Speaking to an amazing potential bride makes our day!! 15 hours ago

In this guest post, we’re pleased to have our friend Zach Prez offer up some photographer tips for websites, the focus of his newest website about online photography marketing strategies.

The easier your website is to navigate, the better your chances are for obtaining new customers. The internet has made accessing information effortless, so in turn your website should be equally trouble-free. When searching for products or services online, the customer is going to spend approximately 10 seconds scanning your site to decide if they are going to browse. If your homepage looks like a puzzle that interested user may quickly head for the exit.

If I were to offer you a potential client right now and send them to your homepage, what do you want them to do? Think about exactly what you want them to read or click. My guess is you want them to contact you and book an appointment immediately more than you want them to click a link to read your blog or mobile website.

Navigation should be your first objective when building your homepage

Notice how the Tinywater splash page starts by showcasing it’s websites, then tells about who they are with contact details, then a newsletter subscription, followed by links to the most important blog posts.

You must guide the user to make a decision as quickly as possible before they lose interest and move on. The homepage is the heart of your site. Many new visitors, and potential clients, start here.

Write down specific goals for your homepage, including the priority of each goal on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 is best). For example:

  • Contact me to schedule an appointment – 5
  • View my photo gallery – 5
  • Subscribe to something (Email, Facebook, Twitter, RSS) – 3
  • View my photography blog – 1
  • View informational text or other important pages (About me, Pricing, etc) – 1

In this case, your homepage should be organized by these priorities with contact and photo gallery information at the top, subscription options in the middle, and everything else at the bottom or removed. Don’t take users away from your goal with website design clutter!

What do users want?

Next, think about what users want from their perspective:

  • examples of photos (Galleries page)
  • information about the photographer (About page)
  • pricing information (Pricing page)
  • contact information (Contact page)

These pages should be easy to find for a potential client. Use clear and concise terms that the average customer is going to understand. As a user I may not understand certain terms and avoid clicking on that particular tab.

In this time of uber-electronics and apps that run at super speed, our fuse for patience has grown shorter and shorter. As a “salesman”, you want your product to be easy to find, easy to price and easy to order. Complicated websites, no matter the quality of their product, will lose sales if they’re menus are too complex.

If you have kids you know what I mean. Offer them 10 different candy bars and you’ll be in a decision stalemate for eternity. Offer 1 or 2 and they’ll choose quickly. Focus your user’s attention on the most important actions by removing clutter.

The impact of style decisions

Unflattering fonts and colors are an eyesore. Anything difficult to read loses an opportunity to market your message. In the few seconds that you have to impress the user, loud and confusing information will avert their attention to another site.

Internet standards have universal fonts and colors that work across all computers consistently. To use something not on the list, it must be embedded in an image, otherwise will be changed by the user’s computer to whatever it deems to be the best fit. Which ones you choose impact readability.

As important as the visual aspect of your page is, layout is just as significant. Websites have traditional layouts – top navigation, right hand sidebar, etc. Some custom web designs throw all of the consistency out the door and dump everything in random places on the page. It may look remarkable, but a new orientation slows a user down significantly and comes at the cost of dissatisfaction and less content looked at.

The biggest style question is typically Flash versus non-Flash sites. The small upside of Flash is quality of presentation (your needs). The downside is usability (your customer’s needs). What may seem like trivial issues like the speed of a menu loading, visibility to search engines, readability, and mobile phone eat away at piece after piece of your customer pie. Flash sites easily fall victim to poor organization…

I raise the issues about style to alert you to the fact that what you see as great design may have limitations in a customer experience. Examine how customers utilize your website in an array of circumstances to see what obstacles they face and how they react. The best thing you can do is provide simplicity. Two of the most used sites on the web, Google, and Craigslist, are overly simplified, as is www.useit.com which is a tremendous resource for more information on website design.

The easier your site is to view and navigate, the more time users will spend on your site. A well-designed site makes your potential customer at ease and confident. If they can maneuver through your site with control and fluidity, they will be certain to consider your product while making a purchase decision.

