A website is the new storefront for modern business and commerce, and if your website isn’t up to par you can bet that your potential clients are Googling a competitor before your site even fully loads on their screen. Remember, your website is one of your top marketing tools and generates first impressions you give to a potential client interested in your type of services.
In this job, I’ve spent much time scouring photographer websites, and in my search I’ve noticed seven common (and easily corrected) website mistakes that many photographers are making that have the potential to scare away potential clients. They range from the mildly annoying to the completely frustrating, so read on to make sure that you aren’t making these seven errors and losing business because of them!
Common Website Mistake #1: Takes Too Long To Load
Everyone is in a hurry these days. If you don’t grab someone’s attention in a few seconds that person has moved on already. Sure, it’s wonderful to have big, beautiful images from your portfolio on your site and it certainly is less time consuming just to upload the full res file instead of taking the time to resize to the optimal size for your site but if it diminishes the loading speed, you need to take action.
No one has the time, patience, or attention span to wait more than a few seconds for your site to load. Picture this:
A potential bride has a list from her wedding planner of vendors to research. She reaches your website and it takes forever to load; there are four other photographers on the list she can choose from. You can bet many brides will have skipped you and moved onto the next name on the list.
One major culprit, as mentioned above, is the size of your images. Make sure you are resizing those images and saving for web. That should help speed things up quite a bit. There are many free online resources that allow you to test how fast or slow your site is loading.
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #2: Where Is Your Contact Info?!
A potential client is all excited to book your services. They love you! But they can’t find how to contact you. Make it easy for them to do so! Having a contact button is great, but it’s just one extra hoop for people to have to jump through. If you can figure out places on your site to put your contact info without being annoying, do so!
Also, consider that many websites have a contact form and nothing else, and this can pose a problem if there is an issue with your contact form. There may also be an issue if your client prefers to call/text/email, etc. Again, make it easy for them. On your contact page, in addition to a contact form, make sure you add your email address and/or phone number and invite them to contact you however they feel comfortable.
While researching photographers for a project recently, there were a handful of photographers that didn’t have any contact information at all! Some had contact forms, but I needed an email address so I had to scour Google. Think about it, would a potential client go that far to get ahold of you? A handful might, but most will not.
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #3: Who Are You?
Many potential clients want to know there’s a real person behind “Beautiful Portraits Photography Studio.” That starts with your name. If your potential client is clicking on your ‘About’ page, they want to read more about the person (or people) behind the images they see. That’s a good thing! So, make sure you tell them a little bit about yourself and include your first name, if possible.
Doing so personalizes your studio, and if your potential client chooses to contact you they know they are talking to the right person whom they can address you by name, not an awkward, “Hello…um, Beautiful Portraits Photography Studio.”
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #4: Where Are You?
Another common website mistake is not telling people where you are based out of. Some people may not have the budget to pay for a photographer to travel to Nebraska. Others just want to support local businesses.
Putting your general location (i.e. Southern California) doesn’t have to limit you to only one region. If you are available to travel, tell them so on the site. But give them the choice to choose if they can afford to fly you from Georgia to Kansas to photograph their dog.
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #5: Automatic Music
It’s 2016. Stop putting autoplay on your site. Nothing is worse than when you’re sneakily trying to not pay attention during a business meeting only to have a song come blaring out in a quiet room. With this I’m only half kidding, and studies show that a majority of brides plan their weddings during work hours.
Having a song automatically pop up with a website is intrusive and may disrupt something your website visitor is already listening to. Also, they may not like your taste in music and also it causes your site to load slower. More often than not, your potential client is going to be scrambling to find the stop button and most of the time the fastest way to make it stop is to leave your website altogether.
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #6: Non-BRanded Email Address
You are asking a good amount of money for your services. With that comes the expectation that you are running a professional photography business. Therefore, when a potential client emails you, they are expecting an email address like “Ben@beautifulportraits.com,” not “email@example.com” or even “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Get an email address with your domain name. Having a generic email address gives the impression that you’re new, part-time, not credible, not legitimate or not established. A branded email address is inexpensive, or free, and even though it may seem like a small thing, gives off a big impression.
COMMON WEBSITE MISTAKE #7: Site Redirects
If you don’t have a website, you should get one. Do not have your website redirect to an online portfolio service like Flickr or 500px. If a potential client is going to “www.beautiful_portraits.com,” and it redirects them to your Flickr, you lose credibility. When people look for a business online, they are looking for cues that show them you are a legitimate business. Just like the gmail example above, having your website redirect to something like Flickr or any number of branded photo hosting websites will give the impression that you are small, new, part-time, not established, etc.
With the sea of photographers out there, it’s difficult enough for you to stand out and get the booking, so don’t let your website be a deterrent for that potential client trying to find the right photographer to hire.
What are some common website mistakes you have seen or done yourself? Comment below.