Creating a successful brand means establishing your company’s name and reputation and getting consumers to relate to your values, products and services. Done in the right way, this can transform the fortunes of your business, attracting new customers and keeping existing ones loyal over the long term. While it isn’t something you can do overnight, …
With Netfirms Ready-to-go Websites, you can have your very own website that can be made in the time it takes you to shower!
Netfirms have perfected the easiest way to go from an idea to a fully functional website in only 11 minutes. They have taken the work out of web design and creation by providing you with dozens of stunning styles by brand name designers that are available in just one click. With many variations available for each style there are endless combinations at your finger tips. This allows you to focus your time and energy on what really matters to your audience – content.
Do you want a beautiful website like this?
Here is a typical question we hear often from our website design clients:
I ended up using Photobucket! Also, I have Aleo 3D Flash Slide Show Creator but I do not like the quality it produces. So basically I have a “Photo Gallery” tab on my site, and I want a FAST, exciting, and clean way to put all my albums and photos on my site!
It is not your fault you got confused about how to build your website. Building a website using slide shows or standalone software like Show Creator or even Adobe Dreamweaver can be tedious. Using free software like Photobucket also has many limitations. You probably already know that choosing the wrong website development plan can be detrimental to your business. You should look to build a website to stand out from the crowd.
Avoid Free Hosting!
It is natural for a photographer to create his own photography website or portfolio site to showcase his or her photos. The problem with a free photo hosting sites is their limitations, and won’t provide the user its own customization needed. On the other hand, with a self-hosted photography website, the user has the freedom to customize the layout and designs of his portfolio sites while at the same time creating his own branding. Websites created using free solutions also does not stand out and looks like a typical or cheap website made by a teenager.
Many photo enthusiast are not familiar with the best solution or plan to follow. This post will show you how to build your own beautiful photography website.
Photography Website Development Plan
1. Get a Domain name
2. Get a Web Hosting Account
3. Use WordPress to Create Your Photography Website
4. Build the website, preferably using a stunning custom template
Get a Domain Name.
Your domain name is responsible for the unique identification of your website so that your audience can locate you online. It could be related to your company or hobby or what ever domain name you want as long as it is readily available and not brand name. Domain price generally around $ 9-$ 12. You can start your search at any best domain registrar such as Godaddy or Namecheap.
Once you have your recently registered domain name, you are ready use it when registering for a new hosting company when request for a domain name. Just change the nameservers of your domain name to be pointing to your web host. Domain propagation might take 2-48 hours.
Get a Web Hosting Account.
Since you have your domain name, it is time to decide upon your web hosting account. Identify thoroughly your web hosting requirements regardless of whether you need free hosting, dedicated hosting, shared hosting, virtual private server(vps) hosting or perhaps a reseller hosting. But since it is your first website, you can start with a shared hosting plan.
Nevertheless, prior to signing up to any web hosting provider, you have to review first their abilities and reputations. Pick the one that excels in website hosting features offered, plenty of freebies, A+ BBB score, responsive and educated customer support, good review, includes a money back guarantee and many of all offers high quality hosting service at an affordable price.
Best Hosting or Your Website
The Hostgator reviews will tell you that HG has an amazingly long, 45 days money back guarantee so you have ample time to test them out. They are rated A+ by Better Business Bureau which shows their commitment to customer satisfaction. You also do not have to pay for the first month. You can just try their fully functional hosting service – you pay only $ 0.01 (you need to use the exclusive coupon). Do you know any other hosting company that believe in themselves so much they can give you that kind of assurance? Anybody can grab an account from Hostgator for almost FREE.
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Use WordPress in Creating Your Photography Website
After you have your domain name and web hosting company, it is time to decide the platform of your photography website. It is highly suggested to use WordPress since it has powerful and elegant photography themes and plugins that you can use. Aside from the fact that, WordPress can be easily installed via one-click installer like Fantastico and QuickInstall that can be found in cPanel.
Best Photography Website Templates
Below are 3 top photography themes that you can use:
- PhotoPro – is exactly what it sounds like…a professionally developed WordPress theme for photographers. The theme’s main focus is providing you with a great canvas for showcasing your work. The minimal design, combined with some great jQuery effects and unique layouts are sure to make your site stand out from the crowd and captivate your visitors attention.
- Titan – designed to look great on every desktop browsers as well as in tables and mobile devices. The theme has built-in gallery and portfolio modules supporting many type including images, videos and custom HTML.
- Exposed – a powerful Photography and Portfolio WordPress Theme which is best suited for photographers and creatives who use portfolios to showcase their work. Exposed come with our SmoothThemes Framework that include a Smart Drag & Drop Page Builder, shortcodes, custom widget, fonts selector to help you easily customize your theme without any coding.
