This tutorial looks at how you can build and create a successful mobile responsive photography website using WordPress; practical guidelines on receiving orders through it, processing payment, increasing your sales and how to turn it in becoming a giant money making revenue stream are fully discussed.
You are limited as a professional photographer if you do not have a photographic website; times has changed and business scenario evolves every now and then, and without being on the internet, you will be lost.
The overall concept on the advantages of having and running a successful website using WordPress with strategic guidelines to increase your sales, revenue, get more customers/leads and increased your conversions are practically discussed in this extensive guideline.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Set Up Instructions
- Requirements and Why WordPress?
- Get a mobile responsive design / template
- Brand Yourself – Name and Purpose definition
- Get a domain name and register for website hosting of the name
- Installing and configuring the WordPress website (videos and pictures)
- Practical installation and Configuration guidelines ( Very Important, must Read)
- Setting up your photographic website on Google search console and analytics
Traffic Generation / Success Tips
- Going Social
- How to use the social media networks to your advantage
- Receiving orders and processing payment online
- Email subscription form
- Contact form
- Real time Chat features
Requirements and Why WordPress?
The major requirements to start, build, own and run a photography website are listed below:
- Sharp, high resolution pictures to publish
- An approximate amount of USD120-300 to get started
- Domain name and webhosting (price included above)
- A mobile responsive WordPress themes for photography
- Your passion and commitment to maintain and run it daily!!
The above listed points are the most important requirements for you to get started. In this tutorial, I am recommending the use of WordPress software in building the website. The reasons and its importance are explained below.
There are many tools and software to build a website and blog, however, none of them is as effective and easy to use like WordPress.
WordPress is an open source software and it powers 30% of websites globally ( as at March 2018, source) . Any website you see out there that is looking great, professionally designed and glossy, know that WordPress software is behind it.
WordPress has many multi-functional task you can do, especially with various WordPress plugins out there. A literate fellow with no knowledge of coding or programming can build a website just by using WordPress and plugins; Let us get started.
Get a mobile responsive design / template
You do not have to stress yourself any longer when building a site of your choice, most especially if you are like me that once had headache from unreliable web developer/programmers.
I am recommending the use of professional built WordPress themes (called website templates) from reputable companies. They are ready made out of the box, and all you have to do is to buy them, get them installed and activated. That’s all.
Another major point to note is that most business or internet searches are being made from mobile phones, in essence, it is important, your website to be should be mobile responsive (friendly); this means that it should be easily accessible and viewed from any type of mobile device or gadgets. With the WordPress themes listed below, all of them are mobile responsive and are retina ready.
Examples of premium Photography WordPress templates themes are shown below:
You can check the following reputable companies to see various types of templates; make sure you view the demo and see for yourself what you are buying with your hard earn money.
Once you buy the templates, you will need to download the templates in what is called a ZIP file format. Download it to a safe place on your laptop, PC or desktop computer; I will show you how to use it to build your site in the course of this tutorial. I recommend you read this entire tutorial to have a thorough understanding!!
Brand Yourself – Name and Purpose definition
Just check out those big time photography companies, you will discover that they are so popular and unique in their style. They have logo, style and have a unique name that depicts their purpose, vision and mission statement.
They have their footprints virtually everywhere, from social media, to packaging of their photos, customer service etc.
This is what is called branding; you want to create a photography website and be successful, you need to start with branding and stick to it.
Give your website a unique name, use the name that people already knows you by your business, open social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) using that name. Let your presence be the same across all length and breadth of the web.
- For example, I know a friend who calls his photography company ‘ Portrait’;
- That same name is also used as the name of his website
- That name is also used in opening Facebook, twitter and Instagram account:
Get a domain name and register for website hosting of the name
The above discussed concept of branding extends to this important step you need to take. The name may sound technical, but it is simple; a domain name is just the name of your site that the internet protocols understand.
Examples of domain names are;
The best practices in deciding a domain name is to use the name of your photography business that is already in use. For example, based on the example above, ‘Portrait’ is the name of his business, therefore, he simply registered the name ‘portrait.com’ as the domain name.
However, the major challenge is that sometimes the name you might be thinking about may be in use by other people, so you will need to make research and check if the name you have in mind is still available to use or not.