About Zach Prez

 Website Layout Tips for PhotographersI’m a dad and social cyclist who loves to talk marketing over a cup of Lipton tea. I contribute to dozens of photography business sites. I wrote Photography Web Marketing Guide to help photographers get more clients with photography websites. At only $29, you’re going to make your money back with your first booking. It’s a no brainer. Connect with me at

Matt Donahue - Thanks for all the great tips. The post has shown me several areas on my website that need improvement. Thanks!

Sometimes, a new product is so great that we need to share it as a resource with our fellow photographers! Design Aglow’s newest card templates are just that! The Simple Collection holiday ornament cards are genius and to die for. Circular holiday cards that also pop out to be ornaments. What a great way to show off your images! I know what our clients will be getting this holiday season!!

A brief blurb from the DesignAglow blog:

“Hot off of the presses at Design Aglow, these innovative holiday cards promise to leave your clients hanging… in the homes of friends and family. Simply choose one of the five delicious two-sided designs, print, and add your own ribbon for an inspiring way to wish loved ones the best while earning a prominent spot in their homes (and their hearts). A revolutionary idea to create a bold new market for the holidays!”

And many, many thanks to DesignAglow for featuring our images on these cards.

The designs are so beautiful and polished. I’m in love, aren’t you?

Tracey Kumer-Moore - These are SO ADORABLE!! Thank you for sharing and I also want to thank you for the adorable calendar and mini-book calendar. What a lovely thing to receive in the mail today. I hope to meet you in person in the future.

And here we are on to our third and final part of our answer to A in Australia. We really hope that this has been helping you guys out so far.

9. Your own realistic budget

Be honest with yourself and come up with a realistic marketing budget. We do not believe in going into debt for this so we are careful about our advertising dollars. Magazine advertising tend to be quite expensive. Website advertising have variable structures, some with pay per click features while most website fees really depend on their popularity and traffic amount. So choose wisely. And make sure that what you choose will give you a good return on your investment. Do not go over budget and spend $5,000 on just one single advertising when realistically, your budget is $2000.

10. Wait, why are you advertising again?

What are your goals or objectives in your advertising? Is it purely to attract new clients? Not every advertisement is directly selling a sale. When we first started, we took out an ad locally with one purpose in mind: to let other wedding industry vendors know that we are here. We had no intention in booking clients with that advertisement and whatever clients we did book from that advertisement was icing on the cake! Why did we do this? We wanted local industry recognition and awareness. We knew that we wanted to create a buzz within the wedding industry about ourselves. Once we did that, we dropped the advertisement since our objective was met.

What is your objective in advertising? Have you ever considered it?

11. Master Your Marketing Strategy

Lastly, have you asked yourself if advertising in a publication, either online or print really the answer to your marketing needs? Some photographers do better with a word of mouth based referral system. And some do extremely well where they can meet and chat with prospective brides one on one at a bridal expo. And some really do better with an air of mystery. Or maybe, you have the kind of business that would benefit from a viral campaign. Publications are not necessarily always the answer. And even with print or online publication, consider the design of your advertisement. Is it going to appeal to your target audience? Is it in line with the style of the publication? Is it in line with your style? Will it convey the message you want it to?

Again, go back and look at your referral sources and you will find the answer.

12. After The Ad

With any marketing effort or investment, remember that you should also consider a method for you to reap the rewards and maintaining your advertising stratergy. In a bridal show or expo, do you collect email address from brides to contact after the expo? If you have google adwords, how are you managing your campaign? If you are advertising online on a website, are you constantly keeping track of your referral traffic? If your business is based on word of mouth, are you thanking the correct people and fostering friendship to continue the relationship? Remember it doesn’t just end when you pay for an advertisement and kick your heels up in the air!