Now that you know the steps, all you have to do is start!
When a web designer is gifted, what they produce can be truly stunning. A good design can make the difference between a successful website and an unpopular one. Knowledge is necessary to create a good design. In order to further your knowledge base about designing websites, you should check out the tips discussed in this article.
Be vigilant in policing your website for content that has become obsolete or outdated. If you have a page that is promoting some type of special event that already went on six months ago, then you have lost readers. The average online user values fresh content and attention to detail. Set a review schedule to update content and remove items that are no longer useful.
Forget about pop-up advertisements. There is nothing worse than visiting a website and getting assaulted by tons of pop-up ads. Your customers will agree that if they visit a site, and are overwhelmed with pop-ups, they’re likely not to return. You can avoid losing customers and visitors, by simply refusing to allow pop-up ads on your website. If your host gives you no choice about using pop-ups, you probably ought to choose a new one.
When designing a site, use free software. Though expensive software is certainly available, free products can work just as well when it comes to setting up and running your site. All that is required from you is a little bit of effort in finding and choosing the free tools that will give you just what you’re looking for.
To help beginning web designers create good-looking site you should use Photoshop. By using this type of program, a novice designer will be able to make high quality looking websites at a fast pace. Building a site from scratch can be overwhelming for amateur designers, so take advantage of design tools and programs that can do some of the heavy lifting for you.
Even more important than a good looking website is one that loads fast, and that means all of your files should be small. Large files cause your website to load slowly. You always want your site to load as quickly as it can. There are still people who will be using your website that do not have a high-speed connection. Run tests to ensure that even dial-up users report a smooth user experience.
White is an effective and visually attractive background color for a website. Content is generally more readable on white backgrounding, and this makes your page look both more professional and trustworthy. Complicated background designs, however, can be distracting, or make your site appear amateur. You will find that simpler backgrounds are better.
Put some thought into the “About Us” page. There are a lot of websites that do not utilize compelling or original content for their “About Us” webpages. Crank it up a bit! Try giving people a tiny peek into your personal background. Try showing how you got into website design, who inspired you, and what you hope to accomplish with your business.
As was mentioned before, website creation is often pleasant to look at, but it must be done the right way. It’s pretty easy to distinguish excellent web design for terrible website development, but it may be harder to articulate some of the subtle things that need to be learned to make a website great. Keep the above tips in mind to design a successful website.
One of the most frightening processes for any business, especial a small to mid-sized business, is when it’s time to build a website. There are few resources that speak in non-technical terms, and when shopping around for professionals who specialize in web development and design, costs and further technical jargon can make one’s head spin. Still, there are those, albeit a few people on the technical side that understand a client’s needs, both in design/development and how to relay the project in simple, easy to understand terms. The upfront discussions usually will tell both parties if there will be a smooth project ahead.
An Education Few Have Learned
A recent gathering for a program entitled, “Educational Night: The Business of Design,” the evening’s program was hosted by a local design studio that is making leaps and bounds in the local and national scene, so it didn’t take long for the reservations to pour in until there were no more spaces to be had. Both designers and clients were present for this talk, and the difference in approaches were evident by the banter going back and forth before the lecture started.
The account manager started the lecture by relaying his start as a designer and being forced through increasing responsibility to the studio of having to learn to deal with clients. This is not just talking to people but knowing the nuances of negotiations, trouble-shooting, explanations, and everything else involved in running projects as the client contact. He added:
“I’ve held the role of designer, art director, creative director, studio manager, account manager, and wearer-of-many-hats. Dealing with people is hard enough on a daily basis as you drive, shop, and use a public laundromat, so having to maintain a working relationship, bound by a contract, many thousands of dollars, and a process that few, if any, clients understand, is a unique challenge.”
A Clear Process
Tough economics, competition between creatives and studios, and the cost of a web site with certain collateral projects has clients worried… not that they weren’t worried before but now it has become imperative to waylay the client’s fears with a lot of “hand-holding,” explaining what will happen when, how, and why.
There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it makes perfect sense. How often do designers complain about a project going awry because a client injects a want at the wrong time or mushrooms the scope of the project? By explaining the process, in detail at the beginning, both parties should understand the milestones and what can and should be expected by BOTH the client and the creative team. As someone at the meeting interjected, “wouldn’t you want a doctor to tell you why and how he/she was going to operate on you?”
“Having a defined process – and not the type that we brand, hype up and never use – that is engrained in our culture, we not only understand internally exactly how every project will go, but we have the ability to establish the same expectations with our clients,” explained the account exec. “When buying creative services, there is much trepidation around working with free spirited artists. This process removes much of the variability that keep clients awake at night.”
