7 Common Mistakes Landscape Photographers Make on Their Websites
If you aspire to make any money off of your photography (and you should!!), a good website is absolutely essential. I see far too many photographers making easy mistakes on their websites that are literally costing them hundreds of dollars on lost clients. In today's extremely competitive industry, you must have a good website if you want to stand out from the competition, and just having great photos simply won't cut it anymore.
I've been making tweaks to my website for years, slowly learning the best practices. I also find myself listening to business podcasts, and reading business books in my free time. I definitely don't have the best website out there (not even close!), but I do have quite a few tips that I think everyone can apply to their own website in order to see increased traffic. In this week's blog post, I will be compiling a few key points that I've learned over the years to keep in mind when making a website.
Too Many Photos
Ever heard the saying "The chain is only as good as the weakest link"? Your website is the same way. What I mean by that is that you're only as good as your weakest photo. Even if you have 10 award winning photographs, the one photo on your website that is just 'so-so' will drag you down in the eyes of your visitors.
To put this into perspective, imagine that you're looking to find a new hairstylist in town. You go online, and they have pictures of their clients after their haircuts. Let's say they have 150 photos, and as you scroll down the page, you think that they're all really good. But then you get halfway down, and you notice one that just doesn't quite look as nice. In fact, you really dislike it. You wouldn't think about all of the other great photos of his or her work that you liked, but rather you would focus on the one you disliked. Landscape photographers are the same way.
Far too many photographers use their website as a place where they can post every photo they've ever taken. This works against you in many ways.
First off, your website visitors fall into the same category as you do in the example above of a hairstylist. Your worst photo drags you down. Anyone on your website looking to hire you for a job is subconsciously evaluating you, and one poor photo can ruin your chances of getting the job.
Second, imagine a visitor going online looking to purchase a print. If you have 1500+ photos on your website, you're losing that sale. That person looking to purchase a print is going to keep scrolling through to look at every photo, since they want to make sure their money is spent on their absolute favorite. They'll get tired out trying to look at all of the images, or tied up because they can't make up their mind, and then you've lost their interest.
Narrow your website down to only your very best work. If you wouldn't print it 4 feet by 6 feet and hang it on the wall, it doesn't belong on your online portfolio. Next, put everything on ONE page, called Portfolio (or something similar). I used to separate images into different pages, like "Mountains" and "Oceans" but then I realized that doing that does nothing but make it harder for people to look at everything. Put all of your very best work on one page for the most professional look.
Too Many Words
By nature, humans actually will tune out your website if it has too much content, or content that is too difficult to digest. The human brain subconsciously will become uninterested if it takes much effort to digest what you're putting out. The brain wants to conserve as many calories as possible, and if your website takes too many calories to understand, people won't bother spending time.
The biggest problem that I see all the time is people who try and put too many words on their website. Having lots of words on your bio page is fine, but on your portfolio page, you should not be writing about your "vision" or about how you were gifted your first camera from your Grandpa at age 15. I don't mean to be rude, but quite frankly, your website visitors don't care and it's just adding another element to your website. Subconsciously, this is actually hurting your site.
People visiting your website want to know what YOU can do for THEM. Even though it's your portfolio website, it should be focused around what you can do for someone else.
Save your words for a blog, bio page, or a product page. Clear and concise is the way to go!
Make it Mobile Friendly
You'd be surprised how many photographers have a website that they designed on a computer, for the computer. Did you know that most website builders now allow you to customize the look on mobile?
76% of visitors to my website in October of 2019 were using mobile devices. This doesn't account for iPads, but rather just smart phones. If your site isn't mobile friendly, people are visiting your site, and immediately bouncing off once they can't seem to navigate successfully on mobile.
Good mobile websites scroll nicely, and images are sized to fit properly on a mobile screen. Your visitors should not have to scroll horizontally to see the whole image, and they should be able to see all of one image on the screen at once.
No Call to Action
What do you want people to do when they're on your website? This is going to be different for everyone, but you MUST have a direct call to action. Do you want companies to contact you to plan commercial shoots? Do you want people to be able to send you an email about a print, or directly order it off of your site? Follow you on social media?
As a quick note on call to action's, be sure that you are not using passive language. "Buy Now", "Schedule an Appointment", and "Order a Print" are all examples of good calls to action. These should be easy to find, in the center or on one of the corners of your website, above the fold (before the scroll).
Optimize Images for the Web
As photographers, we want to make sure our images look great on the web, but exactly how much quality is necessary? I see two kinds of mistakes in this category. Images that are too high quality, and images that are too low quality.
If your images are too high quality, it takes your website a long time to load. Slow loading websites are a major problem. If a website takes more than a couple seconds to load, you've already lost a good chunk of your visitors. Keep in mind that even if the website loads fast on your home computer on WiFi, 3G and 4G speeds can be much slower, and other people may have slower home internet than you do. Also, slow loading websites rank down in Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is a problem because it means less people will be finding you on Google.
Too low quality of images are a problem because it makes your photos look awful. Even though your website may load fast, it doesn't do you any good because all of your visitors won't be interested in photos that just aren't up to par.
Too Many Effects
Does that photo really need to fade in over 5 seconds, or can it just start there when the page loads? Unless effects have a specific purpose, leave them out. These effects slow down the loading speed of your website, and just open the door for glitches and problems with the effect. I'll admit, I used to put tons of effects all over my website, and then realized that they weren't improving my visitors experience on my website, so I removed them all! Let your work speak for itself, and get rid of any silly effects.
Not Updated Frequently Enough
You should be updating your website every time you have new great images. I update mine usually at least a couple times a month. Nothing is worse than seeing a photographer with tons of great work on Instagram, only to visit their website to see that everything they have online doesn't quite match the skill of things they post on social media. You should always be uploading new and better images, and removing images that you just aren't quite as proud of anymore.
Hopefully this post helps you optimize your website for the upcoming year! I'm a firm believer that a good website is the most important thing you need if you want to make any money off of your photographer. I hope you enjoyed this week's post, and as always, drop any questions down below in the comments!