Washington DC Wedding Photographer: Stephen Gosling Photography
The first thing I want to say is that I am under no illusion that people read my blog, let alone other photographers. I in no way think that the way I do things is the correct way and I am not writing these posts to tell people how to shoot or how to run their businesses. I am however going to be writing about my experiences; my failures, my successes, etc. If these posts help anyone, great! If not; no big deal.
There is no arguing that as a photographer in today’s market; you need to have a web presence. We all live our lives somewhat online and we now that our brides spend a lot of time researching online too. So as photographers we need our businesses to be on the web, ready to promote us at a moments notice!
The question of what that presence should be is a serious one, and the options are plentiful. You should first of course be on Twitter and have a Facebook business page but that is not what I mean. You need to have a professional presence out there and a Facebook business page is not enough (sorry if that’s all you have right now but its not enough).
Most photographers get started with a blog. It is the cheapest and easiest option to get your images online fast. And depending on who you use (which company) for your blog they are often easily customizable so you can get your blog looking the way you want it too.
A blog is where I started. I wasn’t quite ready to lay down the money for a full blown website at the time but it was definitely my plan to have a website as my main port of call for online visitors. So, I started with a blog and I tried to blog fresh images as often as I could (which in the beginning is always slow). Having the blog as a great start but I felt as if I needed a website to display my work in the way I wanted to. After a few months I stumped up for my website and I have no regretted it since.
My website was custom designed and built for me by Livebooks. I went through a back and forth process with a designer to get the site looking exactly how I wanted it. You can now choose templates for your Livebooks site (not available when I designed my site) which is a little bit of a cheaper option if you don’t want to pay for a fully fledged individual design.
Livebooks are awesome. I can not say this enough! They are a company that cater exclusively to photographers so they know what you want, and they give it to you. It is a fresh and easy to use interface which comes with something called the ‘edit suite’ which allows me to upload new photos and change content as often as I like. Now… My website is flash. Which is not super great when it comes to SEO and also can not be viewed properly on phones or tablets. However, one of the great things about Livebooks is that as well as building you the awesome looking flash website they also build you an identical mirror of your site in html. So when people navigate to your site on a phone or a tablet they automatically go to the html site. And the html site also holds all of the SEO info you want it to, to get you ranked on Google and found by the people searching for you. Two birds with one stone!
My website is my portfolio. It holds galleries of images that I want people to see. I believe it shows a good sample and range of my work. This way a prospective bride can become familiar with my style before deciding whether or not to get in touch with me. The website also has information pages; I can have a little bio section as well as pages that hold my pricing info and also an area for brides to get in touch with me.
So here is my website.
I also feel that it is equally important to have a blog. A blog is where you can show all you recent work. You can’t put all of your work on the website because it would just look overloaded with too many images to look at. What you do is put your absolute best images on the website and then all your new work, as and when you shoot it, goes on the blog. Your blog is also SEO friendly as you are constantly updating it with new posts and new keywords which get more and more people coming to view your work.
At this point I’ll be honest and tell you that I get about 4 times as many visits to my blog as I do to my website. This is because the blog has limitless options when it comes to content and therefore keywords for SEO. But I still feel that the website is a must. Although I get 4 times as many visits to the blog, the inquiries I get are easily 90% from the websites contact form and 10% from the blogs contact form.
In my opinion it is vital that the website and blog go seamlessly together. They should look and flow the same. This was a huge factor when it came time to choose my blog platform. Back when I first started the only platform I new about was Blogspot (or Blogger as its also known). I’m not sure if it was a Google company when I first started blogging but it is a Google company now. This initial blog served its purpose but wasn’t super easy to customize if you’re not familiar with coding. And I am not familiar with coding. So I moved over to WordPress. WordPress is easier for people who work in a visual way. You can select templates and change things easily in the admin area as opposed to trying to figure out how to code on the fly. In my view the WordPress platform was just more professional looking and I was happier with how things looked.
After I got my website. I wanted my blog to look exactly the same. And the best way I could think of doing this was with an actual company taking care of it for me. I did some research and I found ProPhoto Blogs. Pro Photo Blogs is basically a plug-in for WordPress that gives you lots of fancy options to make your blog look professional. They don’t do everything for you (there is an option to have someone help you with the instal if you need it) but the tools that they provide make it easy for you to do it yourself!
When Livebooks delivered my website to me, they also sent me a PSD file which had the elements of my site in layered files so that I could use them in different ways. So first of all what I did was upload the background pattern to my blog. This way I had the same clean slate on both platforms. I then took the name style logo that Livebooks had designed for me, reformatted it a little and then uploaded that to the blog too. Next I made sure the colour scheme of oranges and greys continues also. So now the blog and the website look very much the same, not identical, but pretty close. There are companies that will design both for you so that they are identical but that’s just not the route I went.
So, here’s the blog…
In my opinion consistency is key. Another way that I have to keep things looking consistent is a graphic logo. I had a designer make me a little logo in 2008/2009 of a Goose (grown up Gosling if you will) with a camera. I didn’t want this logo to be huge and on the front page of everything. But I do like to use it in subtle small ways.
Here it is in use on the contact page of my website.
And here it is in use on the blog. When I watermark my images before displaying them on the blog I use my logo (with a faded opacity). This way it will hopefully deter people stealing them, or if they do, it makes it hard for them to do it effectively. And also; I get another step of consistency from the website to the blog.
I was trying hard to keep this post about the blog and the website as opposed to about branding but branding does come into it a little. Every piece of info you have out there is all affecting your brand and you do need to keep it consistent. So in another post in the near future I’ll talk a little about my branding. The website and blog will come into that post a little and you’ll be able to see how I try to keep things on a consistent keel.
Another form of consistency is in the site url’s. My company is called Stephen Gosling Photography but i felt that was a little long for a url so I decided to go with www.goslingphotography.com. When I needed a url for the blog I wanted it to make sense and be of the same ilk. I didn’t think it would work as well if I had something like www.stephensphotoblog.com. So I went with www.goslingphotographyblog.com. Its a minor thing but I feel like it helps things look professional and again… consistent!
Here is some info for you; my online businesses presence…
Website – www.goslingphotography.com
Blog – www.goslingphotographyblog.com
Twitter – www.twitter.com/goslingphoto
Facebook Business Page – www.facebook.com/StephenGoslingPhotography
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/goslingphoto