7 Ways To Create Trust On Your Site and Increase Your Image Sales

What makes you buy from a company? You can probably think of a variety of reasons you shop with the companies you do. Yet if you look at all of them together to find a common thread, chances are you’ll come up with the term “trust”. You would never invest your time or your money in a company you didn’t trust first.

As a photographer, many of your connections will come from your online presence. Your prospects may see your work for the very first time online; their friends and family may order photographs from you without ever stepping foot in your office.

Trust can be earned in a variety of ways. Yet here are the easiest and most effective ways to get started today.

1. Be clear and concise

When I was in college, a teacher had us write up a step-by-step blueprint to help an “alien” start a car. The “alien” would be someone not from this planet, someone that had no idea what a car was or how it worked. Then she read some of them aloud.

Those instructions were amazing. Some people would say things like “put key in and turn”. What is a key? And where does it go? It taught me a valuable lesson: never assume the person reading your information knows what you know. Don’t leave anything out.

Your site is designed to provide information, and without knowing who might be reading it, the more information the better. I’ve chatted with people who want to include a paragraph or two on every page they create, leaving them to view images instead. But if you don’t explain what you want or what they should do next, they really may overlook it.

2. Testimonials

Never brag about your own products and services – let others do it for you. In today’s world, you can get testimonials in a variety of ways – in person, in video, email, Facebook and Twitter. Combine a quote with a photograph, a name, a company, a web address, or some other identifying information. The more the better.

Also, make the testimonial match your content rather than putting them all on one page. If someone is reading about wedding photography, a testimonial from a recent bride is the perfect addition to that page.

3. Verification signs

Anyone can put up a “Voted Best Photographer 2010” banner. What matters is where its from and how it connects to you. Don’t just add erroneous banners; link them to showcase what the award means. Also add in other signs you are a legitimate business – security, credit card acceptance, VeriSign and more.

4. Photographs

Photographers love showcasing their work – yet have a much harder time showcasing themselves. On your about us page and sprinkled through your site, show people how you work by using photographs of you. Whether you hire a professional, use an assistant, or trade services with another professional, its just as important and easy for you to have great photographs as it is for other business owners. [Read more…]

Get To The Sale … Now

“I’m so excited about my photography business. But I have so much to do. My website is anything but perfect. I have a few images but I know I need more. I talk about my services, yet its pretty generic. There are so many details to think about. I know it will be a while before I get it to where I want it to be. When I hear people actually sell things through their websites I’m amazed. How do they do that? It will definitely be a while for me.”

Sound familiar?Photography Sale

For many photographers, its easy to put up a simple website. With just a few pages to fill, its usually fairly easy to put something together to show the world.

But how do you make the transition from simple website to selling machine?

Its not as difficult as you think.

In fact it only requires one thing: action.

Yep, you simply have to offer something for sale. That’s it.

If you want to sell your photography as artwork, it can be as simple as putting an order button below the image on your website, or starting up an account on a place like Etsy.

Dig Deeper: Can You Still Use Etsy For Making Money With Your Photography?

If you want to sell the service of photography, its as simple as describing what you do, what you have to offer, and an order button to complete the transaction.

Dig Deeper: How To Book Clients Without The Face To Face Consultation

That’s it.

Sounds easy enough, right? [Read more…]

7 Things To Think About Before You Host Your Site

It’s time for a new website. And if you’re thinking of doing some of the work yourself, you’ll have to invest in a great hosting company. Before you make your selection, remember all hosting companies ARE NOT created equally. Yes they pull you in with those low, low prices and those great sounding guarantees. But if you get with the wrong company, you may wind up paying the price down the road.

Before you make your selection, keep these things in mind.

What are the contract terms?

A hosting company may wave great prices in front of you. Yet in some cases it may come with the condition of hosting with them for a set amount of years. Do you really want to be tied in with a company for an extended period of time? Especially if you are new to this company and have no idea how reliable they are and if you will truly be getting quality hosting?

Do they provide you with backup?

Yep, stuff happens all the time. Networks can be hacked, power failures can wipe out data, a fire could start, or someone may press a wrong button. Uh oh. There goes all of your work and data. A great hosting company thinks about those things too. They make sure your data is backed up at on and offsite locations. (That doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t do your own backups on a regular basis.)

Are they a reliable company?

Before you go with a hosting company, make sure they will be there for you. Do a Google search and look at ratings. A site that is planning for the future will be out there and have reviews not just on their site, but will be on other sites as well. While you will always be able to find some type of negativity about almost all companies, it is important to find one that has a positive future.

What details do they offer?