At the end of the day the number 1 answer to your question is: target audience. It’s all a risk, so make a calculated one. We have never had a hard time deciding what to do as far as advertising and marketing because we knew our target audience even before we knew what our company name would be. To be perfectly honest, we developed our branding with our target audience in mind. Sit down, figure out your target audience, and develop a business plan. We can’t stress this enough. Remember: target audience is King!

Dear A in Australia, we really hope that these series of short blog posts have helped you and husband; not only on where to advertise but also on where to take your business. And we sincerely hope that we haven’t hurt your brains too much! Keep the questions coming!

Martha - Hi guys, Thanks for the great artical. Very helpful. Now I am waking up at 2 a.m. asking myself, who is my dream bride????

Aaaaaaannnd we are back! Hope you like our answers in Part 1 of our email question from A in Australia. Have we really made you think on that one? Now let’s just jump right in and move on to point 4.

4. I love Jane and John, do they have clones?

Who was your favorite couple of 2009? We all have our favorite couples! We have the couple whose wedding we’d love to shoot again and again! The couple that is our dream couple and in fact is pretty much our target audience! You know that couple, don’t you? And how did they find you? More likely than not, you will find other couples with similar personalities there as well.

5. Who do you want to work with?

Let’s be honest, there are some couples we would rather work with and some couples we would rather not! Not that they are bad couples, the fact is that we aren’t a good fit for them. So do you know who you want to work with and which couples you know would not be a good fit? Have you ever thought about it or made the decision? Do you find that couples that might not be a good match for you mostly come from bridal expos? Well if that is the case, simple – do not spend marketing efforts with bridal expos!

6. Is My Style Your Style?

Everyone photography studio has its own style and personality. Determine what your photography style is and advertise in an avenue that is similar to your style or can boost your style and image. If your style is modern and fashion influenced, there is no sense in advertising in a traditional wedding magazine. And if you are a traditional wedding photographer, then it makes no sense for you to advertise in websites such as Rock n Roll Bride. Why? Simply because these websites and magazines will not attract the target audience that your style will appeal to. They will only attract people that their style will appeal to. You don’t sell a Jean Paul Gaultier in JCrew do you?

7. Your Dream Couple’s Budget

Let’s get real. If your price points are such that your ideal client is of a certain budget, then advertise accordingly! If you want to photograph weddings with $50,000 budgets for example, why advertise in a publication that usually has couples with $20,000? That will just be throwing money away in the wind. It doesn’t matter how well designed that magazine is or if how pretty the photos are if your target couple is not reading that publication.

8. Distribution

Have you considered the distribution of the advertising avenue you are considering? Will it match up with what your goals are as a company? If we were going after solely southern weddings, we would only consider advertising in publications that have a distribution or readership in the south. Why would we advertise in a New York publication for example? We would be barking up the wrong tree! Each publication should be able to give you the statistics of its readers in great detail, with information pertaining to geographical area and even income. I would stay clear of any publication that fail to provide you with this information.

Phhewwwww 4 points in today’s post. Hang in there for the rest of our answers!

We frequently receive emails from fellow photographers with business related questions. We are more than happy to answer when we can and always try our best to help out. So here is a great question that popped up in our email the other day. We decided to turn this into a post on our blog since we feel that this is a question that can really benefit many other photographers.

Our answer might not be the correct one, but it’s a heartfelt and genuine answer. And if anyone else has something to contribute, please do not hesitate to post your comment. Meanwhile, if anyone else has any other questions, feel free to send them in! Who knows, we might turn this into a regular event on the blog!

I have written to you previously
I am a photographer in Australia and I need some advice and I was hoping you could help.
My husband and I aspire to be a successful boutique studio like yourself but we are really struggling with where to put our advertising dollar… we really feel that expo’s aren’t working for us. Should we advertise with a stylish magazine – similar to our style? Should we advertise online?
I was hoping that you could tell me what has worked for you – or any advice you have that could help us discover the path would be much appreciated
Would love to hear from you,

Dear A in Australia,

Unfortunately we cannot tell you exactly where to advertise, we actually do not know the answer. Our market is completely different than yours, and what we want is completely different from what you want. What might work for us might not work for you. Moreover, the market we are in is completely different from yours and we do not know what Australia is like. We cannot answer this question for you. You have the answers yourself! Confused? Don’t be! We can give you some steps to help you make the right decision. It’s actually a quite complex answer with several factors to consider, so we will present it in 3 parts. Of course, there are other factors to consider that we might not bring up, so readers, please join in on the conversation.

