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Author Topic: Seeking advice on website & marketing.  (Read 5282 times)
Zuki
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« on: December 03, 2011, 01:02:52 PM »
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Hello,

This is my first post - I'd really appreciate some advice on improving my website/marketing.

Some background:  I shoot stock and an occasional assignment (hopefully more in the future).  My website, www.ottertrack.com, was designed to be used as a portfolio.  It's of limited value for marketing as it isn't geared towards SEO.  It also lacks practical usefulness for my clients, as all they can do on the site is view samples and see a stock list.   I use iView/Expression Media software and all my images are keyworded but not captioned nor titled (besides a unique I.D. number).

Well, no surprise, I'd really like to increase my presence on the web (and my sales) and I'd really appreciate some advice on several matters:

1.  Are there any services or software you'd recommend for adding a keyword searchable image library on my website?  It's not vital to me that clients be able to purchase rights or download files directly from the website, but it is important that they could do an advanced search using keywords and save their selections on some kind of lightbox or gallery.   
2.  Would any of the above services or software be compatible with iView (Expression Media) so that the keyword searchable image library could be created by a simple export from iView or some kind of batch process?
3.  Currently, as far as I know, about the only way for someone to find my website via a search engine is to use my name in the search, so of course it'd be much better to improve the website so that people searching for a specific image subject or location would find images on my site.  Would adding a keyword searchable image library on the site take care of this need also?  And would I need to add titles and captions to all the images or would keywords suffice (for SEO)?
4.  If I want to go the route of using a stock agency, are there any you'd recommend?  And would adding captions and titles to the images be vital for submission to a stock agency or could I get away with using my current image numbers as titles?
5.  I also shoot an occasional wedding and post images on SmugMug to take care of print fulfillment.  Would any of the services or software recommendations from the prior questions also include this feature?  This isn't as important to me as the other needs, but it'd be nice to have.
6.  Anyone recommend any webmasters experienced with these sorts of matters who are good to work with?

I'm game for any additional advice, suggestions and/or feedback.

Many thanks!
Leon
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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 03:28:42 PM »
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For what you are looking for there are a number of solutions.

The best solution would be to hire a developer or designer & developer. Have the developer custom create a system to let users search images. As a web-designer, among other things, I don't write a great deal of code myself. This means I spend a great deal of time looking for web-developers to either do the work for me, or see if a solution already exists that I can integrate. Another solution would be to find a ready made script and customize it yourself. The last solution I see is to use a CMS (content management system) with such functionality built in or readily available, such as WordPress. The third option also has the added benefit of increasing SEO.

Speaking of SEO, there are a large number of ways to improve search engine optimization. Wording is a big part of it, though not as much as it used to be. My websites usually have quite a list of meta tags at the top, but Google doesn't utilize these as much as it used to. Like I said previously, using certain CMS like WordPress will help, or even just having a WordPress blog integrated into your site.

There are quite a number of other things which can be done to improve SEO as well, although I probably shouldn't get too deep into those, else I would have to charge you for consulting work. But rather than doing that I would just say to Google SEO, namely look at what Google itself looks for. Yes there are other search engines, but let's face it, Google is top-dog, no matter what Microsoft wants to think.

Now I am not entirely sure about integration into the software you are already using, again I believe this would come down to hiring a developer or surfing the web for a ready made solution.

I hope that sheds some light on the subject and gives you a better sense of direction.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 03:32:12 PM by JonathanRimmel » Logged
mediumcool
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 08:22:48 AM »
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Damn, just lost a couple of paragraphs!

Starting again, Jonathan has some good advice; as he says, SEO has changed. Once putting keywords in the header and sending in the robots was de rigueur; now it’s not so simple. As I understand it, richness of links assists in rankings, and there are things like site map submissions.

Social media is a biggy these days, and should be investigated; it’s good to get people interested in what you’re doing and with Facebook, for instance, there are different levels at which you can involve users/visitors. Always pointing to your stand-alone site of course. I am on Facebook, Tumblr amd Mlkshk, but have yet to co-ordinate these with another site dedicated to selling as distinct from display.

