If you’re reading this, hopefully you’re already an IPS photographer or transitioning to be one. IPS stands for In Person Sales. This means that you offer your clients a full service photography experience. You are not just handing over digitals for pennies. You are actually investing in the relationship, putting together a menu of items that clients can purchase, and you are ensuring that your clients are taken care of from start to finish. The content of this post is geared towards photographers who practice an IPS model, although you will find great nuggets of information regardless of what type of photographer or business model you run.
Your website is your digital storefront and is one of the most common ways that clients will find you. Is your website “on brand” and reflective of the type of luxury service you are providing to your clients? If you fail to do this, your clients will not engage in your site and will come away with a perception about your business that may not match what you are trying to put out there.
It takes someone typically 15 seconds or less to determine whether they want to stay on your website. When you are learning to determine whether your site is having the right impact, it’s important to bring in some stats. Have you heard of Bounce Rate? This is a marketing metric that indicates the percentage of people who don’t go to any other page once they land on your website. So basically they get to your site from a link, and they leave. Having a high bounce rate means your website is not capturing your audiences’ attention, and is a good indication that your website isn’t doing so great.
So how do you find your site’s bounce rate? You should hopefully have Google Analytics installed (and if you haven’t – do it now). Your dashboard will include Behaviors and allow you to select some or all of your website pages. You can see where people are going within your site and use that data to your advantage.
My top 3 principles for constructing a photography site are Design, Simplicity and Content.
Without a well designed website, you run the risk of losing clients. How many times have you gone to someone’s website and thought ‘wow this hasn’t been updated in 10 years’ or ‘this is so tacky’. I am quick to leave those sites because the design doesn’t match the level of service I want. If someone isn’t taking care to design their website properly, I don’t feel very confident that they are going to take good care of me as a client. And besides, what kinds of images can I expect from an artist who can’t put together a beautiful website?
Your design includes your brand colors and fonts, and this should be a cohesive statement. You also want to make sure that your website is responsive. If your website isn’t legible on a mobile phone unless someone zooms in, this is a problem. People will leave because they can’t be bothered. Do your work and view your site as if you’re a potential client. What red flags do you see?
Having a simple website doesn’t mean you don’t include a lot, but it DOES mean you don’t overwhelm your audience because they don’t need to see and read everything possible. If you are used to putting entire price lists for the many types of sessions you do plus all the products you offer in every size, don’t. This is overwhelming.
Is your navigation system easy to go through? Do you have a million drop down tabs? It’s time to downsize and ensure you are only putting out there the basics. Be clean and concise.
Content is of course an important reason why clients stay on your site and engage with your brand. What is the intention of your site? Are you looking to bring in clients or educate clients, or both? Read the section below which outlines the must have site pages.
Ideally you want potential clients to stay a while and decrease your bounce rate. You want them to check out your portfolio, read your testimonials, and get to know you a whole lot better. Your aim is to invite them into your world and allow them to choose you as their photographer because they like and trust you and know that you will give them what they are looking for.
This is the front landing page. You should boldly tell the world what kind of photography you do and how you do it. If you’re an IPS photographer, you can use something like mine: ‘Fort Smith’s Luxury Photography Experience. You want to treasure your family memories with stunning images and heirloom art products. Welcome, you’re in the right place.’
Right off the bat people know what they are getting and I’m setting up the stage for IPS.
Your home page can also feature a photo session, a bit about you, and should of course include menus to other parts of your page. I like to have my menu along the top looking the same on each page (simplicity).
What to include in an About page, that’s the million dollar question. Your About page should include things about you (duh), as a human being, aside from your work as a photographer. People want to connect with you. What do you like and what don’t you like? Be personal. Talk to your audience like they are your friends. People also want to know that you are credible, so it’s ok to brag about yourself here! Why should they hire you? What makes you so great at what you do? And then leading into what’s in it for them. Spoiler alert – they don’t JUST want to know about you. People want to know what they’re going to get out of it too, so tell them.
Use this template: Opening line to draw in attention, outline your clients and what they want from you (speak to your ideal client and why they want to hire you), and then talk about yourself, both as a photographer and as a human being. And definitely include images of yourself and anything else related to you! If you haven’t hired a photographer to take your own portraits, this is the time to do it.
I upgrade my portfolio every 4 months, and you should too. Your portfolio is the best of the best. You want to showcase images that reflect your brand. Those images need to be on point both stylistically and in terms of photography. Your lighting should be amazing and the expressions on people’s faces should be ones that you would blow up on a 30×40 canvas. Also, don’t post images of things you don’t want to photograph! If you’re a birth photographer, you don’t want to be posting landscapes. Think and act on brand.
Some photographers will give you every last detail on what their sessions cost (a million session fees based on the type of shoot), plus loads of products in a million sizes. You don’t want to be that photographer. Think back to luxury brands vs. cheap brands. Walmart will list all their prices out and things on sale will be shouted from the rooftops in bold red and yellow color. Brands like Louis Vuitton? They don’t list prices out in the open – you are drawn to what you love and then you investigate. If you’re already shopping in there, you likely know what kind of ballpark amount you are going to spend. Don’t be the Walmart of photographers because then you’ll attract the Walmart shoppers.
What you need to communicate to your potential clients is your starting session fee and possibly the average amount of product sales that most people invest in your business. This does two things – it weeds out the price shoppers, because they are not for you. There are all kinds of photographers for all kinds of people, but you are providing a luxury service. Consumers who are going to nickel and dime you are better served with a photographer who charges $80 for a shoot and gives them all the digitals (another spoiler alert – that’s not a sustainable business, that’s a side hobby). It also communicates simplicity and quality. People can get a general enough sense of whether your services fit into their budget, and the rest of the conversation happens in person.
When I’m hiring a photographer, I view their portfolio but the blog is where the money is. It shows me exactly what types of images I can expect. I personally find it difficult to commit to blogging my photo sessions, but it’s an important practice. And don’t just blog your sessions! Make sure you’re blogging about your life, things that your readers want to know, tips on preparing for shoots, upcoming news and events, etc. Build your tribe and give them free content.
Call people to action all over the place! Even though this should have it’s own dedicated page, you can call people to join mailing lists, etc. from any place on your website. Don’t let viewers leave without engaging.
By paying attention to your website’s content and design and spending time every 6 months to update these elements, you will be in a much better position to draw in clients and keep them engaged with your brand for a longer period of time. Is your website modern, easy to navigate and responsive? Do potential clients get the perception that you are offering a quality service from your website? Are you calling them to action where possible? Let these questions guide you to answer what your website needs from you now, and then take action.