What did I do on my birthday?
For many moons, I’ve taken my birthday off from work to just sit at home and reflect on the good and bad of the past year and plan for the year ahead: to cringe over past mistakes and vow not to repeat them, to ponder how I got here and to focus on how to get there.
However, this year my birthday was two days after Labor Day, so I decided to take a very long weekend and re-design my website. Yes, seriously. I really did spend the last summer holiday weekend of 2010 in the house, in front of my computer.
There are several reasons for a re-design but my main reason was that I wanted a totally integrated site between my photography and my blog. My images are archived through PhotoShelter; this company provides photographers with e-commerce ability to market online for both prints and licensing. My blog is with WordPress and while they have some wonderful themes, not too many of them are photo-centric.
As most photographers are aware by now, social media has taken a stranglehold on marketing and our images need to show up in more places than the first page of a Google Search or on the home page of Getty/Corbis/Alamy/whatever. A photographer must have a brand and we must now sell ourselves online. We need blogs, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter accounts with commenters and followers, and so many other sharing tools to drive traffic to our site. Herein lies the problem.
So, what was the solution?
PhotoShelter (PS) offers some very nice base themes of their own, strictly image archival, but with easy enough manual customization options,if you are so inclined, and some nice options for Facebook and Twitter, to post galleries and links and present a nice storefront to the world. However, none of these PhotoShelter themes match precisely to a WordPress (WP) theme so even though you can put a link to your WP blog in your PS navigation bar, the marriage between the two sites was a little awkward but more often a muddled disconnect. Although somewhat content with my setup, for the past year I was still looking for a solution that wouldn’t cost me a fortune or be so cumbersome and complex that I couldn’t post a blog article without paying someone to hold my hand.
Recently though, the team at PS provided us with a slideshow option and a WP gallery plug-in. More importantly, they partnered with Graph Paper Press to provide that seamless integration so desired by many photographers who couldn’t afford a website designer. Graph Paper Press (GPP) creates minimalist WP sites for creatives such as artists, photographers, videographers, graphic designers and the like… Eureka!
Time will tell
Despite what PS and GPP says, it wasn’t that easy, by any means, to re-design my website even if there was little to no customization. And while I do have some programming knowledge, there are some tips and tricks and strategems in Java and CSS scripting languages that perhaps only vendor support can solve. However, even with the holiday in between, I managed to re-design and integrate my site within five days. Both GPP and PS technical support answered my questions early morning on the first business day after the holiday. I was very pleased with their customer service efforts and hope it and their respective forums continue to be a positive source of information.
Anyway, there are still tweaks to make on the site such as adding a true online print shop such as Fine Art America or Imagekind for custom framing and matting, etc. but I’m pretty darn pleased with my integrated site.
Click on the image above, my logo at the top of this page, or the “Home” link in the navigation bar to see for yourself.
So… what did you do on your birthday this year?