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06/30/2012 10:44:59 PM · #1
Hello everyone! Long time no see :-) So probably most of you won't even remember who I am.....but I'm hoping you'll take a moment to help me out.

Last summer my second son was born and I quit teaching preschool to stay home with my kids---and *gulp* started a photography business!

I'm completely redoing my website and I was wondering, if anyone has the time, would you please look it over and give me your honest thoughts? Particularly if you can try to view it from a "client" standpoint. I'm trying to make sure my copy doesn't sound totally lame, etc.

Abbott Images--New site

Please keep in mind that this site is not "live" yet and I'm still polishing it up a bit :-) But I have my "big girl pants" on and am more than happy to hear what anyone has to say.

And one final note: On another photography forum I just joined, one of the photographers had an issue with my use of "affordable" in conjunction with custom photography. And from a photographer's standpoint I can totally see where she's coming from. But photographers don't pay me for my photos :-) My clients do! So, if you're a client--do you find the word "affordable" to be a turn off? Or to signal a lesser quality product?

Thank you so so very much from the bottom of my heart in advance! This is a LONG TIME dream for me and it's been going pretty well this last year!!
And I can TRULY say that being a member at DPC here has been an immensely valuable experience. There is so much to learn here from so many fantastic people!
06/30/2012 11:39:45 PM · #2
The first thing that I notice, I am on 30MB cable internet, and the site loaded extremely slow, as do the images and anything I click on takes forever. Not sure if because the site isn't live, or if there is an issue with your provider, but I nearly closed it because it wouldn't load.

The images seem fine, but there are too few examples in each category for me to get a feel for if I would hire you or not.

BTW Congrats on the business and the babies.

Matt
06/30/2012 11:47:13 PM · #3
Matt, that's fantastic info, thank you.

I've felt like it's been loading a little slowly for me too but I thought that's maybe because I'm coming at it from the Admin panel. I'll talk to my service provider and also take a look at what I can do on my end.

And I'm still working on a couple of the portfolio galleries--I have the photos to fill them in those cases, and am trying to get them up now.

Probably my most sparse galleries are Babies, Love Stories, and Birthdays. Would you recommend I leave those off my website until I have a larger portfolio built up in those areas?
07/01/2012 07:33:34 AM · #4
alright, elizabeth! welcome to the party :D

i'm willing to bet your sluggishness is coming from having a wordpress.com site. that site is geared towards hosting traditional bloggers and is not highly optimized towards "photo" blogging or hosting a photographer's business site.

however, wordpress itself is a great platform for just about any type of site, including supporting your photography business. all you need is to find a host (i've been using bluehost for years), create a new wordpress installation, export your .com site (using the admin tools), and then import it into your new site.

with your own hosted site, you are virtually unlimited as to how much customization you can do. you'll have access to many more themes, plugins, and tools, as well as much more support. you'll also be able to fine-tune your site for speed and SEO. even though it may take a little more work, you can make your site stand out from the one-size-fits-all sites.

as a rule of thumb, 12-15 images per gallery is a minimum. you want to show enough unique imagery that your visitor will get a sense of versatility and range without becoming bored. if you don't have enough good stuff in a particular portfolio, don't highlight that. if you need more stuff and want to kick things off quicker, consider throwing a shootfest some weekend morning. no sitting fee, discounts on prints, all in return for model releases. do this a few times and you'll quickly have your gallery images, as well as bucket load of contacts for future business and referrals. you'll not just get images and exposure, but you'll also get a lot of practice!

regarding your current site, it's a nice site, a good start. here are a few things i noticed:

* in your referral program, make sure it is understood that you'll give the credit for new *paying* clients, not just leads.
* if possible, turn off the exif extraction in your gallery; you don't need to tell people what gear you use.
* in your clients section, make sure the client is ok with you publicly posting their gallery; otherwise, password protect it.
* along these lines, the upper limit on a gallery is in the 25-30 image range. go for less if the images are very similar, use more if you have a lot of people involved and/or a bigger story to tell.
* don't try to make a client gallery do double duty as both a marketing gallery and a shoot preview gallery. prospects and clients are different audiences with different needs.

one other thing i noticed was your file naming. the standard is date-job-sequence. you can use a 2 or 4 digit year. i recommend either underscores or hyphens in job names, rather than spaces, because the internet does not like spaces. i also recommend a 4-digit sequence number because you never know... so, instead of philips42 you might have 120520-philips-family-portrats-0042. that would be your original; you can append suffixes for your various edits (-lowres, -print-ready, -bw, etc.).

hope this helps. good luck!

