So you’ve been at this photography thing for awhile and you’re a competent shooter. Maybe you started out shooting weddings, but now you’re shooting portraits, seniors and the occasional commercial work. You’ve got it all under one roof, in one website, but now you’re wondering if that’s a good idea after all. Maybe it’s better to give each their own website? What to do?
For most people, the answer is an unequivocal yes. A soon-to-be bride doesn’t go looking for a photographer; she’s looking for a wedding photographer. A mom in need of family portraits wants a portrait photographer. A company in need of photos for its marketing seeks out a commercial photographer. And so on…
There’s an old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Whether you like it or not, we all know that the person who’s good at lots of things isn’t great at any one particular thing. Would you go to your general practitioner for brain surgery? No, you’d go to the specialist in brain surgery.
As Jack Ries and Al Trout point out in their classic book, Positioning, the Battle for the Mind the specialist always wins out over the generalist. They ask you to think of the number one brand of ketchup – Heintz. But is Heintz the number one brand of mustard? No. That’s another brand – French’s. Think of the leading brand in any field and it’s doubtful that they’ll be a leader in another field.
Getting back to photography, the same principles apply. If you offer yourself up as a generalist by listing all your specialties on one site, clients will subconsciously perceive you to not be the best at any single one of those specialties. For the bride looking for a wedding photographer, you will be at a disadvantage to those photographers who specialize in weddings. The specialist always wins out over the generalist.
The other thing to keep in mind is that each type of client has different needs. Wedding clients don’t care about what commercial clients want. But sales and marketing is all about demonstrating your ability to meet the needs of any specific client. When you have one website, it’s much more difficult to craft a message that will satisfy the needs of all of your visitors. In attempting to satisfy all of your varied clients, you’re likely to truly satisfy none.
In my case, I have four websites. One each for Advertising, Weddings, Portraits, and Photographers. If you visit each one, you’ll note that they all have a different message that’s specifically crafted to its target audience. Where my wedding photography site is more elegant and soft, my advertising site is a more forceful and personality driven. Brides and art directors are two completely different clients with different needs – which one site can’t hope to successfully meet.
Now, the one workable exception to this rule is if you’re the only game in town. If you’re the only studio within your geographic market, then you can get away with one site. Be careful though because if someone else opens up a wedding business, they’ll siphon away your wedding business because now they’re the specialist and your the generalist.
Finally, it’s okay to show that you do these other kinds of work. Showing off some of your editorial or fashion work to your brides is a great way to build some credibility. Just be careful how you do this. It’s okay to mix up work on your blog, however I suggest that if you’re going to refer a bride from your wedding site (or commercial site etc.) to your blog that you refer them to just your wedding work so they don’t have to weed through a bunch of seniors (or other work) that they may not be interested in. You can do this by creating categories for your work, such as weddings, portraits, seniors etc, and then setting the blog link on the website to that specific category.
These days, your marketing needs to deliver a knockout punch to drive clients from website to booking. Hit ’em hard with a website that shouts, “I’m the best at what I do!” Be the specialist and own your market.