WordPress for Photographers

A while ago I posted how I had switched my photography website (which was self hosted using WordPress.org) over to WordPress.com (i.e. this site). One of the main reasons for doing this was that for me it was no longer viable to manage two sites, one for my portfolio and another for my blog. Whist I was updating my blog relatively frequently I found my portfolio site hardly ever got updated. It was not that I did not have any new content to add but it was just a pain to have to log onto a different site and upload images to a different place. Although WordPress.org obviously supports a blog I decided it was too risky to switch to using that platform for my blog because I was pretty sure I would lose a lot of readers and subscribers on the way.

There is another important reason however for having your blog and portfolio together in one place. By frequently updating a website, search engines know you are alive and well and providing new content. I noticed that as I rarely updated my website it hardly ever got visitors and when it did this was because I had sent them there via my blog which was providing a bit of a disconnected experience. So, here I am in one place on the web!

One of the reasons cited for not using WordPress.com is that you have less control over the look and feel of your site. You are basically stuck with templates provided through the platform and limited to plugins that are supported through Automattic. For security reasons WordPress.com also disallows use of JavaScript meaning you cannot add links to things like Steller Stories which automatically open the story when you click on the link.

If you value security however (and who doesn’t) by using the WordPress managed ‘.com’ site you are assured the latest version of the platform code, as well as the supported plugins, are always installed. If you use a self-hosted version of WordPress.org then that’s a task that’s left to you. You not only have to make sure everything is kept up to date but you also need to ensure everything remains compatible, including any themes you may have purchased, all of which can be quite time consuming and a bit of a pain to manage.

Having spent a bit more time exploring WordPress here are a few things I’ve discovered about hosting your site on WordPress.com which I feel are great advantages for the busy photographer who wants to spend time creating and curating images rather than websites.

  1. WordPress offers great in-built support for for galleries and even slide shows. For how to enable this see this WordPress.com support here as well as this post. For an example of one of the gallery styles see here.
  2. If you want to create a more traditional style photography website with a home page and blog as part of the site, but available through a menu, you can do that in WordPress but it’s not hugely intuitive how that’s done. Thankfully there are some fairly clear instructions which you can read here.
  3. At the time of writing this there are over 120 free and premium themes to choose from that are suitable for photography bloggers.
  4. You can easily share your blog via other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using social media buttons you can add to your sidebar or footer.
  5. Allow people viewing your blog to share what they like via their social media sites by giving them a button to click on your post to automatically share content.
  6. Customise your widgets on your sidebar to ensure you have the ones that give your readers the best experience than viewing your site.

So far I’m really happy with my decision to move fully to a WordPress.com site. I took out their premium package ($8.25 per month) which is sufficient for my needs. The major disadvantage with using WordPress.com is lack of e-commerce support. Although the platform used to support e-commerce for some reason this seems to have been discontinued. You’ll need to find a different solution therefore for selling from your site (e.g. direct through PayPal).

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