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A Portfolio Website Is Essential for a Real Estate Photography Business

Published: 09/11/2018
By: larry

SquareSpaceIn the past several weeks, I've noticed several real estate photographers who don't have their own portfolio website. They have a FaceBook page but no portfolio website.

While a Facebook business page is an important way for real estate photographers to connect with and market to Realtors in their area, it is not the best way to show off your portfolio. To show off your portfolio, you want a clean site that's not jammed with distracting advertising. I've seen some real estate photographers who have their domain name pointed at their Facebook business page and don't appear to have a portfolio site that they control. I think that's a bad idea. You should have both.

Your website is a key part of your marketing. It's your brand and will be the centerpiece of your marketing so don't cheap out and not have a portfolio site! For around $150 a year, you can build a top quality portfolio site. It's well worth it! Here are the top places to consider:

  1. Squarespace
  2. Pixpa
  3. 500px
  4. SmugMug
  5. Zenfolio
  6. Format
  7. PhotoShelter

These all have strong features to build your real estate business around. Here is an article over at that reviews these services in detail. These are all very easy to use--any non-technical person can drag and drop a portfolio site together in a few minutes.

4 comments on “A Portfolio Website Is Essential for a Real Estate Photography Business”

  1. Another option is best described as a hybrid. Design your own with preference to a program on your computer rather than being dependent on the online website builders, and use one of the photography sites listed above (zenfolio in my case) as the backoffice delivery mechanism. One page is the ordering/client entry portal that is nothing more than a link that jumps to zenfolio. It doesn't require advanced programming skills using Dreamweaver. If you have the full Adobe CC, you have Muse which is a drag and drop website builder which is what my site was built with - not Dreamweaver which is also part of Adobe CC. Use Dreamweaver if you have the time and skill, otherwise one of the drag and drop programs for ease and typically more flexible than the built in builders of the portfolio sites which you should also build out and even link to a different url reflected in the CNAME instructions. Several advantages to this approach. Upset with the delivery provider (almost happened last renewal) and change, only need to change the re-direction link on your website. Supports multiple photographic genra with several dedicated websites. Perhaps one website that focuses on Realtors addressing their issues, another website for higher end architectural or commercial. And of course if you also do weddings or corporate events, a website dedicated to that, each of which has the one common design page for client access and order delivery jumping to your backoffice provider.

  2. This is an area where I have some expertise. All of the above are great suggestions, but there are two parts to a website 1) the visual and usability factors, and 2) how the website scores in Google/Bing.

    Most of the suggestions above will satisfy the first function, but what about the second? To score well in the search engines requires more than a good looking and functional site. You have to feed the search engines the information that they need to rank your business ahead of all others. If you are not on the first page of results, then you aren't in the game.

    That is why I use WordPress. WordPress is a framework for building websites and utilizes plugins to add function/features. One of those plugins is Yoast. That plugin is all you need to score well - really, really well. It will tell you what each post needs or is missing. If you follow the plugin's scoring, you will have a very successful site. It is this type of SEO functionality that is missing most of the DIY websites that I have seen. Having a beautiful site that is easy to use and that professionally presents your portfolio is no good if people cannot search for real estate photographers and see your business on top - or at least the first page.

    WordPress itself is considered a framework for lay-people to build sites. Although it is much easier than hard coding or using Dreamweaver, it can be a bit daunting at first. If you find yourself unwilling to learn the system, then you can hire a designer to install the site and Yoast, and then teach you how to maintain it. In general you install WordPress (it is free) and then install the template of your choice. Once the template is installed you simply populate it with your personal/business information, using Yoast as a guide for SEO.

    Once the site is installed, you will act as the administrator and will not need the design skills any longer.

    In my site, I have also incorporated Acuity scheduling so the client can order a package, check my schedule and select the time and day of their choice. I receive a text message the instant a new order comes in. My clients love that they can book the photography during a listing presentation. They feel that this elevates them above the competition, as the competition must act as the middle man between the seller and the photographer trying to coordinate a shoot after the listing has been acquired.

    I use TourBuzz as my delivery and virtual tour provider, and they provide a backend for my website which allows the client to login, pay, and download the pictures. It is not rocket science, but it blows the competition away.

    Each day I simply use my cell phone to see my appointments and go out to shoot.

    I receive nearly 100% of my business through the website. New clients are probably a 50-50 mix of referrals and new clients who found my online or because of marketing emails that I send out.

    I am sure everyone has their own opinions on websites, but to me it analogous to the difference between using a point and shoot vs a DSLR. The first one is adequate for many shots and requires little effort to master. The second one yields pro results which cannot be obtained using the first. The second requires some effort to master.

    If you do decide to use one the "point and shoot" website builders, then using Larry's suggestion will save much aggravation and frustration down the road.

  3. Larry's post is about a website for your portfolio as a marketing tool. As a Marketing tool the portfolio needs to be kept updated and representative of the product. It also needs to be easy to find and fast loading. Don't waste your potential client's time looking for your work and/or waiting for it to load. The hardest part is making your portfolio unique not like every other portfolio.

    Another route would be something like GoDaddy's website-builder --- $120 a year and a domain name of your choosing.

  4. Any website you make using a service's proprietary tools means you are locked into that service unless you are willing to completely recreate your site should you move it. The tools are very handy and often make very good looking sites. Those places have spent the time to really polish them. It's just that next year when you go to renew, the price is often quite a bit more than it was initially. Do you pay the higher rate or do you build a whole new site someplace else? The higher price is often calculated to make it cheaper than building a new site someplace else if you are hiring somebody to do it for you. If you got a package deal that included your domain name, you may find that you can't take your domain with you because you don't own it, the service does. Watch out for that one and register your domain name separately through a different entity.

    Like Mike, I use WordPress and can (and have) move my website to a new host in just hours. I've been burned before with a service provider than had a very nice introductory rate which then tripled a year later. As my current host has gone to "cloud hosting" (whatever that means) and is raising prices, I'll be switching hosts. Part of that is that my Russian isn't that good and all of their tech support seems to be from Russia or Eastern Europe and can't find or fix some back end bugs that are a PIA but they can certainly install a fresh batch every time I ask for repairs. With the rise in prices, it's a good time to move and ask for a pro-rata rebate since I just renewed a month ago.

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