This post originally appeared at How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Photographers via ShivarWeb
Building your website can be a tough but fulfilling part of growing your photography business. Website builders make building & maintaining a website much more accessible and convenient. But they all have tradeoffs, and photographers usually have very specific requirements.
For photographers, a website builder has to explicitly allow spaces to showcase previous work while also fitting your preferred aesthetic and giving your clients access to pricing, and other details about your work.
That means not every website builder will suit your needs.
Summary – Best Website Builder for Photographers
Based on my experience working with many website builders, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. They all have free plans available to try.
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Every website builder will tout itself as “the best” – and they all have options for photographers. But before doing a side by side feature comparison, I’ve found that it’s more useful to understand what you are looking for.
Every photographer runs a slightly different business. Portfolios are almost always important. But what about retail & download ability? Copyright considerations? Additional content & video?
Think about what you need and how you want to build your business. Here are a few primary & secondary considerations for choosing the best photography website builder for you.
Primary Considerations for a Photography Website Builder
Your website is the primary piece of brand identity potential clients will see before they decide to contact you or not. Your choices for a website builder can have a massive effect on a potential client’s first impressions.
Type of Features
There are a lot of different types of features that can go into a photography website. But the exact features that you’ll need all depend on your business.
- Will you be developing a website to bring in new clients?
- Will you simply be hosting a portfolio?
- Will you need to sell your prints directly to clients via your website?
- Will you need archive storage? Or copyright protections?
- Will you need to gather appointment bookings?
And does it matter if you have all these features upfront or build them over time? Do you already use a 3rd party for these features or do you need more?
Type of Design
Think about how you want to design and maintain your website. There are different approaches with upsides and downsides.
Some builders start with a template but overlay a drag and drop editor. This provides convenience, but also means that your design might not be just right.
Some builders provide customizable themes that provide a uniform look, but also lock you into to a degree. And some other builders go further with defined templates. There’s usually a tradeoff between convenience and control.
If you know HTML/ CSS and feel comfortable editing your own site, then you might want to go the self-hosted route with WordPress and a WordPress website builder.
Type of Company
There are plenty of niche companies that focus on a single industry (like photography) and others that are large with resources to build out features that appeal to lots of different industries.
Neither approach is better or worse, but it’s worth considering. Do you prefer features built specifically for photographers or globally useful features that you can apply in your own way?
Secondary Considerations for a Photography Website Builder
No matter how you build your website at first, it will be an ongoing investment. It’s worth thinking through how you hope to grow your business & website over time.
There are a lot of tools for photographers. Some are indispensable, some are convenient, and some are straight-up cheaper than any other option.
It’s worth considering whether you want an all-in-one website builder or if you want a website builder that simply integrates well with other 3rd party tools via apps, extensions, or plugins.
Consider what type of marketing that you are planning to do. What role does your website play? Will you need to track data or integrate 3rd party tools? Will you be doing content marketing or social media campaigns?
Your budget should be an obvious consideration, but I don’t think it should be a primary consideration. Ideally, your website should be a business investment that more than pays for itself.
But you also should not be paying more than you can or should. Outline your business expenses and where your website builder fits. It might be simpler to go with a photography tool suite like SmugMug or a cheap website builder until you can build your own client base.
There are a lot of excellent website builders for photographers. Here are a few that my readers have had success with.
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That said, there are plenty of options out there. The most important task is to understand how you run your business and what features, design & budget you’re looking at.