Why do you have a website?

To display your beautiful photography? To showcase your unique skills and creativity? Because Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly said you need one?  

Nowadays, it’s universally understood that any and every business needs an online presence. But what’s it all for?

Think of your website as an employee in your photography business. You need your website to do a particular job… and do it really well. But, like any good manager, that means you need to set the right expectations for it.

Are you expecting your website to do more than it’s capable of? More than it’s really good at doing?

I think many of us find ourselves in this exact situation. We’ve lost sight of what we’ve ‘hired’ our website to do.

The ultimate goal of your site is to book more clients. That’s what your website and all your other marketing should be shooting for — getting people to hire you.

Sometimes, though, we expect our site to do more than it should.

I’ve personally done the research and found a lot of photographers fall into this trap — they’re not sure what job their website should do for them, and as a result, it does nothing exceptionally well.

Clarify Your Website’s Goal

Once you know your site’s goal, how do you know if it’s doing its job? For your website to really help you book more photography clients, it needs to drive visitors to take action. This is how you can measure its effectiveness.

‘Taking action” doesn’t necessarily mean booking sessions months in advance directly on your site. Direct bookings are great, but they’re not the only measure of success. It’s actually much simpler than that.

There are three main ways a website visitor takes action. They can:

  1. Call you
  2. Email you
  3. Visit your studio

If you get more and more phone calls from website visitors each month, congrats! Your website’s doing it’s job.

If you get more e-mails, or if more and more people start visiting your studio as a result of your website, it’s also doing its job — plain and simple.

We can’t improve our site until we’re crystal clear about its true purpose. By clarifying the goal of the website (to book more clients by getting more visitors to call, email, or physically visit us), we can figure out whether the website is working for us.

Simplify Your Site

Once you have a clear picture of what your website needs to do, it’s time to trim the fat. If something on your site isn’t helping you book more clients by getting visitors to take action, does it really belong?

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is not about saying ‘yes’ to everything. It’s about saying ‘no’ to all but the most crucial features.”

I think we can apply this concept of simplification to nearly every aspect of our businesses.

Marketing is not about saying ‘yes’ to everything. It’s about saying ‘no’ to all but the most crucial words.

Photography is not about saying ‘yes’ to everything. It’s about saying ‘no’ to all but the most crucial images.

Does that make sense?

When promoting our photography, we shouldn’t try to display every image we’ve ever taken. Instead, we should only showcase our best images. That’s when people really start to pay attention to us.

Think Small

In the 1950s, American car ads focused on size, power, and glamor. Imagine a full-page, full-color illustration of a family of four taking a country drive in their brand new Thunderbird; or a beautiful couple, laughing and smiling as they admire pristine beaches from their red Pontiac convertible.

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The idea that ‘bigger is better’ also applied to the copy they used in these ads. They looked more like graphic novels than newspaper advertisements. Every inch of the page was used up by illustrations or information.

Then in 1959, Volkswagen turned it upside down to market the Beetle.

Their ‘Think Small’ ad contained over 80% white space with a tiny image of their new car. At the bottom of the ad, three short columns of clever copy listed the benefits of the inexpensive, low-maintenance Beetle. VW’s Beetle campaign is now considered to be the greatest ad campaign of the twentieth century.

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This simple, minimalist approach revolutionized the way we look at marketing and advertising. It’s no surprise that Apple has used the same principles in their advertising.

So what does this mean for you and your website? Should you strip away everything, and mimic the best VW or Apple ads on your homepage?

Probably not, but we can use this concept of simplicity as a lens when we look at our website and marketing material.

Ask yourself, Is this page on my site absolutely essential in helping me book more clients?

Do I really need this entire photo album on my site, or will a couple of images do the job just as well?

We can all aspire to creating cleaner, simpler marketing that results in higher, quicker website conversions.