Essentials of WordPress for Photographers & Their Business

I have been working on a new course on WordPress for photographers which will be released under Photocrati.

So it got me thinking on how much I have already written about WordPress for photographers.

wordpress-for-photographers

I’ve already written about specific themes and plugins.  So in this article, I’m going to talk about some basics, and tips and tricks to help supercharge your photography website.

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WordPress for Photographers: Why

First, why use WordPress for photographers over competitors like Squarespace, Livebooks, Bigfolio, 500px or any other website platform?  Here are some statistics to get that answer rolling in your head.

As of the end of 2012:

  • About 80 million websites are using WordPress
  • WordPress holds about 53.8% of the blogging market
  • There are about 350 million free plugins available for WordPress
  • There are about 50 million free themes available for WordPress

Some additional benefits of WordPress are:

  • Naturally SEO friendly
  • Very flexible in every way you can think of
  • Supported by a huge community ready and willing to help
  • Easy to use and fairly simple to customize or learn
  • It’s 100% free
  • Easy to host

.COM vs .ORG

There is a huge difference between a WordPress.com website and a WordPress.org website.

  • WordPress.com – they host the website for you, and you are limited to what themes, plugins and customizations you can use and do.
  • WordPress.org – software that you install on your own host and the possibilities are endless.

If you don’t need 100% control, then WordPress.com can be a good choice, and you can still use your own domain name.  If you do need or want control over every possible aspect of your website, then using the WordPress.org software is the best choice.

WordPress Hosting Basics

There are six major pieces to consider when you’re picking a WordPress host:

  • Speed
  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Support
  • Tools
  • Price

There are four basic types of hosting accounts to choose from:

  • Shared Hosting – The most common hosting solution where the ost compelling feature is price (it’s cheap). For $10 a month or less, you share a single server with a few hundred other small sites.  Pages will take several seconds to load, and the customer is responsible for keeping a website secure and updated.  If the website gets a major spike in traffic there is a high risk that it may crash.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server) – This one gives you more control over your site with more server resources, since you’re only sharing the server with a few other sites and not hundreds.  Site’s on a VPS can handle higher loads of traffic than a shared hosting account.  The cost of a VPS is typically between $20 and $100 a month, and also require you to perform your own security measures and updates.
  • Dedicated Hosting – If you need complete control over the technical aspects of your hosting, then this is the one for you.  If you understand the technical aspects of servers, then go for it.  However, if you are reading this article it is likely that a dedicated host is not the best choice for you.  These also cost between $250 and $300 a month, to start.
  • Managed Hosting – This is the hosting type I am using.  It also assumes that your site is running on WordPress and managed hosting companies, like WP Engine take care of all the technical details of the hosting and makes sure that your WordPress site is served quickly, usually under a second, and that speed scales with high traffic loads. So if your photograph is featured on the Boston Big Picture, the site will be able to handle all the traffic. WP Engine will also manage the security for you, and automatically update WordPress when the latest version is released. Knowing that your site is being cared for by WordPress hosting specialist means that you don’t have to worry about hackers or security. WP Engine even guarantees their security, and provides backups at no additional charge.

Think about what you need for your WordPress photography website.  The contact each hosting company in consideration and ask questions.  When ready, choose the host that works best for your needs.

Read my article WordPress hosting for photographers to learn more about why I picked WP Engine.

Installing WordPress

Once you have decided on WordPress, it is time to install it – which is fairly straight forward.  In fact, many hosting providers have a one-click installation option so they do the leg work for you.  If not, WordPress installs in 5 minutes or less.  Here is a video that we created a Photocrati, that guides through the installation of WordPress on a typical host.

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10371289" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

It is worth noting, that if you are using a WordPress managed host, like WP Engine (which I am) then WordPress will already be installed for you.

Once you have installed WordPress, you can log in using your newly created user name and password by visiting yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

Digging In

Now that you know why, let’s dig in to some of the basics of WordPress for photographers.

WordPress Themes

WordPress photography themes are the look for your website.  They are where you get your options for color, branding, layouts and core functionality.

When picking a WordPress theme for your photography website, here are some things to look for.

  • Quality support and reviews
  • Designed for you, the photographer
  • Has the flexibility to create your desired look and is easy to customize
  • Is search engine friendly in its core components
  • Has gallery management and multiple gallery styles with eCommerce functions
  • Has some form of social media built-in

For more on themes, read my article WordPress themes for photographers.

Installing Themes

Usually it’s only a few clicks to install a theme.  Sometimes, though, theme developers make it more difficult and require FTP uploading.  However, WordPress has a very easy uploader built-in that handles the job for you.  Here is a video we created a Photocrati that shows how to install the theme.

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10371289" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

WordPress Plugins

Plugins are the tool that you activate on your WordPress site that adds extra functionality to the front or back end.  So, for example, the WordPress gallery plugin that Photocrati develops will provide gallery management and styling functionality to any WordPress theme.  Or maybe you want to add improved or additional SEO functionality to your theme, then there are great WordPress SEO plugins to get that task done.

