

If you're planning on leaving the hard work to a professional web designer be sure to, again, research who will work best for you and your website. Building your own website can be stressful at times but it's also very rewarding and of course more affordable. If you do choose a web designer make sure you consider these tips: 

    •    Make sure they will be able to make adjustments and add new content, and don't forget to ask how much this will cost you each time

    •    Make sure your website is responsive - ability to view on all platforms

    •    Will you be able to take your website, design and content once your term is up? 

    •    Can you make your own adjustments once the site is built?

Organise Your Photographs

Ok, so every photographer's websites needs photographs, what every photographer's website doesn't need is galleries upon galleries of endless photographs. How long do you view a website for? 1 minute, 2 minutes, even 5 minutes wouldn't give you enough time to go through hundreds of images so you need to impress and quickly. Ideally you want 10-20 initial photographs that you will use for your homepage. Sure you can add more images, consider adding larger galleries once the website is up and running. 

Before you even decide which web building site you want to use, have a file on your desktop of web ready images, it not only keeps you organised, but if you do decide to take up a 14 day free trial with a website, you will have your images ready to upload straightaway making the most of those free days. 

Buy Your Domain

Having your own domain is a must when you're running your own website, whether it's .co.uk / .com /.org.uk that simplicity for your audience instantly makes you look more professional. There are plenty of domain sites that you can purchase your own domain from and most allow you to search which ones are available at no cost. Check out  www.uk.godaddy.com & www.uk-cheapest.co.uk

Top Tip: If available, consider buying both .com and .co.uk, you can either link both domains to your one website or keep one unused for future websites. 

Start Generating Hype Around Your Website Launch

Launching your first or new website is exciting for anyone, so share that experience with everyone. Friends & Family are always proud to see you achieving so they should be your first point of call. Secondly, if you already have an audience on social media as small or big as it may be, let them know when the new website is coming, ask them what they would love to see on the new site and don't forget to integrate your social media links on the new website. 

Have you any tips on building your first website? Do you plan to build a new online portfolio in 2016? 

Keep checking back in the coming weeks for my top tips on what features your new photography website should include.