As a photographer running a small business, choosing the best website platform to build your photography website is tough. But it is crucial to a thriving photography business.
Your website is the bread and butter of your business. It’s the home base for your potential clients. Your photography business website is THE place where people will go to see what you’re all about, learn more about you and the type of photography you offer and actually reach out and contact you.
Most importantly your website is the strongest tool you have for your potential clients to find you through search results utilizing SEO (search engine optimization). So when a mom types “family photographer in Boulder, CO” into Google and clicks search, YOU have the potential to show up in the search results. And guess what?!??! That is totally FREE advertising for you!
Now, where do you start with figuring out which website platform for photographers is the best to build your photography website on? I went ahead and reviewed the top four website platforms for photographer that I believe are best for your photography business (WordPress, Showit, Squarspace + WIX). I give you the pros and cons of each and rate the top four considerations when selecting a website platform for your photography business:
Ease of Use – When I refer to ease of use, I am referring to how easy it is for an average joe photographer with no background in website design or coding to actually build a beautiful and functional website.
Flexibility of Design – Flexibility of design refers to how customizable the platform is. This is for the person who loves to have control of every design aspect of their website.
SEO – This is probably the BIGGEST factor to take into consideration when selecting a website platform. Even if you’re just starting your photography business and you don’t even know what SEO stands for (hint: Search Engine Optimization), just trust me that it will be a BIG part in growing your business!
Cost – Yes, you are going to have to pay something for all these awesome platforms but they vary greatly in cost.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m the website platform expert – hell no! I am not some SEO guru. BUT, I have done a ton of research and have personally tested out all of these platforms. I started my photography website on WIX because of the cost and how easy it was to use and I just am now migrating my site over to ShowIt because of the better SEO. I encourage you to do your own research to find the right platform for you. But if you are anything like me when I first started my photography business (a.k.a. a deer in the headlights when it came to website platforms) then this is a great place to start exploring your options.
Pros: Best website building platform for SEO – period.
Cons: Way more difficult to use that most other platforms. You also have to keep up with updating all your wordpress plugins or else you can risk the security of your website. When you do update your plugins, I found that you need to immediately do an audit of your website to confirm that everything’s in its place as plugin updates can sometimes mess up your website design.
Ease of Use: Rated 2/5
WordPress is notorious for not being very user friendly. WordPress has their own editor that you can use, but it is still complicated and not intuitive. You can also purchase other WordPress editing plugins to make it easier. I have tried a few and still feel like it is the hardest website platform to use.
Flexibility of Design: Rated 5/5
WordPress is an open source platform meaning you can pretty much do anything you want with it! It has the most flexibility of all the platforms, but to max out that flexibility you’ll probably need a person who is more versed in website design and code. But, with WordPress, if you can dream it you can do it.
SEO: Rated 5/5
Because WordPress itself is one of the most customizable website platforms, their SEO features are also fully customizable. If you don’t know much about SEO, know that the more you can narrow down and be very specific about exactly what content your website is about, the more search engines will like you. So WordPress’s complete customization is very SEO friendly but you do have to do the work to manually put in place the key factors that effect SEO. Also, 30% of the world’s websites are built on WordPress. So Google really knows how WordPress websites are structured and how to crawl it for SEO important information. WordPress also has top ranking in other SEO functions such as site speed, pretty permalinks, metadata and user experience. This is the reason WordPress is #1 for SEO.
Cost: WordPress is free to use but most people find that they want to purchase a theme for their website to allow them to more easily design their website. Themes can range from a one time purchase of $30 to over a $1,000.
Pros: Showit is easy to use and can be super customized. There are also hundreds and hundreds of website design templates for free and to purchase that make building your website even easier. It uses a WordPress-based blog platform, so you still get all the best SEO benefits.
Cons: It can be a little slower learning curve to learn how to edit and design things exactly how you’d like. It also is the most expensive of all platforms.
Ease of Use: Rated 3/5
This is not the hardest website building platform to use, but it’s not necessarily the easiest either. If you just select a website template it is very easy to go through the template and replace content with your own.
