As part of our Creative Futures module we are required to build a website, which I originally found slightly frustrating because I have already been working on my business website using WordPress this past year. It’s not the best layout but functions really well and I get a nice steady stream of traffic through it:
By making sure all my pages had lots of key wording throughout and building up my Google reviews I have manage to nestle my site at the top of Page 1 on the Google search if you type in:
Newborn Photographer Wrexham
Also if you replace ‘Newborn’ with Baby / Wedding / Child / Family etc I am in the first few listed on the first page.
For the website requirement for our Creative Futures Module it was suggested that we build a website using Squarespace or Webflow. Squarespace is similar to WordPress but has a more user-friendly system. Webflow is more advanced and allows you full creative rein to build your website from scratch with a blank canvas. Both interested me but I was feeling nervous to change anything, I don’t know enough about moving my domain onto a new site and hosting.
First I thought about building a Squarespace site how i need it with the commerce included and then have it running alongside my WordPress site for a while and then phase it out to just leave the Squarespace site….. but this doesn’t seem the right way to do it so I’ve abandoned that idea.
Nerves aside, I decided that i needed to rebuild my WordPress site and hope that it doesn’t affect my position in the Google search. Apart from the un-inspiring layout it also doesn’t allow me to have commerce on it which I need because I am currently using a sub-site for my bookings (perfectmomentsphotography.bigcartel.com)
TIME FOR A FULL REBUILD AAAAAAARGH!!
STEP 1 – Upgraded from the PREMIUM to the BUSINESS WordPress package. This allows you to buy WordPress themes from places like Themeforest, Siteground, themisle which can be installed and customised. After looking through a mountain of live demos on those sites I couldn’t really find any that had the LOOK that i wanted. I then began to look at current websites from other photographers & videographers and fell I love with this one from Indiego Photography. I love their wedding videos they are so full of nostalgic loveliness I wish I had them to video my wedding! Their website has such a simple sophisticated clean look, the full screen images draw you in and I like this layout where the images do the talking rather than lots of distracting icons:
They have used one of Flothemes templates, which are quite costly in comparison to other sites:
As much as I love their templates i couldn’t afford to buy one after upgrading my website subscription to the business plan. I needed to find a template that was similar and perhaps I could customise it to look & function how I needed it.
This was time-consuming, I spent about a full day just going through different live demos of themes on different websites. I also looked at articles discussing the best templates for photography sites:
51 Best Photography WordPress Themes 2018
One that cropped up on quite a few articles was the Divi theme:
This one has a builder plugin and a user-friendly interface and looked really straightforward to use. The only issue I had with this was that it was $89 a year or $249 for a lifetime subscription, both more than what I wanted to pay.
Eventually I decided on the Oshine Theme from Envato, it had really good reviews and only cost $59 which is considerably cheaper than the others that I had looked at.
Apart from the price the reason this theme appealed to me was because it comes with a builder plugin allowing you to fully customise each page. Starting with a blank page you build it up using sections then adding columns which you can then fill with text, images, buttons etc.
WordPress has really good online help, and they reply within a few minutes. They became my best friend whilst building my website. They recommended that I use a plugin which allows you to create a landing page so anyone that comes across your website won’t see what’s going on while you’re building it. I was able to put all my contact details on the landing page and let people know what was happening. Also by doing this, announcing a new website was coming soon, the pressure was on! I really didn’t want my website to be down for long so I set myself a deadline:
DEADLINE: 1 WEEK TO BUILD A WEBSITE
Every step was like baby steps and took ages because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. When I uploaded the theme there was plugins that had to be uploaded for it to work and even though I followed the instructions the Slider plugin wouldn’t install, and I spent hours trying to figure out why. Eventually the WordPress team had to step in and fix it their end.
After the installations were completed I turned to YouTube tutorials to help me get started. There is endless videos on how to use WordPress but only a few that concentrated on the Oshine theme and the Tatsu builder plugin:
CREATING THE HOME PAGE
I wanted the home page to have a full width slider and minimal distracting menu, options etc. With the slider revolution plugin you have full control over the layout, appearance and functions. This was difficult to understand, I spent hours making a change then refreshing my website which was on another tab to see if it had made any difference….definitely not the fastest way to do it! Again I turned to YouTube and found this tutorial on how to use the slider:
This really helped me and I put together a slider that had changing images with text overlayed and a button with a click function scrolling to the next part of the page:
I liked it initially but felt it was still too clunky with all the text over the images, plus I didn’t have a logo and wasn’t sure where that was going to go. Not wanting to spend any longer on the slider, it had already consumed a day of trial and error i moved on to creating the rest of the site.
21st 9:30am – 3:30am (18 Hours)
22nd 4pm – 2am (10 Hours)
23rd 7am-8am, 9am-10:30am, 1pm-midnight (13.5 Hours minus 1.5 hours for errands = 12 Hours)
24th 9am- 11:30am (2.5 Hours)
TOTAL HOURS – 42.5 for the basic rebuild (there was still some tidying up to do, logo to be created & seo to master)
Getting to grips with the general dashboard of the Oshine Theme, figuring out what all the menu options meant and how they worked. It was a big experiment of clicking on something to see what it did then turning it off again.
Unlinking the pages that were from my old website to replace with the new ones that I was creating with the TATSU Builder plugin. This took me ages, my own fault because when I had created my original website I had bumbled through it and made lots of mistakes. I had Pages that weren’t actually pages they were categories and my blog posts were attached to the wrong pages. It was a
Choosing a selection of images for the slider on the home page, you only have a few seconds to appeal to a visitor the images were really important. They had to represent the style of photography that I offer.
In this YouTube video he explains why content is so important in getting your website noticed by Google. Using the advice from this video I put together a blog about top tips when choosing a newborn photographer, after I posted this my site was sitting higher in the searches. It was filled full of keywords relating to what people search for when looking for a newborn photographer and questions relating to that.
I plan to keep my website refreshed with several blogs each month choosing relevant content for my client base.
This plugin highlights what you need to change in the written elements of your website so that it appeals to search engines. Taglines, Meta data & the content of your pages all have to work together. Also it flags up issues in the readability of your pages, it also makes suggestions on what to change.
It’s quite a lengthy process if you have a lot of content over multiple pages to go through and optimise each one using this plugin. I still haven’t finished the whole website, I just concentrated on the Homepage, Newborn & Wedding page but I will continue to work on the rest. Definitely would recommend this plugin to anyone wanting to improve their seo.
Setting out to build my website again from scratch was such a nerve-wracking project and not something to be taken lightly. As you can see from the hours spent on the build and then the seo it is already over 60 hours and will continue. I had to shut myself off from everything else to complete this, learning new software is time-consuming with trial and error being paramount to the learning curve. This website also needed to reflect me and my style so that took some thought in choosing the colours, fonts & layouts which worked for me.
I am extremely pleased with what I have made, no doubt I will keep tweaking and adding but that’s just the nature of what we do. As it stands if I had paid someone to build this for me I would be over the moon with it so I’m happy that i have fulfilled the brief!