By simply stating, “This is what we do, and this is what it typically costs, is this a good fit?” it eliminates a lot of the needless bartering and wasted time crafting custom proposals for clients. By defining what we do for brands, and what we don’t do, it’s become easier for us determine cost.”
The studio owner related on how this has impacted the studio both in the bottom line of financial considerations, such as profit margins and people hours on a project but also on repeat clients as opposed to one-time clients. “Design,” he continued, “is a valuable services to clients, and conversations about cost shouldn’t be awkward and embarrassing. They also should happen as early as possible.”
“Process allows designers and agencies to streamline their internal efforts, and helps clients have a better understanding of what they’re buying. But on a more broad scale, it allows us to fight the commoditization of our industry. Let’s be honest, designers are a dime a dozen in a client’s eyes. The market is so saturated that our clients are losing the ability to distinguish between us (designers), resulting in competition based on price rather than talent. Bottom line: they think that all designers are the same, so they hire the cheapest one possible.”
“Process represents a chance to stand out,” he continued. “it demonstrates that a designer understands what it takes for he/she to consistently do good work, and depending on the process employed, may allow them to produce more strategic, educated creative than their peers. Clients will notice the difference and usually pay for it, too.”
Process on the Client End
As with any business expenditure, be prepared to pay for quality. If you hire an electrician to wire the power for your office and they quote $ 7,000 do you really want to chance a beating when you tell them “$ 200 is all (you’re) willing to spend” or go out and find someone who will actually do $ 7,000 worth of work for $ 200? If so, keep lots of fire extinguishers handy and insure your expensive computer equipment for when power surges blow out the processors.
This is not to say you shouldn’t shop around. Perhaps a competent electrician with a good reputation can wire your office for $ 5,000. Well, you just saved $ 2,000 and will have piece of mind that you won’t die a fiery death. The same goes for any professional service. A friend of mine was so excited to have bought all of her office phones on a New York City Street for a quarter of what she would have to pay in a store. It would have been a coup if the phones actually had any wiring inside them.
Shop around for a designer but make sure they are wired inside. It’s better to have a reliable source in case there is a problem with your site as a reliable designer will solve the problem right away, saving you income if you depend heavily on your site, rather than trying to go through contest or bidding site channels to get in touch with the person two continents away, in another time zone, to solve the problem… after negotiating another fee and creating the paperwork and contract through that site. Time lost and time is money.
Naturally, the bigger the design firm, the higher the cost. True, there MAY be higher service and abilities (a firm can write content, develop, design, program and come up with branding and a marketing plan… but so can a freelancer in many cases). A freelancer, in many cases, may be freshly out of a big design firm and has the experience to give you whatever you need. Check their résumé to see what other clients they have serviced. Talk to them about how they work and what they see for your own needs. As with any service provider, referral or not, shop around.
Most importantly, you should feel a comfortable bond with your creative provider. Trust, communication and transparency are the utmost in your relationship.
You might need a first web site for your business or just want to update your existing one with some new technology, want to establish or freshen your brand or create some paper or digital marketing material. Whatever you need, there are great design studios or freelancers available to deliver your needs.
For the sake of this example, let’s say you need a new web site. How do you find a competent vendor for the development and design?
- Ask a professional friend with a great web site who they used. Word of mouth and recommendations are the best and safest way to find great talent.
- Google similar businesses as yours and look at their web sites. Is the site well designed? Is the functionality and navigation top notch? If so, scroll to the bottom of the page and see if there’s a link to the designer or design firm that created the site.
- Google “web designer, yourtown, yourstate” and then look at their web site. Call the clients of web sites they’ve designed for a reference. If you use someone local, you help your local economy, are able to meet with them face-to-face and they are available for site updates and will become a loyal vendor.
- Your niece or nephew goes to art school and you think they will give you an acceptable site for free or $ 50. FORGET IT! If you want a crappy looking site that will make your business look crappy, then go right ahead but if they screw up and something really goes wrong, do you want every relative in the world calling you to scream about how you hurt little Chris’ feelings or spend some awkward family holiday dinners sitting next to little Suzie and her sharp, pointy goth jewelry?
“Ours is an industry that most of us are not truly prepared to enter,” stated the studio owner. “We may be schooled as designers. We may be passionate about our craft, but one day we will all wake up and find that we are under-prepared for what our day has in store. We will realize that the business of graphic design is just as much about relationships, people management, financial decisions, networking and selling as it is about designing. Many will spin their wheels and burn out. The smart designers will adapt and in all likelihood forge the next mold for smart, cutting edge agencies.”
Images ©GL Stock Images
In this series of articles, we’ll explore the best tips to run successful email marketing tips. Email marketing, despite all the options available in an evolving digital world, is still the most personal and effective way to market services… if it’s done right.