To do that, I recommend the use of Bluehost domain name checker below:
If you are lucky and the name is free (not in use), the best advice I can give you is to grab it up by registering it immediately to your name.
Step 4 (1)
Getting your site on the World Wide Web (the internet) requires that you pay for website hosting of the domain name.
Good things are not free, so it also applies for this online business of yours; having the domain name is a different one time issue but letting people to know about it and being able to actually see your site on their mobile phones, browsers is a matter of hosting the name and the contents you want to publish.
This act is web hosting and it occurs simultaneously with the domain name registration. Options will be given to you on the type of hosting package you want, number of years etc. I usually recommend you sign up for 2 years and above and chose the most economical package to save costs.
And because you are buying hosting at the same time at Bluehost, the domain name registration becomes free and you will be able to save at least USD18.
I recommend Bluehost for the hosting of your site and the domain name registration because of the following reasons:
- I use Bluehost myself, both for this blog, other blogs of mine and all my clients’ site/blogs
- They have proven to be the most economical friendly hosting company
- They have excellent customer support services (they operate 24 hours, even through direct real time online chat).
- They are reliable, dependable and have one of the most secure facilities for your site and data protection.
- They have various hosting packages that fits your budget, and they even have a great
- Bluehost have proven money back guarantee (they will refund your hosting money back to you if anything ever happens and you decide to revoke your agreement/hosting with them.
After the hosting is successfully done, the next step is the installation and configuration of WordPress software. Follow me as I discuss all this in details.
Please note that the essence of this tutorial is to make you become self-dependent and show you how to actually set up your own photography website.
Installing and configuring the WordPress website
Remember, we are using WordPress software to build and configure your new photography website, so during this stage we are, Bluehost automatically handles the installation of the software for you.
The images below is a practical guidelines on how you can handle the installation (just follow the on-screen instructions).
Remember, during the installation, you will be asked whether you want/prefer ‘WordPress (known with the symbol, ‘W’); accept it and click on yes for WordPress.
A brief summary is listed below:
- During the installation, you will be asked to create a password for your Bluehost account (your Bluehost login username is your domain name)
- You will be presented with a list of various themes (design templates), you can skip this step because the themes shown are not compatible with your photography site and moreover, they are free versions. I earlier told you of getting your own professionally looking premium WordPress themes from reputable companies.
- On the next step, you will be shown a box with the WordPress logo, ‘W’ that shows ‘Start building’.
- Click on that and move to the next step which is the presentation of your dashboard to you.
- On the next page ( the WordPress dashboard), you will see a sign that reads ‘ Welcome to WordPress’, what kind of site do you want to set up?
Chose Business and move on; on the next page, you will be asked on whether to launch your site, click on ‘ Launch’ and your site will go live.
- Look at the browser and note the address of your site URL ( i.e. http://www.yoursite.com) ; also note that whenever you want to access your site, this is the WordPress login URL you will be using.
- http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/ or http://www.yoursite.com/wp-login/ either way, it is fine; the following image will pop up.
You will be required to insert your username and password; your username is your email address or the word’ admin’; while your password would have been created by you during the installation process (do not forget it).
Once you login, you will enter your dashboard and it is from the dashboard, you will be able to set up and configure your new site.
Practical Website Design and Configuration guidelines
I want to assume that the image above is the themes you have bought and have also uploaded, now, it is time to start the whole settings and configurations.
We will be looking at 7major components in the set up processes;
- Upload of the themes / Demo Consideration
- FrontPage Settings (Editing and re-designing)
- Permalinks Settings
- Installation and activation of necessary WordPress Plugins.
- Your page settings
- Menu Settings
- Widgets settings and configuration
Step 6 (1)
Upload of the themes / Demo Consideration
This is now time for us to upload the earlier purchased themes (templates), we need to do that to start giving finishing touches to the site and make it become professionally looking.
There are two options to do that:
- Uploading the only WordPress themes file
- Upload the demo so that your new site will look exactly like the demo of the purchased template.
Either way, the following are the necessary steps to take in achieving this:
- Login to your WordPress dashboard, using your username and password
- Right inside the dashboard, towards the left hand side, you will see ‘Appearance’, under the appearance, locate ‘Themes’; once you see themes, click on ‘Add themes’
- On the new displayed page for the theme set up, various themes will be displayed, ignored them and click on the box that says ‘upload theme’
- Click on it, locate the source of the downloaded ZIP files and it will be uploaded automatically.
