Old woman selling clothes in the streets of Panajachel by Lago de Atitlan in Guatemala craving money for a picture taken
Many Photographers feel that they need to have a web site. Not only so, they feel obligated to put one up. This is bad because with it comes the longing to get one as cheaply as possible and preferably have it self built . A badly done website is worse than no website at all just as a badly done business card. Fact is that almost no one needs a web site, but a web site appearance can greatly enhance your market and ad to your marketing strategy.
Well established photographers with good reputation and long list of clients do not need the web site, still they put one up . Why is that? Because they want to spread the word an be visible and get more customers. Just like Coke or Pepsi still do a lot of advertising in different media. You have to advertise. It is not enough to to get your name out there. You have to keep it there. That one thing is certain. But if you do not do your homework and research on what works best for your company, you could as well be throwing money and time out the window. Advertising on Tv or in a newspaper, might not work for you.
Being out there meeting people and handing out postcards or a joke could be as effective if not more so. Its a different kind of advertising, or marketing, but it is marketing. It is here that a good website could help. You are at a party and with cleverness you have managed to sneak your self in to a conversation with an art-director and creative director from This,That and their ego advertising agency. You also managed to pull out some information and learnt from them that they need some pictures taken. This is you keyword. This might possibly be a future client. You get the feeling that they like you. At least they loved your jokes. I mean they laughed. Now is the time for them to pay for your entertainment. Of corse you do not roam around all day and nigh with your portfolio. Only desperate mad man does that. And that is some thing you do not want to present. You are at a party so don't push it, hand out your business card not the hat. No more tricks to night. You have gotten their attention. Who knows they might be generaly interested and pay your website a visit. When they do that they will have to feel that it is the same person they met that has this website. But not only them. Other people, someone you have never met, stumbled up on your web site. Even better, they where told by a an other client to check you out because of how grate you are. This people will have to get the same feeling as the party people. You are a nice responsible problem solver that can cater to their needs. On top of that your are a grate Photographer.
Here it is that many Photographers website fail. They are funky flashing designs, even rich with images but they do not deliver any thing. Not even a phone number. They are nothing more than a funny trick-show that most designer leave before the end. They don't have the time for this. Thats right. Designers like to design a funky website, but they hate to use one if they are looking for some images. Believe me it is true I have been there and done that same mistake my self. My last simple design, old as it was has delivered much more than my tech savvy flashy fluffy websites have ever done. Surly good design is a must but a photographers website is not about the design. It is not even about the images. It is about the Photographers ability solve a problem the client has. In order to convince the client that the Photographer is THE right one for the job he has to have good content on his site, backed up by the images. Fact is that even though a picture can say more than 1000 words 10 words can sell the Photographer better than one picture. A friend of mine once got an email, containing an image, from an advertising agency, where he was asked if he had the technical skills to solve the problem of making pictures of this standard. He picked up the phone and immediately got the job. Of course he could solve the problem, it was his own image! People are used to communication and usually it is through communication like a phone call or a meeting that the final deal is made. No one goes online, looks at a photographers website, and makes the order for a photographer to be at a certain place at a certain time. Therefore you do need to make sure that people will contact you.
You have to be visible in person (I am not talking about a portrait of you but a your personality, or the person you always wanted to be). The client, after browsing your site, has to be certain that you are the right person for the job. He wants to speak with you. The message you send has to be clear. You want people to like you before they meet you. You want them to want you, even feel that they need you. You are the only one that can solve their problem.