This week I want to shift gears a bit as some students have asked about hosting their own photography sites. I know there are many sites out there like Squarespace, SmugMug, ZenFolio, etc that cater to photographers, but most of them are expensive and some even take a percentage of your sales, even though you pay them monthly or yearly for hosting your photography site.
Some students and new photographers have asked about hosting their own photography site and how they could do it. Well I have done exactly that and I am writing this post to share with you the reader. I was using SmugMug, which is an awesome site, but again, expensive at around $30 a month, plus they take a percentage of your print sales or digital sales. In the year I was using them, I only sold around $100 or so, so it was NOT cost effective to use them. I decided to switch to hosting my own site, since I already had hosting with GoDaddy for my personal blog site.
GoDaddy charges me around $200 a year for hosting but I have my own server, I can use as much bandwidth and storage as I want and I can host as many domains as I want. I then went and researched self-hosted site templates and determined that they best way forward was WordPress as their are some companies that make awesome photography templates for WordPress that will even let you sell your images and get paid via PayPal, Square and a few other payment systems. The nice part about doing things this way it you don’t lose any of your money. If I sell a print via my site, the lab that makes the print takes their payment, and I get ALL of the rest of the money!
There are two really good photography themes or templates for WordPress, one is called Photocrati and the other one is called Fluxus. Both of themes are awesome, Photocrati offers e-commerce integration, where Fluxus does not at this time, but Fluxus is a bit easier to work with and you can even use both, since in my opinion Fluxus has a better portfolio options and then use a sub-domain running Photocrati to sell your prints and downloads.
The tricky part about hosting your site yourself, is you need to know WordPress, which takes time to learn well, or you can hire someone who is a WordPress expert to do it for you and once set up, maintain the content yourself. WordPress also has tons of both free and paid plugins for SEO, Caching to make your site faster, etc.
I don’t want to make this article too long so I will close here but now you have something else you can consider, especially when starting out and money is tight. If you want to check out my site, just pop on over to Liam Photography