Episode 51: Hosting Your Own Photography Site

In this episode I talk about how you can hosting your own photography site and keep ALL of your money minus print costs.

www.godaddy.com
www.wordpress.org

www.liamphotographypodcast.com

Transcription by www.temi.com, there may be grammatical errors.

You’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast.

Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast. I’m your host, Liam Douglas, and this is episode 51 I want to thank all of my listeners once again for subscribing, rating and reviewing and iTunes, Google play or anywhere else you might be listening to the show, which also now includes Pandora and radio.com. Also be sure to stop by the Facebook Liam photography podcast, Facebook group and sign up to join the group. It is a private group, but you can request to join and you just answer a simple security question. Who is the host of the show, the name of the host of the show, which is myself. You can put Liam or Liam Douglas and you’ll be in, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that at the tail end of this episode. So first of all, I want to wish all of my listeners and Merry Christmas.

This is the December 26 2019 episode of the Liam photography podcast. And we’re at week 51 episode 51 so the following week, uh, the new year’s week will be my one year anniversary of hosting the show and it has been growing. We’ve had our first photography related giveaway and we’re hoping to have some more of those down the road. In 2020 we’ll possibly be giving away a tripod or a monopod, and hopefully at some point down the road we can give enough sponsorship that maybe we can do a camera giveaway at some point soon, maybe in 2020 maybe not until 2021 we’ll have to wait and see if the show’s audience continues to grow to make that worthwhile. Okay, so on this Christmas week episode of the Liam photography podcast, I want to talk to all the photographers out there about something that I get asked frequently, whether it’s an on Facebook or people DM me on Twitter or Instagram or they shoot me an email.

And this question is all about hosting your own photography site. Now I know what you’re going to say. There’s a lot of sites out there like square space, SmugMug, Zenfolio, et cetera that cater to photographers. But most of them are fairly expensive and some even take a percentage of your sales anytime you sell a print or a digital download, even though you’re paying them monthly or yearly for hosting your photography site. Now I’ve had some photography students as well as new photographers that are trying to get their businesses up and running, ask about hosting their own photography site and how they could possibly do this. Cause this seems like a really massive undertaking and I know a lot of you aren’t as technically savvy as I am. I’ve done both photography and it for close to 30 years now, but I have no fear. I’m here with some information that will help you out.

So hosting your own site isn’t as scary as it may sound. There’s a lot of good web hosting companies out there. You’ve got GoDaddy, you’ve got um, a, what is it, blue Gator or something like that. And there’s a bunch of others out there now, the one thing you want to do, no matter which one of the hosting providers you want to partner with, just make sure you ask them before you actually sign up to see if they offer WordPress on their platform. Now, most of the large web hosting companies, they do offer WordPress and WordPress is what we’re going to use to host your own photography website. WordPress is extremely easy to use software. You don’t have to be a coder, you don’t need to know HTML or CSS or PHB or any of those other web-based languages to host your own site and you can do some really awesome things.

With WordPress. There’s thousands upon thousands of both free and paid plugins you can use. There’s different photo gallery plugins. You can use contact forms. There’s Ninja forms you can tie in mail champ or mail, email list, system distribution, you know, sending out weekly or monthly emails to all your clients and stuff like that. There is just a ton of things that you can do with WordPress and if your host provides WordPress is part of their hosting services platform, then you’re good to go and go daddy who I’m with, they do offer WordPress built right into their platform. So once you sign up with GoDaddy for their web hosting, you’re more than likely going to want to go with what they call shared hosting. Now shared hosting, all that means is they have a massive, they have a whole bunch of massive physical servers that are designed for hosting business websites, were even personal websites, whatever their customers need.

Now when I say shared hosting, what that means is they’ll have a large physical server that’s extremely powerful. It’s got a lot of Ram, tons of disc space, really high speed, really fast internet connection. And what you do is when you shot sign up for shared hosting, they create you an account on that main server and the server. You share that server with other clients. That’s how they keep the cost down. It’s basically a form of cloud computing. So when you sign up with GoDaddy, um, they do offer, like I said, they offer WordPress and once you have your hosting accounts set up, you’ll have your credentials from GoDaddy to log into their system. You go to their website, go to [inaudible] dot com you log in with your customer ID or user name that you chose and then you’ll see the services that you have with them.

