By far, the most common question I receive on a daily basis is “Daddy, can I have a snack?” For photographers it’s “Should I switch my website to a blog?” Invariably, the answer to both questions is YES. Rarely, do I expand on why blogs make the best option for photographers to showcase their work online. There are so many reasons why blogs are structured better for search, social, and conversion that I ran out of fingers and needed mental math to count them all. Learn why a photography blog has the capacity to outrank and outsell a Flash website in this post.
What users demand
We’re an impatient generation. If you don’t like waiting seven seconds for your computer to start up, five seconds to get through an automated phone menu, or two seconds for a webpage to load on your phone then welcome to the impatient club!
I know what potential clients want because I am one. And I want a DVR-like web experience where I can be in complete control of what I want to see, when I want to see it. Here’s a handful of things that come to mind that users EXPECT from your website:
SPEED – ability to see lots of examples, quickly
CONTROL – no pop-ups, ability to turn off music, back and next buttons for galleries
MOBILITY – should be able to see images quickly and easily on a phone or tablet
DIRECT – can link to a specific page in an email to a friend
ENGAGING – ability to comment or participate
SHARING – can Pin an individual image or Like/retweet a page without effort
What search demands
Think of Google as your most important potential client. This client is a little nerdy, somewhat monotone, and rather robotic. It looks at the infrastructure and code instead of the images and wants to refer the best business to its billions of friends. When comparing two (or a thousand) choices Google will favor sites with the following characteristics in order of priority:
POPULAR – has links to many of its pages (not just the homepage) from many other websites
QUALITY – a page with substance (300 words) is preferred to one without
QUANTITY – lots of pages and images (choices) are better than just a few
SOCIAL – people spend a lot of time on the page and like to engage (commenting and sharing)
FREQUENCY – a frequently update site is more credible than a stale one
CLEAN – the code is easy to understand and index
Blogs offer what users and search demand
Flash sites are notoriously slow, non-mobile sites that don’t give users the ability to control their experience. Since everything is dumped into a single “movie” file, thousands of images are represented as a single page that can’t be easily searched, linked, shared, or commented.
Quick comparison of features
|Direct (individual pages)||single page||yes|
|Popular (links to many pages)||links to homepage||yes|
|Quality (lots of text)||limited text||yes|
|Quantity (unique pages)||single page||yes|
|Social||can’t link to a page/image||yes|
|Frequency||pages never change||yes|
|Clean (code)||black box||yes|
I sense that you may not be convinced yet, so let’s do an experiment. Grab a modern stopwatch (AKA a timer on your phone). Time how long it takes to view 10 example images on your Flash site then view the contact page. Do the same thing on a blog. The results become more astounding when using a phone.
My brave Facebook fans let me try on their sites:
|brandipotterphotography.com||34 seconds||20 seconds|
Let me demonstrate a blog site’s usability from another perspective. What are the top three things you want a reader to do when they visit your blog post?
1. Contact you to book a session
2. Leave a comment
3. Like, retweet, or Pin the post to social media
Numbers two and three are easy to do on a blogsite, yet impossible on a Flash site. Why give up two of your top three priorities just to have animated galleries with music?
Blogs are cheap and easy
You can change the entire look of your blog in about ten seconds with a new theme. Add-on social media icons at the end of each post with a one-minute plug-in installation.
Standard pricing on the first year of your Flash site service with one of the three primary Flash templates for photographers:
Bludomain $150 ($50 template, $50 hosting, $50 HTML version)
Big Folio $527 ($299 setup, $19/mo)
Average Flash price of $358, compared with an average of $255 from my blog affiliates below:
ProPhoto Blogs ($199 or $279 includes install)
Photocrati Super Theme ($89 or $188 includes install, self-hosting separate)
If you absolutely must have Flash, then go with Creative Motion Design who offers a Flash plus blog bundle for $295. They also have non-Flash blogsites.
How to Migrate from Flash to Blog
If you’re ready to move to a blog, the first decision is what to do with your Flash site.
Option 1 – delete the Flash. I’m a strong advocate of ditching the Flash because it is way to difficult, timely, and costly to manage a site separate from a blog. Don’t create your blog in a new location! Your existing URL (if more than a year old) has significant trust and history essential for ranking in search engines. Overwrite your Flash site so yourname.com is now the blog (recommended)
Option 2a – keep the Flash and add a blog. Remove the splash page and make the blog your new homepage at yourname.com. Move the Flash site to gallery.yourname.com or yourname.com/gallery.
Option 2b – keep the Flash site and splash page and add a blog. Maintain yourname.com as-is and add the blog at yourname.com/blog. A subdomain for the blog (blog.yourname.com) is NOT ideal and may impact your search since subdomains are seen by Google as related but different than your main URL.
Defend your flash site
Certainly, hundreds of you think I’m a hater and know that Flash sites provide inspiration and can effectively drive sales. Use the comments below to defend your Flash site or voice your concerns about using a blog as your portfolio.
Photo Credit: Lisa Durocher