Richard recently asked "Any suggestions on which Hosting service would be best suited for real estate photographers"? Back in July of this year we had a good discussion on where to host your site. There are 100's of good template photographer hosting sites. More important than where you host your site is how you configure your site.
I've talked to several people recently about their website. Some were struggling with what their domain name should be yet needed work on the basic principles. How your site presents you and your brand is more important than what it's called.
Your portfolio of real estate images is at the center of your marketing. Your website is a way to present your business and yourself to people and let them know how to contact you. Malia Campbell's site is a great example that follows these principles (except for #6 and #7 which are minor and easy to change). It's one of my favorite real estate photographer sites.
- Dedicate a site to real estate photography: A general purpose photography site where people have to look for the real estate section says to people, "I'm just playing around with a lot of things." It makes you look like an amateur. The cost of a template website at someplace like Squarespace.com ($107 USD/yr) is small in the overall scheme of a successful business.
- Carefully review your portfolio images: Have as many experienced professional photographers review your portfolio as possible. Others will see things you don't. Remove everything but the very best images. Ask the PFRE flickr group to review your portfolio and site.
- Use large images in your portfolio: Bigger images have more impact. You want to knock viewers socks off!
- Portfolios should play automatically: When a visitor hits your URL your portfolio should just play continuously. Don't make the viewer hunt for your portfolio or click on thumbnails or next buttons. Also, the viewer should be able to pause the automatic display and take over control, just like Malia's site.
- The site must look good on mobile devices: Mobile device usage is widespread. First of all, don't use Flash and take the time to check out your site on all the popular smartphones and tablets. It is amazing the number of people that don't do this.
- Have a photo of yourself on your Contact page or About page: This is about giving your site and business a more personal feel. The online world is cold, anonymous and impersonal. Do what you can to give your business a personal feel.
- Have your cell phone number on the Contact page: This is a customer service issue. Most Realtors are people-oriented and would like to call you as an initial contact.
- Have as many images of upper-end homes in your portfolio as possible: Upper-end photos say, "I shoot for upper-end agents." Upper-end homes make you look more professional even if most of the homes you shoot are not upper-end homes.
Follow these principles and you'll have a good base to build the rest of your marketing on.