Building your online portfolio

As a young photographer, my main selling tool was a photo book, hand full of references and large amount of hope. The “online” presence was a new thing and not so many of us had a website … sounds crazy but that’s the truth. A lot of things changed since mid 90’s. On today’s market, consider it as a necessity … you got to have an online portfolio. Many colleagues of mine run their own websites, business blogs, Facebook pages and whatnot. The cyber presence is one of the most commonly used sales tool and it looks like it will stay like that for a while. If you’re new in photography business, I would recommend something simple and inexpensive. Before you choose where to host and how to build your website, I would suggest you follow some basic steps:

1) Keep it simple
Make your food photos a main star of the show. Don’t get caught adding unnecessary features and elements people generally don’t like to see on the website. In my opinion, choosing the content over the design is always a right choice and that’s why your visitors will come back for more.

2) Design matters
Your website should look clean, easy to navigate and free of any advertising elements. You got to make sure all links are working properly, navigation is intuitive and easy to follow.

3) Showcase only your best work
The saying “your portfolio is only as good as your worst image” is quite true. Take your time and pick the best shots … don’t forget people will judge you based on what you have decided to present. When comes down to number of photos you’re exhibiting, I prefer staying in the range of 20-30 photos per section. Less than this could leave a visitor with “I was expecting a bit more” feeling. On the other hand, don’t overwhelm your audience with tons of photos that could take a long time to browse through … find a middle ground.

4) Little note about yourself
Well, this is quite important. As a part of any online portfolio you got to include a few words about yourself and what you do. Don’t get caught in boring cliché about what kind of equipment you use, how amazing your work is and how you can accommodate every single requirement. The potential client already saw tons of these so be yourself and try to make as interesting as possible. You might include some testimonials but don’t go overboard with this either. Customer feedback (if you have it) should be short and right to the point … after all no one wants to spend 10 minutes reading what other people say about you.

5) Pick the right hosting
This in fact shouldn’t be a big problem. There are so many hosting providers out there, picking the one that will fit your need and the budget isn’t going to be an issue. As far as I tell, there are many providers out there that offer turnkey solution. You can host the site with someone who provides not only design option but also some sort of advertising incentives, email hosting and whatnot. Some of the sites I would consider for hosting my online portfolio are:

Carbonmade (Free)

Photoshelter

Livebooks

Pixpa

Zenfolio

Smugmug

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