How to build your own website – what to write

If you have been following this series so far, I hope you have found the information Maddy has been sharing useful. Today I am sharing the next steps in how to build your own website, looking at what to write on your WordPress site  and the pages you should have. Over to Maddy…

 

So, here’s how to install WordPress, how to choose a hosting provider and how to purchase your domain name, here’s how to set up your WordPress Maintenance page and how to create your menu.

But what next? You can consider what kind of content you’d like to provide. Here are the basic pages you should definitely have on your website as a photographer:

Homepage

This should feature the main navigation menu, have professional and high resolution images to display of your work, and introduce your business to the reader.

You should

  1. Introduce people to who you are and what you can offer them
  2. Add images and text
  3. Be visually interesting

You should also introduce other pages of your website through content whether it’s adding a slideshow that links to different parts of your website, whether it’s links in the text on your homepage, but we’ll talk about the best slideshow plugins in a later article.

About

Your readers want to know who you are, why you love what you do and what kind of photography you do. What can you offer them? Be clear and specific. Talk about your favourite things, what gets you going. Connect with who you want to talk to. Have a call to action – what do you want the reader to do now?

Contact

You need to add your contact details and a contact form that sends enquiries to your inbox. If the theme you’ve downloaded doesn’t have one already, then install the plugin “Contact form 7” (it’s free) and add a simple contact form.

Prices

How much do you charge? And what do customers get for that? Again, be clear and specific. Clients don’t like hidden fees. If you want to charge extra for travel or for longer hours, say so.

Gallery

Clients want to see your images, your work. Display the images in a gallery format or slideshow so clients can look through at their leisure.

Blog

Updating your website regularly means Google will get used to that fact and visit your site regularly. (We’ll talk more about that at a later stage).

You can create pages in WordPress by going to Pages in the left column, and selecting Add New. Depending on the theme you’ve chosen you’ll see various templates on the right hand side when you go into a new page. Use the documentation provided with the theme to let you know what they look like.

So go on, have a think about each page, map it out using a pen and paper.

If you get stuck, you may be interested in a DIY website consultation with me so drop me a line at hello@business-shine.co.uk

Madeleine Jones helps photographers and wedding suppliers with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling.

A big thanks again to Maddy for sharing her knowledge. I hope you are finding these posts on how to build your own website useful.

Thanks for popping by and do keep an eye out for more in this series

Fiona x

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How to keep on top of it all

This is a massively relevant post to me right now. Learning the lessons so you know how to keep on top of it all when you have a bad day is so important. Yesterday I had a bad day. I was feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do and it was all going wrong. You know the kind of day, we all have them.

Not only am I in the process of planning a new workshop (the awesome The art of getting published: creating styled shoots which I am SO excited about), but wedding season has well and truly hit, I have editing to do, emails to reply to, blogs to write, features for other blogs to write, sample albums to design for venues I’m recommended by, my next Love Your Camera workshop to arrange, a life to plan and small child to run to school and back and clubs and back, a husband to try to spend time with and oh…a million other things that need doing. Plus, the thing that sent me over the edge yesterday, I thought I had lost my regular childminder. The woman without whom we would be hopeless. The woman who enables me to do weddings, shoots and generally work on days when my husband is working (ie monday to friday)! I think you get the point. It was a bad day.

How strange then, that I woke this morning feeling amazing and ready to take on the world again. I went to bed last night, let all the events of the day go and told myself ‘tomorrow’s a new day, it will all work out’. This is all well and good, and that did help (I’m a big believer in thinking positively and being proactive). But the big reason that today is a better day was for a few things I did when I was having my ‘bad day’ that helped set me up right. The things I have learned to do, even when I have occasional dips, that will help me to keep on top of it all.

• Chat to someone, then let go. Don’t keep it bottled in, festering about something that is bothering you is never good. Talking to someone who you trust, who understands and who will give sensible advice (or just listen) is a great way to help when you are having a bad day. Sometimes you just need to have a rant, get it off your chest and then you can move on. Please, do this in private and only to someone you trust. Don’t go crazy sharing your bad day all over social media. It can very easily backfire. But do remember to move on. Your attitude and how you approach a day makes a huge difference to how you feel. Positivity breeds positivity and likewise with negativity.

