THE ROAD TO ONLINE SUCCESS
Hello fellow photographer! Looking to create a photography website with WordPress? Not sure about how to do it? Don’t worry, this guide will walk you through the step-by-step process on how to build an awesome website.
Also, if you are thinking that there is a lot of technical stuff involved – You can rest easy again. There really isn’t much technical with technology these days… But still, you can expect quite a lot of one-time administration work. With that said, this is still a worthy one-time pain if you want to establish an online presence, and maybe get some good exposure for your business.
A quick note – Website designs change over time, and the screenshots here may become inaccurate. But the core steps should still be pretty much the same.
AN HONEST DISCLOSURE
Quick, hide your wallets! I am an affiliate partner of Google, eBay, Adobe, Bluehost, and more. There are affiliate links and advertisements on this page. Whenever you buy things from the evil links that I recommend, I will make a commission.
Nah. These are just things to keep the blog going, and allows me to give more good stuff to you guys - for free. So thank you if you decide to pick up my recommendations!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT IS WORDPRESS?
For you guys who are new, you have probably heard about WordPress everywhere, and how just about everyone is recommending it for a new blog or website. But just what is WordPress? It is a content management system (CMS).
Simply put, you just log in the administration portal of WordPress, create a new post and publish it. It’s that simple. WordPress will handle the rest of the technical bits, and you don’t even have to write a single line of code.
FIND A HOST
So we now know about WordPress, but just how do we “get a WordPress website on the Internet”? Firstly, you will need to find a hosting service. In the layman terms, find a company that will provide you with a server to host your WordPress website.
If you are not expecting much, the easiest way is to sign up for a free account at WordPress.com. Although, please take note that there are several restrictions on the free hosting.
- You cannot choose your own domain name (website address). For example, you want http://ninja-photography.com as your website address. You cannot do so until you upgrade to their paid premium service.
- You are restricted to use the wordpress.com domain name. For example, you want to choose http://ninja-photography.wordpress.com as the website address, and someone else took it. The next best solution is to choose another different name, or use addresses like http://ninja-photography-345.wordpress.com, which is not very professional.
- No technical support.
- No guaranteed uptime. The website can go down for as long as they want.
- WordPress.com reserves the rights to put advertisements on your website, and collect statistics without your permission.
- Limited customizations – Limited themes and plugins.
If you are serious about your online presence, I will recommend going with a paid hosting service. With this, you will get technical support and more freedom over the website customizations. Plus, hosting is not that expensive these days. 🙂
I will recommend going with good old Bluehost. They have affordable hosting plans and I never had any major issues with them. If you want to go with my recommendation, just click on the banner below. Choose a plan and complete the registration process.
Once you have completed the registration process, Bluehost should send you the hosting and login details. The first thing you want to do, is to log into your Bluehost control panel and install WordPress.
WORDPRESS PLUG-INS AND INITIAL SETUP
Congratulations! If you have run through the above step, then you already have a WordPress website. The problem is, your brand new website is empty, and it is desperately in need of some contents.
In this section, I will recommend a few plugins that I have used with this blog, as well as give some setup tips. Please note that these are my personal recommendations and are completely optional – You decide what is best for your own website.
HOW TO ACCESS THE ADMIN PANEL
The WordPress admin panel can be accessed by adding “/wp-admin” behind your website address. So for example, the admin panel for this blog is at http://xlightphotography.com/wp-admin… Which you will notice is being disabled for security reasons, and I will touch more on that later. Just log into your admin panel for now.
HOW TO INSTALL PLUGINS
Once in the admin panel, access “Plugins” > “Add New” on the main menu. Plugins are extensions to your website, and they can be everything from adding an image gallery to your website, to creating an audience poll, to setting up an online shop. A small word of advice, the more plugins you have, the slower your website will be. So tone down and install only those that you need.
Another word for those who are on the free website – Your choice of plugins is very limited to the few that WordPress.com have “approved”… Which is why I highly recommend getting yourself a paid host, and your own installation of WordPress.
AN IMAGE GALLERY
What is a photography website without a gallery? If you search for a “gallery” plugin, there will be tons of them. I will recommend going with “Envira Gallery”, or if you are using Flickr, search for “Flickr Album Gallery”.
Comment spam, we face them every day and it is a serious annoyance. Block them out by installing the Cleantalk anti-spam filter, make your life easier.
Does it hurt to have another layer of security? No. Look for the Wordfence plugin and install it – It’s a free and great WordPress firewall plugin.
Remember that the default WordPress admin panel is deployed at “wp-admin”? This is open information, and any smart-aleck can attempt to access your admin panel. Good news is, you can change this access URL.
Simply install the WPS hide login plugin, then go to settings > general > change the login URL. Now, set this to something else that people wouldn’t think of. For example, I could have changed my admin access page to http://xlightphotography.com/yeehaw.
We live in the age of social media, and there is an easy way to add those “share” buttons on your website. Simply install and activate the Super Socializer plugin.
CHOOSE A THEME
As for the final step of the initial setup of your website, it’s time to give it a new look.
- Appearance > Add New
- Search and choose a new theme > Install it > Activate
- Appearance > Customize
- Play around with the customization options
- If you don’t like the theme, feel free to install another one
GAME OF SEO
You now have a spanking new website and a new problem. Nobody is visiting it and nobody knows about it. Yes, you can do it the old school way of promoting it via word of mouth and social media. But there is another way – Let the search engines know about your new site.
Just how do we do that? Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You might have already heard about it, and how “difficult” it is. Bullshit. Here are a few simple things that you can do to let the search engines take note of your presence.
THE IMPORTANT PAGES
If you want people and search engines to take your online presence seriously, these are the important pages that you need to create. (Pages > Add New)
- About: A page about your website, yourself, and/or photography business.
- Contact: Your contact information, phone, email and the ways people can reach you.
- Disclosure: If your website contains ads or affiliate links, it is best to create a disclosure page to state that you are making money from commissions and stuff. It is required by law in a few countries. Better to be on the safe side of the law than sorry.
CREATE BETTER CONTENT
The sad part about having a photography website is that search engines favor words more than images. So a website with nothing but images will not do very well with search engines. If you want your website to be found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, you need to have really good content.
Do your own research, write good tutorials, then promote them on social media. The search engines will eventually reward your good work, and send you more free readers. You can also install the YOAST SEO plugin to help you write optimized articles.
TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS
Choose a good title for your article and write a good description. This will give the users and search engine a good idea on what your article is all about.
- Include power words in your title – Simple, fast, mega, awesome, best, easy, etc…
- For example, 5 simple hacks to improve your photography.
- Make users want to click and read your article. Write a good description and get them to read.
SLUGS AND PERMALINKS
What are slugs? Basically, the address of your article. For example, http://xlightphotography.com/photography-basics/. Now, the trick to having a good slug is to keep it as short and informative as possible.
- Go to Settings > Permalinks.
- Any of the options will work just fine, but I prefer to set it to “Post Name” for SEO purposes. The shorter the URL, the better it is.
If you just let your website sit and do nothing, search engines will probably never find it. There is an easy way, that is to register your website in both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This will at least let them be aware of your new website.
Congratulations, you have finished this long guide. If you have gone through all the above steps, you already have a fully functional website. But a word of advice – don’t stop here and waste all the good effort.
Keeping your website as an online portfolio is easy. But there is so much more potential for having a WordPress website. You can turn it into a shop, offer your own services and even offer prints of your own photos.
It may not be an easy journey, but if you keep building, you will get there one day. Good luck!
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