Getting Online: A Photographer's Story

Dynadot
Nov 4, 2013

Ashley Nicole Jones is a photographer, graphic designer, artist, and awesome Dynadot customer. She is the owner of Shutter Sweet Photography out of Atlanta, Georgia. I discovered Ashley's beautiful website after she won one of our Facebook contests and I reached out to her to learn more about how she used Dynadot to get her business online. After an interview, I decided to let her tell you her story:

My uncle is a professional photographer in NYC and I can remember being fascinated with his work as early as I can remember. I never had room in my schedule to take a photography class in high school, but was given a film camera for my high school graduation and enjoyed taking photos as often as I could. As a graphic communications student at Clemson, I enjoyed learning about light, color, design, photography, and more. In the summer of 2005, I went to Ukraine as a documentary photographer and fell in love with telling stories through photos. When I returned from the trip with 22 rolls of film, I used my graphic design classes to scan the prints and create brochures and booklets telling the stories of my time in Ukraine and about the organization I went with. I was in my element.

After graduating Clemson, I actually went on to be a graphic designer - first for a printing company and then for a web design and development company. I knew I needed to learn the web aspect before I could start my own business. I took in as much as I could about SEO, html coding, javascript, and all of the fun web elements that make up a good website. I was still learning from my uncle in NYC and enjoyed taking photos on the weekends. My friends would ask me to take their pictures and then one couple asked me to shoot their wedding. I realized I was telling a story and could even use my graphic design skills later to create custom-designed gifts or albums. After that day, I started moving towards starting my own business.

When I decided to officially form an LLC for my business in 2011, I immediately researched domain names and used Dynadot to see what was available. Once I decided on a name and made sure no one else was using it, I bought the corresponding domain name and starting designing my own logo. As soon as that was completed, I started designing the website right away. I actually have two companies now - Skylight Creative Group serves small to medium sized businesses for their corporate graphic design and marketing needs. The other is Shutter Sweet Photography, specializing in telling stories and creating artwork for your home.

A recently married couple walking through an orchard

The website for both companies was so important to me because it is the best way to have a storefront and showcase my work to reach as many people as I can. A lot of people search online during the decision-making process, and then narrow down the choices based on what they find. I wanted my website to showcase my photography as well as communicate to clients why they should choose to hire me and answer questions they might have to help them during their decision-making. I started a blog on the Shutter Sweet Photography website right away because I like to talk and write, so that was easy for me. However, I also knew it would be a great way to keep my clients and readers updated with the most recent work in addition to providing better SEO rankings.

My website has definitely been a huge part of my success and my blog allows me to connect with a lot of my clients. Not only has it helped with current clients, but it is a great way for potential clients to get a feel for my style, see my work, and decide if they want to give me a call. I added the client site to allow my existing clients an easy way to access the complete collection of photos from their session with ordering capabilities. It's not essential, but it's a great value-added service I offer.

My best advice for people looking to start their own business is to do your research and don't be afraid to spend money so you can get things done right the first time. Starting a business costs money - it doesn't have to break the bank, but you can't expect potential clients to pick up the phone and call you without doing anything at all. Invest in a good web designer who can create a beautiful site that is clean, user-friendly, and SEO friendly as well. If need be, hire a photographer or invest in stock images to achieve a more professional or custom look. Don't just start a blog or join social media because someone told you to. Only do what is right for your business and things you can keep up with unless you want to hire someone to keep them up regularly. Once your website is up and running, focus on your marketing material (which should compliment the website design) and start spreading the word!

Do you have an awesome online story & website that we should feature? Email us at blog@dynadot.com.

Posted by Robyn Norgan

Comment
1 comment
EnviroEquipmentInc
Nov 6, 2013 12:48pm
We also thought about writing marketing piece about how our business successfully uses the Internet but I'm afraid that one or more of our competitors will read it and exploit our "secrets". Paranoid? Maybe a little. Smart? Absolutely.