• Make a plan. I’m a supremely organised kind of person and a bit of a control freak so I like to have a plan. When it all feels too much, work out what you need to do and break it down. Make a plan for your week or your month so you know what needs doing and when you are going to do it. Then stick to that plan! Here’s how to prioritise:

  1. Does it need to be done immediately? If it’s not massively urgent or isn’t something that will assist in other tasks you need to do then its not a priority and doesn’t need doing straight away.
  2. Do you actually need to do this? Sometimes we take on things to help others, or agree to do something out of the goodness of our hearts only to regret the decision later when it takes us away from the things we really need to do. In this case it’s fine to say no to something. It might be something you do out of habit. In which case look at why you are doing this. If it’s not helping with the other work you are doing or making you feel good about yourself then it’s time to let go.
  3. Break it down to smaller tasks. Smaller, quicker things to do will always seem less daunting to do than the large task that makes climbing Everest seem like a doddle! Can you do one small task every day or every week that will work towards the big task?
  4. Just get it done. Sometimes we put off tasks because they maybe aren’t as fun as something else to do, or we feel a bit daunted by it. If its something small, that will take you 10-15 minutes to do, just get it done. It will be a weight off your mind to get this sorted. Especially if its something you have been putting off.
  5. Focus on one thing. When you have a million things to do it can sometimes be tempting to try to do lots of things at the same time, just so you can feel like you are getting more done. This rarely works and you end up half doing lots of things and probably getting yourself in a bit of a tizzy. Set aside time to focus on one thing at a time. For example, I have days where I am just doing editing, days when I am just doing blogging and I set aside time to answer emails and do my social media posts.
  6. Have a goal & then congratulate yourself. For most of us having a goal to reach can be a really positive thing to aim for. Whatever you want to achieve, be it small or big, set yourself a goal and give yourself something to look forward to when you have done it.

• Learn to delegate. This is been my lifesaver. For many years I tried to do it all on my own and it is hard work. In fact, I would say it’s impossible in the long term if you want to run a successful business. There are many things you can pass on to someone else to help with. There are things that don’t require your personal attention, tasks that are time sucks or the things you least enjoy doing. From a business point of view that could be admin work, accounts, photo editing or album designing. But it’s just as easy to outsource some of the more domestic tasks such as cleaning your house or getting someone in to keep your garden looking tip top. Delegating tasks that you don’t need to do can give you more time to concentrate on the tasks you want to do.

• Give yourself some time. We all know exactly how this works. You are so busy doing all your work tasks that your social life or anything that is fun and none work related goes out of the window. When you are feeling overwhelmed with it all it can be a great idea to step back and give yourself some space. Plan an outing with friends, a date with your other half, a trip to the cinema or even just an evening to watch your favourite TV show. Making time for yourself outside of work will give you the escape you need to see things more clearly and help you feel less overwhelmed.

This is pretty much what I did yesterday. After a stressful start to the day I slowly worked through everything. I listed priorities, I delegated tasks that could be passed to someone else and I gave myself the evening off. I sat on the sofa with my husband and watched Better Call Saul. And yes, it definitely helped me get past a pretty horrible day. Today I started the day with a plan and I was back my usual positive, ‘lets get out there and make things happen’ attitude. I knew what I wanted to get done overall and I have my big tasks broken down into smaller ones that I will be doing over the next few weeks. Oh, and thankfully our childcare nightmare has been sorted. Phew!

Hope this helps and gives some tips on how to keep on top of it all. Remember, even the worst days are only fleeting and will pass. Be kind to yourself and make your own life easier by taking it a step at a time.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

How to build your own website – setting up pages & menus

After a great start to this series on how to build your own website, where Maddy explained how to start using WordPress to design and create your own website, she’s back today to explain the next step in setting up pages and menus. Over to Maddy…

Thank you for your kind words and emails about the first installment of how to design your own WordPress website . Today I’m going to follow up by laying out for exactly which pages you should definitely feature and which pages can be more optional.

Once you’ve got the WordPress theme installed, you can consider what kind of content you’d like to provide. Before you do that you should really set up a Maintenance page so that your developing website isn’t on public display.

Here’s how to install a Maintenance page:

This is redundant if your theme has a maintenance page already available so do check your theme documentation first.

Go to your WordPress admin panel.

Go to Plugins

Go to Add New

Search for WP Maintenance Mode

Install the plugin

Activate

Go to plugin Settings, and click Activate.

If available, add a sign up form so readers can sign up to get news of when the site Is launched. Also add your social media links if possible.

How to create a page in WordPress

Next, you need to set up your pages for your WordPress website.

You can create pages in WordPress by going to Pages in the left column, and selecting Add New. Depending on the theme you’ve chosen you’ll see various templates on the right hand side when you go into a new page. Use the documentation provided with the theme purchase to let you know what they look like.

Here are the basic pages you should definitely have on your website as a photographer:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Prices/Packages/Services
  • Gallery/Portfolio
  • Blog

Don’t add any content for now, just add the title to the page and create and save.

How to create your menu

Now you have your pages, next you need to create your navigational menu.

Go to Appearance > Menus

Select Manage Locations

Depending on your theme you can select menus according to where you’d like them to appear. Top Navigation is usually your main menu.

