Eventually, I asked a local stencil artist if she knew a photographer-artist that would be willing to take maternity photos, and luckily, she knew someone. So yes, if you have a business, word of mouth works. But it was a huge hassle for me and very stressful.
And then, I had the exact same issue when I was trying to find a new place to get my hair cut. I recently relocated outside of Seattle to a small suburb. I don't know anyone in this suburb, so its not as if I had the ability to get word of mouth advice on this one. I swear I tried incredibly hard to find a hairstylist. Only one salon in this city has a website, and their website made it pretty clear to me that I wouldn't like the salon. Of course, with salons, it's pretty easy to find their Yelp page. But, honestly, even if I find a Yelp page, I want to see a list of services, stylists, and prices. Just having a Yelp page tells me nothing except that some people were pleased and others were not.
So I chose one at random; big mistake. The haircut was a disaster. That was almost four months ago, and my hair still hasn't grown out correctly. With nowhere to turn, I finally bit the bullet last week and drove to my old salon in Seattle (who, by the way, has a website and does an amazing job).
1. I don't know how
This excuse is the most frustrating to me. I won't lie, I know some basic coding and I had my first website at the age of twelve. So, I did know how. But, even still, there are so many hosting platforms that will allow you to just plug in whatever information and go. It really is that simple. It took me approximately twenty minutes to set up this website. If I was completely unfamiliar with making websites, this may have taken me at most an hour. Of course, there are hosting services that are harder to use. The reason I chose the one I did was because of its simplicity.
Here are three hosting sites and a short description of each:
- Weebly (what I use) - This one is probably the simplest, allowing you to just plug in the information. It is very straight forward, and no matter what you do, the result tends to look nice. If you are familiar with HTML coding, you can get pretty good customization. If you aren't, you can still get beautiful designs thanks to Weebly.
- Wordpress - This is a super popular choice, and it allows for great customization. However, it isn't as intuitive or easy to use. I would use this one only if you care greatly about how the page looks and have the time necessary to put into your page.
- Blogger - This one is mostly meant for blogging. But don't think that means it isn't useful. You will still have the ability to set up pages describing whatever service you are offering, some of your past work (if you have any), and a small about me. The designs on Blogger tend to be simple, which will work great for many people. I didn't like Blogger because I don't like the interface when you are editing the blog, which I find to be unnecessarily unintuitive.
Having a website can be expensive, especially if you pay someone to create it for you. But as I explained above, if you have an hour of free time, you can create your own website without paying anyone. Blogger and Wordpress are free services. Wordpress you can purchase certain plug-ins that will raise the price, but those aren't necessary for a basic webpage. Weebly can also be a free service. They do have a pro version, which allows for greater customization, however it will cost you. But, as you can see, it can cost nothing to have a website.
Another expense is associated with a domain name. I paid about $12 for my domain name, using GoDaddy, and I have had it for two years. So, skip your coffee for a week and buy yourself a domain name. But if you honestly cannot get together $12, you don't have to purchase your own domain name. If you are using Blogger, you don't have the ability to use your own domain name anyways. With Wordpress and Weebly, if you don't purchase your own domain name, you can use whatevername.weebly.com or whatevername.wordpress.com, both of which will be free. While it's nice to have your own domain name, no one is going to care if your hosting site is also in the domain name. Either way, you can pay the small price for a domain name or you can decide to use a free name provided by your hosting service. Again, it can cost NOTHING to have a website.
3. But I'm not really a (whatever)
This excuse is always funny to me. My friend will say, "I'm not really a photographer" or "I don't really have a business." By the way, when my friend says she isn't a photographer, she means she isn't a full-time profession photographer, not that she doesn't take amazing pictures.
Maybe the reason you don't really have a business or you aren't doing what you love full-time is because no one knows what you are doing. And what is the best way to get the word out? A website that will pop-up in a Google search. Or a website that can be linked to on your Facebook, Twitter, or whatever page. Or even a website that is linked to a Yelp page.
Bottom line: if you want someone to hire you to do whatever it is you do, they have to know you do it.
Still Not Convinced?
If you want more advice on how to get one started or what you can put on your website, feel free to contact me.