A word about your site: consider flexible layouts that are centred and work with different screen sizes. Mobile phones and tablets are gaining in the market, and remember a lot of netbooks have only 600px-high screens. CSS can do a lot of this work for you.

And one more comment: while photographs look great against a black background, white text on black is a bit eye-wearying. Experiment with near-black and light-grey text to find a combination that still looks good and is optimally readable (bonus is that full-toned pics have a greater dynamic range than their surrounds so look crisper).

I whipped up a quick look in Photoshop, using Lucida Grande in various colours (the orange-ish colour is for links) and a dark grey for the BG. Make sure you look at the pic @ 100% view. HTH


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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 09:36:02 AM »
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Damn, just lost a couple of paragraphs!

Starting again, Jonathan has some good advice; as he says, SEO has changed. Once putting keywords in the header and sending in the robots was de rigueur; now it’s not so simple. As I understand it, richness of links assists in rankings, and there are things like site map submissions.

Social media is a biggy these days, and should be investigated; it’s good to get people interested in what you’re doing and with Facebook, for instance, there are different levels at which you can involve users/visitors. Always pointing to your stand-alone site of course. I am on Facebook, Tumblr amd Mlkshk, but have yet to co-ordinate these with another site dedicated to selling as distinct from display.

A word about your site: consider flexible layouts that are centred and work with different screen sizes. Mobile phones and tablets are gaining in the market, and remember a lot of netbooks have only 600px-high screens. CSS can do a lot of this work for you.

And one more comment: while photographs look great against a black background, white text on black is a bit eye-wearying. Experiment with near-black and light-grey text to find a combination that still looks good and is optimally readable (bonus is that full-toned pics have a greater dynamic range than their surrounds so look crisper).

I whipped up a quick look in Photoshop, using Lucida Grande in various colours (the orange-ish colour is for links) and a dark grey for the BG. Make sure you look at the pic @ 100% view. HTH


Rather than new information, I would like to emphasize the above. Social media is where it's at (unfortunately). Personally I haven't jumped on the Google Plus band wagon yet. Along those lines, I would like to point out that having a presence on a bunch of social networks you do not keep up-to-date can do more harm then good. So keep that in mind.

Also there are some good points being brought up here about site design. I agree with toning down the contrast slightly. Additionally, having multiple cascading style sheets for a variety of media (aka tablets, smart phones, print, and screen) is a good idea. Something which I need to get on myself. (my current site was somewhat hashed together last minute)

Above all though, keep in mind the end user, how are they going to look at and search your site. I think you are in the right direction wanting a searchable gallery. If you are selling stock images this can be very useful.  
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mediumcool
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2011, 05:00:08 PM »
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Rather than new information, I would like to emphasize the above. Social media is where it's at (unfortunately). Personally I haven't jumped on the Google Plus band wagon yet. Along those lines, I would like to point out that having a presence on a bunch of social networks you do not keep up-to-date can do more harm then good. So keep that in mind.

Often forgotten online (especially social media) is the need for freshness; update or die! Some of the work can be done for you by visitors, but remember word-of-mouth advertising, while free, does not come without a cost—you can’t control what is said about you, except via the crude methods of banning and censorship.

Above all though, keep in mind the end user, how are they going to look at and search your site. I think you are in the right direction wanting a searchable gallery. If you are selling stock images this can be very useful.  

+1
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Zuki
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2011, 07:13:38 PM »
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Hey Jonathan & MediumCool,
I really appreciate your advice.  It was useful in both the specifics and in reminding me that I have a long way to go to get a grip on this stuff. 
And MC - that was really generous of you to make that sample page.  I agree, the slightly muted colors are an improvement.
I'm going to see if I can find someone to help me with this somewhat daunting project.  It might be a challenge since I don't have a large budget. 
Might ask you another question or two later if you don't mind.
Thanks again!
Leon
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mediumcool
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2011, 07:44:11 PM »
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Hey Jonathan & MediumCool,
I really appreciate your advice.  It was useful in both the specifics and in reminding me that I have a long way to go to get a grip on this stuff. 
And MC - that was really generous of you to make that sample page.  I agree, the slightly muted colors are an improvement.
I'm going to see if I can find someone to help me with this somewhat daunting project.  It might be a challenge since I don't have a large budget. 
Might ask you another question or two later if you don't mind.
Thanks again!
Leon


One big recommendation: be wary of anyone who pushes Flash. Deploying Flash cuts you off from mobile devices (Adobe has finally seen the light and is abandoning further work on Flash for mobile—it has never truly worked well on anything but Windows; even the Mac, where Flash was created, is a poor relation in terms of performance/bugs) and should be completely replaceable by HTML5 in the long run.