Again, depending on your theme you could have the option for a footer menu. This usually wouldn’t be the same as your top menu, but the other pages that you consider important call to action pages.

To edit your top menu, go to Edit Menus.

You’ll see the list of available pages on the left (if not, click “View All”) and then tick the ones you want to add to the menu and click “Add to Menu”.

Grey boxes will appear in a list on the right.

Click and drag the grey boxes into the order in which you wish the pages to appear.

If there’s any pages you want to add as dropdown under a main page, then simply click and drag the page so it’s slightly to the right and they’ll be subpages.

Click the blue button “Save Menu”

Go to the top left and click View Site

Admire your handiwork. Feel proud of yourself. Have a cup of tea.

Next time I’ll be talking about what to put on each of the pages and more!

If you have any questions please get in touch!

Madeleine Jones helps photographers and wedding suppliers with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling. You can see more about her on her website – http://www.madeleinejones.co/

 

A big thanks again to Maddy for sharing her knowledge. I hope you are finding these posts on how to build your own website useful.

Thanks for popping by and do keep an eye out for more in this series

Fiona x

What on earth do you write on your blog?

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Blank page!!! Agh! I understand, I really do. I have this scenario a lot. I sit there thinking, working ideas in my head. Should I write this? Should I write that? What about this? Will anyone be even slightly interested in reading about that? Or, worse case, I sit there and nothing comes to mind! This happens a fair bit too. I’m not one of those people who find writing comes quickly and naturally. I can write perfectly well and did well at school in English and History, writing essays and dissertations. I know how to spell, construct a sentence and use grammar correctly (most of the time anyway). But it isn’t my comfort zone or my natural way to impart information. I’m a talker. I can chat to anyone and will happily natter away for hours on end. Which is exactly why I am going to start vlogging this year as well as blogging. I think for me this will help get over that blank page nightmare.

However you start and whatever format you choose to use there are things I have learned to do that help me with blogging (and hopefully the same with vlogging when I start doing that!)

Ok, so here is the rundown of what I do when I am putting together a blog post. First up, I come up with the title. The thing I want to write about. This can come from any kind of idea or inspiration. It might be a shoot or wedding I want to share, it might be something I have been asked by a client, it might be something that is being talked about in the wider world. Whatever it is, that’s my starting point. I then do some research around the theme, Ill find references if I need them, links if that’s what I’m after or read around the topic if I am wanting to increase my knowledge.

Once I have done that I start making notes. If I’m at my computer I will make notes directly into the blog draft. If I’m out and about and have a moment of inspiration (which often happens when I’m least expecting it) I’ll make notes in Evernote, Trello or in the Notes app on my phone. The beauty of Evernote and Trello is that they sync to my ipad and my computer so they are very handy. To go off on a slight tangent, Ill give a quick run through about the software I have mentioned. Trello is a new discovery and acts as an online ‘to do’ list for me to keep track of what I need to do day to day. I do use other online systems for other parts of my business, but this one seems to work for me in terms of allowing me to get rid of the million post it notes and lists that littered my desk on a daily basis! Evernote has a little more to it, in that you can add images, links, maps etc to notes. This is very helpful when researching blog posts as well as other work projects and tasks.

From all the note taking and bullet points I have the bare bones of what I am wanting to write (or talk) about. I will then start selecting images, if that is what the blog post is about. Or I will select one or two that illustrate the point or add a visual point of interest to the post. Its then time to start properly writing and filling out the post. This is where I tend to just write what comes into my head without really structuring the post. I get all my thoughts and ideas down and then walk away for a while to clear my head. When I go back I can read through and edit so the post actually make sense! I have discovered that I write very much as I talk, so I do tend to chat on a bit. However, as the aim of the blog is to capture my voice I figure that’s OK.

Here are a few top tips to follow to help you come up with ideas and get writing those blog posts.

1. Write down titles or ideas as and when you get inspired.

If you are anything like me you wont always be ‘inspired’ with an idea at a set time on a particular day. Because of this I make a note of anything that I think would make a good blog post idea as and when they pop into my head. I use Evernote for making notes (this syncs between my computer and my iphone so makes it easy).

2. Think who you are writing for.

When you are writing you need to be yourself, but you also need to think about who you are writing for. For example, I have two blogs. One is this one, and one is attached to my photography website. While there might be some cross over I mostly assume that the majority of people reading my photography blog are brides, grooms and potential photography clients. I know I also have other wedding industry professionals and photographers reading the photography blog but the main people I write for are my potential and current clients. For this blog I am aiming more towards photographers who are needing a little guidance and other business owners who are looking for ideas and advice. Knowing who I am writing for helps me to come up with ideas for topics for blog posts.