Here are some other uses for plugins:

  • Security
  • Portfolio enhancement
  • Selling photography
  • Social sharing
  • Contact forms
  • Client proofing
  • Email marketing
  • Site analytics/stats

You get the point, right?  Basically, plugins improve or add specific functionality where WordPress and your theme lack.

For more on plugins, read my article WordPress plugins for photographers.

WordPress Pages

Pages and posts might look like the same thing, but they’re actually very different. Pages are static content, or the information that changes very little.  Typical WordPress pages for photographers might be;

  • A home page with a slideshow of some sort
  • A portfolio page that displays the very best from the photographer
  • An about page that talks about the photographer, the customers and any accolades like testimonials and memberships
  • A services or pricing page that tells a potential customers exactly what they will get
  • A contact page for potential customers to know where the photographer is located and how to get in touch
  • A blog page with educational articles and recent work

Sometimes, photographers taken it a few steps further and create pages for client proofing, eCommerce, legal jargon, partners and more.

It is important to know that what you put in your menu (typically at the top of your website) matters.  Around 24% of visitors will click on your portfolio, and around 12% will click on the blog.  That also shows you how important the two pages are to your website’s success.

Your blog is your everlasting gobstoppertweet this

URLs

To create search engine friendly URLs, visit the Permalinks tab (Settings >> Permalinks) and choose the Postname option.  What this does is make change the URL from yourdomain.com/page123 to yourdomain.com/friendly-url.

Home Page

If you want your home page to be a specific page (like a slideshow), and not a list of blog articles go to the Reading section (Settings >> Reading) and change Front Page Settings to the page you want to be the home link, and Posts page to a new page you created called Blog.

WordPress Posts

Posts are the opposite of pages.  They’re actually blog articles (and I personally think WordPress should rename posts to articles).  These are more urgently created content, like news and workshop announcements.  Posts are also used for sharing educational content with site visitors with hopes to convert them to customers.  Last, but not least, posts are used to share recent work with potential customers.

WordPress Categories

Every WordPress post has category options.  These are typically used for organization of your blog articles.  For example, if you write about a recent wedding session the article can be placed in a Weddings category.  If you are writing about a recent engagement session, the article can be placed in an Engagement category.

WordPress Tags

Like categories, WordPress tags are also used for organization.  However, they are ment to be more specific.  For instance, the location or camera used.  Think of tags like your camera’s meta data.

Pros & Cons

Like all things in life, there are pros and cons to certain things.  With categories and tags, there is an important one that is too often overlooked.  Many themes and photographers display categories and tags within widgets, posts or pages.  The pro to doing this is having your visitors and customers have the ability to easily find content they want without having to search the entire site.  The con to doing this is the amount of internal links that search engines have to look at.  With so many links, it will actually start hurting the website’s search engine rankings.

For anyone really wanting to use the built-in WordPress tags and category lists, try this plugin to implement the nofollow tag automatically so they don’t hurt your search engine rankings.

Ideal categories and tags in WordPress for photographers is as follows:  Use one category for all your articles to keep it simple.  Use tags to detail specific components of your article or photo.  Take advantage of the tags and use a plugin like nRelate (like you see after this article) to share related articles based on tags.

WordPress Galleries

When it comes to WordPress for photographers, there are so many options that a photographer can choose from, to create beautiful galleries for their photographs.  Working for a company who develops a WordPress gallery theme, I can’t stress enough just how important a gallery management system is.  The Photocrati theme has gallery management built-in, which means no plugins are needed to manage, organize and display photographs beautifully.  In addition, the galleries are mobile friendly so every can view them, anywhere and anytime.

If you are using a WordPress theme without gallery management, I recommend using the NextGEN Gallery plugin (mentioned above), which will also provide you with gallery management for your photography portfolio.  In addition to managing your gallery, the plugin:

  • Can implement watermarks automatically so you don’t have to spend the extra time doing it before uploading.
  • Can be uploaded to directly from Lightroom using a 3rd party tool.
  • Can be uploaded to directly from an iOS device using a 3rd party tool.

If for whatever reason you decide to not use a plugin or theme for gallery management, then you can use the default WordPress gallery system, called the Media Library. The built-in tools will enable you to upload many photographs at once, and display them in a grid format.

Learn More

For more on using WordPress for photographers, I recommend the following links:

Please comment below with your questions related to WordPress for photographers and if fitted, I will answer the question by updating this article.  I also plan to keep this article up to date as WordPress changes over time.

I just learned a lot from @scottwyden thanks to his article on WordPresstweet this

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

Scott

supercharge-photography-website

The Supercharge Your Photography Website course is now available on Udemy.

New Jersey Photographer

Thank you for reading the Scott Wyden Imagery blog. I am a Manalapan, New Jersey Photographer sharing my passion for photography any way I can. I am also the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, teaching other photographers on how to increase business with their website.

Join me on Twitter, or Facebook and lets talk photography.

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