The Purpose Of Your Website
Before we jump into all this, here’s a quick question for you:
Do you know why your website exists?
This is a question few photographers ever think to ask themselves, but doing so can have far-reaching effects for their business.
There are many possible answers.
- Is it simply because it’s become a must-have for every business in today’s modern world?
- Is it because no business can hope to survive without a website?
- Is it because you need to get your name out there?
- Is it so you’ll have somewhere to showcase your photography for potential clients?
- Is it because you want something to take care of sales and bookings for you?
The answer might surprise you – because it’s none of the above.
Even though there’s definitely some truth to all the ideas I just mentioned, your website exists for only one important purpose:
To take anonymous visitors and turn them qualified leads you can follow-up with on the path to them becoming a valuable new client.
It’s really that simple!
Why is this so important?
Because, understanding this fundamental principle of online marketing determines everything you do from this point forward, and it will shape the way you build and manage all of your online marketing assets.
Seeing your website as a converter of visitors into leads will shape the way you structure your navigation, the type of content you produce, your blog, and even the words and photographs you use.
Instead of treating your website as a place on the Internet where people can come to see your photography, you now see it as somewhere to showcase your work in a way that captures people’s attention, generates desire, and guides them closer to the point of raising their hand to let you know they’re interested in finding out more.
It’s at the time when they do raise their hand that they transform themselves into a lead because they’ve now opened a two-way communication channel through which you can follow-up, create rapport, build trust, and ultimately talk with them about working with you on their photography project, whatever it may be.
But what if you’re a photographer who specializes in, say, fine art sales instead of assignment bookings, such as portraits, weddings, or commercial photography?
Does everything in this course still apply to you?
Fine art photographers everywhere are trying to use a single website to showcase and sell their work as well as create awareness about themselves as artists through a blog or other pages on their website.
But those two goals don’t play well together!
The problem is, the fine art photographers make few sales because art buyers are usually motivated to make a purchase when they feel like they have some kind of relationship with the artist and understand more of the story behind their work.
This type of relationship is best built with a blog or journal, whereas the sale of the artwork itself is more suited to a purely e-commerce website, hence the conflict.
For that reason, it’s best for fine art photographers to separate the artist from the art by using two distinct websites.
The website and blog is responsible for developing the audience relationship and is the one with the purpose of generating sales leads as we’ve already described here.
The e-commerce website does what it’s designed for – it takes care of the sales process in the most efficient way possible.
The secret, if you like, is to never send cold visitors (people who have not previously been exposed to you or your photography) to your e-commerce website, but send them to the blog instead.
Where Your Website Fits Into The Big Picture
If we look at the big picture, it should come as no surprise to find your website at the center of everything, like the hub of a giant wheel.
This might seem like a case of stating the obvious, but there’s a fundamental principle you should be aware of here, which a lot of photographers overlook, and it’s costing them dearly in lost time, money, and clients.
The principle goes like this:
Marketing is a complex system, made up of many moving parts, all dependent upon each other in some way, but the individual components should not be thought of as “marketing” when considered in isolation.
This means, for example, that Facebook or Google are not marketing systems in their own right (at least not in the context of your business), but merely the pieces of a larger machine where your website occupies the center.
Understanding this helps to avoid asking difficult-to-answer questions such as, “how can I use Facebook for marketing?” and focus instead on more productive questions like “how can I use Facebook to drive visitors to my website where I can further our relationship?”
Keeping this image in mind, with your website at the center of your marketing universe, will save you a lot of time later on when you’re developing specific marketing campaigns.
How Visitors Become Clients
So how do people actually become a client under this system?
The path to becoming a client starts with a visit to a page on your website or blog. Where they came from isn’t important for now, just the fact they arrived.
At this stage, they’re anonymous or an IP address at best. You can’t communicate with them directly, other than through the content they see on your website, so a lot depends on how much your content relates to them.
The first thing it needs to do is capture their attention with a compelling headline, which lets them know they’re in the right place and that there’s something interesting and valuable to be discovered, and that it’s worth their time to keep reading.
Converting their attention into interest is the next step, driving them to read more and consume the content you created for them.
Along the way, your intention is for them to get to know, like, and trust you.
But (just as in real-world relationships) this process takes time and is unlikely to happen as a result of them reading only a few pages of your website on their first visit.
It stands to reason, then, that it’s going to take multiple visits to your website before they’re going to feel comfortable enough making themselves known to you as a lead, which is where both social media and email marketing can definitely help to keep them coming back.
Eventually, as long as they fit the profile of your ideal client, they’re going to trust you enough to want to talk with you in person about the type of work they’re looking to have created, which is when your sales or booking process take over.
Obviously, the time this takes will vary from person to person and business to business, but (if all goes well) your website and marketing system will have worked its magic to turn your initial stranger into a valued member of your client family.
Do you know who your ideal target clients are in detail?
Identify the top 3 qualities that make your ideal clients the people you most LOVE to work with and the reason why.
You can write each one down as a sentence, similar to this:
“My ideal clients are __________ because __________.”