When it comes to building websites, a good design is just not enough. Sure, strong branding is important – really important. But even if your fonts and colors are perfect and you’ve got your brand’s voice locked down, it won’t matter if you’re not actually getting clients.
A good website design doesn’t stop at just “looking pretty.” A good website design should guide your potential clients on a journey that ends with them hitting that “contact me” button and submitting an inquiry. Here are the top 3 mistakes that I see photographers make when it comes to building their website.
1) Your message isn’t clear.
How. many times have you landed on a photographer’s website and seen a banner or a. slideshow gallery of pretty photos, with no text? It’s pretty common – you might even be guilty of it too :). While these look great, the problem is that. when a. potential client lands on your website, they won’t know what you do. They’re looking for a wedding photographer – but do you do weddings? Are you even a photographer?
Here’s a scary fact – you have a maximum of 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention before. they decide to click off of your website. And. that’s being generous – most people don’t even last that long. So if a. client lands on your website and doesn’t immediately see what they’re looking. for, you have a pretty good chance of losing them.
So what do you do?
This screenshot is from my old photography website (I’ve hung up my camera since, but this is all written from experience). This all shows up above the fold (which. is a phrase that comes from the days of newspapers – all the important stuff was printed above the fold, so that people could see the eye catching headlines without having to open the newspaper – which increased sales. Just like a newspaper, your website should have all the most important. information available as soon as people land. on your. website, before they scroll).
Here, you’ll notice that clients. can easily see what I do (elopement photography), and where I do it. This is important information – if someone’s looking for a photographer for their senior. photos, they’ll land here and see that I don’t do that. But if someone’s looking for an elopement photographer, they’ll know that they’ve come to exactly the right place. I also recommend putting either your location or a short tagline under your main title.
If you were based in New York and photographed families, a good header would be “New York Family Photographer.” If you’re a wedding and elopement photographer based in Portland, make your title “Portland Wedding & Elopement Photographer.”
Clarify your message – so that your ideal clients know that you’re here for them.
You’ll also notice I have a “contact me” button above the fold – let’s talk about that next.
2) Your call to action is unclear
Think about this when you’re making your website – what’s the goal? What do you want people to do? What’s the purpose of your website? If you’re a photographer, the answer is probably that you want people to inquire with you.
A call to action is something that tells a user what to do. For example, “contact me.” I often see photographers with calls to action that say something like “say hi,” or “let’s chat.” While this is cute and I see the appeal, the problem here is that it’s not entirely clear what you want your potential client to do. They’re here to inquire with you – so when they see “say hi,” they might not really understand what that means. They don’t want to say hi, they want to inquire. It may seem obvious to you what “say hi” actually means, but remember – your client is, most likely, not a photographer, and they don’t understand the industry lingo. People don’t want to work too hard when it comes to browsing a website – if they can’t find your contact form quickly and easily, they’re likely to just click away.
Another one that I see sometimes is “book now.” While this is a little more clear than “say hi,” it still isn’t entirely clear. If whoever is on your website isn’t ready to book you right this second (as most of them probably will not be), they might be turned off by such an aggressive call to action. My recommendation is to have most of the call to actions on your website say something like “contact me” or “inquire now.” That way it’s clear exactly what you want people to do.
Another note about calls to action is that you should have a lot of them. Not just a “contact” link in your navigation bar or a “contact me” button at the bottom of your home page – you should have buttons and links to your contact form all over. That way, as people are scrolling, they can easily get to your contact form from wherever they are. With everything on your website, make it absolutely dummy proof. Make sure that if someone is looking for your contact form, there is no chance that they won’t be able to find it.
3) You’re marketing to everyone.
There’s a saying in the marketing world – “if you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.”
And it’s true. If you’re advertising elopements, weddings, family sessions, portraits, newborn photos, dog photos, and every photo session under the sun, none of your potential clients are getting the red carpet rolled out for them.
Think of it this way: if you’re looking for an elopement photographer, who would you trust more – someone who specializes in elopements? Or someone who shoots weddings, elopements, and family photos? In the client’s mind, someone who specializes in exactly what they are looking for is more appealing than someone who does it all. Jack of all trades, master of none, you know?
This is probably my biggest piece of advice to anyone struggling to find clients – niche down. I know it’s scary – it’s downright terrifying. I was a “wedding and elopement photographer” for a long time, even though I loved adventure elopements and wanted focus on them. I was scared that if I took weddings out of the equation, I’d never get any clients – because at the time, most of my bookings were bigger weddings! But as soon as I took the word “wedding” off my website, I not only got MORE inquiries, but I got inquiries that I was excited about!
So here’s what I’m challenging you to do: decide what you want to specialize in, and run with it. And if you’re worried because you like weddings AND elopements, or weddings AND families, you can still do both! Just choose one to be your “main” focus, and center your website around that. Then, have a link to a separate page where you talk about your other services.
I’m an elopement photographer, but I still photograph big weddings sometimes! People still ask me, and I do still enjoy photographing them. But, I don’t blog them or post them anywhere on my website. So don’t be afraid to niche down – if you want to, you’ll still be able to do the stuff that’s outside of your niche.
When you specialize in one thing, you’ll start getting DREAM clients – instead of just anybody looking to get photos done.
Ready to put these tips to good use?
I can’t wait to see what you do with your website and I’m super stoked for you to start booking your dream clients.
In the meantime, check out these resources for your business & website!
Hotjar – this is truly one of the best things I’ve ever found. Hotjar records the screen of every person that comes to your website, so that you can see. what’s working and what’s not, and how people are interacting with your website. It’s an absolute game changer, and they have a great free trial!
Google analytics – if you don’t already have google analytics set up, take a few minutes and get it done. Google will tell you how you’re doing with bounce rates, how long people are staying on your website, which pages or blog posts are popular, and so much more.
You Don’t Have to DIY
Websites are complicated! From figuring out how to use Squarespace, or WordPress, or whatever you’re using, to creating a design that both looks good and actually converts, it can be really overwhelming. Your time is valuable, and I think hiring a website designer (one who not only knows how to make your website aesthetically pleasing, but also how to make sure it’s actually effective) is the best choice you can make, because websites are so important. But, if a website designer isn’t in the budget, that’s totally okay! There are tons of website templates out there that will serve you well until you’re ready for a unique, custom design.