Every hosting plan comes with a variety of details. Make sure you look at the 3 big ones – bandwidth, memory and disk space. You may also want to check on other features for future growth, such as programming language support, email accounts, server operating systems, etc. If you will be working with WordPress, we have found cPanel is one of the easiest ways to get your site online – its highly worth it as its “push a button” technology. Also consider if you will be integrating other features in the future, such as shopping carts, credit card transactions, and other secure data. [Read more…]

How To Book Clients Without The Face To Face Consultation

I recently had a question come through on a post – What Are You Selling On Your Website?

“Thank you for the info here. How would you go about creating a call to action for a product not yet created? For example, how would one get a client to book or purchase a package through a website without a consultation? I’ve struggled with this concept and would really appreciate your perspective.”

Really there are two answers to this question. You need both in order to complete a sales process online.

1. Content

2. Action

Lets start with content.

The one thing I write on probably more than any other topic is content. And in many ways, I’m showing you how to do it by actually doing it.

If you’ve spent time on this site, you know there is a huge amount of content – hundreds and hundreds of posts for you to search through and learn from. If you come in and read a post and like it, I’ll lead you to more content in a variety of ways. I love using Dig Deeper’s:

Dig Deeper: Why Every Small Business Owner Must Now Be A Content Provider

At the end of each post you’ll find additional posts related to the content you’ve just read:

And of course you can always head back up to the navigation and find specific information on just about anything related to building a photography business.

By reading content, we’re developing a relationship. You read and learn. And hopefully trust me to continue providing quality content that can given to you in a variety of ways. Including some things for sale.

The same applies to your prospects and customers. [Read more…]

What Are You Selling On Your Website?

Why do you have a website?

That may seem like a trick question. Yet it’s a question most people don’t think about. They build a website because you have to have one in today’s world to run a business. But they never give it much thought. So take a few minutes now and think about why you have one.

Is it to find clients online – people you would never meet up with in your local community?

Is it to provide a brochure for people that you hear about you and want a little more information?

Is it to sell your photography?

Your website isn’t a one-purpose marketing tool. Instead it’s a multipurpose resource that can provide you with many different opportunities … if you plan and use it correctly.

What did you list as your reasons for having a website? Once you write down your ideas, its time to head over to your website to see if it really provides a strong resource for your ultimate goal. Let me give you an example. [Read more…]

Thinking of Updating Your Website? Ask These 3 Questions First

What’s on your to-do list this year for your business? Have you decided to update your current website and give it a fresh new look?

Before you take any action, keep these three things in mind.

1. Who visits your website?

How did you design your current website? Chances are you found a designer ( or did it yourself), used a template or theme that was suggested to you, added your colors and style, and put information in much like everyone else does. In other words, your site probably looks like everyone else’s with little thought as to why it ended up that way.

Its an easy trap to fall into. And while it may seem logical to fill a website with information about you and conform with the industry standard, that may not be the best thing for your business.

Businesses have different goals and different clientele. They have different demographics and different ways of connecting with visitors. And without taking that into consideration when you design, you’re leaving out a lot of opportunity. [Read more…]

Are You Building Trust Through Your Website?

I love marketing. I love seeing how other people put together campaigns. And because of it I follow a lot of people online to see what they will do next.

About a year ago I was introduced (through an online newsletter) to a woman who has a huge following online. So I started following her. And I really like her style. I love how she has set up her website, how she communicates with her fan base, and how she makes her offers.

But there is something else. I don’t like her as a person. At all. We don’t have the same beliefs or the same ethics. Some of the things she talks about actually gets me riled up in the mornings.

And yet she is busier today than when I first started following her a year ago. Why? Because she is true to herself and isn’t afraid to communicate heart and soul to her followers.

When you head over and read her site and blog posts, she is an authentic person, meaning she tells you exactly what she believes. She mixes personal ideals with her business strategies all the time. You not only get to know her business, but you also really get to know her as well. And I know if you have the same beliefs as her, you end up feeling connected almost immediately.

“That’s me.”

“She’s speaking directly to me.”

“She so gets what I’m feeling.”

Yep, she’s heard all of that and more. (She posts testimonials so I know what people are saying.)

Both online and off, being true to yourself means you’ll resonate with others as well. Think about your hot buttons and the things you love and support. If I say “National Rifle Association” or “Greenpeace” I’m sure your mind automatically begins churning things over. You may be passionate one way or the other on these topics. And if we get into politics, I’m sure the opinions would really fly.

Yet when you’re with a group of people that you “gel” with, you let your guard down. You know you can speak freely because they have the same opinions as you. And even if they vary in small degrees, there is still enough common ground that you can remain great friends.

And no matter what beliefs you have, wouldn’t you rather work with “friends” than with people you really don’t agree with?

