When I fired up my first website in 2012, it was the most fun thing ever! My own little nook on the web? Yes, please! What I didn’t know: all the pretty-theme picking, logo designing, formatting just-the-way-I-like-it motions were actually self-sabotaging my website. I’m here to help you consider how your website is perceived by your potential clients.
Specifically, how to use your site to attract your best clients while maintaining your little nook on the web as a creative outlet that’s all yours.
Where do websites go wrong?
My story is the same story I see over and over again (and I’ve reviewed hundreds of websites). My site was standard:
- home page
- about page
- investment page
- and blog posts showcasing my work – personal stories, client sessions and the occasional 5 Tips on How to Photograph Your Kids type posts.
The website’s purpose was to exude my talent and session offering. If the site was spot on to my voice, then my dream “right” clients would land on the site, breathe in that air like a pheromone giving them this “I need more” feeling… prompting them to click through to the Contact Form.
Seems intuitive, right?
People want to know what they’ll get out of working with you, so filling a site with the images YOU perceive as your voice and all the pricing + packaging information seems logical.
This methodology is good IF they’re actively on the hunt to hire a photographer.
But what if they’re just browsing? Are they a lost cause? NO.
Think about it:
What’s your website saying to the people who are just browsing the net (but could eventually be your dream client)?
Or to those looking for a photographer, but are like, “what’s documentary photography?” (or whatever services you provide)
Bookmark this page so you can reference back as you work to improve your site:
If they’re not sold right then and there, they’ll X out of the site.
What does this mean?
Your business is leaving money on the table if your site doesn’t cater to the user experience of people who are not actively looking for a photographer.
Friend, we can go so much deeper. And, it’s easier than you may think. Doing better ultimately impacts the results of our business. So, there are two main flaws in the above methodology:
- The actions of your website visitor are totally up to them, which leaves more room for bounce (them hitting the X and never returning to your site and you never having an opportunity to get back in front of them again).
- We aren’t taking the stage our potential clients are at in their client journey into consideration. Most people are not on your site to book a session, so why do we expect this “cold” traffic visitor to do a total 180 and book? Instead, your first goal should be to turn strangers into fans.
A better way to use your website:
Consider who your visitors are and create a strategic navigation path much like if you walk into Apple and are hit with the question: “How can we help you today?”
Set up your site so your visitors feel like you’ve taken them by the hand (using your messaging + site functionality) to guide them to their semi-unique destination. This creates a personal user-experience, working for you 24×7, and allows you to attract your best clients + develop your future best clients
5 Ways to Attract Your Best Clients While You Sleep Using Your Website.
5. Help visitors understand your perspective of your photos in terms of the outcome you work to achieve for your clients.
Business-minded photographers know that it doesn’t matter how incredible the photos are, if your clients don’t understand what you help them achieve (or what solution you are offering them), then they aren’t buying.
Don’t treat your website like an art gallery leaving your site visitors to decipher your voice. Frankly, I’ve been to a few art galleries and there are staff members walking around helping the attendees. When you’re looking at a piece, these people tell the backstory on behalf of the artist. On your website, you can do this by categorizing your portfolio and adding captions. Better yet, create a video with your voice walking them through the stories you photograph will not only share your message, but help your visitors feel more connected with you.
4. Use clear, cohesive messaging on all of your key pages.
Start by knowing who you want to serve and how. Don’t overthink this. If you’re new, I know you are still exploring who you want to work with. Or maybe you don’t love commitment. Don’t worry, this isn’t about boxing yourself into one subject forever.
You can have multiple types of clients and evolve over time. They key is to have an organized site with cohesive messaging.
3. Use what you know about your best clients to develop messaging that repels those that aren’t your clients and captivates your right clients with one goal in mind: to let them know you are here to help them gain something or solve a problem.
Spend some time thinking about answers to these questions:
- Are they even looking to have a photo session when landing on your site? Most of the time, the answer is no.
- What is typically happening when they land on your site (what prompted them to click on your site)?
- What do they need to know about how you can help them in order to believe they need to work with you?
- What information do they need to know before being faced with a buying decision (Hint: it goes deeper than what’s in your packages)?
