This is the second post in a 10-part series called "10 Reasons Why You Aren't Getting More Clients."  Here's a link to part 1 of the series in case you missed it. 

Your website is often the first impression that people get of your business. You only have a few seconds to convince them that they should dig deeper and show that you are the right photographer for them. So if your blog screams "Amateur!!!!" at a glance, they'll simply click away and look at someone else. Here's two big places where I see photographers consistently failing to get the professional look that they need to get more clients.

1. Avoid Free Blogs and Websites

Back when I started my photography business, I used a free blog for a website. I thought it was nice enough. It showed my images, and it gave people a way to contact me and get more information. And it was free. I didn't have much of a budget starting out, so this was fabulous in my mind. The only problem was, I didn't get any new clients using it. Zero. All the images were of my kids, my family, or friends who had allowed me to photograph them. I couldn't seem to attract new clients at all. Trying to figure out how to build a website was scary and I was afraid it was going to be expensive. However, once I finally committed to it, it wasn't bad at all. In fact, It cost me less than $6 a month for my own self-hosted website with my own domain name. Not only did it give me better rankings in the Google search results, it simply looked more professional than the free website did, and I literally started booking clients who found me online within weeks. It was exciting to finally be getting clients beyond just my friends and family. 

2. Self-Branding can hurt you more than help you

Getting a professionally designed branding package and website can be far more expensive than you can afford starting out (think thousands of dollars for a custom design), so self-branding or pre-made branding & marketing packages may be your best options. 
Unless you have some background in design, I highly recommend purchasing a branding kit from a place like Etsy. Use these elements to design your website and create marketing pieces for your business.

Let's face it: most photographers are not graphic designers, and doing your own design will likely look super unprofessional unless you have a background in design and know exactly what you want. Even things as small as font choices will impact what kind of clients you attract, so unless you understand what you're doing, you may be turning away the exact clients you want to attract. The average visitor is only going to spend a few seconds on your website before deciding if they want to look deeper or simply check out a different website, so having branding and design elements that look professional and draw people in are very important. It's all about making a great first impression and coming across as professional right away at a glance. 

Jamie M Swanson is a Wisconsin Wedding Photographer who shares her secrets about photography marketing over at The Modern Tog. Click to check it out!