For months I have been researching different website hosting companies trying to find one that meets all my needs and requirements in one so I don't have to keep paying different websites for different things. Before I was paying two websites, Squarespace and ShootProof, as I needed different functions from each. Squarespace has the flexibility to create a beautiful, dynamic and personalized website but as a photographer I also needed to have a way to share private galleries with my clients and Squarespace does not offer this feature. So I started to pay ShootProof to share client galleries and have the ability to let my clients download their photos or buy prints. I contacted them about the ability to have a personal website and sell my own photography and this was not an option they offered. And so the hunt began...
I started by making a list of all the features I wanted my website to have and functions I needed to run my photography business. I knew I wanted a personalized website that I could design myself and the ability to sell my own photography from my website. I also needed to be able to share private galleries with my clients that would allow them to download images and buy prints from their galleries. I wanted to have the function to create contracts and send them easily to clients so they could sign them, as well as model releases. There were a quite a few more features like easy to view over many platforms and such but these were some of my basic needs.
Once I had my list I went on the hunt searching and researching lots of different websites. Pixieset, Zenfolio, SmugMug, Squarespace with ecommerce, Squarespace with Shopify, and so on and so on. I looked at each website's tiers, cost and features. I compared them to what I really wanted and needed. Some were great for personal website with a store but not client options, some had client options with no store for personal stuff.
You see I didn't want to start creating, designing and spending lots of time on my new website if the website hosting company didn't have everything I needed. That's why I spent all this time researching and voila! I found one that met pretty much all my needs and that was Pixieset!
Now are there a few things I wish they had....yes but they are small things in comparison to my basic list of essentials which was personal website, store, client galleries and contracts. Is it expensive ~ yes it's a couple hundred more a year than I spend now but I figure to have the ability to sell my own photography and hopefully make more money with that function I hope this will be beneficial in the end. The nice thing is you can always try out a tier and downsize or upsize depending on where you are at.
Some of the features I wish they had was a search function within client galleries for tag/key words. A work-a-round I found was creating "Sets" but I have to copy the images I want into each set. Not ideal if someone came to my website and wanted to search for "Tigers" as I can't create a set for every tag word. Instead I used them to separate places I've traveled to. Hopefully they will add this feature in the future as it would be amazing.
If you are starting out or maybe you've been in the game a long time but are frustrated with your website I would say start by creating your own list of requirements that you want in your website. Then go Hunting!
I really love that Pixieset offers a bundle package and has SO many features that are diverse because many photographers use multiple streams of income such as client based work as well as personal photography sales. We are creative people and I find that we generally have many talents. Some photographers do like to niche their business which is not a bad thing at all. Some like just doing wedding photography or new borns and then there are others that have a broader range of business services or even talents. I myself love photography and I'm also an artist who paints, creates digital art and so much more.
I used Pixieset's free version to start creating my website and try out the new flex blocks feature which I absolutely love. It it very comparable to Squarespace and creates lots of freedom for me as a web designer to make a unique and personable website. I spent weeks on designing my new website and it still needs a bit of work but it's come a long way. I had to do a lot of writing to fill the pages and I will probably keep editing these as I go. I would say give the free version a try and play around with creating your own website.
I also tried out the client galleries and studio manager where I was able to create my contracts that I normally use. I reached a point where I had uploaded the maximum amount of images on the free version and to continue designing and finish my website I paid for a higher tier.
Overall I'm very impressed with Pixieset and look forward to my future photography website and all I can do now within one web host. They really do have it all! If you are interested in Pixieset please click on the referral link button as every little bit helps me out greatly!
I hope you have fun with your own websites and find what you need for your photography business.