episode 32

Building Your Portfolio

So for this week’s episode of the podcast really talk about building your portfolio, your online portfolio, and making it is as good as it can be, as best as you can, to hopefully try to get some clients to develop your business and hopefully grow to maybe a part-time thing – if you want that – or maybe even a full-time venture for getting photography clients, and that’s kind of what a lot of people are wanting do.

I’m going to go over about eight tips that will come to get you in the right direction and think about different things when it comes to your online photography portfolio.

#1 – Make it accessible

The first tip I’m going to talk about is making an accessible and easily accessible gallery of your photos. There’s a lot of websites out there, a lot of different designs for website; but one of the best ones that I’ve seen – depending on the type of photographer you are – is the kind of thumbnail view or the Pinterest like view of your website, and with it basically means is when someone visits your website that’s got a lot of photos all over the place and they can scroll up and down and see a lot of photos. Click on one to see a high-resolution version of it and get details about it, and that’s kind of the homepage.

It’s very, very easily accessible gallery so they can immediately see your work as soon as they get to the website, which actually can really get a lot of clients engaged and make them stay on your website to look at your galleries. So, you could do it that way; that’s really great way of doing it but another way of doing it is kind of having a header image – maybe a static header image – word doesn’t change, but then below that you can write a little description about your photography in your services and everything and then below that are next that you can actually put a link to say: ‘Check out my gallery’ or something like that. Some something that will have prompt them to click on your gallery. Obviously will still be in the main navigation bar – that’s a very important thing – but having it back linked everywhere on your website is actually a pretty good thing is easily getting them to your main gallery, where you want to definitely showcase your photos.

There are a couple of really easy ways of trying to make it a very accessible gallery so the not always hunting around your website to see what kind of photos you take; see your full gallery of images so they can deftly see what type of work that you do.

#2 – It’s all about your website’s theme

The next tip is picking a consistent theme for your website. So, there are all those photographers out there that I know that are special in my area. After doing a lot of research about photographers in my area, there’s a lot of photographers who are kind of a jack-of-all-trades. They can do weddings, they can do portraits, they can do food, they can do pets, they can do cars, they can do all kinds of things. But what that says to some clients that go to the website looking to see if they can do something is they’re kind of the master of none. They do a lot of stuff but they don’t really specialize in something.

I personally believe in, and this is kind of a belief when it comes to running a business, is that you should really specialize in one particular area of photography and promote that as your business; and your always going to get clients that, you know, let’s say are you specializes a portrait photographer, you’re probably wasn’t inclined to say ‘hey I also do weddings’. You may not advertise that you do weddings, may just say I do portraits, but you can get those people to say that you do weddings. My friend in two months is getting married, and I’m trying to help them find of the wedding photographer.

So, it’s not like you’re not going to get jobs if you don’t advertise; you’re always going to do get jobs like that. Another use case for that is, you know, I primarily do real estate photography. But even if I’m going to somebody’s house, and this happens more often not. If I go to somebody’s house they always ask me: ‘do you shoot people too?’ or ‘do you photograph families?’ and stuff like that and I have to tell them no because I personally don’t like to do that but I like to specialize in just real estate.

So not saying because you don’t have it on your website is not gonna be an amortizable thing, but you’re really saying that ‘hey I do portraits’, I’m a portrait photographer. I do portraits. This is where I’m fantastic at, check out my work; and then you’ll probably get hit up for a lot of other different services after that. So, build that consistent theme of your style of photography and try to be that person. That guy or girl in your area that is awesome at this one particular style of photography.

#3 – Build a solid portfolio

Alright, the next tip is building your solid portfolio; and what I mean by that is building up your images. Now I’ve done a lot of podcasts, and this is a kind of thing that I talk about doing often, and it’s something that a lot of people should be doing, especially if they are working at any easily accessible style of photography. And what I mean by this is, we’ve all seen those photography portfolios where you go to the portfolio and you see the same model in about 15 to 20 different photos, just in different poses, and you always see that he or she is wearing the same clothes, so it looks like they were taken on the same day, the same time, the same model. That could actually give off a negative impression saying that you’re not really, not really bringing in those clients. You’re just taking photos of friends or something like that, and you’re not really bringing in those clients because you have the same person all over your website.