3. Be true to yourself and what you care about.

There is no point planning to write about something that you have no interest in, know nothing about and don’t care about. If you do this it will come across in the writing. You wont be able to engage people as much as it will be really clear that you are half hearted about it. There is nothing more appealing than someone who is truly passionate about something. This really does come across in the words and the language that you use. All the posts I write for my blogs are things that I am interested in or interested in sharing. They are things that have a base in something I feel strongly about and care about. If I don’t have the passion and ideas I find it pretty much impossible to find something to write.

4. Don’t think about how many people are reading your blog.

When you first start writing a blog you have no idea if anyone will find you, let alone read what you are saying. That is fine. Basically don’t worry about how many people might or might not read your blog. So what if only one person reads what you say? You should still keep writing as if no one is reading it. If you share what you love, share what you care about, share information that is useful and interesting then people will find you. If you know who you are writing for and make information they want to read, they will find you. They will start telling their friends and your readership will grow. Just don’t worry about it! Write because you want to share whatever it is you are sharing.

5. Be consistent.

I really need to take heed to this lesson myself. I am definitely getting better. I have blogged more in the last 8 months than I did in the last 2 years (true!). But I am told time and time again by my lovely SEO guru Steve (UK Wedding SEO), and my right hand lady, Maddy (who wrote the great article about how to build a wordpress website), that the key to blogging is consistency. Even if you only blog once a month make sure you do blog once a month. Pick a day/date/time that works and stick to it. Eventually, once you are into the swing of things, you can increase how frequently you can blog, but just get the ball rolling for now. The reason this is a great habit to get in to is that regular blogging can do wonders for your websites SEO.

I hope this helps and gives a little guidance as to how I approach that dreaded blank page/new blog/what on earth do I write scenario! When you next blog do come and share. I always love to see what others are inspired by and want to share.

As always if you have any questions please do leave a comment below or email me on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com I’m always happy to hear from you and help if I can.

If you know someone who struggles with blogging do share this post with them.If you want to join the lovely little Facebook group I have set up to offer support, help and guidance look no further. Come and join the Glow Photography Training Group.

Thanks for popping by.

Fiona x

 

 

How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

I have a special guest post to share today from my go to girl, Madeleine. I have worked with her for over a year now and I couldn’t imagine her not being an extended part of my team. She helps me and quite a few other photographers and wedding suppliers I know with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling. Without further ado…

How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

First of all, I’m thrilled to be asked to write for so many photographers who are keen to learn how to build a WordPress website. I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, like I did a few years ago, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know! I’m not going to advocate that you go to Wix or any site builder like that, simply because they have limited functionality. When it’s time for your business to grow and therefore your business website to do more, it’s a challenge to transfer over your content. Squarespace is a cool tool, but I do find it has limitations, and my heart is personally set on WordPress, so I’ll be talking to you about that today.

First up, there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality (good for your couples to create wedding websites on actually) but not a professional site. The second version is WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all singing all dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use http://www.namecheap.com (although there are others out there such as GoDaddy or 123reg) because it’s super simple and easy to use. Plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others

The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk

If that’s not available then .co is contemporary and trendy at the moment, or you could try a different combination, so you could add wedding photography to the domain or fineartphotography instead of just your name e.g. fionasweddingphotography.co.uk rather than fionakelly.co.uk

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but Google loves you and respects your site more if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Next, you need somewhere to host your website, your own corner of the internet on which to build your own home i.e. your website.

I recommend Siteground – I increasingly move clients to this space and many experts who have been around a lot longer than me recommend it too. They’re also brilliant at live support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, name cheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there. If you want to go cheaper and also eco-friendly then I hear great things about EcoHost.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process. (I don’t mean to make this sound like a Siteground sponsored post because it’s not, I just really like them)

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out.

Here’s a great range of options: http://themeforest.net/tags/photography

Be sure to look for the following points

– Fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, like ProPhoto has two versions of your site, one for desktop and one for mobile)

– Great reviews

– Good support system

– Clean design

– How the theme lays out the images

Here are some more themes to look at:

https://colorlib.com/wp/photography-wordpress-themes/

http://enviragallery.com/best-free-photography-themes-for-wordpress/

http://www.nimbusthemes.com/free-photography-wordpress-themes/

http://athemes.com/collections/best-photography-wordpress-themes/

My advice to you – don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the template looks, but actually further down the line you can work with a developer (or learn how to do it yourself) to create the look you really want. Also, please read the documentation that comes with any theme you purchase.

You can download your selected theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Plenty to be getting on with there. In the next post I’ll be talking about which pages you should be considering on your website.

Huge thanks to Maddy for this great advice. I hope you find it useful. If you know anyone this will help please do share this with them and if you want to leave a comment I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x