And Flash can be as ugly as sin:



Re budget, if you develop an incremental upgrade plan, you can improve your website gradually, and spread payments over a longer period, helpful to your cashflow. A happy consequence of this is that you can announce updates/improved functionality as part of your self-promotional activities.

And finally, organise your site on a grid—if a developer is unfamiliar with this concept, avoid!  Wink
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JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2011, 03:35:25 PM »
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One big recommendation: be wary of anyone who pushes Flash. Deploying Flash cuts you off from mobile devices (Adobe has finally seen the light and is abandoning further work on Flash for mobile—it has never truly worked well on anything but Windows; even the Mac, where Flash was created, is a poor relation in terms of performance/bugs) and should be completely replaceable by HTML5 in the long run.

And Flash can be as ugly as sin:


Re budget, if you develop an incremental upgrade plan, you can improve your website gradually, and spread payments over a longer period, helpful to your cashflow. A happy consequence of this is that you can announce updates/improved functionality as part of your self-promotional activities.

And finally, organise your site on a grid—if a developer is unfamiliar with this concept, avoid!  Wink

+1

Yes avoid flash like the plague.  It can look dang cool, but if it doesn't work it won't matter. I also suggest finding a designer as well as a developer (or one in the same if you can). I am not just saying this because a I am one, but also because developers are usually all caught up in the technical stuff and don't always give a rip about the aesthetics. Of course if you feel comfortable enough and are indeed skilled enough, you can create mockups of your pages in Photoshop and give these to a developer to work from. (just be sure to organize and name the layers well)

Actually mocking up something in Photoshop may really help out a developer. Even if you use a designer, I would still create something if I were you. This gives a better idea as to what you are looking for. It can then be jazzed up later.
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mediumcool
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2011, 07:03:36 PM »
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+1

Yes avoid flash like the plague.  It can look dang cool, but if it doesn't work it won't matter. I also suggest finding a designer as well as a developer (or one in the same if you can). I am not just saying this because a I am one, but also because developers are usually all caught up in the technical stuff and don't always give a rip about the aesthetics. Of course if you feel comfortable enough and are indeed skilled enough, you can create mockups of your pages in Photoshop and give these to a developer to work from. (just be sure to organize and name the layers well)

Actually mocking up something in Photoshop may really help out a developer. Even if you use a designer, I would still create something if I were you. This gives a better idea as to what you are looking for. It can then be jazzed up later.

+1. Gee, Jonathan, I like your style!  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 04:12:22 PM »
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+1. Gee, Jonathan, I like your style!  Grin

Well, thank you! Grin
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2012, 05:19:52 AM »
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Hi Leon,

I have been trying to understand Google's ever changing algorithm since 2002 with the rest of the world. The latest book of Even Bailyn is truly outstanding and cut's trough the myths and misinformation in terms that are really easy to understand.

You could have a look at the services of LIVEBOOKS, Vincent LAFOREST uses it an quite a few other known photographers. The price is quite honest and may answer quite a few of your needs and keep you shooting rather than glued to the computer. Be sure to look at the training video. I am all there when it's free and interesting.

A webmaster would create a custom site specific to your requests but at a much greater cost and the SEO specialist costs would be a totally different if not higher, add a custom blog and your up there... 

In all cases, it takes 4 years before Google gives full trust to a site and a slip puts you in the dog house for longer that you would care, tread lightly! The page title, URL, links. It's really all about natural looking links: 30% text, 30% images and incoming.

Finally, I have tried iStockphoto. It's been a bumpy experience, all down hill. They get the glory and you become a slave for basicly 25% of  the money. The Web is full of feedbacks on them and how the killed the golden goose.

I really do love your style of photography!
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