Today I’m going to show you how to create a wordpress themed website for your photography, model, makeup or hairstylist business. You can watch the video below or read the step-by-step guide.


There are a lot of options when it comes to creating your website. As a photographer you might be considering something like smugmug or zenfolio. Maybe you’ve looked at squarespace as an option.

I recommend wordpress. Here are my reasons:

  1. Complete customization. With time, you can learn how to change and control every element of your wordpress website. If you’re like me, you love that ability. Using sites like squarespace, zenfolio and others limits the amount of customization you can do. Using these sites, you are trading ease for a high level personalization.  Neither one is better than the other. It just depends on your goals and what purpose your website is going to serve.
  2. SEO. Google makes the rules when it comes to what is important for SEO.  Right now they are making it a priority for websites to be mobile optimized AND fast.Here is a free tool from Google that you can use to check your website performance: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/I asked a handful of friends who run their sites on a mix of zenfolio, smugmug and other platforms to run this test. They all performed poorly on Google speed test.  When I did a search online to see if there was anyway to improve their scores, the consensus on the forums seems to be no. You’re at the mercy of the companies updating their coding.  Personally I don’t want to wait for someone else to decide whether or not my website is optimized. SEO is a lot more than just mobile optimization and speed.  But all things being equal, if you and a competitor have similar content Google is going to give a boost to whichever of the two of you has a more optimized website.  And they will actively punish the website that isn’t.  If your website is an important piece of your marketing strategy I feel wordpress is your best bet for performance.Here are my scores when I first tested my website:google test my site scoreWordPress allowed me to install plugins that easily altered the coding on my website. After a few weeks of experimenting here are my new scores as of today:seo good scoresI’ve had my scores as high as 98 for mobile and desktop speed. The point is this; within a few weeks I was able to significantly improve my websites scores while my friends who are using zenfolio, smugmug and the other platforms won’t see a boost anytime soon if at all.  I did a search for phrases I want to begin ranking for (best photographer in arizona, best photographer in phoenix, portrait photographer, etc). I made a spreadsheet of every single photographer in my area who ranked page one and two. Then I compared my latest website scores with theirs. I’m outperforming every single one of them after making my updates. Now that my website is in top shape, I can begin adding content like this blog post and begin to make my move to take the top spots away from them and claim page one for my photography business.

Here are the steps to creating your wordpress themed website for your photography, makeup artist, hair stylist or videographer business.

  1. Purchase a domain name. Do not use a free wix site or something similar if you are asking people to pay you!  If you can’t invest a few dollars in yourself than you won’t be able to convince others to invest in you.  Think about it… would you go to a doctor who was using a free site? Of course not!  It’s unprofessional and you wouldn’t trust them. It’s no different with your business.I use GoDaddy.com but there are many options for you to choose from.
  2. Next visit themeforest.net and purchase a theme that fits your needs. Use ‘photography’ as a search term. Even if you aren’t a photographer, you’ll find more portfolio based themes using this term than you will by searching for ‘makeup artist’ or ‘model’.
  3. Connect wordpress.org with your domain name. There are tons of tutorials on how to do this. If you get stuck, call the hosting company you bought your domain from and they will walk you through the process. It’s really simple. One word of caution. WordPress.org is NOT the same as wordpress.com. You’ll need an account with wordpress.org to connect your purchased domain.
  4. Login to the backend of your wordpress site using your username and password you created. You login to your site by typing this into your browser:yourdomainname/wp-admin
    For example, I would enter:shanebakerstudios.com/wp-admin
    Hit enter and you’ll get your login page. Enter your username or email and password you created in step 3.
  5. The first thing your want to do is make sure you version of wordpress and the plugins are up to date. Hover your mouse over ‘Plugins’ and click on ‘Installed plugins’.  You may also see a notification near the top left corner. From here you can make sure the plugins and your wordpress version are up to date.

    plugins
  6. Afterwards hover your mouse over ‘Appearance and click on ‘Theme’.theme upload
  7. Click ‘Add new’

    add new
  8. Click ‘Upload theme’

    upload theme
  9. Click ‘Choose file’

    choose file
  10.  Install the .zip file INSIDE the .zip file you downloaded from themeforest.net. It will most likely be titled the same name as the theme you downloaded.  You might see another .zip file with ‘_child” in the name. Ignore this one unless you are installing a child theme. You can find more info about child themes HERE.
  11. Once your theme is uploaded you can go back to the ‘Theme’ section in the ‘Appearance’ menu and customize your site.  You’ll want to import the demo data. This will give your website the appearance it had when you were browsing themeforest.net.

    customize
  12. You can now experiment with the various ‘Pages’, ‘Posts’ and ‘Portfolio’ sections to further customize your website. Be sure to upload your own images and replace all the content on the pages with your own. 

If you try to upload your theme and you get a .PHP memory error, simply call your host provider and tell them you’re uploading your theme and got this error. They will make an adjustment on their end and you’ll be able to upload your theme afterwards.  

Conclusion: 

WordPress websites might take a little more work to set up than some of the other options available nowadays but the rewards far outway the extra time it takes.  

If you’re a photographer, model, makeup artist, hairstylist, designer or videographer you need a great website that will attract the right clients.  

And if you take the extra steps to optimize your website and practice basic SEO, there is a good chance you will begin to outperform your local competition.  Let’s face it, most artists may be great at what they do but when it comes to the tech and business side of things, they struggle. And maybe you’re one of those. But do these simple steps and you can soon have a website that will WOW potential clients and help you stand out from the competition.  

If you create or update your wordpress website after reading this blog post, share a link in the comments and let me know if this helped you. 

How long and what does it take to rank page one on Google? Follow me as I share the behind the scenes SEO strategies I'm using to find out the answer.


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