I'm going to close out this week with one last post about marketing, specifically, the marketing of your website.
Having a website is perfect for photographers, as we are visual artists and get to setup shop in a visual market place.
But I won't be talking about marketing to clients, I'm talking about marketing your website to search engines, because they will be the first ones who'll see it, and if they don't like what they see, no one else (other than your friends) will see it either.
Success is work, it's preparation, it's understanding what you are doing and doing it well.
Though having your site setup correctly for search engines AND visitors is important as all get out, the search engine part is "overlooked" because it's boring (almost mind numbing), behind the scenes work.
Too often we are concerned with "pretty" and "shiny". A website is not one of those "build it and they will come" scenarios.
Sure there are those who are "discovered" and experience great success, but for every one of those there a hundred others who will forever wallow in obscurity.
If you don't plan for success, you're planning for failure.
Your website design is more than picking out what images you are going to use, it's understanding the environment.
It's knowing that the search engines will "spider" your website and if you don't have meta tags they will have no idea who you are and what you do. It would be like going to a job interview with a resume that was simply a blank piece of paper. You aren't going to get the job.
If you have a website you should know what keywords are and why your site should be designed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
One rule that is more important to us as photographers is to correctly name images because we use so many to market ourselves, and not naming images correctly is probably the biggest missed opportunity for boosting search engine rankings.
Which is better, Logo.jpg or Scott_Eccleston_Photography.jpg?
Search engines can't "read" graphics, nor does DSC_0142.jpg (or Logo.jpg) mean a thing to them, but Kennebunkport_Wedding.jpg or Wedding_Photographer.jpg sure does.
Here are some of the reasons for naming your images with keywords that relate to your business:
1. many folks use Google image search to find what they are looking for
2. the image name becomes visible when a mouse passes over the image
3. the image name appears whenever the image fails to load
4. the latest HTML specs require that images have an Alt tag
You should read this article for more on image optimization.
Okay, okay, I will stop before you drive that pencil into your eye.
In closing let me say that just because it needs to be done you don't need to do this yourself. You wouldn't re-wire your own home or install a furnace yourself, you just need to know it has to be done and have a qualified person do it.
The same applies to setting up your website correctly.
Go big, or go home (it makes me feel so macho to use sports metaphors).