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Today,  I’m going to talk to you today about setting up your first website. I must say, this is probably one of the elements of starting my photography business that I was most excited about. I just really loved the idea of having my own website to showcase what I’d been working on. It was a chance just to show everybody my work. Even though at that stage I didn’t have a lot of weddings to show!! I still felt it was important that I should have plenty to say about weddings, even if I was just blogging on topics related to weddings. It was just so important to get out there, to make a start, and just to fully commit to starting the business properly, and keep myself on the right track.

Sometimes that can be the hardest thing, you plan something for so long and you have an idea in your head about how it’s going to be, but then you forget to make the start, and to get yourself out there, and get seen.

You Need More than Just a Facebook Page

When I first started, I decided I was going to have a website from the very beginning. I know some people like to start their photography business, and they start with just a Facebook page, and they say when they build a following and when they actually have more work to show, they’ll have a website designed and they’ll start with a website from that point on. For me, I thought it was more important just to have a website from the very beginning, to have a proper shopfront for me and for my work. Something professional that people could come and look at, and browse through, connect with, and get in touch with me. For example you need to have a proper contact page, have a proper way for people to be able to find out who I was and how they could get in touch with me.

Why Not Design Your Own Website?

Obviously when you start a business, you don’t have a huge amount of resources available to you. When I started, most of the money that I had available to me I used for my equipment and getting started with my 5D, my backup camera and the lenses that I wanted to shoot with. I decided my website was something that I would try and do myself. I had no idea how to start a website, or how to even purchase a domain name! But it’s surprising when you’re excited and keen about something and you’re eager to learn how quickly you do learn and how quickly you do pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in how to get started.

I’d heard from another photographer about a website called Pro Photo. They offer design templates for wedding photographers who are designing their own website. With just €150, I went online, I browsed the templates that they had available, chose one, and got started on my very own website. I quickly learned that if I had a website, it needed to be hosted somewhere and that I needed to have a web address, a domain name for people to find that website.

Purchase a Domain Name and Set up Hosting

Once I had decided on my business name, Eden Photography, I purchased the domain name through blacknight.com, which are an Irish hosting company but there’s loads of them out there like Go Daddy. I took out my hosting with them, so somewhere for my website to sit on the worldwide web!

I set that up and then worked on the website itself. I had permission from the wedding photographers I’d been working with to use the images I shot with them, so I was able to use them on my website, and I started writing a blog. I would take images from the weddings that I had been second shooting at. I would write a blog post about where I was, who I was with (that’s always important to acknowledge that you weren’t the main photographer on the day, that you were working with someone else, and give credit to them) Initially, obviously, I didn’t have a lot of weddings to show, so I would blog about anything and everything related to the world of wedding photography.

I would blog about Oscar hairstyles and how they could work well at weddings. I even remember doing a blog post about Gossip Girl when Serena in Gossip Girl got married! And to this day, it’s still one of my most viewed blog posts five years on. Make a good start with blogging. It really is the main way that people will find you online, Google like if you have lots of recent content to your website. A blog is an excellent way to keep your website updated, lots of new fresh content, and be clever about the wording that you use.

Remember to use the names of venues that you want to photograph in, hyperlink to their website, and mention words like wedding photography, Ireland, if that’s where you live, or use other keywords that are important in how you would be found online.

Next, I put together a gallery of images for brides to see, created a contact page so that people could get in touch with me if they wanted to inquire about my availability. That was really it. It was quite a simple website to start with. I had no knowledge of how to create a website, how to design a website, but really Pro Photo made it so easy. The templates were there, ready to use. You didn’t need any coding knowledge or any kind of idea of how to code the backend of a website. You literally would just drag and drop and play around. There were mistakes that I made that I learned quickly, played around with, and I got there.

What Platform Should I Use?

I decided to go with WordPress as a platform as I found it the easiest to use starting out. I’ve always stuck with WordPress ever since. I’m so familiar with it now that I can quickly navigate the backend of my website, even though now it’s been professionally designed, the basics are the same.  

Most Important Lesson Learned

I really do want to  encourage you to move beyond your Facebook page. Have a website done. If you can afford,  have it designed professionally but you really don’t need to when you’re starting out. Get a presence online. Create a site. Use something like Pro Photo and you really will be up and running really quickly. You’ll be there on the internet ready to be found, ready for brides to see your work, and you’re off to the perfect start.