6 Best Photography Website Hosting Providers
Photography does not only involve capturing incredible photos as you need to build and display your portfolio as well. An online portfolio is a solid way of attracting new clients. A photography website can start of small and grow together with your craft. Website hosts are in plenty, and their platforms are easy to use. Selecting the right hosting provider will maximize your online presence, attract many business opportunities, and display a quality portfolio.
If you are a novice at building a website and online marketing, you can opt for managed website builders like Wix and Squarespace. Some photographers, however, want the creative freedom to craft their sites and opt for popular sites like WordPress. Some of the top platforms to consider are:
The photo-sharing service SmugMug is quite popular with professional photographers. The platform features beautifully-designed templates that make images look incredible. The templates are additionally mobile responsive so your portfolio will look good from whichever device a user logs in with. Another advantage of SmugMug is the easiness of use. You can publish the first gallery in just under an hour by using the default templates.
There are also multiple e-commerce options for your work.
SmugMug offers a free two-week trial, after which a user will have to upgrade to a paid subscription. There are four package levels with the basic one offered at $4 a month. The package that has the most features starts at $40 every month, where a photographer can offer price lists for fine art, print, and digital prints. You can connect a domain you already own or purchase one through the platform. You can also use one using the SmugMug name which will be www.yourpreferredname.smugmug.
SmugMug is proudly powered by Amazon Web Services, one of the top solutions in the corporate web sector. Supplementary features let you decide which pieces of work you will avail to the public. The excellent support center at SmugMug is also a winning move for the site.
Weebly’s platform is a drag and drop website builder that is easy to use. Average themes are ideal for standard business models like charities and hobbies. Photography is however quite detailed, and you need something that grabs attention. Premium templates are the perfect solution for professional photographers. You have the option of designing your own template if you are familiar with coding or you are using the services of a developer. Weebly gives such users access to their HTML/CSS codes to curate websites that appeal to them. You can buy a premium template on Weebly which are designed to look professional and unique. These templates range between $35 to $50 and are purchased once with no recurring charges.
Weebly is appreciated for its simple user interface which is not crammed with features. The platform’s app store is among the best in the market, and they will help you scale your site to its utmost functionality. Photographers are drawn by Weebly’s unlimited storage which lets them constantly expand their collections. It does not impose dimension limitations for any uploaded photos so your photos will not be resized. Weebly has been improving its designs in recent years to make it more appealing to photographers.
Wix has many offerings for professional photographers making it one of the top photography website builders. The website has a free plan for users who use the Wix subdomain. These users also allow Wix ads to the displayed on their sites. A premium plan enables you to use a custom domain coupled with full functionality. The site’s free features include monetization, 24/7 support, Search Engine Optimization, multiple languages, mobile optimization, and online e-commerce store. With the premium plan, you additionally get 500MB of storage, free hosting, premium support, and Google Analytics.
Wix offers over 500 templates which are professionally designed, and more than 30 of these are targeted to photographers. Numerous galleries range from the minimalistic to the creative and urban. You can add social media connections and contact forms to your page. An e-commerce plan or a VIP package will make it easy for you to sell your products. You can even integrate such platforms as Etsy. The platform has handy editing features for a quick fix, and photo upload speeds are similarly amazing. Wix unveiled an “Artificial Design Intelligence” tasked with handling most of the manual work of crafting site with an algorithm.
WordPress Hosting Services for Photographers
Photographers want their images to load fast on their websites, and they also want SEO optimization, backups, updates, and support. These reasons make WordPress stand out from its competition. There are three levels for a WordPress website. You can get a free WordPress account on WordPress.com which will be managed entirely by the platform. You will be free of any management decisions including backups and upgrades.
You can opt for a self-hosted WordPress account on a non-managed host. In this case, you will purchase web hosting from a company and configure your installations on WordPress. The more foolproof option is self-hosting on a managed host. These hosts will manage various aspects of your site like performance optimizations and backup and restore. The top hosting managers include:
HostGator hosts millions of websites to make it among the industry’s leading platforms. It is one of the cheapest hosting managers for WordPress, and you can opt for any of their several plans. It provides free migration services for new users in the course of the first month of signing up.
A photographer needs a fast website as it is a major indicator of visitor satisfaction. Delays can reduce page views and trigger low SEO rankings. The server response time for HostGator is satisfactory at less than a second. It also guarantees 99.9% uptime which is impressively reliable for a creative website. HostGator’s support is available 24/7 both for live chat and phone support while the hosting dashboard has a support portal for common queries. You can select the plan that appeals to you when you opt for HostGator.
BlueHost has been on the recommended list of hosting providers by WordPress since 2005. Every hosting package includes a free domain for a year, automated backups and updates, instant WordPress installations, and unlimited bandwidth. You can easily select themes and plugins for your site to create a professional look. There is a variety of support and databases available with your purchase.
