Building Your Website:
If you are a photographer, you need an online photography portfolio website. I’ve said this over and over in the podcast because I want to encourage you to get your work out there. It will make you better, it can open doors and its fun! If you are just an amateur, its an impressive way to get the photos from your best friend’s wedding, or photos of your kids for the grandparents to see online quickly. If you’re a pro or an aspiring pro, you’ll need the site to get client work.
Creating a website is really easy and fast if you know what you’re doing. First you need a content management system – this makes updating your website really easy to do. I recommend WordPress. I use it for almost all of my own projects and it is both FREE and open source. There is a strong community around WordPress and my top two reasons for using it are 1) security and 2) search engine optimization. You don’t have to do the work because the incredible developers at WordPress have already done it. This save you time and lets you concentrate on making remarkable photographs to show.
In this video – I will show you exactly what you need to get up and running fast with an online photography portfolio.
Slowed down now here’s how to do everything step by step.
Building Your Online Photography Portfolio
I know I was cranking in the video, mainly to show you how easy everything is to get going. Here is the step by step process for you to get your website up quickly.
Tools You Need:
1) A Web Host
2) A Domain Name (yoursite.com)
4) A WordPress Theme
Set up a hosting account and domain
The first step is to set up a hosting account. There are a million hosting services out there, but the one I recommend for starting a website is Bluehost.com. I’ve started using them for some of my own websites because they offer the best support, no contracts, an anytime money back guarantee and by far the best pricing around.
Please note – the links to Bluehost on this site are affiliate links. I get a kickback if you sign up for hosting. I recommend them only because I think they are a great service. Plus, if you do use the links on this site, you will be supporting all of the work I’ve done on this website and it allows me to keep making free tutorials and podcast episodes for you. I’m very serious about recommending only services that I think are good for you as a photographer, Bluehost fit that bill.
There are other places offering domain names, but as you saw in the video – I can do that with Bluehost as I’m getting my account. This is easy because it takes care of two things at one time.
Once you are on the BlueHost website, I did the following in the video above:
1) Click “Sign Up Now”
2) I selected “I Need a Domain Name” and registered tedforbesphoto.com – note that if your domain is taken, Bluehost will put another few steps in to help you find another domain.
3) Fill out your account information, credit card information and agree to the terms of service
4) You will be offered some paid add ons. These are optional and certainly not required. I skipped all of them on this page
5) Your account is now set up and you’ll need to select a password and PIN number
6) Now you’ll be prompted to log into the system and identify your site this will log you into cPanel. cPanel is where you can control anything related to your web hosting including email setup and anything else you want to do.
7) On the cPanel interface – scroll down to the “Site Builders” section and select WordPress
8) Select install
9) It will ask you where you want to install WordPress – I left this blank as WordPress will control my entire website.
10) I de-selected options to install Cashie Commerce, the SmallBiz theme and Wiziapp as we won’t need any for the website. You can install them later if you really want one of them.
11) Agree to the GPLv2 license and click next – you can watch the progress bar as WordPress installs.
12) You will be given your WordPress login and links to the main website and admin sections. Go ahead and log in – you’re done!
Another Reason to Love Bluehost
Update: I got a call the day after I made this video from Bluehost. They were calling to verify my site and asked if everything went okay/could they help me at all. Folks – this is excellent customer service. They didn’t just take my money – they actually called me to see if they could help! I’ve had hosting companies that are hard to get a hold of even when something goes wrong. Bluehost called me on day 1 just to check. Outstanding customer service.
Get Your WordPress Theme
There are literally thousands of themes pre-written for use in WordPress and many are free. Personally I recommend that you get one that’s suited for setting up a portfolio. Regular “blog” themes are fine, but they typically don’t support the visual based look and feel you’ll want to have for a photography website.
I’ve been using WordPress since it came out in 2003 (I used Movable Type before that and I’ve hand coded websites as well). I’ve coded my own themes, downloaded free ones and I’ve purchased pay themes as well. A while back I found a company called ThemeTrust who I simply love. I’ve bought almost all of their themes to date and I highly recommend them. They really are the best themes suited for a photography portfolio.
What makes ThemeTrust so great? First, they are optimized for portfolio sites. You can do a blog too, but they can handle showing your work (most free blog themes aren’t set up for this). They are beautifully designed and I feel they are very fairly priced. Often they will have a 2-for-1 special which allows you to get 2 themes and figure out which works best for your site. And most importantly – they are all coded for “responsive” web design. This means they will adapt the layout for desktop, iPad and smartphone. About 10 percent of my viewers are on a mobile device and its important to make my work look good on whatever its being shown on.
My favorite theme is Hero. Go check out the demo and resize your screen if you’re on a desktop or laptop. You’ll see how the responsive thing works. Most of their themes are responsive and this is definitely the way to go. You can customize all the colors, as well as the look and feel.
I also really like ThemeTrust for their licensing. You can purchase one theme and use it on as many sites as you like as long as you don’t give it away to someone. And its a GPL license which means you can use it for both personal and a business. This means you can sell on your website – stock photos or even prints. I think you get a lot for your money with ThemeTrust.
So here you go – as a bonus I’ve created 2 more videos for setting up Hero and another on plug-ins and optimizing your setup.