What To Tell Your Photographer When Taking Photos For Your Business Website & How To Hire The Right One

This is a common question from my clients, and it's an important one. How do I get the right kinds of photos for my website? What should I tell my photographer?

First off, here are 3 things to consider when hiring a photographer:

1
Don't expect to pay less than $800 USD for a good quality photographer.

Anything less than that is probably going to be an amateur or un-professional photographer. I've discovered this first-hand when hiring third-party photographers for my clients. It doesn't matter if you are in Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle or Dallas. Don't plan on spending less than $800 USD. Otherwise, you'll end up with photographs that you'll be disappointed with. On the other hand, paying over $2000 USD for a single one-day photoshoot also seems to be where there is no extra value-added for a photographer. A $2000 USD photography is going to be very high quality and professional. And, from my experience, a $3000 USD photographer isn't going to be much different unless there is a stylistic preference you have between the two. 

2
Photographers tend to be booked out 2 weeks in advance, and have a 2 week turnaround.

Meaning, the whole process will take roughly 1 month between hiring & getting the actual photos. A hard-working photographer will get this turn-around to be much shorter. I've done hundreds of photoshoots for clients in the past, and it can take me less than 1day to get the photos in my clients' hands. But some Photographers want to delete all the bad photos shoot, and find the top 10 images to present to you. A good photographer will submit to you 3-5 images as a sneak-peak so you're not anxiously waiting to see the final results.

3
The Photographer should be pro-active about choosing a location or background for your photoshoot.

However, you should also give the photographer a few example of the style you want to go for ahead of time so they know exactly what to shoot, and then can make some recommendations in terms of location or backdrops, or at least ask you some questions about the process at least a couple weeks before the shoot actually occurs. 

 

Here is what to tell your photographer about getting good photos for your website

I am always amazed at how few photographers actually know how to take good photos for a website. After all, websites are the most powerful and important marketing tools a business uses these days. But most photographers are stuck in the mindset of treating these pieces as a final piece of art, rather than a raw photograph that will later be used for brochures, websites or social medial. 

So here are 3 things you need to tell your Photographer when doing a photoshoot for your business website:

1
Get 50% Horizontal and 50% Vertical images

Websites, brochures and social media photos are mostly horizontal or Square in shape. Except, on mobile devices, Pinterest images, or tri-fold brochures, they need to be vertical. Therefore, let your Photographer know that you need both horizontal and vertical orientations of shoots, as much as possible. I am amazed at how many photographers only do Horizontal or only do Vertical when shooting. You need both. So be firm about letting your photographer know this. 

2
Lots and lots of white or blank space

This is another thing that bugs me about Photographers. Obviously, text is going to be overlayed over these images. Only on an Art website is the image a stand-alone. Virtually all websites & brochures overlay text on top of images. So make sure you ask your Photographers to allow for as much white space, or simple background, or simple compositions as possible so that these images actually look good on a website. Show your Photographer examples of ones you like so they understand. Most Photographers get this wrong. 

3
Don't have then touch up and crop the images afterwards

Another thing some Photographers do is crop, touch-up or alter images and often spend weeks doing this. The best thing to do is ask them to send you the Raw, un-touched images first, in high resolution, then narrow them down to your final selections. Photographers have this tendency of waiting as long as possible to get you the final images, or to play around with them in Photoshop for too long. Speed up the process and ask for the raw, un-edited, un-cropped, un-filtered photos they took from the photo session. They'll need to be altered for website use anyway, so that we can figure out the right layout & orientation of these photos for your website. 

How To Create Effective SEO Content For Your Architecture, Interior Design, Photography or Art Website

I get a lot of client who say something like, "My friend who used to do SEO 10 years ago told me I have to do this and that to get good SEO rankings." 

But the way SEO works today has changed dramatically, even in the last 1 or 2 years. Google prioritizes websites that provide good, helpful and powerful content, like blogging or PDF downloads. They prioritize websites that are mobile responsive, have a clean simple design, and websites that do not try to cram a bunch of keywords, text and tons of gimmicky tricks to try and get their sites to rank high. 

