A Beginner’s Guide to Building a Killer WordPress Photography Website (in 5 Steps)

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As a visual medium, your photography deserves to be seen, and the best way to showcase it is by creating a killer website. However, doing so is tough to get right. By not having a website in this day and age, you’ll come across as a modern day caveman.

Fortunately, there are some simple and logical steps you can take to get up and running, and WordPress is our recommended platform of choice. It’s the most popular Content Management System (CMS) available, and once you’re set up, it can unlock the door to all manner of income streams and traffic.

In this post, we’ll offer five steps to help you build a killer WordPress photography website. By the end, you’ll be in a great position to begin selling your own work, all by your own fair hand.

Step 1: Choose a Domain Name and a Web Host

First things first: you’ll need to purchase a domain name. Choosing the perfect one is a bit of an art form in itself. Once you’ve found a potential winner, you’ll need to check if it’s available to purchase. While you could use a tool such as Whois, it’s just as easy to head to a domain provider such as Namecheap and use their own search facility:

The Namecheap website.

There are other domain providers that work in the same way (such as GoDaddy and Register.com), and each provider has their own method of registering a domain name.

Once you’ve got that sorted, you’ll want to purchase web hosting – essentially server space for your website. It’s a perennial topic, and you can quickly become overwhelmed with both the choices available, and the jargon. We’ll get onto your platform of choice in a minute, but ultimately, you’ll be looking for a WordPress-focused web host, with good community reviews and ratings. You’ll also want to read up on any other functionality that’s important to you before splashing the cash.

If you’re still struggling for inspiration, we recommend Bluehost as a hosting provider:

The Bluehost homepage.

Purchasing hosting is a straightforward process, and once you’ve done so, you’ll need to install your platform of choice.

Step 2: Install WordPress

We keep mentioning WordPress, but what is it? In a nutshell, it’s an open-source Content Management System (CMS), and it currently powers over 26% of the web.

The WordPress.org home page.

Many web hosts cater to the platform’s requirements, and there’s a huge community of developers and users all willing to pull together to improve WordPress’ functionality.

Because of its dominance, it’s pretty much ubiquitous across hosts; and while it can be installed manually, many hosts provide an installer for you directly from your admin panel:

The Install WordPress button on Bluehost.
Bluehost’s simple WordPress installation tool.

Of course, no two hosts are the same, so you should check with your preferred provider for the exact details. However, the process will be similar across the board.

Once you have a domain name and hosting and have installed WordPress, it’s time to move onto the design of your site.

Step 3: Choose a Suitable Theme

The design of your WordPress site primarily relies on two elements – themes and plugins. Let’s discuss themes first, which are templates that essentially govern the look of your site, and often are focused on various niches such as blogging (naturally!), business, e-commerce, and (of course) photography:

The Graph Paper Press themes page.
Some of our photography-related themes.

While your exact requirements will depend on your niche and needs, there are a few constants to bear in mind:

  1. Font and color customizations are important for tailoring your site to match your branding.
  2. A flexible layout (or compatibility with a suitable plugin) is also vital, as it gives you much more scope in creating a unique site.
  3. Functionality pertaining to your niche (in this case, photography) helps with a smooth experience setting up your site.

As for finding the right theme, there are plenty of resources across the web to help you. However, it would be remiss of you to skip past the WordPress.org Theme Directory. There are thousands of free themes here to choose from, covering a wide range of applications:

The WordPress.org Theme Directory.

However, by purchasing a premium theme from either a marketplace such as ThemeForest – or a dedicated theme shop such as ourselves – you often get much higher standard of support, and an end result befitting of the outlay.

Installing your chosen theme is just as simple as installing WordPress. You’ll do so completely through the WordPress dashboard, and again, there are plenty of tutorials available to get you up and running.

If this all seems a little too much, don’t worry! You’ll want to check out our Instant Setup service. It offers the complete package – hosting, pre-installed themes and plugins, and 24/7 support to boot.

Step 4: Choose a Suitable Gallery Plugin

Now let’s talk plugins. While they do have a role to play in your website’s design in some cases, plugins more typically offer bolt-on functionality to your WordPress site. They can encompass a myriad of applications, and some plugins are downright essential.

As with themes, the plugins you install are going to be based around your own requirements, and many can be found for free at the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. However, while there are dedicated plugin marketplaces such as CodeCanyon, free solutions often include most of the functionality you need to create your site.

For creating a killer photography website, you’ll likely want a dedicated image gallery plugin. This will enable you to showcase your work directly on your website, and customize its look through a dedicated panel on your WordPress dashboard. In fact, you don’t need to look far for a suitable contender either:

The Jetpack plugin.

Jetpack is a plugin that usually comes bundled with fresh WordPress installs, and included among its plethora of handy features are the Tiled Galleries and Gallery Widget modules – perfect for creating a gorgeous online image gallery.

Of course, installing plugins is again simple (you’ll notice a recurring theme here!), and there are numerous tutorials available on the web to help you.

Step 5: Sell Your Photography on Your Website

At this point, you’re pretty much ready to rock and roll! The final step – although by no means necessary – is to sell your work online. We think that selling your work independently is the main benefit of setting up a killer photography website (along with setting up a portfolio), so it’s something worth considering. There are plenty of benefits, such as:

  1. Complete control over how your work is presented.
  2. No third-party cuts from sales.
  3. The ability to deal directly with your customer base.

While selling your work used to be a difficult endeavor, we’ve developed the Sell Media plugin to make it easy to get up and running.

Sell Media plugin logo

This free plugin enables you to easily upload your work and sell it directly from your WordPress website, and there are a number of additional extensions available to enhance the functionality. Ultimately, we’ve given you the power to sell your photography, all without a middleman.


Showcasing your gorgeous photography online often requires a design that’s just as stunning in order to captivate your visitors. However, creating your website can be tough, especially if you’re new to the game.

In this post, we’ve offered a simple, five-step solution to getting your photography website up and running. Let’s recap:

  1. Choose a domain name and web host.
  2. Install WordPress.
  3. Select a suitable theme.
  4. Download a suitable gallery plugin.
  5. Sell your photography using a solution such as Sell Media.

Do you have any tips for creating a killer photography website? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Iapcik_Vogerbitch.

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