Why Your Photography Website is a Big Fat Stinking Black Hole

Nice website, buddy.

Every week I see various message boards filled with critique requests from photographer who have recently launched a website. I always like to check them out, and I’m always disappointed to see that photographers still don’t get it.

Yes, the photos are nice.
Yes, the layout is clean.

But many photographers can’t answer basic questions about their website.

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • How are you going to get people to it?
  • What do you expect them to do when they get there?
  • How are you going to tell if your website is helping you?

Instead, these critiques are filled with high fives and terrorist fist jabs. “Nice photos, but it takes a long time to load,” or “I couldn’t see it on Firefox 3.1,” which only goes to reinforce why your photography website is a big fat stinking black hole of time and money.

NASA Images

If you’re asking photographers what they think about your website, you’ve already lost the battle. Photographers aren’t your audience.

If you didn’t consider Search Engine Optimization in the design phase, you’re gonna end up spending a lot of time and money with direct marketing efforts to drive people to it. (And why the heck are you trying to build a website in the first place? Take pictures, outsource the other stuff)

If you only have a few galleries of images and nothing else, then what’s the point? You hid your e-mail address and phone number so effectively, that no one can find it. And you don’t have any e-commerce capabilities, so if I found an image that I like, there’s no opportunity to purchase it. You spent time and money to bring me to your website, and all I can do is view 30 pictures, and read a bio you wrote in the 3rd person? Why on earth would you drive traffic to your website, then have a link that reads “to license my photos, go to Getty where they will take 70% of the sale from me”?

And finally, you have no idea what people are doing on your website because you didn’t install an analytics package like Google Analytics. You have no idea what your most popular content is. You have no idea if people are navigating the site the way you intended. You have no idea if all that time you’re spending on Twitter is actually increasing visitors, and nor do you understand if Twitter traffic is better than an e-mail newsletter.

If you can’t measure what you’re doing, how the heck can you determine whether your website is losing you money or not? It’s like joining Jenny Craig but not weighing yourself, ever.

You’re smarter than that.

Get our free 43-page guide that we’ve created called “Google Analytics for Photographers.” The kit also contains a quick start guide and 5 basic marketing questions that Google Analytics can help you answer. Make marketing decisions based on facts, not hunches.

» Get it for free.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Chotrul Search Engine Optimisation at 2:31 am

    Excellent post once again. The thing is so many people build sites which make a lot of sense to them, but think little about the intended audience and how they perceive things. For example, you only talk in your own branded terms, and there’s nothing there which relates to terms that are actually searched on. Or you create it almost as an object of self satisfaction, but don’t clearly think through what exactly it is trying to achieve. Bit like a lot of us, and life, when you think about it!!!! (sorry – just been reading a book on NLP)

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