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Building a New Foundation in 2020 – Part I: Your Website

The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially in business. And, it doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer or any small-business owner. Life has changed, along with consumer trends. Here’s the encouraging part – the building blocks for success are the same as when Corona was just a great beer.

You’re all familiar with the steps it takes to build a house. It starts with a solid foundation, and the first step is when they pour the footers. Without a solid foundation to build on, your house won’t last any longer than the two out of the three little pigs. The “Big Bad Wolf” is the fear of the virus, the economy, whatever you’re missing in your skillset, social media, and your competitors.

I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts on what it’s going to take to get your business back on track. You have to accept things are different than they were at the start of the year. For example, more than ever, your Internet presence is critical. What you’re sharing online is now your primary vehicle to reach your audience.

Your five most essential building blocks are still your website, blog, social media presence, community involvement, and education.

Website: More than ever, your website is now the equivalent of a bricks and mortar storefront. It’s the way your target audience is going get to know your work.

  • Galleries: Time to clean them up! Get rid of images that look like Uncle Harry captured them. Boil down the number of categories of galleries and show stunning work. And you don’t need hundreds of images!
  • Diversity: Diversity is essential, but don’t stray too far from your core business. If your core business is children and family, then a gallery of commercial work isn’t the best call. Instead, put your unrelated specialties on a different site or set up a landing page that allows visitors to go to the general topics they’re most interested in.
  • About Page: I keep writing about this, but there are so many of you who still don’t get it. Your clients don’t care how you got started, what equipment you shoot with, or what awards you’ve won. They only care about one thing – can you be trusted to see the world the way they do? Will you capture images that tell their unique story? Use your About page to open your heart. Do it in the first person and sign it, (you don’t need to show your real signature, just a facsimile) as if it was an artist’s statement because it is! Share why you love being a photographer, that’s what they want to read about.
  • Your Tabs: Galleries should be first, followed by your about page. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then hook viewers on your images first. Then, they’ll want to read about you.
  • Contact Page: Give people a phone number and email address. I know many photographers work out of their homes and may not want to show their address, but give people a way to contact you! For the first time in years, in part because of social distancing, your phone is one of your most valuable tools! People love talking to a live body. Answer all your calls and return calls and emails promptly.
  • Navigation: Make your website an experience. Don’t turn your visitors into miners, making them hunt for what’s most important.
  • Policies: Many of you were already paranoid about your policy on refunds long before the pandemic. Now you’re even more gun-shy! It’s essential to have a cancellation policy, but you don’t need to list it on your website. Many of you have policies that would scare an IRS auditor. So, get your policies off your website and put them into contract discussions later on.
  • Your Products/Services: Is what you’re offering exciting, or would it put a rock to sleep? Now is the time to be showing new products. For example, everything can start with Marathon and Bella Art Prints and Albums. You’ve got an infinite combination of colors, papers, and materials – show your clients products that are exciting. If you’re going into other areas of printed material – call your lab and just ask, “What’s new?”

Regardless of what we’re told from the government, we all know it’s going to be a long time before things get back to normal…and then who knows what “normal” is going to look like. But, here’s the best part – nothing has changed with your client base when it comes to capturing memories. The pandemic has made photographs of family and friends even more cherished!

Stay tuned for the next block in building a new foundation: your blog!