What has worked in the past no longer works today. In 2018, here are the things you should be doing to create better SEO value for your website if you are an architect, interior designer, photographer, artist or custom home builder.

 

1

All of the text & images on your website should be extremely helpful, interesting, powerful, useful and compelling

Don't make a boring website. Make something that people will want to look at, that is beautiful, that they will understand what it is all about, and that they'll want to take a clear action once they get onto your website. Websites which are boring are places that people leave and forget about. Google ranks websites higher if they have interesting content that adds value to peoples' lives.

 

2

Blog on a regular basis about all of the incredible knowledge you have - Give good information away for free

Google loves it when you create valuable, helpful and expert advice to the public for free on very specific topics. As an expert in your industry, you are already equipped with the right knowledge about how to plan for your next custom home build, or most popular venues for wedding photography in your area, or information on the highest-quality furniture lines for modernist interior design & decor. Create content where people will say, "Wow, this was extremely helpful" after reading your blog posts.

 

3

Use a simple platform like Squarespace that makes it easy to blog or update your content

Not only is Squarespace the easiest platform to blog and update content on your own, it's automatically mobile responsive, which Google Search loves to see. Get into the habit of updating your website and posting new blog content every week to keep your site up-to-date. When you use a good, easy-to-use platform like Squarespace, you get to spend more time on marketing and building your business through SEO. When you use a complicated platform like WordPress to promote your small business, your time will instead by wasted on trying to figure out how to even blog, or worrying whether or not your website is even working at all.

 

4

Make sure your website is SSL or HTTPS secure

If your website is in Squarespace, this is an easy one because all you have to do is flip a switch and your website is secure. If your website is in WordPress, get ready for a nightmare. You'll likely have to spend hundreds to have a web developer make your website secure with an SSL certificate.

 

There is a lot more to SEO that just these 4 items. But SEO is much more simple than it used to be. Today, focus on building a beautiful & helpful website, and over time the natural views from Google Search will show up. SEO is about building a helpful online business, not on sneaky tricks or obscure techonologies.

 

Here's 7 Reasons Why You Should Not Use WordPress For Your Small Business Website

Every business owner knows about WordPress. And the entire web development industry loves WordPress. The problem is that WordPress is just terrible for small businesses. It's complicated to set up, it's expensive to maintain, and it's a huge headache to keep worrying about. 

Over half of my clients come to me after they've lived through the nightmare of working with WordPress. They're ready for a change, but not really sure if there is a better option. Fortunately, I've worked with over 600 businesses creating a new website, and the ones that have gone with Squarespace have ended up being the happiest, most successful and most productive with their website.

For this reason, 3 years ago I decided I would no longer work with WordPress. I now only design and maintain Squarespace websites for my clients. I believe it is the right thing to do for small and medium-sized businesses. It's just good for business. And here is why: 

 

1
WordPress Developers will drive you down a dark path of coding & customization

Wordpress people love code and researching and all the crazy things you can do with a website. The problem is that you run a business, not a technology experiment. WordPress Developers will make your project too complicated, take too long, and cost too much money.

2
WordPress is too expensive to manage

Once you get your website up in WordPress, get ready for a world of hurt. WordPress sites often break down every 3 months or so. They need to be constantly fixed and updated as online technology changes. And WordPress is an open-source platform, which means you are on your own once you get it set up online. Be prepared to hire multiple WordPress developers over the next two years to fix up your site until you get to the point where you're ready to give up and try something new.

3
You won't be able to edit on your own without a ton of training

I'm a website designer & developer, and even I get frustrated and confused with WordPress. That's because it was not designed with Clients or Business people in mind. It was made for coders. The backend of WordPress is so confusing, so annoying and frustrating, that all my clients refuse to attempt to edit it on their own after their first few attempts. WordPress is not user-friendly, no matter what any WordPress developer claims.

4
WordPress breaks down too frequently

WordPress is designed so loosely, that all the pieces, plugins and technology fall apart constantly. You'll need to hire a WordPress developer on roughly 1-3 month basis just to make sure it's all still working properly. And this can often cost anywhere between $300 and $1000 per 3 months just to make sure all is working well. And that's not including any website changes, improvements or modifications as your business grows. WordPress is not cost-effective for small businesses.