- Once it’s successfully uploaded, the signal will be shown and you click on ‘activate’
- In most cases, the installation of the themes should not be more than 1-8 minutes; however, if it is taking longer time than expected, simply refresh the page and start all over again.
- But in case you do this, and the same long time is still being expended, then the problem is not with the internet connection delay but rather the ZIP file contains more than the installation file needed but the complete file from the source where you bought it from.
- In such a case, go to the downloaded ZIP file, unzip it and inside it, you will see the ‘CORE WORDPRESS FILE’ or the ‘ONLY WORDPRESS INSTALLATION FILE’. This file is what you are going to upload and not the entire ZIP file. Most Themeforest purchased templates and themes usually have this issue.
So, you will go back and start the upload again and this time around, I am pretty sure it will be successful.
In the second option, if you really want your photography website to look exactly like the viewed themes (demo) of the template you purchased, what we have to do is to upload the demo file from the themes.
To do that, follow the guidelines below:
- Upload and install the normal themes as explained above
- Go to the right hand sidebar, under appearance and below it, you will see ‘import’ and if it is not there, check under ‘settings’, and you will see import.
- Click on it and it will take you to a page to install the plugin for importing posts and other details
- Install the plugin (disregard the warning that the plugin has not been updated for a while, we are just using it for this purpose, and after the task is complete, you will uninstall it.).
- Once the plugin is installed and activated; click on import and the plugin will get to work. Now, the plugin will ask you what you want to import.
- Now, you will go back to your UNZIP file, check inside the file/folder and you will find the demo.xml file inside it ( sometimes it may not be written like that, just look for any file that ends with the .xml file extension, e.g. yourname.xml).
- It is this file that the plugin is asking for, click on the plugin to import and look for the source of the .xml file and upload it.
- All the demo contents from the purchased template will be imported and your website will look exactly like the purchased WordPress themes.
- However, depending on where you bought the WordPress themes from, you may not need to install any importer plugin; right from inside your dashboard, the guidelines and the link to upload the demo contents will be shown to you.
The following video will be of help if you need assistance:
Step 6 (2)
FrontPage Settings (Editing and re-designing)
One of the determining success factor for a photography website is your FrontPage i.e. the Homepage; have a crappy FrontPage and you will get a crappy response from visitors and customers, leading to revenue loss!!
Imagining we are using the earlier image, which I will repeat below:
Based on the design above, you can edit and change any settings either through:
- Using the edit settings/feature on the FrontPage
- Using Widget settings
- Photo Upload, background, featured images etc. and default dimensions.
- Menu settings (discussed later)
Using the edit settings/feature on the FrontPage
When you are on the FrontPage (your homepage) which is http://www.yoursite.com/ and you are already logged into the dashboard, the edit feature will show at the top of the page.
This way, you can click on the particular page/picture/post and have it edited.
Using Widget settings
You should understand that most contents on the FrontPage are static; and to edit it requires the use of the widget settings.
Most themes developers/providers keeps all the FrontPage settings inside the widgets. When you visit the widget, you will find all the quick links to the footer, headers and the body of the FrontPage. Everything will be written and clearly spelt out in simple A, B, and C.
Photo Upload, background, featured images etc. and default dimensions.
All photos on the FrontPage of a photography website have a default dimension i.e. (size; length and breadth); to change this and upload new image, you will be able to do this through the widget settings.
In addition, anytime you publish a page or post, I recommend you always use a featured image; you will see this option at the bottom right hand side of the post/page before you publish. This is because on some themes, you will be given the option to use your featured image on the FrontPage.
Basically, a simple study and understanding of your website will open your eyes to the possibility of doing everything all by yourself.
Menu settings (discussed later)
It is important you arrange and set your photography website very well; giving it the professional touch it deserves.
Your menu is another important area you have to look at: The image below is the meaning of a menu.
For a thorough, well designed photographic website that is mobile responsive, notable pages and categories should be displayed on your menu. Examples are:
- Catalogues etc.
You can learn how to set up a menu watching the video below:
Step 6 (3)
The permalinks setting is supposed to be the first thing you ought to edit before doing anything on your site.
