At a previous job, I managed marketing and an ambassador team of over 200 photographers. The job left me jaded as I would wake up every morning to an inbox flooded with emails from aspiring pros and established photographers looking to get notoriety for their work. It got to the point of image overload where everyone’s work started to look the same. Good work was no longer good and great work was few and far between. However, when something stood out, it was usually bad or really good.
Having said that, I have some feedback I know will be beneficial to somebody looking to build a better portfolio site. First and foremost, it’s important to realize what the intended purpose is. Are you trying to attract clients and work, or are you just trying to show off your best photos? Your website is the first impression of you to viewers who do not know you. It’s better to assume that people visiting your site know nothing about you. Leave visitors with intrigue rather than questions. Also think, if you have 3 seconds to hook the attention of the viewer, what can you post first that will cause them to want to see more.
If you’re an unknown entity and needing help being discovered, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is more than just a marketing buzzword. Most people acquire visitors from Google, Facebook, and Pinterest. Knowing where your audience is will help you better keyword your photos and posts to move you up search ranks and therefore increase visibility and site traffic. While sites like SquareSpace are easy to setup and use, platforms like WordPress allow for a little more flexibility and better SEO tools to help you boost your search ranking. Outside of using a mobile friendly platform, below are four easy things you can do to help with SEO.
(Meta)Tagging - Proper tagging of your images will allow your work to show up in image searches and provide some breadcrumbs to lead people back to your site. This is crucial for those looking to boost their visibility on Google and is easy to do. You can do this in post software or simply right click to view properties or get info on Mac. What also helps is to title it properly using your name, subject name, and location name as part of your naming nomenclature. Eg. Location-Subject-Date-Your_Name.
For step-by-step directions, you can visit this link.
Blog - Type in a city, photographer, and genre into Google and look at the top 5 results. What you’ll see 99.9% of the time is part of their site includes a blog. There are many reasons why implementing a blog is important to your site. It is where you can express who you are and an archive of content related to your target audience. A blog is also an effective way to increase your keywords, decrease bounce, and a place for personal projects not relevant to your primary subject matter. Content is king on the internet, and the more content and engagement (comments) you have, the more likely you’ll show up on search. Who knows, your article may make it viral and be linked by established media, which will skyrocket your search ranking.
Know your specialty, sometimes less is more. This is where everything comes together. If you want to be a portrait photographer, have lots of portraits (For me, it’s a turnoff when I see the same subject from the same shoot multiple times). If you’re getting started, have your homepage be your best image, followed by a library of your best works separated by related genres. The more, the better - as long as the work is quality and there’s variance between the images. Going back to my days hiring and sponsoring photographers, I was immediately turned off when I would visit a site and see a hodgepodge of images like urbex, weddings, and action sport. While they may be that individual’s best work, they should not go together as it confuses the messaging. Imagine if you’re a prospective client looking for a wedding photographer and you see images of a snowboarding along with engagement photos.
You can mix content as long as it relates to each other, but try to emphasize a singular message. If you shoot landscapes and want to do commercial landscape work with people, have images of landscapes into one tab, and put advertising type work into another tab labeled “People” or “Advertising”. If you want to promote yourself shooting unrelated subjects, put it in your blog, create a separate site for altogether, or have a tab called personal projects and organize it in a body of work. If you shoot landscapes and want to do commercial landscape work with people, have images of landscapes into one tab, and put advertising type work into another tab labeled “People” or “Advertising”.
Social Links and social sharing integration. Make it easy for visitors to share your work and to follow you. All platforms should have a plugin for social links and easy image/page sharing buttons. This will increase sites linking in, which will boost your SEO ranking as well.
Got a suggestion or a comment? Let me know below.
Till next time. -Sinh Truong