So why not show your true colors? Yes, you have to draw your line in the sand and only talk about online what you truly want other people to know about. But if you create content, develop your marketing and your services around what you do and love, others will pick up on it. If you show your true personality in all that you do, your prospects and clients will love you all the more.

They want to work with a friend, not a business owner.

They want to feel like you truly get them, and aren’t just handing them something so you can make money.

A Guide To Optimizing Your Website For Mobile Use

How are your potential customers finding you online? Are they sitting down at their desktops, searching sites like Google? Or are they sitting in a coffee shop, searching from their mobile devices?

As the amount of mobile devices continues to grow, so does the need for mobile friendly websites. You can’t expect your graphically enhanced site to appear the same way on an iPhone or Android, and Flash sites simple don’t work. The last thing you want is your potential customer looking for you, and all that comes up is a “non-compatible” sign. That’s like saying, “I don’t want your business.”

Dig Deeper: Love Your iPod iPhone or iPad? Not with a Flash Website

But simply taking your existing website, and converting it into a mobile friendly site may not get you the results you are looking for. Searching on mobile devices is continuing to grow as technology improves, yet people aren’t searching in the same ways they do for conventional sites. Therefore its essential to think SEO for both your traditional sites, and for your mobile sites in slightly different ways.

Shorter Keywords

When a person sits down at a desktop computer, they have a full sized keyboard, and are usually dedicating a fair amount of time to find what they are looking for. They are willing to type out keyword searches again and again until they find what they are looking for, lengthening what they are searching for each time. Since mobile devices are used for more on-the-go functions, people aren’t as patient with their searching. With the smaller keyboards and smaller screens, people want to find what they are looking for in the quickest way possible. [Read more…]

How Google Analytics Can Help You Grow Your Business

Want to know how your site is doing? Don’t guess at it. Instead, use one of the best free tools available today.

Google Analytics is a simple plug and play program that you can attach to your site or your blog, and will instantly give you information about how well your site is doing. It is simple enough that even the most novice of business owners can gain important information about their sites, and complex enough to give you sophisticated insight into how you can improve and grow your business even more.

You can find out where people are coming from, what they are doing once they get onto your site, and what was the outcome of people being on your site. You can build customized reports to gain the exact information you are looking for. You can track campaigns and keywords, and find out exactly what is motivating people to take action on your site. And so much more. There really are ways of tracking just about everything using this free tool.

Can you operate a website without Google Analytics? Of course. But with just a little insight into how efficiently your website is running, you can make changes and additions that will make it that much more effective.

Everyone knows that in order to succeed online, you have to gain traffic to your site. Analytics can help you track the type of traffic coming into your site and how effective it is. Let me give you some examples.

Quality versus Quantity

Are you getting thousands of hits per day on your site? Is that good?

If you sell 100 percent natural beef steaks and you have 100,000 hits per day, that sounds like great traffic. Unless all 100,000 of those visitors are vegan. With Analytics, you can see what your referring sites are, and track the number of people coming from each site. You can see how many people come in on a page, and how many leave without visiting any other place on your site. You can find out how many pages people click to after they enter your site, and the general direction they take – which pages have the highest view rates and which have the highest leaving rates. While this doesn’t provide exact information on a persons thought patterns, it can be insightful as to what material means the most. When patterns develop, you can quickly see what is missing and where you can fill in the blanks. [Read more…]

Building an Awe-Inspiring Online Portfolio in 5 Easy Steps

Building a portfolio is easy. There are hundreds of free tools available that allow you to throw together a few photographs, and use that to show your work to potential customers.

The hard part is making it good.

A great portfolio does more than just showcase your work. It converts visitors from lookers into paying clients. It allows them to not only see what you do, but become so motivated by it that they can’t help but take the next step.

And best of all, to be a truly spectacular online portfolio, it must also help you put everything together quickly and efficiently, giving you more time to do what you love.

How do you know where to start? Lets walk through 5 steps that will help you put the whole thing together

Start With A Question

Let me ask you a question. How would you define the word “portfolio”?

In many cases, a photographer will say their portfolio is a gallery of their best images, ready to showcase the work they’ve completed for other customers.

And I would agree – that’s the starting definition. But it’s truly more than that. A portfolio is a collection of creative works that are used to showcase your skills, and hopefully motivate the viewer with enough information they agree to buy.

Using that definition, your portfolio becomes more than just your gallery of images. It becomes the entire presentation you use within your online presence to motivate and showcase who you are, in hopes they move to the next step.

So in order to build a truly awe-inspiring portfolio, you have to ask yourself:

What do people truly need from my portfolio in order to move from looker to client? [Read more…]