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 10o's of good template photographer hosting sites. More important than where you host your site is how you configure your site.
Your portfolio of real estate images is at the center of your marketing. Your website is just an accessible 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 minor features that are easy to fix). 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 playing around with a lot of things and not making any money with photography". It makes you look like an amateur. The cost of a template website at someplace Squarespace.com ($107USD/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. The fact is, many of your client viewers just aren't smart enough to quickly spot how to navigate a site. 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 then take the time to checkout your site on all the popular Smart phones 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 personal feel.
- Have your cell phone number on the contact page: This is a customer service issue. As a real estate agent, after I sign a listing agreement with a home seller I know the seller will immediately ask, "when can we be on the market?" I want to call my real estate photographer before I leave the sellers home and book an appointment. I don't want to send an email, wait 24 hours for a reply etc. In this business you need to carry a cell phone and be instantly available. This is not that hard to do. Real estate agents do it and expect their contractors to do it too.
- 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.