The Best Ways to Improve your Online Photography Portfolio in 2014
This is the year. The year you’ll turn that business corner and get your online portfolio noticed. These essential steps will help you set your foundations, highlight your work so that your personal artistry shines through, and help your photography reach the right eyes.
1. Make A Plan
For the seasoned professional, it might be time to revisit your photography business and analyze what has worked or not worked for you in the past. Where some elements might need to be updated or entirely cut, new photography business tools and strategies can take their place. 2014 should be about trying to keep up with the dizzying pace of technological advances, finding new tools that can help your bottom line, and giving your business a Web. 2.0 makeover.
If you don’t already have a photography portfolio website, that should be the starting point of your new plan. Then ask yourself, is your website helping you achieve your business and marketing goals? Revisit your online presence. Enlist friends or colleagues to give you an audit. And change platforms if you’re not happy with the way things look. Perhaps switch from doing it all yourself to using a custom portfolio website builder. The best ones out there will offer you everything you need – from search engine optimization (SEO) and responsive web design to e-commerce capabilities and stunning photo galleries.
Another beneficial element to include in your plan is customer appreciation. Treat your customers like gold. Who were your Top 10 clients last year? Send them a note asking for a little shout out – even something as simple as a Like on Facebook, or forwarding your newsletter to a friend can go a long way. Word of mouth is a priceless tool and social media is how many people communicate most these days.
When is the last time you reached out to former clients and asked them about a new shoot? A little nudge might be all they need. Make contact via email, a social post, or comment and see where it takes you. In 2014 think really hard about email marketing best practices and how you can start communicating with your audience via email.
If you’re someone newer to the industry, it might be time you narrow things down and really find your niche. Targeted marketing has a much higher return, and there are many tools available to help you pinpoint and reach the right market.
What is your niche? This may difficult to nail down for some, but it is an important decision to make. You might need to talk this one out. Have lunch with a friend to discuss it. Write it all down and extract your image. Then blog about it – become the “thought leader” in your niche area and it can pay off enormously. And let your work backup your message.
2. Get Organized
For many photographers, this is the biggest hurdle. With so much work to select from, how do you decide which photographs to showcase? If you work with multiple media, how do you categorize it all?
Again, enlist someone to help you go over it all – a friend, colleague, partner, your mom. Someone you trust who will give you honest advice and keep you focused. Then take the stress out of how to make it all look professional online by using a portfolio service. There are many to choose from and something for every budget. These sites help you optimize everything, from SEO to how to sell your work. And with options like commission free online photo proofing, customers can review and order the photos they want directly on your website. Quickly, easily and efficiently.
3. Get Your SEO In Order
People can’t hire you if they can’t find you and SEO can help. Don’t be turned off or intimidated by the phrase. An online portfolio website can make it all foolproof.
For best results, use a system that doesn’t use Flash. Unlike Flash based portfolios, HTML based sites enable you to create a best-practices optimized website, including search engine friendly URLs, unique meta tags, and crawl-able content. Using unique content that is properly placed on the page and leverages strategically chosen keywords, you can drive traffic to specific pages and build inbound links to more than just your homepage.
And make sure that once you get a prospective client to your website, there is a clear goal for them to achieve. Whether it is signing up for your newsletter, completing your contact form, or buying a print, your website should have clear calls to action that help visitors navigate your site and complete a goal.
If you are like most photographers and the majority of your business is local, then the time is now to embrace Google+. Local search engine rankings are crucial to a local business, and a well optimized Google+ business page is where you need to start.
3. Get Social
If you use Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr or any other social networking site – USE THEM. Make it a habit to go online on a regular basis to stay up to date and talk about any promotions or special events you have going on. But also make comments and engage where your clients are. An anniversary note on a client’s wedding image could result in a pregnancy shoot. Commenting is a great way to get your name out there and help drive traffic to your site.
Review sites like Yelp and Google+ offer a wealth of knowledge to consumers and, in turn, consumers rely heavily on the reviews and comments they provide. Get in there, engage, review a photographer friend’s work or compliment a stranger’s image. These sites often let you create a rich user profile and in one click you could be attracting your next gig.
As customers rely on web searches almost exclusively these days, a strong online presence is the best – and sometimes the easiest – way to get noticed. One quick Google search will tell you that! It’s time to embrace your inner techie and begin wearing two hats – professional photographer, and Internet marketer.
Julian Dormon is the founder of BigBlackBag, specializing in professionally designed, artistic portfolio websites perfect for photographers, artists, and other creative professionals. He’s an amateur photographer and professional entrepreneur with a passion for all things beautiful.