By Andrew Hudson Published: June 20, 2011 Updated: September 2, 2016
Building your own e-commerce-enabled website is not for the faint-hearted. You need either a good knowledge of Web design (by coding directly in HTML or using a Web-page design program), or an open checkbook to hire a professional coder/designer. I would recommend researching these companies first. Assuming you’ve done that and are still set in your ways, let’s start cooking.
This is what you’ll need:
- Host. You’ll need a computer server, a place where your site resides and is accessed by people on the Internet. You could use your own computer but it must be permanently linked to the Internet with a fixed address. I rent space on a server, it only costs about $25 a month. There are lots of places on the Internet that would love to host your site, for a monthly fee of course. Your current ISP may offer paid or even free hosting.
- Domain. Look professional and get your own “domain” name address. Mine is “photosecrets.com.” Names are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Find a “domain registrar” online then enter variations of your preferred name until you find one that is still available. Domains are leased (not technically bought) at the rate of about $10 per year.
- Computer. Presumably you’ve got one of those since you’re reading this.
- Code. This is where it gets tricky. Somehow you have to create the web pages, which are written in “code.” I write raw HTML code using a text editor called BBEdit. But that’s pretty dull and you might prefer a web-design program such as Adobe Dreamweaver. A clever trick is to find someone else’s page online, then, from your browser, go to “View Source". This will show you the raw HTML code used to make the page, so you can learn the tricks of the trade. (Do it to this page and find a secret message!)
- E-commerce. Somehow you need to add “e-commerce” ability to provide automatic ordering and payment code. Your hosting company may provide built-in e-commerce software. Personally, it’s all too complex for me and I haven’t implemented anything, preferring instead to resort to email negotiation with potential clients. This is a good reason to consider using a photo storefront site.
You can design and test your site on your own computer. When it’s ready to enter the big world, upload the pages and photos (I use Fetch) to your host and your site is ready.
Here are some links to software makers for photography websites.
Design Templates for Your Own Site
General Business Websites
These are more general (i.e.g not just photography-related) website companies.