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Monday, April 7, 2014

Your Studio Online

Free and paid services to create your portfolio website

WordPress is a powerful and free system for building a custom website. Ready-made themes will get you up and running quickly.

For photographers who want to earn money with their craft, a presence on the web isn't really optional anymore. Whether you're photographing neighbors and friends for extra income or making a serious push to go pro with stock licensing and such, a website of your own should be considered an absolute necessity.

You literally can launch and add your first post to a Tumblr blog in just a few minutes—no experience necessary. Like WordPress, Tumblr supports themes to easily customize the look of your blog and transform it into a contemporary portfolio. Tumblr also gives you the option of using your own domain for your Tumblr, all for free.
Registering your personal domain is the best money you can invest in your web presence. A personal domain is important for a few reasons. First, it makes you look legit—sending someone to a Flickr account just doesn't leave the same professional impression. Secondly, it will be easier for potential customers to remember and share, and will look better on business cards or other marketing material.

Registration fees are typically less than $20 per year, and once you have your domain, you can either build a website hosted at that domain or use the domain to forward visitors to another service (more on this later). Note that hosting costs are in addition to domain registration fees.

The obvious choice is to register your name or the name of your studio as the domain. If you're lucky, your name will still be available. If not, you can add something like "photography" to the end, e.g., susansmithphotography.com.

There are a gazillion ways to stake out your corner of the web. Here are a few that I'm likely to recommend if a friend asks me.

Facebook. Facebook Pages have become popular lately for promoting local businesses. You can create one in just a few clicks at facebook.com/pages/create. This is something I would recommend doing, even if you plan to build a full-featured website, because it has the social-sharing aspect built in. This is a place where you can post outtakes from a recent shoot, with the possibility that your clients and fans will share the post with their friends—essentially, free advertising. If you do nothing else on the web, at least do this. If you registered a personal domain, you can work with your domain registrar to automatically redirect visitors from your domain to your Facebook Page.


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