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A while ago, I heard an interesting fact from the former managing editor of dPS. According to their reader survey, less than 18% of dPS readers own photography websites/blogs. So, I assume that the rest of them are posting photos on places like Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, etc.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, but it’s a little concerning not having a ‘permanent home’ for your photos. Instagram is probably the king of social media today (especially for us photographers), but we don’t know how long the popularity will last. The top places today may be deserted if a better platform comes along (do you remember MySpace!?). You’ll end up having to re-build your online presence all over again.
So, rather than having your photography home on ‘rented land,’ why not set up a website/blog as your ‘permanent home’ to stand the test of time? In this post, I’ll talk about three options to set up your own photography home.
A free blogging platform is the easiest and cheapest (free) way. There are more than a handful of platforms, namely WordPress.com (free plan), Tumblr, Google Blogger, Weebly (free plan) to name but a few. If you’ve ever set up your social media account, you shouldn’t have any trouble starting with these platforms, either.
Unlike social media platforms (that give you no control over how your page looks), these platforms have quite a few themes (design templates) available. You should be able to find one that you like.
Self-hosting is how I host my photography website, and probably the case with many of fellow dPS contributors. If you’re aiming to scale up and do much more than photo blogging (e.g., selling eBooks, starting a tutorial site like dPS, running workshops and letting participants book and pay online), a self-hosted website is your go-to platform. I’m using WordPress (.org) which powers 31% of the web today.
Don’t get WordPress.org mixed up with the WordPress.com as mentioned above which is a free blogging platform (I know this always confuses people). Self-hosted WordPress is a content management system that you install on a web server by purchasing a web hosting plan (USD$100 or less a year including a domain name) with a hosting company like Bluehost. It’s a little more complicated to set it up, but you don’t have to be very techy to manage a self-hosted WordPress website. Many web hosting companies offer one-click installation with no coding skill required to run the site.
If selling photography prints on your website is the main criteria, or you’re doing client work (e.g., for event or wedding photography), services like SmugMug and Zenfolio are a good option. They are paid, but they let you host a website with a built-in print and digital download store. It also handles printing and shipping for you.
Their strength lies in the fact that the platform is made solely for photographers and understands their needs very well. Most importantly, it lets you focus on what matters most to photographers: taking photos. You can leave the rest for them to handle.
Hopefully, this post helps you set up ‘permanent home’ for your photos. What platform to go with is totally up to you and your needs, but I’m sure that your fun will be doubled (photography + your own website). Lastly, let me end this post with a quote by Derek Sivers —
“When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world”.
Replace ‘company’ with ‘website.’ That’s what you get when you have your own website!
If you want to start your own blog here’s a great free course showing you exactly how.
If you have any questions or info to share, feel free to do so in the comments below.