FAQ : How to Create a Website Reflective of YOU

Personal

A few months ago, I gave a presentation entitled the Power of Your Web Sight, and discussed the ability to see one’s website and measure it’s stickability, poignancy, and impactability. Yes, I made up that last word. Last week I blogged about Blogging Tips+Tricks, but this week I want to focus on the main piece of my online business representation, my website. Part of why websites are so impactful is because they capture the essence of a business, and–more specifically for small business owners–personality.

This post will, hopefully, cover the Why and the How of creating a unique website, so let’s chat a little more about it…

I recently relaunched my website, but my first website was launched in 2008. It was a huge year for my business and I attribute so much to creating a distinct online storefront for my business. Before May 2008, my blog was the main source of contact for future brides, but I felt like I had plateaued because my old website (a stoic HTML site) was completely disconnected from my brand. It was a poor representation to who I was professionally and impeded my growth. After launching the new website in 2008, I raised my prices and began to receive referrals from wedding coordinators. Sure, it could be coincidence, but I firmly believe that once I had a site that looked and felt a certain way, coordinators were confident sending clients to visit my site, since their recommendation was a reflection of their business, and taste. These types of referrals led to shooting weddings with a heavy focus on details and styling, which later helped move my work toward publication. When editors saw the website, I believe they developed a sense of who I was and the type of client I attracted. After the launch of my website, I knew, specifically, what brides I attracted and this helped me better cater to their needs and desires.

Why Is My Website So Important To Me?
Basically, I created a website to help me achieve the following results:
*Helps Me Attract a Specific Type of Client. I want to shoot fun, emotional, detail-oriented brides, so I needed a way to showcase this sentiment online…and I found it impossible to do with a template website. I created something to help me be different online.
*Solicits Validity on the Web. As a reflection of my business, my website had to showcase my work as well as fuller presentations of my portfolio. Afterall, it’s likely a bride will be showing her mama my site, so I want to make sure it reflects the utmost level of professionalism.
*Helps Buttress My Online Brand. My website should be the foundation of who I am as an entrepreneur and give an aesthetic description of my style, as well as a continuation of my brand.
*It’s the Best Version of Me on the Web. I once heard “Your website is your handshake, and your blog is your voice.” Well, friends, I want a very firm handshake, and a really soft voice.

How Can I Make a Website Work for Me?
The answer depends on what you want. No, really, what do YOU want? The answer will help drive the direction of your website. I wanted a site that:
*Allowed Me to Connect with Clients. I want to connect as much as possible with prospective clients, so using a video opener, video transitions, a detailed bio section, a Life in the In Between section, allows people to, literally, see and hear me. Just a few minutes on my website and people will definitely know if they like (or don’t like) me. That’s precisely what I want.
*Positioned Me for Destination Weddings. If I can’t meet, physically, with clients, then I want to make sure my website allows people to get a good sense of who I am on the web and book my services for out of state clients. Having a detailed and unique website accomplishes just this.
*Creates Conversations. Yes, I want people to like my website, but I also want my website to be a division of my clients as well.
How to Create a Website Reflective of YOU.
*Work with a Designer or Customize a Style Group. Because I had so many ideas, I needed to work with someone to help hone my inspiration into a focused direction. I worked with Promise Tangeman for my website and she created a rough idea of what I wanted. From there, I took an active role in changing things (even the smallest details were fine-tuned) to ensure it reflected only me.
*Know What You Want. It’s difficult to get a great site without a very clear idea of who you are and what you like. Make sure you’re not depending on a graphic designer to fill in the gaps. Ideally, you want to see the big picture, as well as each component.
*Have a Critical Eye. View your website as a person who’s randomly found your site…is there a disconnect between your work, your style, and your personality. If there is, change it. Ensure you’re showing images that will move your brand forward, and aren’t simply ‘pretty pictures’…while nice, they don’t speak to your soul of your photography and your brand.
*Feel It. Lastly, when you view your website, can you feel yourself pulsing through each page? If not, make active strides to ensure this changes. If you can’t feel yourself on the web, how can you expect anyone else to?

Again, this was a lonnnng post, but I–clearly–feel passionately about this subject. With the growth of photographers in the industry, I think its important to share ideas to ensure we’re collectively moving forward. Together. If you have ideas, feedback, or something to add, feel free to add it in the comment box!

Happy Wendesday!