Congratulations! You’ve ventured on a fabulous career in the photo industry. The first thing your clients will want to know is “How good are you? Really.” So, naturally, you direct them to your online photography portfolio. But wait! Are you sure you want to do that?
There are many aspects of a portfolio’s design that will actually turn clients away from your site. Here are a few things to AVOID when putting together your online portfolio.
1. YOUR IMAGES TAKE TOO LONG TO LOAD.
The average person is willing to wait no more than 3 seconds for a site to load. That time gets cut in half when viewing a page on a mobile device. We live in an age where instant access has not only become the norm but is expected. Your client doesn’t just want to know if you are a good photographer or if you will be able to capture the essence of the project for hire. They want to know NOW! If your site annoys your customer they will likely move on to the next photographer on their list. A page that takes too long to load could be the difference between you and your competition.
2. YOU ARE USING FLASH.
I don’t mean on your camera, I mean within your site. Using Flash on your site slows its loading time considerably. But what’s worse, is it also hides vital SEO data. Data you want visible to search engines. The more data search engines can find on your site, the higher in search results you’ll be. The higher in search results you are, the higher the chance your work will be seen by potential clients.
3. YOUR IMAGES ARE HUGE.
Again, this will slow down your loading time by a lot. Remember, 3 seconds is all you get. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. That’s it! Time’s up. Your client has now moved on to your competitor whose online portfolio loads on your client’s smartphone in less than two seconds. First impressions are critical in this industry. Make it count. There’s no logical reason your images should be 10MB in RAW format and take 10 seconds to load. If I’m sounding like a broken record, then that brings me to my next point…
Variation is your best friend. The last thing you want is to give your clients the impression that you’re a one trick pony. If you’re a wedding photographer, don’t just showcase images of happy couples in the same 5 poses. Wedding cakes, floral arrangements, flower girls, party guests, and even photos of the DJ and MC at the reception can be a great way to change things up. I’ve found that the best portfolios are broken down into several, easy to navigate albums or sections, divided either by client or category. But don’t stop there, why not include a few personal projects? Which reminds me…
5. YOU DON’T HAVE A BLOG.
Or even worse: the link to your blog is either broken or points to an outdated one. Blogs are a great way to engage your audience. It not only keeps them up to date with what you’re currently working on, it gives them a chance to get to know you on a personal level. More importantly, your blog shouldn’t just mirror your portfolio (See point 4.). It should inform as well as entertain. You don’t have to be an eloquent writer, but you should try to develop a voice in about 500 words,, at least once per month. Speak to your readers as you would your best friend. Tell them about your day, update them on your availability, share your deepest darkest secrets (Okay, maybe not that). The goal of your blog is to attract more clients. You can’t do that if you seem unapproachable. People like to hire people they like. If they think you’re friendly and personable, they’ll not only hire you, they’ll be quick to recommend you to a friend.
6. YOUR CONTACT INFO IS HIDDEN OR NON-EXISTENT.
Want people to hire you? Then why stick your contact info in a corner of your site in fine print? The best way to get people to call you is to make it easy for them. This includes being accessible via social media. Your contact info page should include the following: Name, Address (if you work out of a studio) or Location (this should also include how far you are willing to travel for work), Phone number(s) (indicate whether this is your studio, land line, or mobile), 1 E-mail address, a brief Description of your services, and Links to all your social media accounts. It’s also a good idea to integrate this information within your “About” page so your clients have more than one way to get the information they need.
7. YOUR SITE PLAYS MUSIC UPON LOADING.
Did I really need to put this on the list? Unfortunately, yes. Do us all a favor. Kill the music!
8. ALL IMAGES AND NO WORDS.
You may think your images speak for themselves, and you may be right. But your images do not speak to search engines and that’s not helping your business one bit. Although word of mouth has proven to be the best way to gain new clients, you don’t want to rule out the potential jobs you could be getting with good SEO. If you’re reluctant to add a caption to each and every image in your portfolio, consider changing the file name to something a little more descriptive like “Kate_throws_the_bouquet” or “Grandma_dances_with_groom”. The idea is to embed keywords throughout your site to increase the chances that your portfolio is the first one your client sees.
Creating an online portfolio of your work is a huge part of your personal and professional brand. Creating one that works for you as hard as you work for your clients is an investment you won’t regret. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. By avoiding these common mistakes you’ll be sure it’s a good one.