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Family, children, portrait, music and events. Just a few of the many photography hats PhotoShelter member Niall David wears on any given day as he serves the San Francisco Bay area with a unique artistic style that aims to capture the most natural and organic of moments. Niall, one of four “Gold” winners of our Jumpstart Your Photography Business Contest, was nice enough to sit down with us recently to discuss why he chose PhotoShelter, why he loves PhotoShelter, and why he wouldn’t be successful without it.
The biggest thing
“I had a flash website. It was just a portfolio, it didn’t have a blog, and it wasn’t giving me any SEO love. I knew I needed to completely redo my website architecture from the ground up,” Niall tells us. After performing a massive amount of research on the subject, Niall was sold on WordPress for its blogging capabilities, and Graph Paper Press, who builds designed themes for WordPress blogs, for the look and feel. But he knew he needed something more robust on the back-end — a platform that would allow him to archive all his work as he uploaded it, allow him access to these files whenever he might need them, provide him with a simpler image delivery system, and more. When Niall learned about PhotoShelter, and the fact that a PhotoShelter account/website could be seamlessly integrated with WordPress and Graph Paper Press, he knew he needed to look no further. “Just the fact that my PhotoShelter site mirrors and echos my Graph Paper Press design — I think that was the #1 selling point for me,” says Niall. “The ability to just have this really cool, custom, totally seamless website…that was the biggest thing.”
Niall uses the Graph Paper Press “Albedo” theme, the design of which PhotoShelter fully supports with no coding required. All Niall had to do was tell us which Graph Paper Press theme he used to skin his WordPress blog, provide us with the URL to one of his blog posts, and our generator handled all the rest. Now, the pages of Niall’s PhotoShelter website and those of his blog match completely, so much so that Niall knows his clients browsing the site have no idea he is actually using two sites blended into one — the experience is not only sleek and professional, but totally seamless. “I even get comments from photography friends — all the time — like, ‘what do you use for your website??’,” says Niall. “People really respond well to it.”
Organizing and educating
One of Niall’s favorite parts about using PhotoShelter to support his business is the ease of organization he is able to achieve in his Image Browser, where everything he uploads is automatically archived and stored safely. Niall is a fan of the listed vs. unlisted concept; he uses the “Listed on Website” area to showcase portfolios for each type of work he does, and “Unlisted on Website” to house private client galleries, those that won’t ever see the light of day on his public site. This way, he can better organize and control the sheer number of images that would appear on his site, and tuck them into their respective categories in a more efficient manner on his end, a more digestible and straightforward manner for clients. “I used to have these big massive galleries, and they were all out of order, it’d be a rock show, next to a family portrait session, next to an event, and it was just so spastic, and people weren’t even sure what I did or where I specialized. PhotoShelter really helped me to organize and better educate my clients and site visitors as to what I did and why they’d want to hire me,” says Niall.
Another major piece of the puzzle for Niall has been the SEO education PhotoShelter has provided him. A more learned and experienced SEOer these days, Niall attributes much of his success getting found online to PhotoShelter’s myriad of tools and guides on the subject. “PhotoShelter was with me from the ground up when I got serious about photography and my website, and I actually learned a lot about SEO through the advice I got from you guys,” Niall tells us. “I’m now super focused on SEO and proud to say — and this would not be possible without the WordPress architecture paired with PhotoShelter — that I bounce between page 1 and page 2 for the keywords I’m really going for right now in a Google search…such as music photography in San Francisco, or family photography in San Francisco, I’ve been #1. And I’ve been getting a lot more random organic inquiries from internet searches, sometimes through an image search. I actually just got an ad campaign with a major company because they found my music pictures online, through my PhotoShelter account first.” Niall makes sure to pay extra close attention to any field on the PhotoShelter back-end denoted with the little green “SEO” tag as these are the areas that can very directly affect one’s placement in Google searches — the “on-page factors” any photographer with a website should be keeping front of mind. “Honestly everyone I talk to is impressed with my knowledge of SEO,” says Niall. “I just tell them they should all be doing this!”
While things like word of mouth, in-person visits, and consultations are still at the very top of the list for Niall’s business, he knows that without his blog, his design, and all of the tools and possibilities PhotoShelter has afforded him, he wouldn’t have been able to express his brand as consistently as he has over these past few years. “When I first started out I was just looking for a solution that displayed photos really well and was really good on the backend,” says Niall. “Now some of my biggest clients have found me on the internet, and that’s because I’m out there with this website. You guys helped me do that.”