Selling Photos Online Part 3 – Creating your website

We’re half-way through our mini-series on how to sell your photos online. In this series, we’re covering:

There are three important things I want to cover here:

  1. Choosing functionality
  2. Creating the website
  3. Getting online

Now, I don’t want to mislead you: I’m not going to tell you how to make a website in one little blog post, but I will give you some ideas about what to think about, what your options are, and where you can find out more.

1. Choosing functionality

You’ve already defined your goals for the site, so this should make it easy to identify the functionality you want on your site. Some of your options are:

  • Online portfolio that allows your users to see thumbnail and full-size images.
  • Log-in function, so customers can only see their own photos.
  • Online ordering, allowing customers to select photos and send you an order.
  • Real-time editing function, allowing customers to decide whether they want basic edits on certain photos (such as black and white).
  • Online payment, allowing customers to enter credit card details and pay you for their order immediately.

At the most basic level, your website might be a òbrochure’ site ì it advertises your services and shows off your talent. If you’re planning to make your own site and you’ve got no experience in web design, this is a good place to start. My recommendations are that you keep it very simple, plan well, and look at how others do it on the web.

But if you want to take it further, you may want to explore other options for ¶

2. Creating your website

The DIY option

I’ve met so many people who decide they want to create a website and start by trying to do it themselves. It’s possible, of course (that’s how I started!), but it’s not simple ¶ no, I’ll correct that ì doing an amateur website is simple. Doing a professional website takes a lot of hard work. If you want a website, you should count up the real cost of that DIY option. It’s not just the cost of the software ì you will need to put in a lot of time and effort to learn how to do this, and you will make mistakes, and you’ll be frustrated, and one day you’ll look back at your early work and cringe. Remember ì just like when you learned how to use Photoshop?

However, if you’re keen to learn web design as a skill, you’ve got the time and energy for the challenge, and you believe it’s going to pay off in the long term, you will want to look into some web design tools.

Dreamweaver is the industry standard and is relatively easy to use. There are plenty of other web design tools out there including web-based, open source or content-management server tools, but not all of them offer you the same control and you need to choose one that suits your purpose.

As an example, this blog is a really simple example of web design ì I just type into a web-based interface. There’s more I can do with it, but if I want to say, make an image portfolio, this blog tool wouldn’t be a good way to do it.

There are plenty of web gadgets or tools out there that individually can offer you each functionality listed above, but be aware that if you’re doing this yourself, for each new gadget, you’ll have to learn how it works, how to control it, and what its quirks are. And, you may find it difficult to get a coherent look across your site without some serious tweaking.

The òGet Help’ option

You don’t need to do it yourself. As I said, calculate the real cost ì you will probably find that for what you want, the time and effort it would take makes it too costly. You’d be better off putting that energy into your core business and getting someone else to build your website. It’s not hard to find a web designer ì ask around, google, check the phone book. Web designers are plentiful and you’re not limited to locals ì it’s not uncommon for a web designer to do all their work remotely (via phone and email).

The advantage of finding a web designer is that they can get the right talent for your job ì you’ll end up with a well-designed site that suits your core goals. If you want to maintain the website yourself, having an existing intact website presents a good opportunity to learn the basics of òweb design’ without causing yourself a headache. It’s not hard for a beginner to learn how to edit text or substitute images in places where images already exist.

Make sure you talk this through with the designer ì they may make the site more òedit-friendly’ if they know you want to do it yourself. Alternatively, you could pay them a retainer to continue editing your site for you ì and be aware that self-editing may void any òwarranty’ on the website.

3. Getting online

So you’ve finally got a shiny new website ì now what? It needs to go online. If you’ve hired a designer, they should be able to sort this all out for you. If not, here’s what you’ve got to consider:

  • Your address, URL or òdomain’. You need to purchase your URL from a òdomain registry’ which is like a real estate agent for internet addresses. There’s more than one òdomain registry’ so search around for a good deal. Be aware that many names will already be taken, even if there’s no website there. This means someone has bought the address in expectation of their new website. Also, the òending’ of your website determines the cost of your address – .com costs more than .net or any country-specific domains like
  • Web space. If the òaddress’ is like land, then web space is like the house that you buy to put on the land. Your website needs some place to be housed on the internet ì you’ll connect this house to your address, but you need to set it up separately. The easiest way to do this is to contact your internet provider and see what they offer.
  • Search engine rankings. So you’ve got an address, some web space, and you’ve uploaded your site to that place. If you type in the address, everything works ì hooray! But you’re the only one who knows about your site.Now you need to ensure your site gets picked up by Google and the other search engines. This is a well-developed science on the web ì it’s called òsearch engine optimization’, so do some research. It means that you increase Google’s chances of finding you by including a lot of your key terms in your site, in useful, meaningful ways.You need to think about how your target market will be looking for you. Will they be googling terms like òwedding photographer’ or òwedding photographer Wagga Wagga’ or òphotographer portfolio modelling’?

Of course, getting this far is good, but beyond search engine optimization, there’s a lot you can do to increase the attention your website gets. In my next post, I’ll look at marketing your website.

Stay tuned ì the next post will be coming through next week, Australian time, as I’m taking off for a quick weekend camping trip with my family ì a good opportunity for some Australian bush photography! Don’t miss it ì sign up for RSS feeds now.

Written by

Derek is Engineering Czar and Co-founder of Fotomerchant. He once picked up a camera and started shooting but everyone screamed so he stopped.

  • I don’t know exactly how I did it but I’ve managed to get the 5th google result when searching for ‘Motorcycle Photography.

    And if you select the option to find Austrailan sites only then I’m number two!

    Looking through the keyword analysis records for your site can give good insight into how people come across it.

  • Simmo,

    That’s awesome! – I wish it was that easy for all of us.