Message edited by author 2012-07-14 04:15:33.
07/01/2012 08:25:04 AM · #5
The slowness is a real problem, and I can guarantee that if yours was one of a few sites in the area in which I was looking, I wouldn't have persevered.

One thing I noticed was this sentence: 'Over the years Iíve had a good smattering of cameras, but I got my first DSLR in 2005. And if it was easy to lose track of film rolls, I donít think anyone was prepared for the number of digital photos I took!' - it comes across to me as relating to an enthusiastic amateur, and not the professional you are and are marketing yourself as, particularly in this age when every other family seems to have a DSLR. How about something along the lines of 'I have been a keen photographer for may years, finally making the move from film to digital in 2005'?

On the Babies and Children gallery pages you have 14 photos displayed - I would go for 15 so that there isn't an empty square. I like the square crop of the thumbnails, but the section of each photo that is displayed isn't always the best, particularly in some of the group ones - are you able to adjust this?

I think you have a typo - 'cloths for you to choose from' should be clothes?

The pricing details are a little sparse - family photography is not a big thing in the UK, although becoming more popular, so it may be that your clients will already know what to expect, but if I ws looking for a photographer I would want to get a better idea of what I would be letting myself in for money wise.

On the positive - easy to navigate, clear where everything is, fresh looking, and well-written.
07/01/2012 08:59:01 AM · #6
How about change the word affordable to "competitive". Also when the site goes live, are you going to keep the ".Wordpress" I'd suggest splurging the few extra bucks for own domain. If you want to be a pro, you need a pro domain.

the site seems to load sort of fine for me. Maybe a bit slow, can you use smaller images?

I would remove thevwhole "client" section. It serves no real purpose, you have a guestbook and a blog and a portfolio. If this section is for clients to view proofs, state so, otherwise remove the whole thing.

Also you say in a roundabout way to started going pro after you had your baby. Don't. You want to distance yourself from that. I struggled with same issues of being personable. I ultimately decided not to. Yu have a good portfolio, use your images to sell yourvwork., not your Bio. Be professional and stay professional. If people are impressed by your work, don't make them second guess that when reading your Bio.

Message edited by author 2012-07-01 09:13:24.
07/01/2012 05:47:48 PM · #7
Wow, thanks everyone! Ok, I'm going to try and address all of your wonderful suggestions.

I do have my own domain at abbottimages.com. I've been building this WordPress one on the side at a "secret" address so that my current site is still available. I'll switch it over to the proper domain name as soon as I feel it's ready to go live. So it sounds like that might solve some of the speed issues? Because I agree, clients aren't going to stick around for a slow site--I don't!

Skip-Thanks for the tip on the referral wording. I will definitely change that to be more clear. In regards to EXIF extraction, are you talking about the photo titles? I haven't had the chance to change them all yet and do the SEO. That's part of why it's not live yet :-) But if it's something else you mean--could you elaborate? Because yes, I don't feel the need to broadcast my equipment. I do have the ability to do password protected galleries, though I haven't had any need for it yet--but I offer it to all my clients. The gallery that's up is a bit of a "test" gallery. And thank you for the tip on the file names!

SaraR-Thank you thank you for your tip about the wording on the About Me. Lord, but I have writing about myself and I always feel like it never comes off well. I like your suggestion much better! Just the advice I needed! The square crop is the default and as far as I've learned so far, I can't reposition it--which is a bit of a stinker because I agree with you. I'm going to look into customizing the thumbnail size and see if that helps. Perhaps I should change cloths to "fabrics" as I mean fabric meant for backdrops or wraps. in a newborn shoot. What other details would you be looking for in regards to pricing? I've had a couple of other comments about that and I'm not sure if it's being obscured by being too simple. There's my Session Fee and then clients can choose whatever prints they like (they all receive a Prints & Products brochure in their Welcome Kit before their session)....and that's it really. But if that's unclear I need to change it. Or do you think it would be wise to make my Prints & Products brochure available online?

Mike, "competitive" is not a bad suggestion! The Clients section is for clients to view their proofs online when necessary--but thank you for letting me know that's not as clear as it should be. Maybe calling it Client Proofs is better? And thank you VERY much as well for the Bio advice. I really wish I could just get someone else to write that for me. I will look over and re-work that whole section.

I have to admit, that's one of the things I'm struggling most with--that fine line between being "personable" and "professional." Because, of course, everyone says you should be both! :-) Sometimes I feel like I go too far to the "professional" and get boring, so I think I was overcompensating for that.
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