The permalink is simply the structure of your URL (address on the web browser); generally, by default, the permalinks is set to display date based archive of the URL, this means if you launch and publish a category, a page, updates or posts, there will be a date on the URL.
The above is a date based permalink structure and it is not really helpful when it comes to enjoying solid SEO (search engine optimization) advantages.
The best recommendation is changing it to a name based URL structure, so in the case of the above example, it should be like:
To change the permalinks to the name based preferred structure, login to your dashboard, under settings (left hand side of the board), you will see permalinks, click on it and you will br brought to the settings page, on the settings page, just change the default to ‘name based permalinks’. Click save and exit the page.
Step 6 (4)
Installation and activation of necessary WordPress Plugins
By now, I am pretty sure that you are finding the whole project quite interesting. Though out journey is still a little bit long but we are gradually getting to the finishing stages of everything.
I earlier mentioned about WordPress plugins and how they are ones that actually powers a WordPress enabled website.
With a plugin, you can do the unimaginable with your photographic website; the following are basic and important plugins you should install and activate immediately.
- Yoast SEO plugin
- W3 Total Cache: needed to turbo speed your site
- Akismet: Needed for your site protection
- Jetpack plugin: A MUST have plugin
- Sumo plugin: important for your social media efforts
Other recommended plugins to use include:
- Ecommerce /Woocommerce plugin: if you want to turn your site to a shopping sort of site, this plugin makes it possible; it essentially makes it possible for you to run an Ecommerce operation of your products, sell them online, create carts etc.
- Easy digital downloadable plugin : If you want to sell eCopies of your catalogue or photographs, you can do so with this plugin. No matter the country you are, customers can buy them on your site, download it and you get your money immediately in your PayPal Account.
- Contact Form plugin: Very important!!, though you can use your JetPack plugin for it. So, this plugin is not really mandatory
- Real time (online) chat plugin: This is an important plugin because customers and visitors to your site can chat with you real time. It works just like WhatsApp or Facebook messenger, if they send messages to you, you get the messages instantly on your phone or PC and you can respond to them also immediately. This has proven to improve productivity and sales.
To install and activate a plugin, watch the video below:
Step 6 (5)
Your page settings
Your photographic website needs pages because it is the pages you will use to publish important details about yourself.
Important pages that are compulsory to have and get published are:
- Products page
- Mission Statement
- Refund policy
All these pages are very important; to create a page, just watch and study the video below for your clear understanding.
However, you should remember something; pages would have been created automatically if you uploaded the demo from the purchased WordPress themes, so, do not create duplicate copies.
Just look at the pages list, edit the ones that are already there to your information/details.
CONTACT PAGE CREATION/SET UP
However, to create a contact page is a little bit different ( if your theme does not have it), read the guidelines below:
- First, get the Jetpack Plugin: install it and get it activated
- Once it is working, you will need to configure and activate it by linking it to a WordPress.com account, just link it together and the Jetpack plugin will be fully functional on your site. You will see the contact icon on top of the edit box on all posts and pages.
- Once done, go and publish the contact page as you will publish a normal page.
- The title should be contact but before you publish it, just look at the icons at the top of the page, you will see the ‘contact’ icon from JetPack, click on it and drop it on the space provided to type on the page.
- The contact form will pop and from here, you can edit and configure the form to the details you want.
If you need my support, just reach out to me through the contact page.
If you are able to get and implement all the above listed instructions, I am sure your website should fully be operational by now, the next step is getting the site on the search engines, starting with Google.
Setting up your photographic website on Google search console and analytics
Congratulations for setting up your site; however, nobody knows it and you need to take extra measure of steps to let people know about it.
The first step is to get it listed and indexed on the Google (Google is the world’s biggest, powerful and most popular search engine).
To do that, we need to get on:
- Google search console
- Google Analytics
The two are important, but for a beginner, I recommend that you get yourself listed and indexed on Google search console first before thinking of data that Google analytics will give you.
Google search Console:
The address is www.google.com/console you will need a Gmail account to be able to access the console.
Login and on the displayed page, click to add your website and get it verified. Getting verified on console is easy, however, for more understanding, I recommend you watch the video below:
Once you verify your site, you will need to further:
- Submit your sitemap on the Google search console; you can create your sitemap from the Yoast plugin you installed. Be patient, go to your dashboard, locate Yoast SEO plugin and look for sitemap.
