Shutterbugs, freelancers and photojournalists! Do you know the best options for photo hosting and building your photography website right now?
Common Question by Photographers:
“How do I create a professional looking photography website where I can feature my work, photos or even sell them? I do not have the budget yet to pay a web designer.”
How to Build a Photography Website
If you do not want to hire a web developer which may cost thousands, but still want a website that looks professional, then you have two (2) major strategies to choose from. You can either get a solution-as-a-service photo hosting (SaaS). The popular ones are Zenfolio and Smugmug. The other option is to use WordPress to build your own website, on a full-fledged web hosting service. You will have full control of your website and profit more with the later, although a little bit more work has to be put in.
Strategy #1: Use an All-In-One Photography Website Builder
If you do not want to go near a whole new playing field of website development, then a solution-as-a-service such as Zenfolio is what you want. If you do not care about some fees and percentage your hosting company will take from your photo sale, then you can try Zenfolio and many others such as Wix, Weebly, Smugmug, SiteWelder, PhotoMerchant, LiveBooks, and Foliolink. If you just need a portfolio website but do not want to sell your photos online, then you can opt for site builders like Jimdo.
I prefer Zen Folio over other alternatives including Smugmug. Zenfolio is very easy, very manageable, much faster than smugmug. Other than because of the higher price tag at Smugmug, many people do not like Smugmug galleries because they are too slow.
You can use this link for FREE TRIAL. No credit card required. Click here to get your own website up and running today.
Why Zenfolio? What I like most is even the Basic level subscription provides 2GB of storage to start with and another 1GB for every year plus everything needed to upload, organize and present photos.
This particular option will save hours of education that it takes to become a web developer, while allowing you an impressive degree of freedom and customization on an ongoing basis. If you are just looking for a fast way to share photos online with your potential customers after a shoot, and allow them to purchase photos online, go for this option. If you are just a leisurely shutterbug who just want a basic website to send clients to, then this is surely your best solution.
Strategy #2: Build a Website using a WordPress Photography Theme
This is the option where you first get a web hosting account from a website hosting company such as Hostgator. Then you install a content-management system such as WordPress. Lastly, you configure your website which includes choosing one of the professional photography themes.
This may sound like a lot of work, but actually it is quite straightforward. Only minimal programming knowledge is needed to get started and if you get stuck help is available from either the WordPress forums or your web hosting live chat. It is useful (but not essential) to know HTML and CSS to be able to modify the layout.
There are a wide choices of website hosting services these days but you want the best hosting company at the right price. We have used Hostgator for almost 9 years and we are still very happy with their fast customer support and unbelievable uptime. We have tried some other 8 hosting services but HG is simply amazing. If you are unsure if this option can meet your requirements, or you have specific question, try the Live Chat at HG. They are available for sales, billing or even technical support for 24/7 at no extra charge. You can also try Hostgator for almost free.
What are the benefits of having your own hosting account, you may ask?. Here are four (4) reason that sets it apart from the former strategy:
- At Zenfolio and the rest of the Saas options, you have to pay 12% fee when you sell products from partner labs, pay 4% fee when you self-fulfill your own orders, and pay 8% fee when you sell digital products. If you host your own website, you pay nothing from your sale (as oppose to the first option above)
- Unlimited storage space not only for your photos, but everything else related to your business (including PDFs, presentations, videos, raw images, designs, digital products)
- You can host more domain names (even for your wife, family and friends)
- The all-in-one photo hosting service from the first option above can hike up the fees and percentages as much as they want and at any time they wish (just like what Smugmug did). However, with a website on your own hosting account, your cost is minimal, i.e you pay only for the web hosting cost which is only about $10/month.
Decided on hosting your own photography website? You can save some dollars using the coupon below.
p.s: If you need more WordPress photography themes, check out this 17 Best WP Photography Themes.