Now I not only have my web hosting with them, but I also have all of my domains bought through them as well. So cause it keeps things simplified and streamlined. Now once you log into your account, you’ll see all of the services you have with them. If you have any domains with them already, you’ll see those listed and then you’ll see a link to access your web hosting services. You’ll click on that link, it’ll say manage hosting. You click on that, it’ll take you to another page and then you’ll have the option to click a button to go to what’s called their C panel web interface. Now C panel, all that is is a web server management software. It’s extremely powerful, extremely fast and easy to use, and it basically gives you a web based graphical interface for interacting with your virtual web server. Now again, like I said, you don’t need to know coding.

You don’t need to know any programming languages to use their platform. And most hosts platforms are the same way. So you go into your C panel interface and then you go to the application section, you’ll see WordPress right there. You click on it, it’ll take you to another screen, it’ll show you the domains that you have, you tell it which domain you want to install WordPress on it with a couple of clicks. It’ll set it all up for you and you’ll be good to go. You’ll be able to immediately log in with the admin username and password that you selected when you set up the WordPress site and everything will already be set up. Now it’s just going to be a basic plain vanilla WordPress installation. So then from there you’ve got to customize it. Now this is not hard. It’s actually extremely easy and I’m going to walk you through a little bit of it.

On my website. Um, I know this isn’t a video episode, but you can still listen and follow along and get a better idea for how things work when you’re accessing WordPress. Now once the WordPress is done setting up, it’ll give you a link to the admin section, which is basically the backend where you’re going to administer WordPress and do all of your updates, configuration changes and stuff like that. So once you click that link, you’ll go into that section and you’ll be presented with a username and password screen. You use the admin username and password that you chose when you set up the WordPress install and it’ll go ahead and log you in. Now once you’re in, you’re going to be in what’s called the WordPress dashboard and that’s going to give you an overview of the WordPress installation you have. It’ll show you what version you’re currently running, if there’s any updates to WordPress available.

If there is, you can go ahead and click the link, the hyperlink to upgrade the WordPress version automatically. And then also down the left hand side, you’re going to see, um, tabs basically or columns that you are, uh, entries that you can click on. The first one will be posts and then you’ll have a, this is where you do blog posts or you, anything like that. The next link is for media. That’s where you access the media library in your WordPress. And that’s where you can access images you already have uploaded to your WordPress or you can click add new and you can upload new ones from your desktop or from Dropbox or anything, Google drive, anything like that. Anyways, um, and then next you’re going to have a links. Um, you’ll have a page, a section, and then you’ll have appearance, which is where you can customize whatever WordPress theme you’re using.

You’ll have plugins which lists any plugins you have running, user accounts, tools, and then settings. Now that’s under the basic WordPress. Mine has a lot more stuff, but since you can’t see my list, you hopefully won’t get confused saying, Hey, why is it got all this extra stuff that he’s not talking about? Cause I don’t want to create confusion for you right now. I just want to talk about the basic idea of setting up your website in WordPress. So anyways, once you’re logged into the back end of WordPress, you can go to the appearance tab and then click on things. And this is where you can choose what theme or what kind of look you want your WordPress website to have. Now there are lots of free themes that you can use and you will have a link that you can click on to add new themes and you can do a search in the search box, you can type the type of theme you’re looking for, like photography or something like that and it’ll return any results that are there.

And with a quick click install you can do it or you can do click the preview button so you can get an idea of what it’s going to look like once it’s installed and then install it if it’s one that you’d like. Now there are quite a few free photography themes, but to be honest, I’m, and I played around with some of the free ones, but I found it best to just go ahead and buy a good commercial photography WordPress theme and that’s what I did. Now I actually use one that’s called flexes. It’s fantastic. It has a lot of customization capabilities, a lot of things you can tweak and modify to personalize the site unique to you and your brand. So that is the one that I use. It’s a great photography thing. There’s also photo Crotty, which was the theme that was created by the company that is now Imagely and does the NextGen gallery plugin, which I’ll talk about a little bit later in this episode, but there are all kinds of commercial WordPress themes that you can buy and some of them are a little more expensive than others.

