With all the social networks and plenty of ways to share your images online, the question is – do you really need a website? And the short answer would be – yes, you do. There are several reasons for that.
With social media, you can’t control how your photos look (just think of Facebook compression). Also, you’re just a part of the crowd, which makes it more difficult to compete for clients’ attention. So, social media websites should be only one of your methods of advertising, but not the only one. Your website (or your online portfolio) is the best way to display your work. And in this comprehensive and very informative video, Joe Edelman will give you many useful tips for choosing a domain name and website hosting. And there are plenty of clever tips and tricks in addition to that.
Domain name is your address on the Internet. You only need to own one domain name to build a website, but it’s a good idea to own additional domain names for your business. As an example, people may misspell your name, so you want to redirect them to your real website.
Another reason is that there may be more people with your name, who are also photographers. Joe has bought most of the domain names with “JoeEdelman” to make sure there’s no confusion. I assume he’s not very popular among other photographers named John Edelman, but he’s definitely clever.
You don’t need to build content for each of your domains, just make the redirect people to your primary website.
There is a common opinion that .com domain is the most important one to have, especially for business owners. However, things are changing nowadays, since .com domain extensions are running out. It’s more and more difficult to find such extension that will suit your needs.
Now there are over 600 vanity domain extensions available. You can choose .photography, .photo and such for your website, but keep in mind that .space domain extension is often used by a creative network of photographers, designers, and illustrators – so you can focus on that.
In addition to your main website, you can also create its subdomains. They lead to anything outside your portfolio, such as your store or blog. You can create them by replacing “www” with “store”, “blog”, or whatever the subdomain is about. For example, DIYP uses photolover.diyphotography.net. So we have “photolover” instead of “www” to lead to our store.You can make it look and work like the primary domain, or make it different, it’s up to you. Keep in mind that not all domain hosting companies have this option, so make a clever decision when picking the host. You can make your subdomain look and work like the primary domain, or make it different, it’s up to you.
Quick tips for choosing a domain name
Use your name, as you are the main reason why clients decide or not decide to hire you.
Keep is as short as possible – don’t add” photography” to your domain name, unless there’s a person with the name same as yours who is well known for something else. Even in this case, you can use .space or .photography domain extension instead of adding it to your domain name.
No numbers or hyphens – when people hear your domain name with a number, they don’t know if it’s a spelled-out number or a numeral. And as for hyphens – they are easy to forget.
Use private registration – when you buy a domain name, you need to provide your personal information such as name, address and phone number. These pieces of information are automatically added to a searchable database. If you don’t want them publicly available, use private registration service. It usually costs additional $8-$10 per year, but Google allows it for free.
Where to buy a domain name
You buy a domain name from domain name registrars. Joe points out to Godaddy.com as one of the most popular, and it’s also an official registrar of .space domain names. You can get a domain name for approximately $12-$30 per year, or sometimes more, depending on the extension.
Google is also good, considering it offers a domain name for only $12 per year, plus free private registration. However, it doesn’t allow too many vanity domain extensions.
If you have time and patience to host your own website, you can use WordPress or a similar platform. You build the website on this platform and host it with a domain name registrar (Joe uses SiteGround.com).
As for a similar website platform you’ve probably heard of – Wix.com – Joe doesn’t recommend it. It allows you to build a wonderful website and use many different templates. But, it places ads all over your website, and you need to spend $10 a month to remove them. In my humble opinion, after using both, I also stand with WordPress.
In Joe’s opinion, Squarespace is okay, but they have many similar templates, so your website may blend in and prevent you from building a recognizable layout.
Joe uses and recommends a company called Format. They are focused to building websites for creatives, so you can probably find something interesting here. According to Joe, they provide plenty of great services, so if you’re still searching for a website host, check it out.
Proofing and sales
It’s not uncommon to use two different web hosts depending on your needs.
Smugmug, Pixieset, and Zenfolio are great for those who sell their prints. On these websites, you can create a portfolio and add price. When the buyers select the images to buy, the lab will print them and ship directly to clients.
You can make two websites – the brochure website for your portfolio and “About” page, in order to attract new customers; and the client website for your existing clients, where they can view proofs and place orders.
Before you choose a host and a domain name, do some research. Don’t choose the host only based on price and don’t think you need every possible feature
Keep in mind that the website is never finished. And it’s great that you can change and update it from time to time and also to correct any mistakes. Since it’s virtual, it easily reaches out a lot of people from any part of the world. After all, I’m visiting Joe’s website and vlog from a different corner of the globe.
Find the company with the designs you like and which you can easily change and modify, so you can always stand out from the crowd.
Take advantage of a free trial.
As your business grows, don’t be afraid to use two different companies, so you can provide your site’s visitors with the best user experience.