I’m just using portrait photography as an example, but you really want to use all of your resources when it comes to building up your actual images. Obviously, if you been doing photography for a very long time you probably have a good catalogue of images, so this is not meant for everyone. But again, going back to the portrait photographer example: if you are a portrait photographer and you have a very limited number of photos, hit up all the people that you know. Friends, family members, neighbours, all kinds of people to say ‘hey!’. You know, there might be a family next door that has some kids, say ‘hey, I’ll give you the portraits for free for you to hang on your wall or do whatever, but just let me shoot your family’, and you can have all the photos for free. That gives them the incentive to let you do that; that gives you the ability to put those photos on your website, say that you don’t have that occasion of taking the same photos of the same somebody that your viewers get all over, and over, and over again, and having that person on your website kind of almost as a spokesperson for your website.

So, use of your resources and, you know, when it comes to… maybe are doing commercial stuff, maybe you haven’t done a lot of commercial jobs like product photography, for example. Maybe you’ve done a couple but you don’t have enough to put on your portfolio. Find a product; find anything – gaming; go to a hardware store, go to the grocery store – anything – and grab something off the shelf and act like it’s a real shoot. A lot of these styles of photography are very accessible. What you just got a kind of think outside the box about trying to grow those images.

#4 – The ‘About’ page

Now, let’s talk about the about page. The about pages is, and I suffer from this, for my regular portfolio. The about page is a page that people are kind of thinking when building the site is a kind of throwaway page issue. It is supposed to be a picture of you and a paragraph and that’s it. Just saying who you are, but those really, really successful photographers build out a really awesome about page talking about them, talking about their gear, talking about their family. Giving kind of likes and dislikes when it comes to certain things; maybe talk about the favored image. The image that they’ve ever produced. Talking about the kind of where they’ve come from, how they got started and it becomes almost like an online bio, which is kind of what it should be, not just the ‘Hi! I’m so-and-so I live here, and I would love to take photos of you. I have a cat and a dog in the wife and son’ or something like that‘Hi! I’m so-and-so I live here, and I would love to take photos of you. I have a cat and a dog in the wife and son’ or something like that. It’s gotta be a very intuitive thing so treated, almost like an online bio, an online blog post all about you.

Don’t be afraid to write about yourself and just make it very, very robust when it comes to talking about yourself because I noticed that a lot of people actually go to the about pages before leaving go to the contact page and contact you about it because they want to know a little bit about you. So that’s, that’s a really great way of doing that. Just think of it is like an online version of your bio.

#5 – SEO

Alright, let’s talk about some SEO tips. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is actually a really important thing, obviously, when it comes to getting your work out there; but there are a couple of small things that you can do that will really help, kind of really, help get people to your website. I’m going to talk about a couple those I’ve seen them be successful, and so of these might be helpful for you guys as well.

So, the first one and I talked about this one a lot when it comes to podcasts tips for your website is keywords for your images. I talk about this all the time but it really, really does help to keyword your images. So, when you take a photo – let’s say you go to a sunset beach scene, and you want to put that on your website… you know it comes off the camera, as you know, IMG_004 or something like that or as a file name. Before you upload that, rename it to something that involves a lot of keywords; so, it could be a beach-sunset-photography – maybe tag the location so you can just say the same. Miami – you know, you tag all these keywords in your images and what that actually does is give Google a little bit of help if someone is doing a search for that seen in your area – it gives them a little bit help and actually shows up very prominently on Google images, which is actually a nice little thing for that. So that helps a lot.

A lot of people leave their images as the file name of whatever came off the camera, and that’s great for just getting the photo up there quick, but it tells Google or any search engine, about the image, it tells them nothing. So, keywording images really, really helps with that.

Another SEO tip, and this is kind of going to go into the next tip, is having your online blog. You know, where I talked about kind of picking that consistent theme. Let’s say you do portraits but also you like to shoot food photography. Go ahead and market yourself as the portrait photographer; but on your blog, you can talk about anything that you want to, you can put images of the food that you’ve taken photos of professionally, a wedding that you went to and maybe shot a couple of photos. You can do all of the stuff on your blog as your blog is your state; a kinda documentary place for you as a photographer. Obviously still put your portraits or whatever your style for your business, and obviously still put those on there as well. But that gives you a whole another avenue to put all these cool things that you can still do as it is a general photographer even if you just market yourself as a certain style.