There’s some decent you can get for 2030 bucks. Some of them will cost you 60 or 70 or maybe a hundred or a little more. It just depends on the look you want and how much money you have to spend. So once you buy a theme, if you buy one separately by searching the internet, when you complete your transaction, you’ll be probably emailed the link to download the theme as a zip file. Now once you do that, then you go back to your WordPress dashboard, to the theme section under appearance, and you’ll not only see any themes that are currently installed and WordPress and it does have a couple of them by default, but you also see the option to add new, just like when you were in the plugin section. So you’ll click add new, and then on the next screen that comes up, you’ll be able to click upload a theme.

You’ll click that button and it’ll give you a little choose file window there. You click on that and it’ll actually let you browse to your desktop and choose that theme zip file that you just downloaded, that you bought from somebody you know online, and you’ll go ahead and browse to that zip file and it will automatically upload and install itself into the WordPress back end. And then you can preview it to see what it looks like with its default settings and then you can activate it to make it the new life theme for your website. So once you’ve got that done, then you’ve got the basis for what you need for hosting your own photography site using WordPress. And you can go back under the plugin section. You can look for all kinds of cool plugins that you can install on your WordPress site because there’s a lot of great ones out there.

There’s a lot of free ones. There’s commercial ones just like with the themes and a lot of them do some really cool stuff. They’ll help you tweak the security on your WordPress so you don’t have to worry about your site getting hacked. Um, you can disable comments cause being WordPress is a blog, uh, CRM, um, by default, if you do a PO blog post, people can comment unless you disable comments, which I recommend. Uh, mostly because there’s just a lot of goobers out there that’ll spam your site with Viagara ads and all kinds of other stupid stuff like that. Russian brides and all kinds of crazy stuff. Uh, but anyways, you get that, um, you get it set up, you go through and add the plugins you want. Image of Phi is a great one that optimizes your images that you upload into the media library.

It’ll streamline them, compress them, and optimize them so that your website will load fairly fast. You know, so your images are, especially if they’re large files won’t slow your site down a lot. And then there’s other things you can grab. You can grab performance plugins like WP rocket, you can get Wordfence security, which is a great security program that’ll monitor for people trying to hack your site and stuff like that. And there’s just tons and tons, I mean thousands and thousands if not millions of plugins that you can install for WordPress to customize it to your taste. Now, as far as a great way to host your images, that’s what I want to talk about next. And I mentioned it a moment ago and that’s the NextGen gallery plugin. So NextGen gallery is a photography plugin for WordPress. It’s specifically written for WordPress and it’s probably one of the best ones in the world.

It’s used by millions of photographer websites all over the world. They’ve done a lot of fantastic stuff and they’ve put a lot of great features and functionality into the NexGen gallery plugin. Now there’s a NextGen gallery plugin that you can install for free. However, if you want to make money with your photography business online, you can upgrade to WordPress or I’m not WordPress, I’m sorry. Next gen, I think it’s plus or pro. I have the pro and you do have to pay an annual fee and I think you could have it break it up and you know bill you a small amount monthly or you can pay the whole year upfront. Now I don’t know how much longer they’re going to offer it. I did grab it a little while back myself, but they are offering a onetime, a permanent license for next gen pro for like $300 it’s like two 99 99 or something like that.

You can pay that one time, $300 fee. That, I know it sounds like a lot of money, but not when you consider you’re getting a great gallery plugin that’s going to give you eCommerce and you’re going to have all the future updates for free because you have a lifetime license. So once you do that and you get the gen gallery plugin and you either get the plus or the pro, then you can do some really fantastic photography related tweaks to your WordPress site because the NextGen gallery and NextGen pro will give you the ability to create a photography slideshow. So you can set up different portfolios within your website in WordPress. And you can have, you know, like you could have one portfolio for portraits and one for landscapes and one for commercial work or editorial, whatever the case may be. And you can upload images for those specific portfolios and keep them separated from each other in WordPress.

