WordPress tips and plugins for photographers

September 27, 2017 -

WordPress is the most widely used content management system for websites. The ease of use, flexibility, availability of third party plugins to extend features, e-commerce options, constant security and core feature updates and all round versatility for a broad range of requirements have made it an extremely popular platform for businesses of all types. And it is especially good for the broad range of requirements photographers could need.

 

I personally operate and host very close to 500 WordPress websites for my own businesses and also for my clients (yes seriously – some days I ask why I would do that to myself too 😝). I have a lot of experience in managing, developing and operating WordPress websites and have helped many photographers get their businesses online using it.

 

Out of all of the content management systems and other website platforms I have used I have no doubt that WordPress offers the largest feature set and opportunities to continue growing and building your website to suit your requirements over a long period of time. WordPress can be used in the simplest of website requirements all the way up to the largest of e-commerce and blogging solutions.

 

But there are some things you need to consider including security, search engine optimisation, ongoing updates and maintenance. Let’s take a look at some WordPress website tips and plugins for photographers. This article is probably targeted at photographers already using or in the process of planning the development of a WordPress website. In each of these tips I will recommend a third party plugin, websites or external resources that will help maximise the potential of your photography WordPress website.

 

WordPress website hosting for photographers

 

Hosting for your WordPress website is one of the most important things to consider. WordPress offer two options for their core products – self hosted (WordPress.org) and hosted (WordPress.com). I highly recommend using the self hosted option for future proofing your website and giving you much more flexibility in how you can use it.

 

When choosing the self hosted version there are a few things to consider. Firstly you will need to get yourself a domain name and a web hosting account. You will also need to either know how to install the core WordPress installation, or select a web host that uses an application set like Bitnami to automate the WordPress installation on your chosen web hosting account.

 

Hosting provides the backbone of your website. Not all hosts are creates equally. For the average photographer a standard hosting account or even a shared VPS will be suitable. But depending on your traffic requirements and number of websites you intend to operate a dedicated server may be a better option. You will need to consider the amount of bandwidth and traffic capacity your web host will allow you to use.

 

Domain name registration – Godaddy.com

Australian WordPress Web Hosting – Digital Pacific

A guide to choosing a WordPress web host – http://www.wpbeginner.com/wordpress-hosting/

 

Using a good domain registrar such as Godaddy will give you all of the functionality you need to take full control of your domain name setttings. The control panel for your domains within the Godaddy website provide all the functionality you will require.

Using a good domain registrar such as Godaddy will give you all of the functionality you need to take full control of your domain name settings. The control panel for your domains within the Godaddy website provide all the functionality you will require.

 

WordPress themes for photographers

 

Unless you are a web developer or intend to use one to build you a custom theme, the quickest and cheapest way to get a WordPress website up and running is to use a pre-built third party photography theme. Themes provide the overall look and feel that visitors will see when visiting your website. They also provide part of the back end management interface you will use to populate and format your content.

 

There are too many WordPress photography themes available to even begin to count. Themes can be purchased for anywhere from $20 upwards. I would expect to pay $60 – $100 for a well built theme that offers the majority of base functionality a photographer will require.

 

Over the past couple of years there has been a big move in the WordPress development community towards using and building interfaces like Visual Composer which offer drag and drop functionality and a very simple way of implementing features into the look and feel of your website. This makes the process much easier with minimal coding requirements to customise your photography website. Also look for theme that come with some form of image gallery functionality that is already pre-built into the theme. There are plenty of image gallery plugins available, but quite often additional styling and coding may be required to incorporate it into the look and feel of the rest of your website.

Photography WordPress themes – https://colorlib.com/wp/photography-wordpress-themes/

More WordPress photography themes – https://athemes.com/collections/best-photography-wordpress-themes/

 

Save yourself a lot of time and money by purchasing a pre built theme that suits your photography business. There are a lot of very good themes that you can purchase for between $50 and $100. And when you consider a good web developer will charge you at least this much per hour of their time, this is definitely a cheaper alternative. It is very possible to then take the theme and customise it wither through hard coding or via the customisation options many themes offer. The extra functionality and flexibility of WordPress plugins will also allow you to build your sire out to suit your business needs.

