10 more website strategies for photographers

A little over a year ago I posted “10 Web Site Strategies for Emerging Photographers.” I think the article holds up very well and is as relevant as it was when I posted it. So please read it if you haven’t done so, then come back to this article for 10 more web strategies for photographer’s websites.

NOTE: Meet Jan Klier, Seattle Photographer. He just recently made the jump. He will be here in my studio Wednesday evening at 6PM, Pacific. We will discuss his planning up to the day he left corporate world, and what he is doing now to build his business. Come join us and bring questions you may have. You will have to signup for an account to ask questions, but it is free and no spam, so nothing to lose.

First – interesting photo stuff from around the web:
Bruce DeBoer offers this great post on speaking about photography: WORD :: How Good Talk Makes Photography Better
Selina Maitreya has a six month challenge for photographers – Video Challenge #2 VISION
Kirk Tuck has a nice little post here: Are you showing off your skill or are you joining the conversation about art?
From Scott Kelby comes this post on ideas for Lightroom 4. If you are a Lightroom user, you should check it out.
And from A Photo Editor comes this article on dropping one’s agent, Ask Anything รขโ‚ฌโ€œ Dropping Your Agent.

Three photographers that I really enjoyed this week:
Erik Almas
Dan Busta
John Midgley

This Wednesday (August 18, 2010) evening at 6PM Pacific (9PM Eastern) we will have another Lighting Essentials LIVE video cast from the secret Wizwow compound. The subject will be a surprise, but there will also be time for questions from you. Just visit this site on Wednesday to see the Livecast via VOKLE.

We just wrapped up the First BIG Photo Contest on Lighting Essentials. The contest page is here and the submissions are here at Carbonmade. The judges will be working on the judging this week and we will announce winner next weekend.

Now let’s get on to some strategies that you can use to up the game on your website. It may be an easy fix or it may require some ‘backend’ coding to make it happen, but work with what you have to get a little more punch from your online presence.

Hit the jump here:

1. Share what you have been doing.
Show the new work, and let the clients know what you are up to. Interaction not just for blogs anymore.

Whether it is a “New Work” gallery or attention to getting the recent work into a mini-gallery or vehicle to show that you are constantly creating, it is really a strong way to get people to come back. New Work or Recent Work will show huge activity… especially to returning visitors and that is huge. Tie the imagery to some tear sheets and it is a real credibility booster.

Showing new work also tells the prospective client that you are indeed busy. That you are engaged in the work, and keeping fresh. What you show could run from out-takes to tear sheets, but the fun part is that they are always changing. Every two weeks or every month would be a good time frame to change them out.

New Work Examples:
Jaime Hogg
Anna Wolf

2. Create and shoot projects.
Long form shoots that can bring the people back for more.

Whatever the ongoing project is, let it breathe and take life in front of the visitors. Add new images and keep the narrative strong. Ongoing projects build interest and also provide a glimpse of how you treat larger assignment work.

Choose something you are interested in and keep the gallery fresh with new and interesting images from the project. Don’t forget the people who work with you on the shoots and keep them in the scene as well.

Projects Examples:
Chase Jarvis
Phillipe Toldano

3. Behind the Scenes Videos
Not to train your competition, but to show how you work with clients and subject.

Yeah, everybody loves those behind the scenes shoots with all the glitz and all the glam… well, they don’t all have to be produced like a Hollywood epic. A little video of the shoot from a Flip would be fine… if it shows what clients want to see. How did you meet a challenge photographically – and beat it?

I’m not talking about shooting a business headshot against white, or a “Here’s how to use a boom stand” tutorial… I am talking about a 2 minute or so shoot of what was going on to get the shots. What was going on behind the scenes… was it fun, too stuffy… what?

The point is to have fun with it, show professional skills and engage the viewer by showing a glimpse of what it may be like to shoot with you… unless you are boring or crass… then, well… let’s lose the video.

Behind the Scenes Examples:
Kevin Winsler
Chris Stanford (stills)
Fashion Photography Blog

4. Work with a charity.
They need the help and you have the skills.

These days charities need help more than usual. Maybe there is a way for a win/win. Find a way to work with a charity that can also double as a long term project. The content will drive interest in the site and the work will show how you handle those types of projects.

I am very kind and very demanding when I do these kinds of projects. I am happy to shoot for the charity – IF I can get something for myself. If the work they want will NOT be usable as a project, then I may have to think about it. (Exceptions of course kids and domestic violence where secrecy may be very important. I have worked with those charities as well.)

It may take some doing and some extra heavy planning, but there are ways to involve your photography, creativity and a charity that would benefit you both. And having the work on your website is a ‘very good’ thing to do.

Charity Examples:
SoGo Photography
Viewpoint Photographers

5. Offers and Promotions
Mostly for wedding and portrait shooters.

Come on, get creative. What kind of monthly promotion can you run? What kind of premium can be used to lure the prospective buyers back to the site again and again? Free 11×14 month… (you know why we do 11×14’s… right?). Book one get one booking free in a year. Bring a friend month… come on. Be creative.

Work with a local establishment for some coop marketing. If you can work with someone’s mailing list and offer a discount, the access could be worth quite a lot. Creating value without destroying profits is a tried and true marketing strategy. Giving an 8×10 print for a solid lead from a client is totally worth it. Referrals are some of the strongest ways we know of to get new clients. Making your existing clients your de-facto marketers means more word of mouth than ever before.