5
Hackers get into WordPress too easily

If your website is not being managed and updated on a monthly basis, get ready for someone from Russia to hack your website. Coders and hackers love to mess with WordPress to try and break your site to use it for their own purposes. For this reason alone, WordPress is a nightmare to deal with. 

6
WordPress is not the only platform that works well with SEO

A lot of WordPress developers claim that only WordPress works well with SEO. This may have been true 5 years ago, but it simply is not true anymore. Just about any web platform works well with SEO, and that is because Google prioritizes quality design, good blog posts, and helpful information higher than any sneaky tricks or techniques. Don't let a WordPress developer convince you otherwise. SEO is about good, quality blog posting and content creation. 

7
It's just bad for small business

For every reason mentioned above, and so much more, WordPress is bad for small business. It takes up your precious time, money and resources to make sure your site just does the bare minimum. So many of my clients come to me after 2 years of a WordPress site, desperate for a change, but unsure if something better is possible. Your website is the most important marketing tool for your business, so don't leave it in the hands of an unreliable and expensive CMS platform. Instead, you need a website which can stay online, without getting hacked, that looks beautiful, and is easy for you to manage and grow, so that it builds over time and becomes an invaluable asset to your business.

 

 

Here's Why You Should Use Squarespace Instead

My clients love using Squarespace. They use it to blog on their own, make minor text edits and changes to images without having to contact me for every little change. Here are 5 reasons why Squarespace is superior over WordPress for small businesses:

  • It's so easy to make minor text edits, photo changes & adding new blog posts - my clients love being able to use their website as a real business asset rather than a marketing tool that just sits on the internet, never to be updated without extensive help from a web developer
  • Squarespace takes care of all the technology updates, so you don't have to worry about making sure it doesn't get hacked or making sure all of your plugins are constantly up to date
  • The costs of maintaining and improving your Squarespace website are much lower in the long run than WordPress
  • While Squarespace has fewer customization options than WordPress, the simplicity of the platform helps you to focus on what really matters
  • SEO works just as well on Squarespace as any other platform

Here's Why Squarespace Is The Best Platform For Your Small Business

The first question my clients tackle is what platform their new website should be built in. This is a decision that often sets back business owners for several months as they research all of their options. WordPress and Shopify have typically been at the top of the list for most business owners in the last 3 years. And most web developers who focus on code like to push for WordPress because it has endless coding and customization possibilities.

I've designed over 600 websites for clients in the last 8 years. And I've seen how choosing the wrong platform can devastate your business. Often times, a bad website can actually kill your business. In 2018, your website is the most important marketing tool your business will use. So when you are constantly having to pay for website updates, or your website breaks, or is a constant headache, your run the risk of having your website be a liability. 

That's why I believe that Squarespace is the absolutely best platform for your business if you are a small or medium-sized business. That means, if you are a service-based business doing high-end services like interior design, architecture, photography, art, custom home building, or if you are an e-commerce website doing less than $100,000 in revenue per year, Squarespace is the best option for you. 

 

1
It's easy for you to quickly change text and images on your own.

Even my clients who are not computer savvy love how easy it is to edit their Squarespace website on their own. I'll even come back a couple years later to view their website to see that my clients have been blogging on their own, making simple text changes to their pages, and sometimes swapping out images on their owns. The easy of use for Squarespace is so enjoyable, that most solo entrepreneurs and small businesses take on the task of updating their website willingly. When challenging new changes are required, my clients will get in touch for help or to ask a quick question. But for the majority of the time, my clients are extremely pleased with just out enjoyable it is to maintain and manage their website on their own. 

 

2

Squarespace takes care of all the technology updates so you don't have to

Squarespace is on a roll making great updates to their platform in 2018. And when they release a new tool or feature on their website, it tends to work flawlessly. While Squarespace doesn't have every option in the world that a website can possibly do, it has all the main features you actually need to run a proper small business website.

