A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Professional Photography Website for under $100
One of your first priorities in building a photography business is to create a website that showcases your work and provides your prospective clients with all the information they need to hire you. Creating a website is also a cost-effective way to find new clients outside of your network of current clients or social circle.
Unfortunately, there are a ton of options and there is also a lot of technical jargon you need to know in order to start this quest. In addition, price points vary greatly: you could spend anywhere from $0 to $10,000+ on a website.
This post will clear everything up and get you started on the right track.
Today we’ll walk you through creating a professional photography website, from scratch, for under $100. That’s right — under $100! The tools and processes we lay out will get your photography website up and running in a few hours. And no, you do not need web design or development skills.
Let’s get to it.
You need to know the very basics of web development in order to get started. And by basics, we mean the two important actions you need to take before you can set up a website: obtaining a domain and hosting provider.
Choose a Domain Name
You will need a domain name in order to build a website. A domain name or URL is the web address that people use to access your website. For example, the domain name for this site is theluxelens.com.
Here are a few tips on choosing a good domain name for your photography business:
- Use your name because as a photographer, YOU are your business
- Keep the domain as short as possible. You don’t need to add “photography” at the end of it. (If there is someone else with your name who is famous for something else, you can just get a domain with a .photography extension instead of a .com.)
- Do not use hyphens or numbers
Once you settle on a domain name and find it’s available, you can get started on finding a hosting provider. (Note that a hosting provider can also usually register your domain.)
Choose a Hosting Provider
The domain name takes people to your website, which gets hosted on a web server. Your website is basically a bunch of files that people can access online. Hosting is where the files are placed and where they live. So when someone types in your domain name, it sends them to your host server and this is how people will be able to see your website.
How do you pick a good hosting service?
Choosing a good hosting service can be quite confusing if you are new to web development. Here are your 4 main options:
1. Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
This is the recommended hosting option. VPS provides you with more tools and resources than any other hosting option. It costs an average of $25/month, which is a good price point considering what you get: mobile site customization apps, backups, automatic updates and more. We recommend BlueHost, DreamHost, GoDaddy and HostGator as VPS providers.
2. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is only viable if you have plenty of websites that you don’t use. It costs an average of $4 a month and that cost is reflective of the fickle and unreliable service you get.
3. Dedicated Hosting
This type of hosting is for those with extensive knowledge of server technologies or those that manage websites with an extremely high level of traffic. You likely will not need this hosting. If there is a time that you do (when your website becomes tremendously popular) you may need to hire a professional to help you with this option.
4. Managed WordPress Hosting
This is a good option, particularly since WordPress is one of the best content management platforms to build your photography website on. Managed WordPress hosting comes with tools and features to make any WordPress site work optimally. You can manage any WordPress site on a VPS, but managed WordPress hosting is specifically for WordPress sites. That being said, it comes with a few restrictions. Plans start at an average of $4/month.
We recommend going with a VPS hosting provider. However, the two website builders we focus on in this article have their own hosting, so if you choose to go with either, you can get hosting, domain registration, and design templates all in one place.
Choose a Good Content Management System (CMS)
Once you decide on a domain name and a hosting provider, you will need a good content management system or CMS to build your photography website. A CMS is basically a software that enables you to create a website and manage its contents.
As mentioned earlier, they both offer their own domain registration and hosting services, which is helpful if you’re still having trouble deciding on a hosting provider or simply want to keep everything under one platform.
How do you build a website using either of the two platforms? By using themes.
A theme is the design and the decor of your site. Themes are what make a site look both beautiful and professional. In fact, it’s what you were probably thinking of when you were thinking of creating your website.
You simply need to choose a theme on the platform of your choice and you can get your website up and running in a couple of hours.
Let’s go through photography theme options on both platforms.
WordPress Photography Themes
Depending on your WordPress subscription, most quality themes in WordPress will cost you. The average price of quality photography themes is $49 so you can technically build a website today for under $100.
Here are some stunning mobile responsive photography themes we found for you.
Oshine – $49
Oshine is one of the most flexible WordPress portfolio themes for photographers. It has a variety of layouts, unlimited color options and other design features that enable you to create a stunning website.
Jevelin – $59
The Jevelin theme is for photographers that want to create a media-savvy and engaging site. Its easily customizable design elements (from layouts, animations and parallax visual effects) allow you to create a site that best showcases your work and makes it come alive.
