Real Life Real Lessons for Photographers: Your Website

One of this year’s benefits for Summer School attendees is a fairly thorough website review prior to the August event. What’s amazing to me is how few people have even realized they had the benefit, but so far, having done at least thirty of them, the experience has been pretty valuable.

First let’s talk about the process. It’s nothing more than a phone call and we literally go through the site page by page. Calls have ranged anywhere from 30-90 minutes. I’m doing these because I wanted everyone to be able to focus on a business changing experience before August! It’s that simple. In fact, Summer School may be the only program that evolves into something that runs all year long.

I start the process and the community takes over afterwards. For example, on Facebook there are 109 members of a Skip’s Summer School forum that help each other every day of the week. Throughout the Internet there are dozen’s of little clusters of past alumni who have stayed in contact and are helping each other.

Two big issues I’ve noticed on almost every website involve galleries and about sections. First, there are too many images in everybody’s galleries. The record so far is over 4000. No viewer to any site is going to go through those, especially when many of the images shouldn’t have been posted in the first place.

So many photographers think they have to show the potential client EVERYTHING they’re capable of shooting. The truth is, this is the Tiffany window scenario that Bambi Cantrell talks about all the time. Tiffany’s doesn’t show you everything in their inventory, just one or two items well lit and nicely displayed in each window.

LESS IS MORE…it’s worth remembering. You’re much better off to just show a few great images than a hundred that Uncle Harry could have shot! Show quality and make each image a wow print.

With every image you post ask one question, “If this was the only image I could show would I hire me?” If it’s strong enough that you’d even hire yourself than it’s a keeper – otherwise toss it!

The other area a lot of people need help with is their “About” section and it’s actually a topic this week on the podcast with me and Scott. People hire you because of why you’re a photographer, not because of what you provide or what you use. They’re not that interested in your life story…where you went to school…what gear you use…or how many awards you’ve won…

They interested in why you’re a photographer. They want to know they can trust you to see the world through their eyes. They want to know you understand who they are and why they want a professional photographer at their event or sitting.

In Justin and Mary Marantz’s abut video, http://www.justinmarantz.com, which we’ve talked about so many times, Mary finishes the video with the comment, “…we believe in love.” I’m taking it out of context, but I’ve suggested to EVERY Summer School attendee they watch the video, no matter what their photographic specialty might be. This is about establishing trust with your client.

I’ve even re-written a number of About sections for this year’s attendees. Why? Because so many of you are just too close to your own business. We all have the same challenges and building a stronger website should be a vital component of everybody’s marketing plan. Your About section and galleries are the two primary hooks to getting clients to hire you – everything else on your site is secondary.

I know a number of people have come into these reviews with the same apprehension as an IRS audit, but that’s not what this is about. Fortunately everybody has left smiling! And yes, you can tell when somebody is smiling on the phone – your voice changes. Remember that the next time you’re dealing with an upset client – a smile will go a long way, even if they can’t see you!

If you’re registered for Summer School and haven’t had your website review yet, don’t worry, more photographers are being scheduled ever day. If you haven’t registered for Summer School yet, what are you waiting for? It’s the only program in the industry that pretty much is there to help you all year long!

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This post sponsored by Bay Photo Lab


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