Leverage Your Website: 4 Tips for Strengthening Your Brand

August 20, 2014

As a photographer, your website is your most valuable asset to promote yourself; it is the fastest way for a potential client to a sense of your style, your experience and your brand. As Maren Levinson*, founder of Redeye Reps, puts it: “It’s the single most visible sales tool these days.”

Levinson is an acclaimed authority within the photography community (PDN photo editor Amy Wolff notes, “Everyone wants her to edit their work.”) and her advice for how to utilize your website as both a tool in itself, and the starting point for your overall branding, can be broken down into four things to consider.

1. The First Impression

Levinson says she learns a lot about a photographer’s style and attention to detail based on how he or she presents his or herself online. “The design or template selection should match the esthetic of the photographer or their work,” she explains. “It should be a framework that mimics, complements, supports or plays off the work itself. So, it can be loud and colorful, quiet and elegant or bold and simple, but whatever a photographer chooses, they should choose it thoughtfully and with purpose.”

Squarespace Shortcut: The Style Editor gives you the creative control to personalize each carefully considered template through fonts, colors, layouts and custom CSS to achieve a custom design that’s all your own, all without writing a line of code.

2. Your Website’s Functionality

A good website loads quickly, with clean organization and navigation, and no guesswork involved as to where your contact information is located. Beyond the basics, photographers need to continually update their site design and functionality to stay ahead of the curve. Levinson urges photographers to stand out from the crowd by being amongst the first to adopt new technology and platforms into their online presence. She points out that professional photographers who utilized Instagram early on are “very happy right about now.” All social media pages should be integrated with your website.

Squarespace Shortcut: In addition to using the latest HTML, CSS and Javascript techniques, the site’s reliable cloud infrastructure ensures there is never anything to install, patch or upgrade. Squarespace also offers diverse and powerful social integrations, from Twitter and Instagram to Flickr and Smugmug, that let you connect with your audience everywhere. Each design has also been carefully considered and crafted to make your photos look spectacular on any device.

3. Your Photo Edit & Gallery Organization

Take a critical eye to your work. Levinson says she asks photographers to consider the same question on every image: “Is this a photograph that only I could make?” She says, “Don’t include [a photo] because you think it’s what people want to see. Include the pictures you are most passionate about; the pictures where someone would say ‘that is such a you picture.’”

When organizing your galleries, lead with the group that is the most robust or will have the most impact. She notes that viewers will form an impression of your work from the first gallery, so choose something that represents you and the direction you want to go in. Within each gallery, choose your order carefully. “The first image is the defining image and carries the responsibility of saying what the rest of gallery will be like.” She suggests, “ Start on an upbeat, get into the thoughtfulness and beauty of the series, then end with a contemplative or uplifting punch. There’s a lyricism to it, in the best-case scenarios.”

Squarespace shortcut: Utilize Squarespace’s multiple options for presentation, including full-screen, slideshow and lightbox layout with easy drag-and-drop management, display effects and the ability to mix still, video and audio content within the same gallery. All features can be found here.

4. Align your brand through consistent, thoughtful and personal promotions.

Whoever is viewing your site, your potential clients are “highly visually literate,” says Levinson. They have experience in communications design, creative direction, or photo editing and buying. She emphasizes that these potential clients are looking for someone who can execute their vision, so consistency is the fastest way to gain the trust of creatives. For example, inconsistency in your logo from website to mobile, to book to promo cards, can imply a larger sloppiness towards business practices or quality of imagery. She advises, “Use your branding and presentation to show who you are, not only visually, but as an artist, businessperson and collaborator.”

In her experience, the best promotions are personal: postcards with a strong image, a quarterly newsletter sent out to a list of people you have met (and would have an interest in what you’ve been working on), and custom letters, booklets and print promotional pieces. Avoid impersonal emails, and make sure printed pieces are flawlessly printed. Overall, Levinson says, “Show what makes you exceptional.”

Squarespace shortcut: Create your logo using Squarespace’s custom logo designer and keep continuity across all your marketing. All aspects of your website design will seamlessly transition to any device display.