Kalium – $60
Kalium stands out as both a photography portfolio theme and an online shop for your photography business. What a lot of users like about Kalium is the ability to make a site truly their own – the powerful portfolio features and configurations enable one to quickly create a unique website.
Soho – $65
Soho features a stunning full screen layout to showcase your portfolio. You can add video and image backgrounds to your homepage and create a visually appealing blog. What we like about this theme is its extensive documentation that teaches you how to use the theme expertly in a matter of hours.
Photocrati – $99
Photocrati is created by photographers for photographers. It is simple yet highly customizable, allowing you to quickly create a sophisticated site. Furthermore, it is currently used by over 18,000 photographers around the world which tells you that the theme is well tested and highly functional.
Photographer – $75
The name says it all. This theme is focused on showcasing images and photos. What we love about this theme is its minimalism which allows your photos to truly stand out. Furthermore, it is quite user-friendly with high page speed loading times.
Tography – $59
Tography is a modern, highly customizable and easy to use theme. It has a lot of photography-specific tools and features that enable you to quickly create a visually stunning website.
Two Fold – $49
TwoFold is a fullscreen photography theme that helps you create a sophisticated website with gorgeous graphics (Light and Dark presentations, photo hover effects and plenty of layout options).
Darkroom – $59
Darkroom is a visually intriguing yet simple theme. It offers a retina full screen experience that supports slideshows and eCommerce.
Foto – $49
Foto is a versatile theme for all photographers. Whether you’re an amateur or professional, you can create a stunning, smooth and highly functional professional photography website. It comes with 15 custom portfolio pages that you can further customize.
Inspiro – $69
Inspiro is a powerful and versatile theme that enables you to switch from a widgetized layout to a blog style layout quite easily. The gallery pages have great layouts that showcase your work without distracting the user.
Dreamscape – $105
Dreamscape is a very expressive yet minimal theme. It offers beautiful and smooth animations that enable your users to interact with your work.
SquareSpace Photography Templates
SquareSpace is arguably one of the most design-centric website builders out there. Their templates are visually stunning and mobile responsive.
You can create a professional and expensive looking site for less than $100 a year. (The template prices are included in the plans.)
Plus, they offer great customer service. We would even go as far as to say that they offer the best customer service of all the web builders out there. You’ll quickly realize how important customer service is once you get your site up and running.
Here are some SquareSpace photography templates we think you’d like.
Avenue has a grid-based layout that beautifully showcases photography and design portfolios. The distinctive feature of this theme is that each page has customizable headers and footers.
Native is quite versatile. It allows you to set up a simple yet striking photography site in a few hours.
Arguably the most popular template on SquareSpace, Bedford offers quite a lot of features to make your photography site stand out.
If you want to create a photography site that is all about visuals and succinct messages, Hayden is the way to go. It utilizes images to separate sections of the homepage, making it an interesting way to highlight multiple facets of your portfolio.
Forte encourages your visitors to delve deeper into your work. Indeed, you can really put your work out there using its full-screen imagery displays.
Flatiron creates an overview of your portfolio and allows users to select which of your projects they want to experience more of.
Wexley presents a mosaic of images to showcase your portfolio. When users click on a specific image, they get a lightbox slideshow that allows them to click through all images on the page.
Ishimoto has a horizontal scrolling gallery and customizable layouts that enable you to create a truly unique website.
Wells is a simple photography portfolio template that makes your work the star of the show. It has a clean and bold design.
Momentum is a full screen, high resolution template that allows you to present your work using a slideshow.
Lange is a photography template that allows you to tell a story. It has full-bleed landing pages and case-study pages that give you complete flexibility. You can guide the user through your work in whatever way you like.
York is another powerful template to tell a visual story with. It has a project page layout that truly stands out and a stacked index landing page.
Artesia is a big bold theme to express your brand with. It is perfect if you have big images that you’d like to showcase with the help of visual effects like parallax scrolling, animations and slideshow effects.
Henson is a striking, out-of-the-box template that allows you to exhibit your work in a unique way. The intro area of your site is big, with a minimal menu and a stacked gallery.
Greenwich is the perfect theme for photographers that want a clean yet fun and user-friendly site. Its scrolling pages are great for users on mobile devices (a majority of your potential clients will be viewing your site on a mobile device).
You have the choice of creating a professional website on your own or hiring a developer to do it for you. Doing it yourself is definitely less expensive; and we hope this post has shown you that it is not as difficult as one might think.
We encourage you to give it a go with your own website. And if you find it too difficult, you can always hire a professional. Either way, you now know the basics of the process.