And then the nice thing about having next gen pro is with the latest version of NextGen pro, you now have the ability to do e-commerce. So you can actually set up, um, photos that you have on your WordPress site, whether they’re in your portfolio or not, that people can buy, whether they want to buy a digital download version that they can use on the internet or if they want to buy a print from you of one of your images, you can sell them a print and it’s all integrated in NexGen pro. They ha that handles software, handles everything for you. So if wants to buy one of your prints, they pick the photo they want, the type of print they want, they pay with their credit card, it’s all secure, you don’t have to worry about any of that. And the order immediately goes directly to the print lab and the print lab will create the print canvas, print, whatever it is, ship it out to the customer with your company name on the return label.

They do all of that for you. Now next gen Imagely, the company that makes NextGen, they do not take any of your money. So whatever you make in a sale is your money minus the cost of printing and shipping out that purchase. So the only company that’s making any money off your sale besides you is the print land that actually creates the print and ships it to the customer. All the rest of the money is yours. And that’s fantastic because now you’re running your own site. You can customize it the way you want quickly and easily without being an expert in any of the web based programming languages. You don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. You can use a simple, what they call, what you see is what you get graphical editor to do everything on your server and everything you want to customize your WordPress photography site.

And now with the power of the next gen gallery and the NextGen pro plugins, you can create beautiful image, galleries, albums, all of that stuff, portfolios on your site, and you can sell digital downloads and high quality print. And again, all of that money is yours. Imagely does not take any of the money from your sales. Whatever you sell, that money’s yours minus the costs or the actual manufacturing of the print if you know if the client bought a print. So that’s an easy way that you can do your own photography website. You can host it yourself. Now if you know a little bit about it, you have a little bit of a knack for computers and stuff like that and you’ve got an extra computer laying around the house that’s not currently being used for anything that’s know got a decent amount of power.

It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest. It could be a, you know, a pen, old penny and four or something like that that you have laying around. It still runs great. Um, you could take any race, the hard drive on it, if it’s got windows or whatever on it, dump that off, install something, a free operating system that will run great on that older hardware, like a boon tour or any of the other distributions that Linux. And you could set that up as a web server at your house. As long as you have a good internet connection to handle the traffic. You can host the your website right out of your own house and you could download the free version of WordPress. WordPress is totally free. You can download the software, install it on your own web server that you have at your physical house and do all of the same stuff I’ve been talking about.

But for most people it’s going to be smarter to go with a hosting provider like go daddy or blue gate or somebody or HostGator. I guess it is somebody like that. Um, because then you also don’t have to worry about uptime. Uh, if your shared hosting server is in a big massive, you know, internet data center somewhere, then chances are you’re not going to have to worry about a power outage taking your site down where you could have that problem if you’re hosting it at your home. And also if you’re hosting an at home, you may run into problems with your internet provider because internet providers do not like it. When you start using tons and tons and tons of bandwidth every month and you’re on a residential customer account, they may force you to go onto a business internet account, which will cost you considerably more money. Now, yes, you are going to have to pay a monthly or an annual amount to go daddy or HostGator or whoever you go with to be your hosting provider.

But to me it’s a little more worthwhile because as I mentioned at the top of this episode, yeah you can go with Squarespace or you can go with SmugMug or Zenfolio, but you’re going to pay all of those companies a couple, $300 a year to have an account with them and to host your photography site with them. And then a lot of them are going to take a percentage of all of your sales. So every time you sell a print or digital download, they’re going to take a portion of the money for themselves. I know it sounds kind of messed up, but that’s just, you know, it’s how they do business. But if you do things my way and you get your own shared hosting server with a good internet provider like HostGator or go daddy, uh, Cogeco, um, there’s plenty of others out there.

