One of the biggest obstacles to building websites used to be that they had to be coded by hand. Thanks to applications like WordPress, you can now build your photography site without having to learn too much technical details.
In this article, we will guide you through all the things you’ll need to build a photography website using WordPress.
The 7-Step Guide to Building Your Photography Site
WordPress is a web-based CMS. Being an application, it comes with pre-built functions you can use. This helps reduce the amount of technical knowledge you’ll need in order to build your website with it.
Because of its base simplicity but virtually unlimited functionality, WordPress is extremely popular. It is used to build more than one third of all websites in existence today. However, to use it you will still need to have a web hosting account and domain name.
1. Choose a Domain and Web Hosting
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. Web hosting is server space online where you can upload the files needed to run your own website.
Every website needs both of these elements to function.
If this is your first time searching for web hosting and a domain name, I recommend you look for web hosting first. Some web hosting plans come with a free domain name included, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
For large / popular photography website, I'd recommend Kinsta. Why? Photography sites are media heavy and bad caching can make a mess of things. With managed hosting, everything is taken care of and you can focus on adding beautiful pictures.
Tip: If you want to get started quickly, you can also opt for a WordPress.com account. This will give you access to web hosting, a domain name, and ready-installed WordPress for immediate use.
2. Install WordPress
Some web hosts sell WordPress plans. The key difference between these and shared hosting is that WordPress plans usually come with the application pre-installed. If you opt for standard shared hosting, don’t worry – Installation isn’t difficult.
The reason why is that most web hosting plans will come with an application installer. It’s something like the installation Wizard on Windows PCs. All you need to do is log into your web hosting account and run the installer for WordPress.
Follow the instructions given by the installer and you’ll have WordPress ready to go. When it’s done, you should have your username and password already. Using that, log in to your WordPress dashboard.
Tip: If you’re using cPanel, look for the application installer named ‘Softaculous’.
3. Select and Install a Theme
There are various ways to build your website from this point forward. I prefer to choose a theme first. Most themes will give you very visual examples of what your site can look like. This can help you choose the background to build on in advance.
A theme is like a template for your website. It comes with some pre-built functions and other features that you can use as well.
To choose a theme,
Go to Appearance -> Themes
Type in some search parameters like ‘photography’
Browse the themes
To preview a theme, hover your mouse cursor over it and select ‘Preview’
To choose a theme, click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’
There are thousands of WordPress themes around, so I am certain you’ll find one to your liking.
For photography sites, here are a few you can check out:
Pictorio by Automattic – Pictorico is a single-column, grid-based theme with large Featured Images and a post slider, perfect for photo blogging or a portfolio site. This theme’s main feature incorporates a post slider to showcase your images.
Cubic by Automattic – If you are looking for a photo-blogging platform, Cubic has a grid-based theme with large featured images perfect for this purpose. It also allows you to display links to your social media profiles for easy content promotion.
Alternatively – check out theme sites like Elegant Themes. These platforms allow you to download and use professional designed themes with a small monthly subscription fees.
4. Add Content to the Site
Once you’ve finalized your theme, it is time to add content to your site. Remember that although you’re building a photography site, text content is important as well. Search engines need a certain amount of text to help them rank sites.
Content on WordPress sites are built along two main forms – Pages and Posts. The former are likely to be seldom changed, such as your ‘About Me’ or ‘Contact’ information. Posts on the other hand will hold your real content.
To add a new page, go to Pages > Add New.
To add a new post, go to Posts > Add New.
Each page or post is made up of various elements. The most basic among these are text, images, and hyperlinks. However, there is so much more that can be added like video, shortcodes, widgets – the features are practically endless.
To add text, simply type in the box where you want your text to appear. To add other types of content, click on the small plus sign in the content area. A pop-out box will appear, allowing you to select what type of content type you want to add – such as images.
Tip: Take note of consistency when adding content to your photography site. Having a steady look and feel throughout your site makes it a better experience for your readers.
5. Customise Your Website
Once you have finalized your themes, pages, and posts, it is time to start customising your site. Here, you need to add a touch of personalization.
There are two main areas where you’ll need to pay attention. The first is in design and the next is in your site identity.
Building Your Site Identity
To build your site identity go to ‘Appearance’ and click on ‘Customize’. This will allow you to change some fields like your site title, tagline, and perhaps add other features like your logo. The exact options open to you here will depend on the theme you’ve selected.
Customizing the Look
Under the same Customization menu, there will be other appearance-altering options as well. For example, you can choose the layout of your pages, icons, fonts, colours, and other elements which will make your site more unique.
6. Building the Navigation Menu
Building an effective navigation menu makes it easier for someone to find what they're looking for on your site. This is extremely important in any website and helps visitors move around more easily.
1. Under the ‘Appearance’ tab, click on ‘Menus.
2. From ‘Add Menu Items’ you can select what type of content to add the the menu
As you can see, reaching this point means you’ve actually learnt how to build the base of your photography site. If you’ve customized your site along the way through this tutorial, it should be ready to go.
The beauty of WordPress though, is that it gives you so much power over your website while demanding so little of you. Thanks to Plugins, you can add a great deal more to your site if you need to.
7. Using Plugins
The base installation of WordPress is for content creators. Although photography falls under this umbrella as well, you may need some extra help to showcase your wonderful images. Some plugins were designed to help photographers do this.
For example, you can find plugins to help you handle:
Multiple gallery types
You will have plenty of options in displaying your photos on your website. Choose one to help showcase your images in more advanced settings.
Although it may be difficult to let users experience the details of hi-res photography online, you can integrate some tools to help you enhance the effects of lower-res images.
Integration with eCommerce plugins
This is a great option if you plan on selling your photographs online. In this case, an eCommerce plugin can be useful for this purpose, allowing you to automate the sale and delivery of digital photos.
Social media integrations
If you want to boost traffic on your social media platforms, allowing visitors to view and share your photos can help you build connections with a larger audience.
As you can see, even though I designed this as a guide, at many points throughout you have options. WordPress is beautiful not just because it’s relatively easy to use, but it offers users a great deal of flexibility and power over their sites.
You can easily build your own website and have it as simple or feature-rich as you desire. Best of all, if you use your own web hosting, you have complete control over everything you do – supporting as many visitors as you want, earning from advertising, or even selling your art.
If you get stuck, there’s also less concern. Thanks to the popularity of WordPress, there is a massive amount of support available. You can seek out help from the developers of the plugins you use, on forums, or even with your web host.
Try it out today, you won’t regret choosing WordPress.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.