Essentials for a successful photography website.

Screenshot of SmugMug's Customizer.

These days, everyone has a website. But how do you know what your friends, family, and fans really think when they see it? And if you're a pro making money from your craft, are you sure your site is doing everything it can to get you clients and seal the deal? After browsing tons of sites and hearing the advice from our team of Support Heroes, we've compiled a list of tips to help you get the best, most effective, and appealing website you possibly can. 

1. Your contact information.

Omitting or hiding ways for people to reach you is a grave mistake, one you may not even know you're making. If someone finds your site and wants to talk with you, how would they do it? Yes, putting your email address or phone number out in public can be risky. But there are other ways to let your potential clients and fans reach out to you without throwing the door open to everyone who walks by.

Also, it may be obvious to you that your town of Springfield is in New Jersey, but potential Googlers in Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, and Missouri may not be so sympathetic. Be specific about the areas you serve so you'll score top search results by clients looking to hire locals like you.

To do:  Include a way to contact you either at the top, bottom, or in the navigation bar of your website. Add your contact email address in your SmugMug profile. Take it one step further and connect your SmugMug site’s contact form to your navigation menu by choosing the pre-built contact link in the menu bar builder. 

If you talk about your location on your homepage or About page, be specific about the state or country where you're willing to work. You can also add those terms and keywords in your Account Settings > Discovery > Search section so Google and other search engines pick you up ASAP.

2. Personality.

The great thing is everyone has a website these days. But the downside is...everyone has a website these days. How will you stand out? The answer is: Be yourself! You have a personality, and it's completely unique. Use your own language, unique selfies, or whatever it takes to show the world that you're more than another link on the web. Talk about what drives you and why you're passionate about your work. Give visitors a taste of what it’s like to meet you in your studio or at your next gallery show.

To do: It's difficult to talk about yourself, and it's even harder to figure out what strangers want to hear, but don't be afraid to browse through some of your favorite websites and see what sticks in your mind about their bios—the good and the bad.

3. Speed and ease.

Nothing looks worse than a super-slow website with broken images and dead links. Even if you aren't looking to make money through your website, you still want to look as polished as any pro. So do a regular audit of your site, click your links, and update them regularly to make sure they work every time. When you're logged out of your site and viewing it like a guest, what do you see?

To do: On SmugMug, we already give you warp-speed page loads and unlimited traffic and sharing. So you never have to worry about slow load times. Our Share button will generate handy links for all your photos, so you can be sure your images look beautiful every time.

4. Simplicity.

Your gorgeous photos may speak for themselves, but if your site's a mess the message will get lost. When you’re expecting house guests you tidy up, so extend the same courtesy to your online space. No one needs to see the photographic equivalent of your laundry pile.

To do: Curate a few examples of your best work and make them easy to find via a slideshow, featured content on your homepage, or a straightforward link in your navigation bar. Keep this gallery updated with new photos as you take them. Choose images that really show what you love to do and show the full breadth of your abilities. It can be difficult, but you can use SmugMug’s Collect Photo feature to add a virtual copy to a best-of gallery, and easily remove the ones you don't think make the cut.

Love to archive? That's OK. Just keep the rest of your photos neatly organized, too, so leisurely browsers can find their way around.

5. Your brand.

Even if you aren’t a working professional, it's important to give your viewers a unified look and feel that translates to a cohesive experience. Simply using the same colors and font size from page to page can keep your fans feeling grounded and sure that you've got your stuff together. If you're a pro, having your company's name, logo, and a simple set of colors can be all you need to say, "Yeah, I’ve got this."

To do: SmugMug makes it easier than ever to give your site a unified brand. Our pre-built designs have all the details of color scheme, font, and layout baked right in. We've done the heavy lifting for you.

Personalize any of the designs by adding your own logo, changing up the colors by changing the theme, and optimizing the page layout to best reflect your brand. Pro account owners can add order branding, too. 

6. Your services.

The key to making great sales is to do the thinking for potential customers so they don't have to. The most basic way to do this is to be crystal clear about what your specialties are and which services you offer. Whether you shoot BMX, babies, or brides, making it obvious in your brand and portfolio is the best way to ensure the right customers are finding you.