How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Photographers

This post originally appeared at How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Photographers via ShivarWeb

How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Photographers

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.

  • Name-brand
  • Integrated Tools
  • Focus on Portfolios
  • Photographer Appeal

Zenfolio

View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Lots of Options
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Versatility
  • Creator Appeal

WordPress

WordPress.com
View Plans

Need a Bundled Storage + Builder?

SmugMug is an all-in-one storage & sales app for photographers that also bundles a website builder. It has limitations, but is also convenient. See their plans here.

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.

Integrations

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.

Marketing Tools

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?

Budget

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.

Next Steps

There are a lot of excellent website builders for photographers. Here are a few that my readers have had success with.

  • Name-brand
  • Integrated Tools
  • Focus on Portfolios
  • Photographer Appeal

Zenfolio

View Plans
  • Built-in Features
  • Drag + Drop Design
  • Focus on Usability
  • Broad Appeal

Wix

Wix
View Plans
  • Lots of Options
  • Future-proofing
  • Focus on Versatility
  • Creator Appeal

WordPress

WordPress.com
View Plans

Need a Bundled Storage + Builder?

SmugMug is an all-in-one storage & sales app for photographers that also bundles a website builder. It has limitations, but is also convenient. See their plans here.

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.

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22+ Spa Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

This post originally appeared at 22+ Spa Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients via ShivarWeb

Spa Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

Most resort & spa owners would agree that there’s nothing like a full appointment booking. But it’s hard to fill appointments without a regular flow of new clients coming in.

Some spas have a location or reputations that brings in clients with nothing but a phone number. But for most spa owners, you have to go out and market your business to get a quality pool of potential clients.

I’ve consulted on search marketing for many local businesses and beauty business. Based on those experiences, here are some resort & spa marketing ideas that you can use to bring in more clients & appointments.

Create Neighborhood-Specific Website Pages

For clients, “near me” searches are too small, and ZIP code searches are not relevant. Neighborhood / city searches are just right.

That may sound obvious, but most local businesses that I’ve worked with still don’t focus their marketing on neighborhoods. It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. But it can still be worthwhile.

Create a neighborhood & next to your neighborhood pages to try to rank for “spa in [neighborhood]” searches.

Create Niche Amenity Pages

Lots of clients have specific amenities that they want. Instead of listing your amenities in a giant list, make detailed pages about each amenity. Try to rank for searches like “spa with [amenity]”.

You can use Google Suggest for ideas. Go to Google and type in “[city] spa with” and hit space, but not enter. You’ll see some suggestions.

You can do this with the entire alphabet and as many modifiers as you can think of.

Create pages that match those search queries to show up when people search.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Explorer to provide phrase match search terms in bulk. Here’s an example of how the data is displayed. Just type in “[city] spa” or even just “spa”.

Create Local Data Pages

Create resource guides for people learning more about your city. Create lots of them.

Use Google Autosuggest to understand what people are searching for among your amenities – and then put a local spin on it so that you aren’t competing with large publishers.

Develop Your Local Citations & Reviews

You should already have a Google My Business profile so that you can show up in Google Maps.

But you can take it to the next level to show up even more prominently.

First, you can build your Google My Business profile with photos, posts, and full listing details.

Second, go to every local business listing site and make sure that your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number match exactly. Whether it’s on the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or elsewhere – everything must match. These are called your “local citations” and Google uses them to confirm the relevance of local business.

You can use SEMrush’s Local Listing Management Tool to audit all these listings quickly.

Third, create a local review strategy. Having diverse, unique, and regular reviews on your Google My Business page is the number one way to get more views (aka lease applications) from Google Maps.

Steal Ideas from Large Local Competitors / Businesses

I’m not a fan of brainstorming. I think that it’s more effective to build off ideas that have already worked.

No matter your size, you can always look to larger competitors or larger businesses for inspiration.

With resorts & spas, make a list of local businesses that you *think* are being creative – including companies in different industries.

Like local listings and keywords, I then use a marketing tool like SEMrush to spy on those competitors. Type in the URL of a competitor below to see an example.

Here’s what you’ll see.

It looks like a lot. But drill down and categorize each link. You’ll quickly get a sense of what they are doing. You’ll see where they are posting on social media. You’ll see which media outlets have accepted press releases and what types of digital marketing they’re doing.

The trick here is *not* to copy cat them. Instead, take the general idea of what your competitors have done and make it your own – or, make it better.

Work with Local Tourism Agencies

Every city, no matter how small, has an interest in tourism. And spas / resorts are a core part of any tourism package. Make yourself known with local tourism officials, websites, and guides. Too many “local” spas are missing out on a good TripAdvisor profile.

Find those and become a regular fixture.

That extra attention and those links will help every other idea on this list. Google loves links. Social media users find URLs via links.

Your city pages, amenity pages, and everything else on your website will benefit from more inbound links.

Recruit Local Guides from Google Maps

Google Maps dominates local search. They have had a Local Guides program for some time now. They are people who leave frequent, useful reviews. People can subscribe to them to find recommendations.

