The following post comes from Allon Bloch, the CEO of Wix.com, which is a web publishing platform with free and premium offerings. While some of Allon’s are a pitch for Wix.com’s service, I think that they can still apply to many services and platforms beyond Wix. Learn more about Allon and Wix, as well as some additional thoughts on these tips from me at the end of this post.
We live in a digital age, so photographers need to locate and interact with customers wherever they live within the digital space.
Industry marketing terms like “search engine optimization,” “web design” and “social media” tend to be overwhelming, but a new wave of technology and services is specifically designed to help users cut through the web tape and achieve measurable results.
Here is a quick checklist to get you started.
1. Create a Website for Free and Make It Look Good!
Wix.com offers a host of free tools that allow artists to display and sell photos in the most engaging and dynamic light. Wix uses Flash as opposed to html, which means you can put dynamic images, videos, animation and music on your site to better convey the essence of your photography. Best of all no coding or design experience is needed so anyone can do it! (See my comments at the bottom of this post regarding alternatives to Wix as well. -Ed.)
2. Tailor Your Site to Your Customers
Line your website with “key words” that match what potential consumers will type into search engines when they are looking for great photography. Put yourself in the mind of your customer, what search terms would they use when they begin their online search?
3. Cash In
Make it easy for your audience to purchase your photographs directly from your site. Some web publishing platforms like Wix let your customers purchase items directly from your site using PayPal. When it comes to online purchasing, keeping it simple and safe is key.
4. Join an Online Gallery
Just because the economy is slow doesn’t mean that should affect your art shows. There are many highly professional online photo galleries where you can display your work and be inspired by the work of other artists. Joining an online gallery makes it easy to collaborate with other photographers whom you may not have met without being online and take your creativity and photography to the next level.
5. Cost Benefit Analysis
For every $1 spent towards online marketing, the average return is $10-$15 on your investment. Compare this to a $3-$4 return on traditional advertising.
6. Social Media
The prevalence of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people interact online and how brands can communicate with their customers. Get active on any and all social media networks and start talking to photography enthusiasts directly. You’ll learn their interests, gain an understanding of their tastes, build valuable relationships and make a name for yourself in the photography space.
7. Tap into your network
By linking your website to other relevant sites like local art associations, charities or other photography sites you will in turn get them to link to your website and benefit from all the eyeballs they attract.
8. Start a Blog
Starting a blog will help you become a thought leader within the photography space. It gives your customers incite into what you are thinking, where you work is headed and what your core values are.
9. Media Buying
The foundation of the Internet’s current structure revolves around search engines, primarily Google. Google adwords allows you to ensure your web site tops the search results for relevant topics. You can buy keywords and will pay google every time someone clicks your link as a result. Don’t worry about paying for 10,000 clicks in a week, adwords allows you to set limits.
10. Post It
Don’t be afraid to post all your work on your website, online galleries and social media sites. It won’t diminish the value of your photos it will enhance them! Getting your work out there will increase your visibility and anyone that purchases good photography won’t settle for low resolution print outs from the web.
And for some great free and cost effective webtools to market, manage and grow your photography business, Allon Bloch, CEO of Wix.com recommends the following web applications that are easier to use than offline software, with live tech support readily available.
Wix.com (http://www.wix.com) OF COURSE! – thousands of photographers are using Wix.com’s platform to create their own websites, saving them thousands of dollars in hiring a web designer. Wix.com is a free web publisher that lets anyone create a polished and professional looking website – regardless of your technical background. More, Wix enables photographers to market their businesses online and integrates Paypal for those selling photos online.
Outright (http://www.outright.com) – Incredibly simple, FREE online bookkeeping specifically created for the 20 million Americans who work for themselves. Outright offers a streamlined, online solution, with the bookkeeping needs of the small business owners first. Created by entrepreneurs and Intuit alums, Outright’s goal is to keep financial records as simple as possible, helping small businesses accurately track all of their income and expenses to estimate and prepare their taxes.
BatchBlue (http://www.batchblue.com) – Free online contact relationship management solution
FreshBooks (http://www.freshbooks.com) – The best way to keep track of billing and invoicing online
Shoeboxed (http://www.shoeboxed.com) – By-mail scanning service for your pile of receipts and business cards – access the documents online
MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com) – They make it easy to send email newsletters to customers, manage subscriber lists, and track campaign performance. They use the same tools that sophisticated marketers use (like segmentation, a/b testing, and ROI tracking), and make them accessible to anyone. And because our platform uses an open API, it’s easy to integrate internal systems (like Salesforce) and web applications (like Magento and Drupal) with their email marketing engine.
Wix (www.wix.com) is a DIY and easy-to use Web publishing platform. Wix is the only web publishing platform that allows users to create stunning and completely original websites. Founded in September 2006 and launched in open beta in April 2008, Wix was born out of the founders’ frustration with creating dynamic looking Websites that didn’t involve coding or programming. Wix has received $8.5 million funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and Mangrove Capital Partners. and is headquartered in New York and offices in Tel Aviv.
As noted in my intro above, I think these are good tips that can be broadened beyond using Wix.com. I’ve also spent some time on Wix.com checking out the services they offer. I’ll have to say that the platform looks pretty impressive and would love to hear feedback from anyone that has used or is using Wix. I seriously had a couple of “Oh, wow!” moments when browsing through the features. Don’t just take my word for it though, Read Write Web (RWW is kind of a big deal) just called it one of the “Four Awesome Tools for Creating Cool, No-Tech Sites.”
That said, there are many services available today either free or very affordable that can really boost your online presence and bottom line. Lightroom 2 is packaged with a great web gallery creation tool that can seamlessly create online galleries with SimpleViewer (among other tools). It took me all of 15 minutes to build this wedding gallery and get it online thanks to Lightrooom. It costs less than $10/year to keep it online.
Another great, free tool is WordPress. Countless photographers are using WordPress as a successful marketing tool. Templates abound for a variety of looks, and if needed, designers can create stunning WordPress themes on some pretty tight budgets.
So, while I encourage you to check out Wix.com and see what it has to offer, consider these tips in light of the many other options that are out there as well. Additionally, if you have any other tips or services that you find effective Internet marketing tools for photographers, please let us know in the comments below. -Ed.