Website uptime on the site is around 99.9% which is among the reasons it is favored by WordPress users. Its server speeds are also sufficient such that your photography website will load in seconds.
The cheapest of the product offered by BlueHost is shared hosting ranging between $7.99 to $14.99 per month. There are basic, plus, and choice plus plans available with this option. There is also a WordPress optimized option starting at $39.99 every month. You can opt for cloud hosting at $9.99 a month. An advantage with BlueHost is that it allows you to scale up your site as you progress in photography. The costs and hustle of switching hosting providers can be overwhelming, and it is best to work with the same manager. A common disadvantage, however, is that you will be faced with renewal price increases.
6. InMotion Hosting
InMotion is among the largest web hosting companies, and it has remained independent since its inception in 2001. The company is recognized as being among the stable firms of its size not owned by Endurance International. It has an average uptime of 99.9% so you do not have to worry about your website being unreliable. InMotion also ranks highly with fast server speeds.
InMotion’s WordPress hosting plan is designed to offer superior performance and security. The package includes six different options with their own pricing. The basic one is the WP-1000S, ideal for small blogs. It starts at $8.99 per month and includes a free domain, a single website,40 GB SSD storage, and unlimited bandwidth and email accounts. Bloggers can opt for the WP-2000S which will suit 50,000 monthly visitors and upgraded storage of 80GB storage at $12.99 a month.
The WP-5000S supports ten websites at $74.99 a month and is perfect for a large website with a traffic of 600,000 visitors every month. Also available with this plan is 200GB SSD storage. The WP-6000S starts at $142.99 and supports 20 websites. It is fit for websites with users totaling to 1.2 million every month.
How to Choose a Photography Website Host?
Choosing a good website host is crucial for a photographer as it is where you will display yourportfolio. Not all hosting is created equal, however, as you will soon learn. Platforms rank differently in aspects like storage, security, SEO optimization, updates and backups, and load times. Here are the top considerations for any photographer on the lookout for hosting:
Photography depends on files and files of images. You will need a provider with enough storage for all your client galleries and portfolio photos. A photography website is image-reliant which means that your users will be most interested in this large part of your website. You would not want to compress images to maximize on inadequate storage and subsequently offer your visitors low-quality images.
Before selecting website hosting, ask yourself how many portfolio galleries you will need. Do you require client proofing galleries? How many of these galleries will you potentially host every year? Can you host the client galleries indefinitely on your site? Many companies advertise themselves as offering unlimited storage although they impose caps and throttles. The reality is that storage space is expensive and you can start with a lower pricing plan like 50 GB or 100 GB and upgrade over time.
Speed & Reliability
Scalability relies on performance and speed, and you want a site without any network issues. You are unlikely to detect any issue when you initially publish your site, but you may encounter reliability problems as your website grows. Look for information about uptime guarantees, data centers, serves, and network reviews by users.
Photography websites are centered around images which is why you need to think about the website host of your choice. Visitors and clients get frustrated by slow loading speeds, and you may lose potential customers because of this.
You will most likely dedicate a lot of time to building your website, and the last thing you would wish to do is to recreate it again should the data get lost. A data backup and restore feature is imperative for a web hosting provider. Some providers will need you to trigger the backup manually while others have automatic settings. This functionality will offer you peace of mind as you work towards displaying your portfolio.
The question of building a free photography website gets thrown around a lot. It comes down to the objective, however, and you should consider why you are starting the website. If it is an outlet for a hobby, then a free website host will do. A sustainable photography venture will, however, need extra features that come with a paid plan. To start, you can opt for a basic package and scale up as you get more seasoned in the business.
Most photographers are not IT specialists which is why it helps to have a technical support team. Ideally, the support should be available 24/7, and it should be offered via a range of platforms like live chat, phone, and ticket. The average support time is also a good indicator of the quality of help of a particular provider.
Optimizing your Photos for the Web
Optimizing images for the internet involves the inclusion of images in the right dimension, format, and resolution while maintaining the smallest size possible. Images are common culprits when it comes to slow loading speeds. Users quickly abandon websites that take long to load which is why image optimization is essential. The practice will improve page load speed and improve SEO ranking. Search engines are also not fans of slow websites, and they value high speeds. SEO rankings directly affect your site’s online visibility. Optimized images also improve visitor engagement with websites.
There are a lot of image optimization tools you can use including Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, FileOptimizer, Affinity Photo, and Trimage. Image optimization plugins are also available in platforms like WordPress. JPEG images are ideal for photography that features people, things, and places. The PNG format has better quality, but it has a larger file size. To compress images, the best tool is the advanced lossy image compression available in most editing tools.
Websites are more than creative outlets, as they display the portfolio of an individual or brand. For a photographer, websites are platforms to stand out from the crowd and get hired. Web hosting is among the choices you will make when establishing a site and it will rely on factors like support, pricing, storage, reliability, and scalability. Photographers will also have to optimize their work for the internet.