- Once you see the sitemap, click on create sitemap; once created, copy the sitemap and submit it to the console
- Also, you will need to make use of the ‘fetch as’ feature in the console; this tool makes it easy for Google to quickly index your website and crawl it often.
I think this is the end of all the technical guidelines you will need in making and opening a photography website using WordPress, the next stage shares practical insight on how you need to run and manage the site, turning it to a successful entity.
Watch this video to learn how to handle SEO for your photography website:
Success Tips / Promotion
This is the summary of all you need to do and implement with high importance:
- Real time Chat features
- Going Social and how to use it to your advantage
- Receiving orders and processing payment online
- Email subscription form
- Contact form
Real time Chat features
REAL TIME CHAT FEATURE IMAGE HERE
Having a real time chat feature has proven to increase sales, leads and help in making good conversions. The idea is that visitors/customers on your site can chat and talk with you instantly. You receive their chats immediately and you will be able to reply to them also instantly, either from your phone or laptop, depending on the settings you chose.
If you want to run a photography website and get orders, make money and be active; then I recommend you have this feature.
- Go and get the real time chat plugin, you can get it here…https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-live-chat-support/, install and activate it on your plugin
- However, the above is the free version, if you want advance features (like receiving and replying through your phone, I think you will need to get the premium versions).
- Once activated, the chat icon will appear on your website (and because it is mobile responsive, it will show on both PC and mobile viewing devices).
Going Social and how to use it to your advantage
By going social means you are going to have an active presence on major social media networks, majorly the following:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
- Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/
Go and open a free account with your domain name (i.e. name of your site) on all of them. Upload the best of the best of your photographs on them and start inviting people to be your fans/likes/followers.
Keep doing this and you will be amazed at the engagement you will be getting plus people will be making orders even for you to cover their events, wedding programs, weddings etc.
Major photography brands do not joke with social media; infact, most of them are actively present on Instagram, sharing sharp glossy pictures, doing contest etc.
Spy on them and try to copy their successful strategy!!
Receiving orders and processing payment online
One of the concepts on how to start a photography website using WordPress and make money is to be able to sell your high class, high resolution pictures online.
With a WordPress enabled website like your new site, this is very much possible. Follow the steps below:
- You can create a page where you upload and display the pictures/photographs you want to sell online (You already know how to make a page); even on the menu, you can put a portion that says ‘Buy Pictures or Buy High Quality Photos/Images! And you link it to that page!!
- Go to your plugins page, download or look for the Easy digital downloadable plugin ( mentioned above with the link address); install and activate it.
- This plugin works with total automation, people clicks on the picture they want to buy, the instruction is there, you receive your payment through PayPal ( you will have set this up from the plugin settings), once payment is received in your account, the buyer will be able to download the purchased item. All these processes takes less than 1 minute on your page!!
For further understanding, you can watch the video below on how to use this plugin to achieve your stated goal.
Email subscription form
Having an email subscription form makes it possible for you to have the email addresses of visitors and customers that had checked on your site.
This is an important development, because real money making is indeed in the emails.
Visitors that loves the content and the quality pictures/updates on your will willingly give out their emails to get updates and be alerted when new things are available on the site.
With this act, by the time you have thousands and even millions of subscribers, you can send them email about a special promotion (or discounted products, events coverage etc.) and you will be surprised at the high turnover you will get.
You can get this subscription form using:
- Google Feedburner: This is the free version; it is good for a beginner but not really effective to get lots of email subscribers
- Mailchimp or iContact: These are professional run services and it is highly recommended.
You can watch the video below on how to use these services and also install their codes/services on your site.
- As you have passion towards photography, also have the passion to actually own the website
- Having the website alone won’t give you success, you need to put action into operation to get results
- Get active on social media, Instagram is the most important of all the social networks for your niche; upload nice and quality pictures.
- If possible, you may assign some of your staff, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend to be assisting you so that you would not get burnt out fast.
- Do not give up on the site, see it as an investment that will yield dividend/results
- Also see the website as a tool to complement your physical managed business
If you have any further question, suggestions or help, do reach out to me through the contact page. Thanks