Save yourself a lot of time and money by purchasing a pre built theme that suits your photography business. There are a lot of very good themes that you can purchase for between $50 and $100. And when you consider a good web developer will charge you at least this much per hour of their time, this is definitely a cheaper alternative. It is very possible to then take the theme and customise it either through hard coding or via the customisation options many themes offer. The extra functionality and flexibility of WordPress plugins will also allow you to build your site out to suit your business needs.

 

WordPress e-commerce for photographers

 

The ability to have e-commerce functionality in a WordPress website allows photographers to monetise their images, prints, workshops, tutorials and many other commercial ideas very easily. There is a bit of a learning curve to maintaining and setting up most of the major e-commerce plugins. One of the obvious things you will require is some form of payment gateway such as PayPal or other credit card processing system to be able to receive online payments.

 

I have personally used most of the major WordPress e-commerce solutions across different projects and generally recommend Woocommerce. But beware – the functionality can be quite complex to initially set up especially when you have variable products such as photo prints that come in different sizes or print types. But once it is up and running it is quite simple to roll out new products and other revenue generating opportunities. The add-ons for shipping, product management, analytics and other additional functionality make Woocommerce the go to option in my opinion.

 

Recommended WordPress e-commerce plugin – Woocommerce

Recommended compatible e-commerce solution – Shopify.com

Recommended Woocommerce compatible payment gateways – PayPal or Stripe

 

Woocommerce is the most widely used WordPress e-commerce solution. You will find a lot of pre built themes already come with Woocommerce store layouts to suit photography sales. In my opinion Woocommerce will suit the e-commerce needs of the majority of photographers.

Woocommerce is the most widely used WordPress e-commerce solution. You will find a lot of pre built themes already come with Woocommerce store layouts to suit photography sales. In my opinion Woocommerce will suit the e-commerce needs of the majority of photographers.

 

WordPress search engine optimisation for photographers

 

Once you have a WordPress photography website getting traffic to it is a key factor to helping you grow your business. Search engine optimisation is the process of making your website visible across as many keyword search terms as possible.

 

Search engine optimisation is a long term process. There are a lot of factors to consider like page titles, meta descriptions, content keyword density, the correct image tags, page load speeds, efficient CSS and JavaScript and so much more. Writing content for SEO requirements is not complex – but it is an ongoing process that is constantly changing. Google make upwards of 800+ updates to its algorithm and required search engine signals each year. But the basics of well written, keyword rich, readable and share worthy content will never change.

 

WordPress is generally considered a great platform for SEO requirements. The core WordPress installation will require some plugins to help generate some of the required tags in the code and to make the process of optimising your photography website content easier. There are also plugins to assist in “minifying” (compressing) your CSS files and generally assisting in page load speeds and monitoring of your incoming traffic. Below are the plugins and resources I would recommend as a starting point.

 

Recommended WordPress SEO Plugin – Yoast SEO

Recommended Google Analytics Plugin – Monster Insights

Recommended Photography SEO resources – Project RAWcast Episode 18 : SEO for photographers

 

Search Engine Optimisation is a complicated subject. But if you have a website search engine referrals will be a key way of generating traffic. A good plugin like Yoast will assist you in ensuring you are populating some of the required elements of your website in the hope of maximising your keyword traffic.

Search Engine Optimisation is a complicated subject. But if you have a website search engine referrals will be a key way of generating traffic. A good plugin like Yoast will assist you in ensuring you are populating some of the required elements of your website in the hope of maximising your keyword traffic.

 

WordPress photography image size optimisation

 

When you are saving your images for use online one of the key factors to consider is the file size. Think of it this way – each and every time your pages are loaded all of the images, HTML code, CSS, JavaScripts and other elements get triggered for data transfer to render the page in a way web browsers can display it. And the file size has a massive impact on how quickly those pages load.