Promotions Examples:
Shelley Shroyer
Fine Spun Photography

6. Sell prints.
Even if you don’t actually sell something, the fact is you have them for sale. Limited editions of course.

The fact that you sell prints says you are an artist. It may enhance your credibility. It may give you something to brag about or use as a leverage to get into see people that may be harder to see. It can be a wonderful source of ‘premiums’ for your business. “Shoot a maternity with us this month, and pick any photo from our gallery as a gift.” It is a great gift too, as it has a published price of $75.

Creating new and interesting work? A print gallery is one place to show it off. Showing that the work is used to decorate the world can be quite powerful as a perception point.

A commercial photographer can show a different side of their work in a sales gallery. Elevate the work to art. Make the images “limited editions” at nice, hefty prices. Value… increase yours. Don’t be stupid… $2500 8×10’s will make you look like a moron unless you are way more famous than .1% of the photographers out there, and are already getting that price elsewhere. And gifting someone a print after a long shoot or particular event can mean a lot if they know it has a value placed on it. From SmugMug to PayPal, there are many, many ways to sell your photographs online.

Print Sales Examples:
David Reesor
Sue Barr

7. Get testimonials or at least a kind word or two.
People like to know you are someone that other people want to work with.

Putting a nice note from someone who is in the business can be a powerful referral tool. I am reminded of Carl Furuta’s long time campaign in the Black Book from back in the day. 4 pages of AD’s names / Agencies and the headline: “Ask Me How I Liked Working With Carl Furuta?” Effective? Yeah, at the price it cost to put 4 pages in that book it had to be.

You can tie this with the BTS videos idea as well. A short clip of you and the AD smiling and waving… and tie them all together for a little short with 20-30 AD’s all smiling and waving … be creative. Be marketing or planning your marketing all the time. I wish to hell I would have shot all those behind the scenes funny, incredible, insane and sometimes dangerous moments from back in the day. I really do.

Ask for referrals and ask them if their notes can be used on your site, of course. A few sprinkled in here and there could be a pretty nice way to subtly show that you are working with pros. And it may give them something to send their friends to see on your site… and maybe some of their friends are, I dunno, other AD’s? Yeah… you think?

8. Offer a newsletter on something you love.
Become the go-to source for information regarding photography in ____.

Your town. Your city. Your state. Your genre. Your interest group. Your passion.

What do you love to shoot? Motorcycles? Still Life? Fine Art? Food?

Let’s say you are a food shooter in a small market. Why couldn’t you also be a sort of food connoiseur of sorts. Have all the links to restaurants in your town. Have links to the top chef’s site. Create a little content about food in your town. Shoot something from every restaurant if you can. Ask – you may receive.

Yeah, you are a food shooter… and you love food… and here are some great places to eat great food… and ‘ohbytheway’ here are some photographs of the great food you are going to eat and if your restaurant needs great photographs… yeah, sorta like that. It can be very time consuming, but valuable. Cause you KNOW other restaurateurs will seek out your site if the content is compelling enough.

Newsletter Examples:
James Cowlin
Raymond Klass

9. Blur the lines between blog and site.
A website doesn’t have to be static anymore.

Blogs can be powerful dynamic tools to keep people informed. Websites have tended to be more static with almost an online ‘portfolio’ approach.

I say change it up. We can do things to blogs to add a more ‘portfolio’ like feel to them (and we will cover that in another post), and we can add content to websites to add a more dynamic feel to them.

I mentioned the “Project” approach above. It is one way you can treat content. For jobs, show out-takes and BTS shots, discuss the challenges of the shoot and how you met them head on. What were the desires of the client and how did you deliver. The style can certainly be your own, but keep it conversational and easy to read. Draw the reader, and possible client, into the shoot.

Add mini-galleries of things you like, or places you have been. Show the progress of something under construction. Add value to your site by keeping it current with current information that is aimed at your critical audience.

Examples of the blend:
Andrew Hethrington
ACME Photo (Adam Nollmeyer)

10. Promote something near and dear to you.
A book, a historical district, a group show… mentoring.

Get involved. Promote something good and while at it gain meaningful traffic and PR. Maybe it’s a kids choir, or a historical museum. Perhaps it could be something even more personal like the recovery of a wounded vet, or the vet hospital in your area. No, it doesn’t have to be a PJ approach. It can be portraits or architectural details or whatever it is that you do.

Promote the local chamber of commerce, or a book by a friend, or an artists work that you really admire. It doesn’t have to be tacky, and it can be worked in through the “projects” as well. And it doesn’t have to be a charity as discussed above. This is outright promotion of something/someone… be a mentor.

Helping others with our gifts is something to be very proud of. And it simply cannot hurt from a marketing standpoint. So find someone to promote on your site. Be involved.

Promotion Examples:
Janell Wood (the wonderful Veterans Project)
James Nachtway (through the organization of his images)

Stay “engaged” with the viewers… that is the new ‘buzzword’ and I like it better than most buzzwords.

You don’t have to do all that is presented here. You can do one or two, but these ideas are set forth to get you thinking about ways to promote yourself, do good things and engage your viewers. Get them to come back again and again.

Workshop NEWS is on the Learn to Light page, and as always, those wishing to follow my every idea can follow me on Twitter. See you next time.

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