Why having a professional website is essential for creatives

It’s Monday, October 4th, 2021. All Zuck-owned media is offline. We’re collectively coming to terms with how addicted we are to the apps, and I’m writing a blog for the first time all year.

I love to squawk about the importance of having a professional website. If you are a freelance person or do creative work at all, showcasing your stuff online–and instilling a little SEO magic to attract customers–is essential.

Here are some considerations from someone who gets most of my new clients from Google:

It’s the the laziest way to promote yourself

Having a strategic website is the easiest and laziest way to market your business. It takes some initial work upfront, but your efforts will last for years to come if you play your cards right.

Photographers underestimate how many people use Google

There is a tremendous opportunity for photographers right now.

Most website templates designed for us follow a basic portfolio site structure with no room to show your personality or tell people what to hire you for, and anyone who does find you on Google might not even know if you have an active business.

Social media gives you a limited container for sharing your story

Instagram is naturally saturated with photographers, and it’s easy to feel restrained by the limits of a platform where you’re expected to constantly show up. The algorithm is designed to make us feel FOMO and like there’s not enough room for all of us to thrive, just to keep us posting, and it’s a recipe for anxiety.

Skilled creators are highly sought after, and it’s important to remember that some of your best clients will find you through search engines like Google or Pinterest. Plus, as people’s attention moves from social platform to social platform, your website will always remain in your control. This means when Instagram goes down, you can keep your shit together because you have other ways to promote your business and control how your image is presented online. There’s something oddly comforting about knowing everyone who contacts me through my website has seen one consistent representation of me.

The best way to avoid the algorithm–and creatively represent yourself on the internet–is by having a website that tells people who you are, what you do, and how you can help them achieve their goals.

Less social media = easier life

I enjoy having control of my time and believe that rest is essential for living a balanced life and building a sustainable career. Social media makes this extremely difficult because we’re told that we need to keep posting and shopping if we want to stay cool and relevant. While this may work for some, I can no longer handle the mental strain of constantly posting and engaging and showing up every single day.

All it takes is one client to change your career

Within a few weeks of launching my last website, I got an inquiry that changed my life, and I began working with Eventbrite to photograph some Bay Area shows. I got paid more per show than ever in my career and I learned how valuable my skills actually were–and how charging a real rate was not selfish or greedy of me because I know what I am doing.

I’ve always told myself I don’t care about making more money, although as I get older I realize I’ve had mental blocks that were holding me back from making more than *just enough* by not charging what I was worth. Having a professional website helped me prove to myself that I *am* worth investing in, and I have the experience to back it up.

Attract ideal clients by being yourself

The best way to attract people you vibe with and repel the ones you don’t (v important detail) is by being yourself. Talk about some of your hobbies outside of your profession, and you might be surprised how many clients you attract who have similar interests. It makes meeting new people much less scary when they’ve already decided you’re an energetic match. If you love a certain TV show, have pets or kids, or have any other passions to share, try adding those details to your bio to help create a connection before someone even emails you.

Three tips for leveling up your website

  • Create a compelling homepage.

    Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes and create a sales pitch for yourself. If you want to be hired, you need to tell people what to hire you for. Don’t be afraid to be yourself: this is where you attract or repel by being the truest form of yourself. You can do it.

  • Only showcase work that you would want to recreate.

    Important caveat for wedding photographers: if you also want to book other work, you should separate your couples from your other stuff. Trust me on this one. Most wedding photographers I know–the ones who also shoot events–have a website for each speciality.

  • SEO is serious business.

    Create a set of keywords for yourself and instill those words into your website as much as possible for Search Engine Optimization purposes. Think about what you want people to Google to find you and embed those words into your metadeta and image descriptions as you upload. There is a reason people dedicate their entire careers just to helping websites get recognized by search engines.

In conclusion

The reality is that having a great website is nothing if your SEO isn’t doing any work for you, so make sure to research this based on your hosting platform. I cannot stress this enough. WordPress is the best for SEO in my experience, as you can install plugins that do the bulk of the heavy lifting for you.

Hire me to help you

I’ve been building websites for fun since I was a bored 13-year-old on Neopets and Angelfire. They are a powerful tool at everyone’s disposal, but the setup learning curve often scares people away. Don’t be a statistic! Let me help you take your website to the next level with reviews starting at $250.

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