- You’re selling more than pictures. What is the real way your photography + experience is benefiting their life?
Use this as a starting point to rock the hell out of the message in the copy on your key pages, such as these: Home, About, Investment/Services (Sales Page), Start Here.
2. Create killer blog + site content for your website visitors
Considering the answers to the questions above, take some time to think deeply about what kind of content you can create to connect with your pre-potential clients, potential clients, and past clients.
For example, many of my Mastery Moment-Seekers students have learned how a lot of their local community is like “what’s documentary photography?” or they think they know what it is, but really they are thinking “lifestyle or loosely-posed” work. It’s not about labels, it’s about clearly helping your audience understand how you are helping them.
A few content ideas to get you started:
- A post to speak to the “pain points” or “problems” your clients face. You can do this with a matter-of-fact approach, but the way I’ve succeeded best here is through storytelling. The key is to keep your stories punchy and to the point, which for a wordsmith like me, is so tough! (Hint: this post is exactly what I’m talking about – I know many in the F&F audience has experienced the feeling like their website doesn’t do much for them and it’s just more work on their plate, so here I am sharing my story.)
- Posts about client stories (aka case studies) and how their experience with you has benefited their lives.
- Posts about how they can use the photos they get from you in their lives (a visual way to show the end result).
Remember, your content can be delivered in multiple ways. Not great at writing or don’t like to write? Create a short video or audio along with your images. Seriously though, practice is all it takes.
1. Provide transformation through learning experience right on your site
Think about who is landing on your site:
- Friends and family who know you well (though they still may not know your business well)
- Current and past clients – these people already wholeheartedly believe in your message
- Friends of your clients – they’ve seen your work, but they probably don’t get how your photography has actually impacted your clients
- Total strangers – this is the traffic that comes in through SEO or because they happened to see a social post and clicked through to your website
Using strategically placed content, speak to visitors so they take action and go further into your website. Imagine being the store greeter, there to answer questions like:
- What the heck is this kind of photography/service you provide?
- What will this kind of photography do for me?
- I have this specific problem/concern (<< you’ll have multiple of these), how can you help?
- How do I successfully achieve this kind of session for myself/my family/etc.?
- Also, consider the questions they don’t know to ask.
Narrow down the types of visitors you’re speaking to – let’s say to 3 types of visitors. This will help you map out their path. When they land in the right place, they’ll learn something that connects with them.
Example, when I had my sister take maternity pictures for me, I had no idea what documentary photography was. I was photographed with pumpkins while sitting on hay bails. Today, there’s no way that would happen. Today, I wish I had photos that represented the real story of my pregnancy and season in life.
Do you see how there’s a gap from the mindset I was in while on those hay bails and how I perceive photography today?
If I landed on your website 7 months pregnant and thinking posed portraits were the only way, how could you use your website to show me there is a core problem that I’m unaware of and that your photography is the solution? This is the transformation I’m talking about, friend!
Avoid the bounce + never re-connecting with your website visitors again
At some point, all visitors are going to exit your website. How can you get back in front of them? There’s only one answer more promising than others: get an email address.
With organic reach on social media on the decline (and platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram wanting businesses to pay for ads), earning the privilege to land in their inbox needs to be a priority.
It is a numbers game – it’s true not everyone is going to open their email. However, if your social posts are reaching slim to none and, of those, many are NOT your ideal clients, then doesn’t it make more sense to try to accumulate an email list full of your most engaged audience members?
Set up your site so your visitors feel like you’ve taken them by the hand (using your messaging + site functionality) to guide them to their semi-unique destination. This creates a personal user-experience, working for you 24×7, and allows you to take multiple types of visitors into consideration with the content you create.
- Help visitors understand your perspective of your photos in terms of the outcome you work to achieve for your clients.
- Use clear, cohesive messaging on all of your key pages.
- Create killer blog + site content for your website visitors
- Provide transformation through learning experience right on your site
- Avoid the bounce and never re-connecting with your website visitors again
Now, you’re about to click away from this page and I don’t wanna lose you. (See how I’m doing that get-that-email address thang?!)