It’s worth finding Local Guides in your area that are active and pitch them on your spa.

Use Hyper-Local Facebook Ads

A local business has one massive advantage against national brands trying to operate locally – you live in your city and understand it.

Facebook allows for hyper-local advertising. You can run ads that show within a radius of only a few miles. It’s tedious to set up, but it’s relevant and effective.

Learn how to create hyper-local targeting for demographics and geography to find lots of interested clients.

You can run small, targeted campaigns that show multiple places at once.

Use Hyper-Local Google Search Ads

Google Search ads are famously effective and famously expensive. The best client is someone who searches for “spa in [city]”.

But that search click will be very costly.

But like Facebook, you have an “in” – Google Quality Score. Google will show ads higher if they are more relevant even if they don’t have the high bid.

Like Facebook, it’s tedious to set up, but if you can set up a hyper-local campaign, you’ll be able to get Google Search traffic that large competitors can’t bid on.

Use Hyper-Local Google Display Ads

Google’s Display Network also offers opportunities for local advertisers who are willing to put in the work.

Google serves banner & text ads on some of the best ad locations on the Internet. Many placements are expensive for bulk ad buys.

But again, Google would rather serve a relevant ad with a low bid than an irrelevant ad with a high bid. That’s your opportunity to set up a hyper-local campaign focused on specific demographics in a specific area.

List on Locally-Popular Blogs & Travel Guides

Local blogs are often a dime a dozen. The key is to find the ones that are popular – or appear where you want to appear.

List on NextDoor & Local Forums

NextDoor is one of many local social media websites & forums. They are hard to find and hard to join, representing an opportunity for any local, enterprising spa owner.

These networks are interesting because they are specifically local and extremely relevant for local services. They also have new Groupon-style advertising options.

Advertise / Post on Local Subreddits

Reddit is an attractive website for many industries. But local subreddits are especially interesting for local businesses

First, they are hubs for local discussion & recommendations.

Second, they are the first place for people to plan a move visit to ask specific, local questions.

Now, they are decidedly non-commercial with lots of rules. You should get to know them before posting or commenting as a commercial entity.

However, you should explore their sidebar wiki for research.

You should get in touch with the moderators to listen to their rules about business posting. And you should look at running ads or giveaways there.

Post Listings w/ Photos in Instagram

Think about how you can take listing photos & repurpose them across different platforms. Spas have a unique opportunity to create an interesting, relaxing, soothing feed for potential clients. The key is to only be rarely promotional. Make it a feed that is interesting to follow on its own.

Develop a Local Relaxing Pinterest Board

Pinterest is an incredible resource for people looking to live better. You can get in front of prospects with a locally-focused Pinterest board.

Use local photos, recommendations, experiences, etc from real local experience to provide ideas. Promote local artists, makers, etc.

Identify & Market Local Employers

Your clients are all working somewhere. And your prospective clients might be a little stressed out and looking for an accessible provider.

Identify all the largest employers & sources of potential clients nearby. Create resource pages for those employers (especially if they are large).

Create discounts, bonuses, etc. Get in touch with those employers to see if there is a way to collaborate.

Identify & Market Local Businesses & Amenities

Take what you did with local employers and do the same with local amenities and businesses.

Create pages that act as resource hubs for neighborhood business & amenities.

Identify & Market Popular Client Sources

Take previous & existing clients and try to understand where those clients came from and how they found you.

See if there is a way to build off that success.

Cross-Promote Local Businesses

Your clients will spend money nearby. Figure out what other businesses do well when you have 100% bookings. Offer a way to cross-promote, especially if they have multiple locations or a presence with your target client.

Remember that even a link to your website from their website will dramatically help your other online efforts.

Use Events To Get Social Media Attention

Events like open house tours, specials, holidays, etc are marketing staples for resorts. But events have a bonus effect online.

You can list them on multiple platforms to get extra exposure. Facebook is the best place for this tactic, but it also works on Google, Instagram, and event apps like Meet and Four Square.

Use Video Tours To Hack Social Media

Like events, most social media gives preference to video in their feeds. Take interesting video tours of your services & property.

Post the file natively to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pay a small budget to boost it. And look for opportunities to embed it on your website.

Use Digital Referral Fees for Word of Mouth

Referral fees are also a staple of apartment marketing. But they don’t get the same reach as digital referral codes.

Whether you use a simple bit.ly link, manually hand out custom codes, or use a software service – digital referral codes can help you move limited physical word of mouth to unlimited digital word of mouth.

Find & Sponsor Local Charities

Sponsoring local charities provides a few marketing benefits.

First, you can likely get a link to your website, which will help your other efforts.

Second, you can tap into a well-networked organization with lots of word of mouth potential.

Third, you can tap into neighborhood goodwill to help with soliciting reviews to help with your Google My Business efforts.

Next Steps

There are a lot of marketing ideas out there for spas and resorts. You don’t have to do all of them. You just have to do one or two well.

Find the one that fits your interests & resources and give it a try. Learn based on your initial experience and improve.

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