Flexibility of Design: Rated 5/5
Showit is very flexible in its design. You can add custom code and it has the ability to be an open source platform like wordpress which allows for endless possibilities. It’s drag and drop functionality also allows you to be creative and custom with your website design.
SEO: Rated 4.5/5
Showit has all the SEO metrics needed to make sure your website is in tip-top shape. You can update and edit the most important SEO factors such as page titles, descriptions and keywords and alt-texts on images. And because Showit uses WordPress for your blog, you get all the imperative SEO factors for your blog that are described in the WordPress section above: pretty permalinks, titles, meta descriptions and tags.
Cost: $19/month – $39/month
Pros: Squarespace is pretty darn easy to use! If you are the type of person who just wants to select a website template that you love and then plug in all your own content, then Squarespace is an awesome option for you! Squarespace also handles SEO features automatically, but I highly suggest going in to each page to customize the SEO content specifically for each page.
Cons: If you are like me and like any sort of creativity and customization when it comes to your website, Squarespace is very limited unless you know how to actually code (I don’t know any photographers who do!). Although Squarespace automatically handles your website’s SEO for you, I did find it a little more difficult to customize those specific SEO strategies
Ease of Use: Rated 5/5
For the person who has little experience in website design and doesn’t want to put a lot of time into customizing their website – a.k.a. you want to select a website template and drop in your own content – then Squarespace is a great option for you! It’s very easy to use and change out content on a website template.
Flexibility of Design: Rated 3/5
While Squarespace is easy to use when starting with a standard website template and dropping in your own content, it does not allow for as much flexibility in the design unless you actually know how to code.
SEO: Rated 4/5
Squarespace SEO isn’t #1 like WordPress, but it certainly is good enough for what you’re going to need as a small business owner. The nice thing is that Squarespace sets up a lot of your SEO automatically as you build your website, BUT do not use this as a crutch, because I still think it is valuable and necessary to go into your website and manually update the SEO on each page so it is fine tuned and specific.
Cost: $12/month – $26/month
Pros: Wix is extremely intuitive and easy to use. That was the number one draw for me! If you like to have a little more control over your website design, then Wix is the easiest platform to do that with.
Cons: WIX’s SEO capabilities is lagging behind the rest.
Ease of Use: Rated 5/5
I love, love, LOVE WIX for how easy it is to use! It’s very intuitive with the drag and drop functionality. WIX also has a lot of templates that you can design your website with.
Flexibility of Design: Rated 4.5/5
With WIX you can easily customize your site pretty much however you want. You can easily create whatever design you have brewing in your head – and I love WIX for that. It’s easy to move things around and tweak the design to your preference.
SEO: Rated 3/5
Wix SEO is lagging behind the rest. WIX used to do all the wrong things in terms of SEO. Although they have made big changes in SEO over the past few years that help tremendously, they still haven’t caught up to the SEO quality of WordPress (or even Squarespace). I hosted my photography website on WIX for two and half years. My SEO was good because I put a lot of time into customizing every SEO option on WIX, but I eventually decided to move my platform to Showit so I could have the automatic benefit of a WordPress blog and better SEO. So, you absolutely can create an SEO effective site using WIX, but it still may not be as SEO-friendly as these other website platforms.
Cost: $14.50/month – $25/month
As you can see there are so many factors when it comes to selecting the best platform to build your website for your photography business. Depending on if you love spending time of creating a custom and unique website or if you just want to choose a template and go, different website platforms might be best for you. In my opinion, I would personally go with Squarespace or Showit. You can do trial versions of all of these (WIX actually lets you build out your entire website for free and then you can upgrade to connect your domain). No matter what, these four options should give you a good leg up in your photography business website!
Hey, it’s me, Larissa! I started my photography business three years ago with a one-day photography class, a craigslist camera and zero experience photographing people. I’m not a hot shot in the industry, but a real person who built a business that replaced my previous job’s income and a fire in my soul to share how I got my business off the ground with other newbie photographers. If you want more advice, how-to’s and tips on getting your portrait photography business off the ground, head over to my photographers page!