I’m guessing that if you are doing business in the 21st century, you have some kind of digital storefront or representation, and it’s likely one of the following: 

  • Website
  • Social media platform
  • Behance profile
  • or some kind of a link to a showcase product

Regardless what option you choose, you will need to have some kind of digital representation. So, if you’re thinking about building a website, this conversation is totally for you!

And if you already have a website, this is also a really great opportunity to see whether or not your website is working for you!

I come from a really old school photography background. I learned photography more than 20 years ago, almost 25 years ago when it was still film. 

How do you transition a print portfolio to a digital portfolio

At that time, we were starting out and we had to actually make a physical portfolio, and it was just at the edge of where the internet was starting, and people were having conversations about how do you take your printed portfolio and bring it to that digital marketplace so that it can be seen by more people.

photography portfolio on a website shown on a desktop computer on a deskWhen I was studying photography, the idea of having an actual website as a storefront that could be used as part of your marketing and sales tool wasn’t really around.

Digital Portfolios feel a little bit stuck in old school thinking

As I look out in the world today,  many photographers and designers  have websites that appear to be a digital portfolio, meaning they’re not necessarily leveraged to be as part of your marketing and sales tool belt. 

Digital portfolios showcase your PAST WORK:

  • Digital portfolio encourages people to browse and look through several iterations or examples or several images that have been created on the similar theme. It really encourages people to go deep and to browse and to look at your images.
  • Usually organized by a specific theme or subject. I like to say a lot of times that creatives will position themselves in the marketplace based either on their subject, their style, or their usage. Most of the time, in a digital portfolio, you’re going to have groups based on the subject or based on a theme rather than specifically based on usage.
  • A digital portfolio is going to be way more image centric and way less on copy. This is one of the biggest reasons that so many creatives tend to default to a digital portfolio. Tend to think, oh, it’s just going to be easier. Oh, I’ll just let my images speak for themselves. Oh, I’m really not a very good writer. I don’t know what to say on my website. It can work if you are really just using it to provide credibility.

 A digital portfolio is really great when you’ve been in business for a while, when you already have a reputation, when you have a bunch of clients who already love you.

A digital portfolio also works well when you have an agent that is doing most of the marketing for you. 
For most of us who are creative freelancers operating in the day-to-day, we’re not at that stage. 

How to transition your website from a portfolio showcase to a marketing tool

Words have power wood sign indicating they are important on websitesHaving a website that focuses only showcasing our photos or designs without connecting to our audience, without really having the words to tell our brand story, or talk about case studies means we may be missing out on some of the really powerful ways that a website as a marketing tool can help you be more successful in your creative business.

How does a marketing focused website work?

A marketing tool website showcases your CURRENT SERVICES:

A marketing tool website showcases your CURRENT SERVICES rather than leaning into past work: Talk about the kinds of solutions you provide rather than just showcasing the great images you created.

A marketing tool website encourages people to buy. It has calls-to-action that say things like: “hire me”, “get a quote”,” book a call”. Those kinds of invitations will really work for you.

Most of the time, a marketing tool website is going to be organized by service solutions. It’s going to say things like “brand strategy”, “logo design”, “social media graphics”, or it’s going to say things like “headshots”, “business portraits”, “small business branding”. It’ll be organized by service solutions rather than “women in the studio”, “men in the studio”, “women on location”.

Your marketing tool website is going to focus on copy. Why do we want to focus on copy? 

Copy on your website can help you in things like attraction, relationship building, promotion, and sales.

How does a copy focused website help your website become a marketing tool? How does it help you grow your business and reach new markets? 

The right copy will provide your website with details, context and keywords that will help your target audience.

Magnifying glasses empasising SEO, keywords and linksOne of the ways it does that is due to keywords. They can be used for SEO strategy, which means that browsers can find you through your website based on search terms.

Because it has copy, people get more information and they will self qualify before they even reach out to you.

Because it has copy, people know they’re in the right place. 

A website without the right copy is a lot like a resume that just has the names of the companies that you worked with without any information about why the reader might care about that. The context and details that website copy provides is important.

Most freelance creatives need to have a website that’s going to help with marketing and sales. 

Copywriting will also help attract new clients through organic search. It will provide useful information that will resonate with your audience on social media. It will encourage other professionals to link to your content, also called backlinks, and most importantly, your audience will feel like they’ve been seen and heard, like they belong and will build trust in your relationship over time. 

And one of the key things to be successful is to have a really clear core marketing message, knowing who you are as a brand, what your brand promise is, and understand how to talk to your clients in language that they understand and that resonates with them.

That is the power of having your website be a marketing tool.

How do I make my website more of a marketing tool?

I highly recommend hiring a copywriter. But before you hire a copywriter, you, the business owner, need to get some clarity about who you serve, how you serve them, and why they care. 

If this is a struggle for you, I can help by offering a couple of tools. This has been  just an excerpt out of my Business Mastery Program, a very comprehensive program to help photographers and designers really learn how to master your business. It walks you through exactly how to do that!

If you have any other questions on whether or not a digital portfolio is best for your website needs, or if you have questions about how to get clarity on your business or what to say on your marketing website, please reach out to me, book a call, and let’s have a conversation.

And please feel free to download the slides to my presentation shown in the video below.