 

Slow websites offer a bad user experience especially in mobile devices. Getting your images to load quickly is going to be a key element for not just user experience but also for SEO. I would recommend getting your images below 200kb / image and even less when possible. Even at this size, when there are a lot of images this will impact your load speeds substantially. Saving your images properly to begin with is a good start. The addition of a good WordPress image optimisation plugin that runs automatically after uploading your images and compresses them based on a set of algorithms that run in the “cloud” is also something I recommend.

 

WordPress Photography Image Optimisation Plugin – EWWW Image Optimisation

Guide to saving images for online use – http://enviragallery.com/how-to-optimize-your-images-for-web/

Website page load speed test – https://www.webpagetest.org/

 

The size of your images have a massive impact on overall page load speed. Saving them correctly and them using a system like EWWW Image Optimiser in your WordPress website will help ensure your website loads quickly.

The size of your images have a massive impact on overall page load speed. Saving them correctly and them using a system like EWWW Image Optimiser in your WordPress website will help ensure your website loads quickly.

 

WordPress Email Lead Capturing Forms

 

So you are getting traffic, creating awesome content, hosting workshops and other events and maybe even creating online photography tutorials. Being able to instantly tell people about all of this awesome stuff is going to assist you in generating long term traffic and revenue for your business.

 

An often overlooked marketing opportunity are email lists. With the shift to social media marketing many photographers have neglected the potential that capturing email leads can offer. There are so many great email list management platforms like Mailchimp, Campaign Manager and Get Response.

 

It is very easy to implement forms from any of these services directly into your website, but I highly recommend using forms that are independent of these platforms to get around the double opt-in requirements many of them have and take full control of where and how you can use your email database. If you capture email addresses within WordPress via a single opt-in method you can them import them to whichever platform you choose to send your email marketing campaigns.

 

Recommended WordPress Email List Plugin – ConvertPlus

Recommended Email List Platform – Mailchimp

 

An email list is an often overlooked form of marketing. As a photographer there is a lot of potential with email marketing to continually engage with your target market. I highly recommend implementing this into your overall business strategy.

An email list is an often overlooked form of marketing. As a photographer there is a lot of potential with email marketing to continually engage with your target market. I highly recommend implementing this into your overall business strategy.

 

WordPress security / Firewall / CDN for photographers

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, security for your WordPress website is a very important thing to consider. Because of it’s widespread use, and the fact it is built on a scripting language (PHP), hackers specifically target WordPress for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are to install their own scripts to send bulk emails or to host files that perform automated brute force attacks on other websites using the resources of your server / hosting account.

 

I know this sounds a bit scary and worrisome to inexperienced website developers. And I am sure you would prefer to be focussing on your photography than worrying about whether your website is secure. But it doesn’t have to be scary or complex. Securing your WordPress website is quite simple once you know the major entry points and methods that are being used to compromise them. There are plenty of plugins available to lock down the log in forms, to secure and protect the directory and file structure, prevent the ability to upload or execute scripts and lock down core components of the website to very specific devices and IP addresses.

 

I highly recommend using a third party firewall service and content delivery network to protect your website from unauthorised access. A firewall (also known as a Web Application Firewall) will effectively ensure that the traffic requests you are receiving are genuine requests. Anything that is seen as an attempt to access files in a way that is not a genuine web page request will be filtered out and blocked. There are a lot of different firewall providers and from my personal experience Sucuri does an excellent job at protecting your website from malicious traffic for a very reasonable price.

 

Recommended WordPress Web Application Firewall – Sucuri.net

Sucuri WordPress Plugin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/sucuri-scanner/

Wordfence WordPress Plugin – https://www.wordfence.com/

Login Lockdown WordPress Plugin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/login-lockdown/

 

Protecting your website with a firewall service such as Sucuri will ensure you keep any malicious traffic away from it. A good firewall service also offers options to as as a content delivery network which helps your website to load quickly.

Protecting your website with a firewall service such as Sucuri will ensure you keep any malicious traffic away from it. A good firewall service also offers options to act as a content delivery network which helps your website to load quickly.

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