A few years ago my new year's resolution was to make my photography business more legitimate. I printed business cards, built a website and started creating a more professional online presence. However, the last few years have been tough on everyone; jobs have dwindled and more and more businesses are going for the do-it-yourself approach when it comes to photography. With that in mind, I can't justify splashing out almost £200 to keep my Squarespace site running, so I'm looking into alternatives.
The thought of building a whole new website from scratch is daunting. It took me ages to build my Squarespace site and create something that not only looked great but reflected who I am as a photographer as well as the services I offer. Squarespace made it easy to design each page, add text boxes, pictures, quotes, videos and even embed my Instagram feed so switching to an alternative isn't an easy decision but it's a necessary one.
When I first signed up to Squarespace I used my brother's student discount which gave me 50% off plus a free domain for the first year so it worked out at just £108 for the whole year including the domain. Since I opted for the business account it cost £216 in the second year plus £19.20 for the domain. After a quiet year selling prints, I switched back to a personal account in my third year costing me a £175 in total but that's still significantly more than I initially paid.
I love the look of my Squarespace site, the website builder is easy to navigate, everything comes together quickly and within a few hours, you have a website ready to launch. Even if you've never built or designed a website before, there are lots of templates and page layouts but that's the case with almost all website builders, not just Squarespace – as we covered in How to build a brilliant photo website.
Most of my work comes through existing clients, word of mouth or Instagram which begs the question, why bother having a website at all when Instagram is free? I think having your work neatly organized and displayed on a website makes you seem more legitimate. I can describe who I am, the packages I offer, how much I charge and provide client testimonials. While the number of jobs I get through my website may have decreased, the jobs I have got over the last few years have paid for it so I do think it’s worth having one – I just think it’s time to look for a cheaper often.
Format and Zenfolio are both currently offering 50% off all plans so you can create a website from as little as $3.50/£2 or $5/£4 respectively when you pay annually. The basic packages are better suited to photographers just starting who don't require huge amounts of storage space, don't need an online store and just need the basic web pages (about section, contact, gallery etc). If your business is more established, a pro or pro plus subscription may be better suited as it gives you access to a personalized email, more storage, a selling platform, plus video hosting.
I appreciate that after this year the price on both Format and Zenfolio will increase, but the basic Format site will still cost me a lot less than Squarespace. Creating a new website every year isn't an ideal solution but it can save money and a freshly designed website might just bring in a few extra clients!
• Want to have complete control? Check out the best website hosting sites if you would rather build you site using code
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