For any visual artist providing their services as a business, developing a compelling web presence is an essential way to show off your stuff and make a great first impression on new clients. Your website is an extension of your artistic voice, and should serve as an inviting gallery that instantly communicates the aesthetic that makes your work special.
In my experience, it’s also hugely beneficial to find the right help for making design choices that complement your goals, and for keeping site management simple and in-line with your needs on the technical side.
Here are four tips I’ve discovered that can help make the visually striking business website of your dreams a reality (and a success):
1) Hire a great designer who is ready to execute your vision.
When I began to envision the website for my wedding photography business, I knew what I wanted – but not necessarily how to get there on my own. As a visual artist, you’re naturally going to have a lot of thoughts and preferences about the look and feel of any material you’re putting out into the world. An expert in the medium can wrangle those notions and incorporate them into an effective website. It pays to really research this component.
For me, designer Emma Brooks proved invaluable in taking the raw and sometimes crazy ideas I tossed her way, and interpreting them to produce a site that’s more beautiful and expressive of my personality than what I imagined or could have dreamed of accomplishing alone. This type of collaboration between artists, with one lending their talents to showcase the work of another and make them look amazing, is what website owners should seek out when selecting a designer to work with.
2) Use a host that makes site setup and management easy.
A good webhost for your business is one that lets you accomplish your site goals quickly and simply, so that you can concentrate more fully on your business. The ability to easily launch your site and implement a CMS to efficiently manage content – especially large beautiful photos – is a key advantage. Responsive and effective customer support is also a concern for small businesses like ours, which need site issues resolved quickly (and don’t exactly have tech departments).
Again, a little bit of upfront research can go quite a ways toward matching your needs for the long haul. After exploring hosting provider options for years(!), I’ve come to prefer DreamHost because of its one-click WordPress installs, and the ease with which I can buy and manage domains for new side projects. For artists and businesses that end up managing multiple sites at once, the ability to handle the backends of these sites without confusion is a real advantage that the right host can provide.
3) Don’t be afraid to stand out.
There are a lot of visual artists with businesses out there, and if your website plays it too safe it risks getting lost in the crowd. Be sure to employ design elements that immediately convey your unique aesthetic and a strong sense of what sets you apart. It can also be useful to do some benchmarking and understand the common style choices and clichés in your niche, so that you know how to go against the grain.
In my own case, I wanted make sure my site didn’t look like it belonged to a wedding photographer at all, but rather to an artist that just happens to photograph weddings. I was also careful to give the site unique qualities that speak in their own personal artistic voice: rich hues communicate that I’m an artist who values vibrant color, while displayed wedding photos that are quite a bit different from what people are used to make a (hopefully) clear statement about what clients should expect.
4) Site performance and reliable cloud storage are essential.
Finally, photography-based websites require a high-level of site performance to deliver the intended experience – high-resolution image files cannot lag, and lengthy load times will cause visitors to simply leave. At the same time, storing vast quantities of large image files can require a tremendous amount of space, and the costs of the necessary cloud storage can put a dent in a small business’s bottom line if using an overly expensive plan. This means finding a web host with a service package that affordably delivers the performance and the storage your business needs, and allows for future growth.
Running a photography-based business is demanding work that means always being ready to hustle – but that’s also what’s great about it. By enlisting the right support for your website, you can ensure that your web presence is effective in expressing who you are as an artist, and helping to grow your business.
Guest article written by: Jenn Emerling is the owner of JennEmerlingWeddings.com, a wedding photography business.