Yesterday I got a question from a reader asking what I thought about using a link to his Smugmug site in the PFRE Real Estate Photographer Directory.
My response was: "I highly suggest that if you register for the REP directory that you have a real estate photography only site that has a portfolio of your real estate work, contact information etc (not a smugmug or flickr site). The reason I say this is that being in the directory invites potential clients to compare your work to others in your immediate area."
I'll even go farther and say if you intend to do real estate photography a website dedicated to real estate photography is essential to maximize your success. Real estate photography has the capability to create a significant income stream ( 32% of readers report income $40K USD and above, 52% report $29K USD and above). Any endeavor capable of this kind of income which involves supplying clients with images for the web, screams for a dedicated web site where you show your work. After all you can have a template web site that does everything you need for as little as $199 per year. Frankly, when I see a photographer's web site that has, portrait work, events, product shooting, wedding photography and other portfolios on it, to me it says loudly, "Hobby shooter". Any of these shooting specialties where you have a income stream deserves a dedicated site to promote that type of work.
What's wrong with a Smugmug or Flickr site? One of the primary goals of a web site dedicated to your real estate photography work is looking professional. Smugmug and Flickr sites are just don't present a professional image. You need your site to have the following features:
These three items are essential but you can easily build in other features, like links to your photo delivery service, services, prices, terms of service, etc.
How do you do all this without spending a fortune on web site development? There many popular template hosting companies that have template designs for photographers and artists. You don't have to know anything about web site development. You just fill in some forms and upload your images and you have a elegant looking site. Here are some of the most popular:
The price page at BigBlackBag.com has some price comparisons. I know of many real estate photographers that use BigBlackBag and Foliolink. Cherie Irwin, in St Louis, uses BigBlackBag and M. James Northen in Vero Beach uses Foliolink
The yearly cost of a web site at any of these template site hosting services is a small percentage (less than 1%) of your expected real estate photography income, so they are well worth the investment in marketing.