Which is better: Creating your photography website in WordPress or buying a pre-built site from an outside company? The answer will depend on what type of photography site you want or need. WordPress has certainly come a long way since its initial release. Not only is WP great for blogs and photo blogs, but it’s also become a great platform for creating other kinds of websites as well—including photography websites.
I was recently browsing through Professional Photographer magazine and saw an advertisement from a company selling HTML photography websites. Out of curiosity, I decided to do some further research on their website to see exactly what they offered. While I have no reason to doubt that you could get a quality website from this company, you can certainly get many of the same features and functionality (in some cases even better) by creating a WordPress site yourself—and you could save a lot of money!
If you want to purchase a website with unlimited space, email, and bandwidth from this outside company, you’ll have to pay $440 for a two-year plan. Contrast that scenario with simply purchasing an unlimited web hosting plan from a company like iPage or Web Hosting Hub. You get unlimited space and bandwidth, plus you’ll also get email, web stats, FTP, tech support—plus many additional features that you probably won’t get if you just buy a website. You can use WordPress plugins for things like galleries, etc. This method would cost you about $95 for a two-year plan at Web Hosting Hub, and even less at iPage. Even if you need to add items for ecommerce such as a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate, you’ll still be paying much less.
However, speaking of ecommerce, that’s probably the one area where it could make sense to purchase a website instead of going with WordPress. If the main goal of your website is to actually sell photos online, a ready-made site will be less work. And although there are WP plugins to help you out with selling images online, there may be certain limitations. You could opt to go with a separate ecommerce solution that your web host provides, such as osCommerce or ZenCart, but customizing it for photo sales will require additional work and the results may not be as satisfying as those you could get from a specially made photography sales website.
Taking all the above information into account, my recommendations on whether to go with WordPress or a custom built site would be as follows:
- If you want a photo blog, use WordPress. It won’t cost you nearly as much as a custom site, and it isn’t difficult to set up and modify.
- If you want a website to show off your work and promote your photography business, go with WordPress. With the right WordPress theme and plugins, you’ll be able to customize the look of your site so that it shows off your images just right and again, it won’t cost you nearly as much as buying a custom-built site.
- If you want a website to specifically sell your photos online, you may be better off purchasing a specifically made site. This way you can get the ecommerce portion already developed and ready to go. And it will be specifically designed for selling different photo sizes, proofing, etc. It will cost you more than creating a WordPress site, but you’ll save a lot of time and effort trying to duplicate the ecommerce photo sale features.