For a long time, I had been marketing my work with one website, showcase all of my work at one address. Despite being organized, I always had this nagging denial that the old site lacked a specific target audience. My work is a tremendous reflection of me, and I felt removing a genre to gain focus would discount rather than strengthen. The creative in me wasn’t ok with that, and I’ve always felt each genre sharpens my skill set, and that benefits every project. A quick example of that is using a remote camera triggered by my primary camera, so I can be in two places at once. That’s a sports photojournalism technique that now benefits business events and wedding ceremonies that I cover. Do many photographers do that? Nope. Is it a huge benefit that clients usually learn about only after production? Yes. So how does that translate value online?
Consistent adaptability, creativity, and problem solving, are the measures of what define a professional photographer, but that isn’t a brand strategy. Clients search for a solution to meet their needs, not the methods and correlating quality that those needs are met at. After receiving some excellent input from a friend and colleague, I realized building dedicated websites for each area of my work was actually prioritizing each niche. I wish I had made marketing move sooner.
Look at the Big Picture
Originally I wasn’t thinking big enough, stuck in familiar marketing practices that needed to grow with me. Boiling everything down, my photography work focuses on three main categories: commercial, photojournalism, and wedding photography. Commercial production is highly technical in execution, from food & beverage to product, portraits, transportation, centered around serving small to medium businesses (for now). My photojournalism work covers sports, events, politics, social issues, and includes writing, adding value to publishers. Wedding photography has a super specific audience and is the smallest element of my lineup. So how do I organize & present all of that while considering form & function?
Reorganizing Web Content & Avoiding Broken Links
Before touching a computer, I grabbed a few sheets of paper and a pencil. I outlined structures for four websites, determining a singular focus for each and organizing menus. New websites would be built for photojournalism and wedding work, while jordanbushphoto.com would be overhauled focusing exclusively on commercial photography. I outlined domain names for each and essentially drafted blueprints for rebranding. To pull everything together, I created a landing page at JordanBushPhotography.com. It’s ridiculously simple, I don’t expect to get any SEO help out of it, but it adds a lot of value to the user experience. It is also the domain I’ve used on all of my printed & digital marketing materials, as well as word processing templates for estimates, quotes, etc.
What Are the Web Hosting & Domain Logistics of Rebranding ?
For how my work is now structured, four domains were required to have one for each dedicated website. Surprisingly, www.lancasterwedding.photography was also available, and is now set up to point to my wedding site. For just a few extra bucks a month, a deluxe web hosting plan allows for unlimited site hosting and is easier to manage than four separate hosting plans. That enabled me to create sites freely with an additional hosting cost of less than a latte every month. It is remarkably simple to set up, and you can designate the root folder that contains each websites files, delivering a clean web address unattached to the other sites. From there, I handled all of my own web design work which was a in the neighborhood of 100 extremely focused (obsessive) hours in just over a week. Yeah. I learned quite a lot and in the future, if I want to add another website, all I need to do is register a domain and everything is in place to start creating content online.
Pro Tip: Migrating Blog Posts for Optimal Marketing
I’m using WordPress, and really looked forward to having dedicated blogs for each area of my work. WordPress has an exporter which allows you to export & import blog entries by Category, and handle all media as a separate export/import. I had to break down each export into smaller timeframes given the sheer volume of photographs I post. After copying posts to the new sites where they belonged, old entries needed to be individually archived and connected to each new blog entry with a permanent 301 redirect so there were no broken links in separating things out. Plugins will help you accomplish both tasks, and it is as tedious as it sounds. Multiple computer displays will help your cause. Search engines love content, and anyone who previously had a blog post link can still access it only on a new, refocused website. The alternative is to leave the old posts as they are which is confusing, or delete them leaving broken links everywhere, which Google will not appreciate.
Why Do All That Work?
After years of experience photographing, each category (and I’m thankful for this) was deep enough to warrant its own independent website. Focusing your brand messages to readers, followers, and clients, allows you to speak to a specific audience with precision. SEO, the written copy, visual content, the topics discussed, are all directed at a person you can identify. Plus, the more specific your audience, the more of an expert you become and the less competition you have. Executing commercial photography itself is an investment, usually involving more planning and equipment than folks anticipate. When you make that commitment, remember that beautiful, highly communicative photographs work best on websites that also work for your brand. Before you start your project, ask yourself how your photographs will be used, and your messages will be consistent the whole way through.