Photography websites are visual by nature, of course, but the value of the written word should not be neglected.
It’s what can help visitors resonate with your work and want to buy from now.
Great copywriting lowers bounce rate and improves engagement rates on your site. When people read something they like, they’re obviously inclined to consume more of your content (and eventually to contact you as well).
Places where copywriting is of critical importance are: homepage, about page, services, blog, email campaigns, social media posts & more.
Depending on your writing skills, you have 2 options:
A) Hire a professional copywriter
Based on my research (and asking around), I’ve put together this list of copywriters for photographers (in no particular order).
Feel free to reach out to them to learn more about their work:
- Kimberley Anderson (Red Curl Creative)
If you’re a photographer and you’ve worked with other (good) copywriters in the past, please share their name and website in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.
If you’re a copywriter and would like to be included in this list, please contact me.
B) Take action and manually go through each page on your site and re-write where needed
Armed with the copywriting tips below, take each and every page on your site and see how you can rewrite or tweak your content.
Pay special attention to headlines, to anything on your homepage, and to your Bio text (which is often the second most read page after the homepage).
In fact, the Bio page is a common pain for photographers. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll get access to a free PDF checklist with step-by-step instructions to put together an amazing About page for your site (if you’re already subscribed, just access the Subscriber Area to download the “About page checklist for photographers”)
Depending on the size of your website, this might take a few days, but it’s definitely an important time-investment into the growth of your photography business. The following guidelines will help set you on the right path.
Tips for improving your copywriting and website typography
These bits of copywriting advice should help you improve how you write, but if your writing is really bad, check out the list of professional copywriters for photographers (above) that you can hire to help you out.
1. Don’t be overly-creative or poetic
You might argue that storytelling is very important, so you might need to be as lyrical as possible when presenting your work online.
Sure, that’s true, but reserve that type of writing for your blog posts (or for detailed gallery descriptions).
Your site’s homepage and other top-level pages need to be as straightforward as possible. People are in search of a something, and they don’t have the patience to “solve riddles” to find it.
Be 100% clear what each page is all about, and put that in your writing. Same thing applies to navigation menus.
2. Be consistent with your use of first person pronouns (“I/me” vs “we/us”)
If you’re just a solo photographer promoting your work on the site, be honest and use the singular pronouns. I was surprised to see how many top photographers don’t do this.
It’s dishonest to use “we” just to make it sounds like you’re a company. In fact, you might be doing more bad than good: many clients prefer the personal touch of an individual freelancer than having to deal with a company.
3. Don’t be afraid to “talk” to your audience directly, instead of using passive-voice all the time
Any piece of text resonates more with the reader if you’re addressing them directly.
Write “you can use these images to…” instead of “these images can be used to…”.
4. Add more text where needed
The most important place is the homepage. If you just display a slideshow, however beautiful those images are, visitors will still be confused and wonder what the site is all about.
At the very least, write a short paragraph or a tagline underneath the slideshow, describing the site and your type of work.
Your services page and your bio are other spots where you need to have enough text, not just a couple of sentences. It helps both search engines and people to get a better sense of what you’re offering.
Same with blog posts and gallery pages: many photographers just display the images (or thumbnails respectively), without any sort of description of the content. Good copywriting there can give more context to your images.
5. Cut down text where there’s too much
The opposite is also true, as with many other things in life.
Writing less (while still conveying the same message) is really tough. It takes good writers more time to edit down an article/book than it is to write the initial draft.
Ask some of your friends (or website visitors) if they feel your writing is too verbose, if they actually read through all the text on your pages. Or if they thought your Bio became boring after a while.
Gather the suggestions, and then make it a mini-project to rewrite and shorted those pieces of text.
6. Clean up those spelling & grammar errors
Mistakes like that don’t look good, they make you seem less professional. Sure, a couple of typos here and there happen, but having pages filled with grammar mistakes is unacceptable.
You should either use a good spell-checker like Grammarly or slowly read all your pages out-loud (yes, with your voice, it really works).
7. Replace business lingo with natural language
Because “salesy” is an anagram for “sleazy”. People can “smell” salesy mumbo-jumbo a mile away. That’s precisely 1.60934 kilometers away, if you use the metric system :-)
It’s amazing how you can differentiate your website from the noise just by being honest and kind. Too many people are just bragging about their services, offering unrealistic guarantees, promising success, or using value phrases that don’t really mean anything.
Why not use natural language instead, as if you were describing that page/topic to an acquaintance? That’s what readers would rather see, always.
I also recommend using this approach when writing your SEO tags.
8. Really nail those headlines
They can make or break a page. Website visitors (being in a hurry as they always are) make a split-second decision if they’ll continue reading a page based on the headline.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.
– Writing Headlines That Get Results (Copyblogger)
A common pitfall here is to be overly-creative: by writing some abstract titles that only you can understand, you risk leaving your visitors confused. And confusion doesn’t lead to sticking around. Make your headlines easy to understand, go straight to the point of what the site is all about.
Also be mindful of the length of your headlines: 1-2 words is leaving attention on the table. 10 words is probably too much already.
9. Improve the readability of your copy with these typography tips
- Break off long paragraphs into smaller ones
- Use headings and sub-headings where appropriate (with a larger font size, about twice as large as the body copy font size)
- Use bulleted/numbered lists
- Do not underline any text that’s not a link. Use bold or italics to emphasize text (but don’t go overboard)
- Increase the font size (14-17px) and line-height (1.5-1.7) to make text easier to read
10. Be generous with both internal and external links
Linking internally is obvious: you want to encourage people to check out your other pages, and you provide links, where appropriate, to make it easy for them.
But don’t be afraid to also link to other external sites where it’s called for. Always better to be helpful to your readers, instead of worrying that they leave your site (for now).
Here are more copywriting tips if you really want to take your writing to the next level:
- PhotoBizX Podcast: Episode 248: Emma Whiley – How to Create Copy to Drive More Clients to Your Photography Business
- Copywriting for Photographers (great post!)
- 7 Scientifically-Backed Copywriting Tips
- Importance of Copywriting in the Digital World
- Digital Copywriting in 2017: What You Need to Know
- 5 Reasons Why Good Copywriting Is Important For Your Business
- Get More Photography Clients with Persuasive Web Copy
- 16 Copywriting Mistakes You’re Probably Making (and How to Fix Them)
Copywriting should be an important puzzle-piece in your photography business. Yet many photographers neglect it and just throw some words on the page to accompany their photos.
But just like other types of businesses, photography is all about stories, about giving people reasons to trust you and to want to buy from you (services, prints, image licenses, etc.) And you do that through the quality of your photos (which can speak for itself) and through your written words.
This article should give you a push in the right direction, to start caring more about the texts you write on your photography website.