1. Consider your target audience.

I (Caroline) was actually trained in design and that encompasses branding. In design and branding, we always turn back to our target market research to develop goals and solutions. Always consider your target audience as the #1 factor in your advertising decision. Is your target couple a magazine reader, or do they read websites? What magazines do they read? What wedding websites do they visit? Why do they visit those websites? How old is target couple? Where do they live? Do they even go to bridal expo’s.

Ever wonder why Anthropologie is so consistent? Did you know that the creative team at Anthropologie gather together to invent their perfect dream woman for every season? They give her a name, personality, attributes, even hobbies. They then shape the whole season and products in their collection around this fantasy woman. That’s zoning in to their target audience to a T. No wonder their collection is so concise and well put together. It’s because it all makes sense.

The more defined your target market is, the easier the decisions will be. We know for a fact that most of our couples are avid wedding website readers and not magazine readers. And because of that, it was an easy decision to invest more efforts into online marketing! Do you know if your clients are magazine or website readers? Do you know what websites they visit? No? Then it’s time to do some research and get to know your clients! Which brings us to point #2?

2. Wait, wait, have you defined your target audience?

Did our questions from point 1 stump you? Are you sitting there going: “How do I know what my target audience is?” Or worse, “What’s a target audience?”

No successful product was ever marketed without a target audience in mind. Simply put, how would you know how to develop your product without knowing who to develop it for? Without knowing your target audience, how do you know how to develop your photography and where to take your company to? How would you know who you are appealing to and how to market to them? This is the number 1 part in developing your business. If you haven’t figured out your target market, then it’s time to sit down and define it. Educate yourself on the concept by visiting marketing websites online or reading books. Know how your target market behaves and you will have direction in what to do. Instead of casting out one big general net for random strangers up there, narrow in on reaching your target audience. Your success/sales ration will increase and you will see a return on your investment.

3. Look within yourself.

Do you know how your couples find you? Are they finding you online? If so, what websites? Are they finding you in a magazine? Or has it been word of mouth? No idea? Why not? We make it a point to ask every single inquiry where and how they found us and what they attracted them to our work. Otherwise, how would we know what works and what doesn’t? Make it a habit to ask every single inquiry where they heard about you and what they think about you. It’s even more important to ask your favorite couples where they found you. That’s how you know what has been a successful return of investment for you. And I would give them tons of hugs and kisses! Go through your client files and you’ll find your answer.

Ok, A in Australia, since it’s a holiday weekend here, I am afraid we must end here. The BBQ has been sizzling all day and it’s time to go out and enjoy the fireworks. Be sure to return for Part 2 though!


Violet - And this advice is really widely applicable, too! I was reading this thinking about my own target audience... Great post, Dan and Caroline.
Eric - Great post! We are getting rid of magazine ads because it hasn't done anything for us for the past two years. Why spend so much money and barely having enough weddings in return to make up for the cost? It would've been better if we had just stayed home and done nothing :D
Josh Davis - A piece of advice from a media owner...you must know what to expect out of each ad medium. Targeted magazines are the single best "branding" tool (see "Guerilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson), but won't make the phone ring off the hook. It will make all of your other marketing efforts work better. Bridal shows and web-generated leads are great for people with sales skills, but companies who have the "branding" have a leg up! I'd go for a mix and don't go "all in" with any one ad medium.
Where should a wedding photographer advertise? - [...] we are back! Hope you like our answers in Part 1 of our email question from A in Australia. Have we really made you think on that one? Now [...]
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