I can’t think of all their names off the top of my head. And the list is just too long dimensional. But anyways, you will pay somebody like that. Possibly you could pay as much as a couple of hundred dollars a year. I do to go daddy and I don’t mind paying that because for the $200 a year I pay go to any, I think it’s two 42, uh, my shared hosting account, I can have an unlimited number of domains on my hosting account. So for $200 a year, I can not only Hostly in photography.net, I can host Liam photography, podcast.com and I’ve got all kinds of other websites hosted on there. I’ve got personal sites hosted on their sites for family members and all of that stuff. And it doesn’t cost me anything extra. I paid the $242 a year. I can put as many, uh, websites on that server as I choose.

So it’s not a bad deal. You can’t do that with any of those photography providers that I told you about. SmugMugs and folio or Squarespace, they’re not going to let you have unlimited domains for $200 a year in host, you know, several websites for yourself and family members or friends and stuff like that. So that’s something that you might need. You know, if you want to have your own personal blog site for yourself or maybe a a family site where you share photos from the holidays, Christmas and new years, and studied 4th of July, stuff like that, or family reunions with the rest of your family. You could do that. You can do all of that under your goat daddy shared hosting account. So again, you can have unlimited domains with them. I’ve got probably I think 12 or 15 domains all together with GoDaddy and all of them are hosted on the same shared hosting account for that one fee of two 42 years.

So that’s not bad. I mean, you know, I’m paying 25 30 bucks a month. I pay it annually. But if you, if you broke it down that way, you know I’m paying the same 25 30 bucks a month that you would pay to SmugMug or anybody else. But go daddy’s not taking a percentage of my money when I make a a sale of a digital download or print a image. Lily’s not taking any money. The only person that makes any money off my work besides me is the print lab that prints and fulfills the print orders. So that’s a fantastic way to go. And that way you get to keep almost all of the money for yourself. You don’t have to worry about somebody else sticking their finger in your pie so to speak. So that is where I’m going to wrap up this episode and I thank you all for taking the time to listen to this episode.

I’m sure a lot of you had questions out there about hosting your own photography website cause like I said, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails about it as well as private messages about it, all kinds of other stuff. I’ve had people reach out to me on the phone about it and this is a great way that you can do it. You can do it with WordPress, which is fantastic free software. Then you can go with a free or a commercial photography theme that you really like and go with a few free or commercial plugins to give you all of the capabilities that you want. And you can host a really fantastic photography website and a much more cost effective way. And if you want to see what a good WordPress photography site looks at, it looks like. Head on over to Liam photography.net and check my site out and you can see for yourself how nice the Fluxus theme that I use is.

And you could also click on the link to check out the ability to buy digital downloads. I haven’t set my site up yet to do, um, print sales yet, but I will be shortly, uh, right at the beginning of the new year and I’ll be doing that as well. But that’ll give you an idea of what a good WordPress photography site looks like. All right. I want to thank all of my listeners again for subscribing, rating and reviewing an iTunes, Google play, Spotify, Pandora, radio.com anywhere else that you might be listening to the show and ask you to please go ahead and subscribe if you haven’t already and do a rate and review if you’d be so kind and you share this show out with your friends and family on social media and elsewhere and ask them to give it a listen and maybe they’ll want to subscribe or rate and review.

It’d be greatly appreciated. Now, like I said at the beginning of this episode, I’m hoping to have another one or maybe even two photography related contest giveaways that I’m going to do in 2020 I think this time we’re going to do some sort of equipment giveaways, whether it’s a monopod or tripod. I haven’t decided yet, or maybe a cool tripod head or maybe an L bracket or something else that almost anybody could use as a photographer. And once I start getting more and more sponsors, I’m hoping that possibly at some time in 2020 probably be in the later half of the year. That may be, we can have our first camera giveaway, but we’ll have to wait and see. I need you to help me make the show grow. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary and it’s growing pretty good, but I’d like it to grow faster. So if you could share it out with all your friends and family and anybody that you know that’s a photographer, you know, whether you’re in a, in a photography club, in your local area or something like that, share the show out with them and ask the other photographers to give it a listen and I’d greatly appreciate it.

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and wrap up episode 51 of the Liam photography podcast and I will see you again in a another seven days for episode 52.