This leaves my clients with having peace of mind that their site will still be working 2 years from now, with very few setbacks. Just like any other web platform or web hosting plan, Squarespace web hosting goes down several hours per year sporadically. But instead of having to pay a web developer to diagnose all the possible issues that might have risen with a platform like WordPress, Squarespace takes care of hosting & web technology issues automatically, usually resolved within hours.

 

3
The long term costs are lower than any other website platform

Because Squarespace takes care of all the features, updates and plugins, your long term costs on Squarespace are extremely low. The only time you'll be paying a developer or designer to make changes is when you need substantial changes made, such as lots of new pages, or a re-design, or need SEO integration. 

For a platform like WordPress, you'll end up paying a web developer every 3 months to do major diagnostics to make sure things are still working. And that can get incredibly expensive. Even more, when you need to add new pages, or hire an on-staff employee to make basic edits regularly, your costs are going to skyrocket.

Many businesses I have worked with that used WordPress in the past have deep emotional scars, leaving them weary of another website project. All businesses know they need a website to be relevant in 2018, but if you've had a WordPress site in the past, you know what I nightmare it is. But I can tell you with all certainty, you are not going to regret moving forward with a Squarespace website for your small or medium-sized business.

 

4
In 2 years from now, your Squarespace website will still be working flawlessly.

But your WordPress website would have already broken a few times. I've had clients on Squarespace for over 5-years straight, and their websites are still going strong. For WordPress, that is unheard of. WordPress websites break down, they need to be watched carefully. Every time WordPress does a major update, you can expect to spend days trying to figure out where all the broken holes are.

 

The downsides to Squarespace

Yes, there are downsides to using Squarespace for your business, and here they are:

  • If you do hundreds of thousands in ecommerce online sales, you do need a more complex platform like WordPress to further grow and optimize your website.
  • If you require extremely complex and customized plugins for unique online tools, such as creating online interactive databases, multi-user logins or need a fully custom check-out experience, a platform like WordPress would be better. 

For any other business, I fully believe and have experienced with my hundreds of clients that Squarespace is the right platform for most businesses. But if you need to be absolutely certain before making a decision, get in touch with me today for a free consultation. I don't build sites in any platform other than Squarespace, so if I feel like it won't be the right platform for you, I'll absolutely let you know.

 

Why Minimalist Design Matters For Your Business

When email inboxes fill up on Monday morning or your mailbox gets stuffed with more credit card offers, it's easy for businesses to get drowned in a sea of marketing noise.

That's why minimalist design for your business matters. Imagery and text that is clean, clear, elegant & easy to understand is one of the easiest ways to make sure your business stands apart from your competition. 

Simple, elegant design is more memorable. It's easier to focus on. So when you help your clients & customers understand what your business does, and present it in a beautiful & capitvating way - it helps drive more leads, it makes it easier to capture email addresses, and it helps your business dominate your competition. 

Here are some of the top performing designs I have done for clients that people are remembering because of their beautiful, minimalist design.

custom-home-builder-website-designer.jpg

Dixon Kirby is a design & build firm in North Carolina which creates unforgettable homes, and pairs them with stellar photography. Many of my clients remember this website for months after they see it as one of the most beautiful examples of timeless and simple design.

www.dixonkirby.com

 
minimalist-photographer-website-designer.jpg

Loscar Numael is a landscape photographer from Puerto Rico. His elegant, minimal logo, paired with his strikingly colorfulyet simple photography is often unforgettable.

www.loscarnumael.com

 

Carrie Hayden, an interior designer from Seattle, has a website so minimal and unique, visitors who stumble up their website can't help but browse numerous website pages at a time. The surprisingly simple, yet stunning website design keeps more people engaged on each page by 3 times more than the average interior design website. 

www.carriehayden.com

 
 

What I have found over the years of doing minimalist design for businesses, is that there is a lot more to it than just looking unique and different.

Simple, minimal design tends to engage people far better than websites, marketing or logos which clutter, confuse and distract people. The analytics from Google and other tracking tools have proven this. Which is why it is crucial that your business use simple, elegant design to simplify your marketing strategies, while both inspiring your clientele and helping them focus on the content you put in front of them. The same goes for other marketing material, like pop ups on your website, flyers in the mail, or online advertising.