I was enamored by one of the first email marketing pieces I received. It was simple text, as they all were way back when, and was entertaining and informative. There were only three small points to it, so it took no more time at all to read, but the thoughts it provoked stayed with me until the next issue would arrive a week later.
It was from a small design studio and it was called “The Hip-O-Meter.” The three entries were fun facts and spotlights on interesting and unique designed objects, books or products and went by “hip,” “hipper,” and “hippest.” It closed with a small paragraph, hawking the advantages of using the small studio’s services and the number of subscribers who received the email newsletter. I saw it go from just over 100 to over 4,000 within a few months.
This inspired me to do the same for the corporation I was with. Meant for my department, it included images, links and animated gifs with 10-12 entries per weekly newsletter. The department had about 100 people in it but in a matter of months, the subscriber list within the company had the newsletter going out to every department and the worldwide distribution was received by over 25,000 employees.
These days, I look forward to certain emails. My car dealer always sends discount coupons, Fab.com has lots of things I want (but can’t afford), Bed Bath and Beyond sends discount notices and so on with a few favorite retailers and service companies. That’s why I don’t unsubscribe from their mailing lists.
So, how would a business or sole-proprietorship make use of email marketing? Most importantly, how would these entities build a list of people who WANT to receive their emails?
Start With “The Hook”
“The Hook,” as it’s known in sales, is something that will grab the attention of a target customer and is a call-to-action to get them to willingly give you their contact information. An email marketing program that offers discount coupons, tips or information not readily available to customers, is a good hook to get people to sign up and open your emails.
Use your existing customers
Not only are your existing customers the biggest base for your email list, they are also the strongest force to share your emails with their friends (the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising). If you do not have access to their emails through the other information you might have as part of your business dealings with them, it’s time to start gathering their email addresses.
When you service a new customer, be sure to ask for their email contact information but for existing customers, either use a phone call method (as they are familiar with your business, tell them you are updating your clint information). This is also a good way to remind customers/clients about your company if you have not seen them in a while.
Put an ad on your own site, for your own business
An eye-catching ad on your site’s sidebar or in with your content, advertising your email coupons and such will get people to opt-in (willingly elect to receive your emails). While you’re collecting opt-ins for emails, you should also collect Twitter names as well as encouraging people to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other social media channels your business uses.
The more content tied to that ad (the click-thru should go to the advertised offer and have other services/products for sale listed as well. Use the hook to sell as well as gather information. Check out OptimizePress as a great tool for converting click-thrus to customers.
You might also want to consider a Lightbox Pop-up to your site, instead of an add. Unfortunately, many browsers have a pop-up blocker, so it’s a crap shoot on how well it may work for you.
Encourage People to Send Your Content to Others
Use share buttons to get viewers of your blog/site to share content on their own social media channels with a button or request to opt-in to your emails. For example, if your site has a blurb about a sale or new product, make it sharable so it can go viral.
Use LinkedIn Contacts
If you spend a good amount of time making connections on LinkedIn, why not download their cards and add them to your email list? As long as you give them an opt-out option, there will be no problem with spamming.
You can also participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups as well as use your status update function to drive like-minded prospects to your email opt-in sign up page.
There’s at least a thousand blogs for every type of business, so use your knowledge to write (or hire a ghost writer) to post interesting content on assorted blogs to peek the interest of prospective clients and drive them to your opt-in page. Top blogs reach millions of readers, so why not grab some attention for yourself?
Don’t! Also, never, ever sell your list.
Are You Spamming?
When people opt-in, they are giving you permission to send them your emails (purchased lists are not opt-ins and can be VERY dangerous!). With LinkedIn, every email I receive starts by explaining that I am connected with the sender. Okay, that makes me feel a bit more at ease but the content is what usually upsets me. It’s hard sell, multi-level marketing pitches and I consider MLM to be scams. The important thing is that I do open it when the subject line includes, “connection on LinkedIn.” The problem is when there is no option to opt-out.
Deal with opt-out request QUICKLY! One of the strengths of an email marketing service is that opt-outs are automatically deleted. If you are doing it yourself and someone gets three or more emails after opting-out, you may face a spam charge. Spam laws are harsh and can bankrupt your business. Be familiar with them before you do your first mailing.
Check Out Email Services
In preparation to start your email marketing, start shopping for email services. Maybe you’ve heard of Constant Contact and while the mention of them is not a recommendation, there are many companies that offer different services for different prices. Be careful about Googling “email marketing services” as some sites have their own “top ten reviews” with their company at the top. Check out this site. Keep in mind you want a service that will allow you to upload vcards for ease of setting up your list. You may have over a thousand connections on LinkedIn and can download one vcard file but you should be able to upload that file effectively and correctly.
Next time: Creating winning content for your email marketing.
Images ©GL Stock Images