#6 – Build your own blog

So again, the next tip after the SEO tip would be to, again, build your blog. Building your blog, again, is one of the most important things you can add your website as it gets a lot of people in the door; and what I mean by this is, this kind of analogy that I’ve heard when it comes to all the business websites that are out there. I’ve done a lot of research on this, and think of your website as if it’s town hall in your city, or think of it as this one building in your city, being the city being the Internet basically. Think of these and think of your website as a building and you want people to come to your building. They need to have an avenue to get there. They need to have a road to get there. Every time you put a piece of content out on the website, every time you put a blog post, every time you put a photo, every time you link back to your website from social media Facebook or something like that, you’re creating a brand-new road that leads there – obviously some roads are nicer than others, so maybe a blog post that’s a really nice lengthy blog post is really, really good one so you know some roads are better than others, but you always want to keep all those roads going your website. The more of those roads, the more people have the opportunity to come to your website. If you just put your website out, and you’re hoping clients would just stumble upon you when you first get launch, you’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. You have to give people the opportunity to come into your website, and that’s why the blog is a fantastic way to do that because you can put anything out there that you want to.

So, I would definitely recommend doing a blog even if you don’t like writing. I don’t like writing. You can definitely just put a couple of paragraphs and put a couple of images, then share and that’ll do; but if you do like writing, sit down to write a really nice lengthy blog post and talk about the experience. Talk about the photos; go in-depth, and go in-depth on editing – all that kind of stuff and it will give you the potential client more avenues to come to your city.

#7 – Keeping a copy

Right so the next is actually one that not a lot of people actually do nowadays, and that’s what I call ‘keeping a copy’. So, what I mean by that is that you know, back in the golden days before the website, you actually had a copy of your portfolio. Yeah, a book, a bound book or something like that, where you had all your images printed and it was a pain. The always needed to be updated to get cooler images; you had to reprint it into another book – or you have those cheap slides in folders, plastic sleeves and stuff like that. But nowadays, we have all smartphones, tablets, etc.

Keeping a copy basically means keeping a copy of the images that are on your portfolio, so that maybe if you want to show people in – people asked me ‘what you do for living’ or something like that. You can see I do photography in here. Some of my images; you don’t have to wait for the website to pull up or anything like that.

Especially whip out your phone and have a copy of your images on your phone is just a great way of keeping your images close to you, so that we can easily show them to potential clients. You can even get as crazy as making a PDF that is almost like a book. Anyway, and you can put the images that you can talk about the description. So, if the client does want to see your work with the don’t have enough time, you could actually just email that PDF to them and they can look at it from there. So, keeping a copy is a really great way to make sure that your images are really, really close to you.

#8 – Keep it simple

Alright, the last tip I’m going to talk about is keeping it simple. That’s is something that a lot of people don’t do; keep it simple, and what I mean by that is just because you can do it, that doesn’t mean you should do it. For example, you can put music on your website, you can put on this disc fun music that plays every time someone goes your website, but that was great for about five minutes back in 1998, but right now it is not a really nice thing to do. You can certainly put music on there if you want to but I would put it is the kind that pauses, you know, when someone is in the website is not playing out loud. Having something that automatically plays is not really that great in my opinion, that you may love it that’s, that’s totally fun. You can do whatever you want to with your website, but they can actually disrupt you, can actually take away from the work that is important and that is the actual photography that you have on your website.

Another way of keeping it simple is not to have so many pages on your website. As you know, the pages that display in the navigation bar, and you know if you are some the type of person who wants to put that they do every type of photography under the sun. You don’t want to have a navigation bar that is chock-full of pets, cars, food, people, planes; you know, you don’t have all the cost of just junking up your navigation bar. So, keeping it simple. Keeping consolidated, keeping organized that’s a good a really helpful tip because, again, you don’t want people to be just gushing over how awesome the website is because the website is not going to sell them what’s going on with you.

Doing the actual work is going to sell to them. So, a lot of people opt for the plain white background with the nice scripts and crisp photos, pairing it with a nice clean text. I personally think that’s the way to go. But again, the rules about design and everything can obviously be broken, but just keeping it simple all around is something that I would definitely recommend when it comes to building your online portfolio.

I guess it was just a couple tips think about when you’re starting your portfolio; or if you already have started your portfolio to maybe look into changing, or adding, or subtracting from things I just something to think about.

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