6 Reasons Every Photographer Needs a Website

Creating a website for my portfolio was probably one of the first things I did when I decided nature photography was the thing for me. Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, every photographer should have a website.

You’re probably reading this thinking that you don’t know how to write code, and could never manage to set up a website. Well, you can set up a fantastic looking portfolio website without any knowledge of coding. Seriously! Take a look at my website, www.willnicholls.co.uk. I set this up years ago using a company called Zenfolio – it was created for photographers, by photographers. They have a really simple interface that allows you to drag and drop, using and customising preset themes, to create a great looking site.

So why should you have a website? You may be wondering this, especially if you’re only a hobbyist when it comes to photography. Well, let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why you should get yourself online.

#1 You’re in Control

Perhaps you’re relying on posting your photos to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at the moment. That’s great, but you’re not really in control of your pages there. Facebook has been playing and altering its algorithms for years, constantly reducing the ability for photos to reach their potential audience in order to squeeze advertising revenue from you. That ‘boost post’ button looks all the more tempting when the reach of your posts plummets to just a few hundred people.

Social media can change overnight, so it shouldn’t be your main location for sharing your photos.

Instagram has been bought by Facebook, and those algorithms are already taking hold of your feeds there too. It’s just becoming harder and harder to get noticed on social media, and it’s definitely not a place you want people to go if they’re really interested in finding out about you and your work.

If you have your own website, there are no interfering hands from social media giants controlling who sees your work. You can run your website alongside social media accounts, sure. But having a website means that you always have that one secure location that people can come back to and see all of your work. Plus, Facebook constantly crunches and compresses files, making them look horrible when displayed online. Your website won’t do this, and people can see your photos in all their tack-sharp glory!

#2 You May Make Some Extra Pocket Money

Host your website with Zenfolio and you can create an online store in just a few clicks. I love the feeling when I get an email through from Zenfolio telling me that one of my photos has been bought by a customer. Knowing that someone likes my work enough to hang it on their wall is the biggest compliment of them all!

how to set up a photography website
My online shop in action.

Zenfolio will even print and ship your photos for you using high quality printing labs around the world. You can just sit back and let them take the headache out of fulfilling orders.

Making sales is always a good thing. It gives you the confidence boost you may be in need of to keep clicking, and it of course gives you some extra money that you can use to buy a new camera… or whatever takes your fancy!

#3 Someone Else Might Use Your .com Name

Domain names are really cheap, but you should always make sure you own your name. I bought up willnicholls.co.uk early into my career, but wasn’t quick enough to grab the .com version. It’s not the end of the world, but if you make sure you have an online presence for your photos then you have more reason to keep hold of your domain name. You never know when this might come in handy in the future, too. You don’t want someone else with your name marketing themselves on that domain – things just get confusing when you decide later on that you also want to dive into the world wide web!

The feeling of disaster when you miss out on your .com domain name.

Head over to www.123-reg.co.uk or www.godaddy.com and see if your name is available as a domain name. If it is, buy it up and keep hold of it! If not, try adding ‘photo’ after your name. You can ever buy .photo domains now too, so all is not lost if the .com or .co.uk versions are taken.

#4 You Can Direct Clients There

If you already sell your photos, then you really should have a website. Perhaps you’ve read our business eBook and have started selling cards and prints at markets. If you don’t have a website to send customers to that are undecided about making a purchase, then you’re missing out on potential sales. I always make sales online after I’ve been at a trade show and people have picked up my business card.

But even if you’re not actively trying to sell your work, you may be taken by surprise when a company wants to license your photo. The biggest license I ever sold came via Flickr, when an advertising company working for a mobile service provider tracked down a photo of mine on the image sharing website. They then searched my name online and got onto my website, contacting me there and putting through an order that remains my most profitable sale ever!

#5 You’ve Got Another Backup

Perhaps one of the more important reasons for having a website: keeping photos online provides an essential backup for your photo files. When using Zenfolio you upload full resolution images, which are then compressed by the host and displayed at lower resolutions online. The high resolution is available to you only, so should your hard drive break you can always go back into your account and download the full resolution. They even allow you to attach the raw file to your JPEGs, so you can download both versions should the nightmare of hard drive malfunction strike.

Further Reading: “How to Safely Back Up Your Photos

#6 It Gives You a Sense of Achievement

Finally, it’s just a nice thing to have. Being able to fill your online gallery with the best photos you’ve taken, and your upmost favourites, gives you a resource that you can be really proud of. You can also share it with family and friends who will enjoy perusing your webpages.

Want to Get Yourself Online?

I am a real fan of Zenfolio, for so many reasons. Both the support team and the interface are top notch, and I’ve proudly hosted my website with them for a number of years. My website is fast and never experiences significant downtime! Perfect.

Zenfolio are offering a 14-day free trial, so you can set up your website and see exactly how it will look before deciding if you’d like to continue the service. There’s no obligation (prices start at only $5 per month anyway), so I strongly recommend you head over and register an account today. If you do decide you’d like to continue after the trial, you can get 20% off your subscription by using willnicholls as a voucher code.

We’ve also written an article on how to start your own photography website, which gives you more information about how to get online. There’s even one on the best ways to customise a Zenfolio website, so give that one a read when you’re setting up your trial website.

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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