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#1 Advice for a Standout Website: An Essential Strategy for Entrepreneurs

Stephanie Smout holding laptop and iPad

If you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner searching for ways to improve your website, I am eager to share with you the #1 strategy I offer that consistently results in a superior website. This essential yet often overlooked element is the power of personal connection: people buy from those they know, like, and trust, and therefore you need to stop hiding behind your product or service and show your face! It’s that simple. And this isn't just a design choice; it's a strategic move to build a personal bond with your web visitors.

But what truly takes a website from good to great? Stay tuned until the end to discover the ultimate investment you should be making to create a stunning website and a practical alternative if that's not immediately feasible.

Why You Need Photos of Yourself on Your Website

In the vast digital ocean, a genuine photo of you can turn your website into a cozy island of trust and connection. While sleek graphics and animations are impactful, they cannot replace the human touch. Whether you’re a "solopreneur", and will be using images of yourself, or you have a whole team you’d like to feature, make sure you include authentic pictures as much as you can.

In my professional opinion, traditional headshots are great, and obviously you need them, but I encourage you to work with your photographer to capture action shots and images of the elements integral to your business. For instance, you should aim to have pictures of you at work, holding the tools of your craft, providing a glimpse of your day-to-day, or showing details of your product or production process. People will love getting a behind-the-scenes look into your world.

You should know that photographs of real people on a website significantly enhance the initial trust a visitor feels. Images that emphasize the face are particularly effective, as they create a stronger emotional connection. Just remember that the photos you use should be as authentic as possible, as your web visitors can distinguish between genuine images and stock photos, and the latter can actually diminish the perceived trustworthiness of your site.

I am not saying you can't use stock imagery; sometimes it's all you have to work with, especially in the early stages of your business or when specific visuals are needed. However, the key is to use them judiciously. Blend stock photos with authentic, personal images wherever possible to maintain that vital human touch.

Truly the Best Advice for a Standout Website

If you’re still doubting, or resisting it, let me assure you that adding a professional image of yourself goes far beyond aesthetics—it truly builds a bridge of trust. In the online world, where anonymity often reigns, seeing the face behind a business adds a layer of authenticity and reliability. It lets people see immediately who is on the other side of their emails or calls and answers subconscious questions in the visitor's mind about their decision to work with you.

The Psychology Behind Showing Your Face

Humans are visually oriented creatures. We rely on visual cues for social interaction. By showing your face, you tap into this psychological aspect, making your website more memorable and you, my friend, and your business, will seem more approachable. It's not just about saying, "This is what I look like," but also about conveying, "You can trust me."

The Ultimate Investment for Your Website

While a well-lit self-portrait can serve as a temporary solution, investing in professional photography is an essential step in skyrocketing your website's ROI. A branding photographer, someone who specializes in making you and your brand shine, is not just a photographer; they are a partner in bringing your story to life.

Why Work With a Branding Photographer

A qualified branding photographer does more than just take pictures; they capture the essence of you and your brand. Their expertise lies in creating images that make your website not just seen but felt. These photographs are not boring headshots that fall flat in the eyes of your web visitors; they are an extension of your brand narrative, adding depth and personality to your digital presence.

Using Self-Portraits as a Placeholder

If getting professional photos will delay your website launch, start with a self-portrait. Here are some guidelines to ensure your self-portrait serves its purpose effectively:

Young female entrepreneur taking a selfie

Lighting is Key: Use natural light, ideally near a window with soft, diffused sunlight, to create a flattering effect.

Consider the Background: Opt for a background that’s simple yet reflective of your professional environment.

Dress for Success: Choose attire that not only represents your professional image but also boosts your confidence. If you feel great, you’ll look great.

Express Yourself: Aim for a facial expression that's genuine and welcoming. Let your true self shine through; your self-portrait should vividly bring your unique personality to life, creating an emotional appeal that encourages people to connect with you.

Planning Future Website Upgrades

Once you're ready to invest in professional photography, make it a priority, and be thoughtful in your approach. The difference in image quality and the impact on your website's effectiveness will be substantial.

That being said, it's crucial to find the right partner for your branding photoshoot. Take the time to research and choose a photographer whose style aligns with your brand's aesthetic. Review their portfolio to ensure their approach resonates with your vision. This careful selection process ensures that your professional photos not only enhance your website but also authentically represent your brand's essence.

Quality Photography Results in a Quality Website

As an experienced web designer, I can tell you there's a certain magic in having clients provide me with a ready-made gallery of professional images for their websites. It's more than just a convenience for me – it's a guarantee of excellence.

High-quality images are the cornerstone of a high-quality website; they not only elevate the site's aesthetics but also ensure a professional, cohesive look.

When these images are expertly crafted by a qualified branding photographer, they seamlessly blend with the client's brand colors and style. This harmony between imagery and brand identity becomes my guiding star in the design process, ensuring the final website not only meets but exceeds the client's expectations.

Consider the websites below as prime examples. Notice how their use of professional photography, carefully tailored to each entrepreneur’s profession, brand colors, and personality, creates an immediate, striking impact the moment you land on their sites? This thoughtful integration of visuals not only enhances the overall look and feel of their websites, but also powerfully conveys the unique essence of their brands.

Three Wix website templates side by side

Branding Photographer vs. Any Photographer

While any skilled photographer can certainly succeed in capturing striking images, a branding photographer brings a deeper dimension to the art. They are not just photographers; they are storytellers who delve into the heart of your business.

A branding photographer seeks to understand your business's ethos, your style, and your goals. They go beyond mere headshots to create images that narrate your story and embody your brand's spirit. Their expertise lies in crafting visual narratives that not only showcase your products or services but also resonate with your unique message and identity. By aligning your brand's mission with personalized, authentic imagery, a branding photographer ensures that every photo is a reflection of you and the essence of your business.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, your website is more than just a digital space – it's a dynamic extension of you, your business, and your brand identity. By incorporating personal photos, ideally a curated collection of them, you not only enhance your site’s visual appeal but also forge a stronger connection with your audience. It is truly the key to successfully implementing the best advice for creating a standout website, and the #1 thing I encourage my clients to do.

Remember, in the digital world, a picture is not just worth a thousand words; it's the key to building lasting relationships.

As I wrap up this hot topic on the transformative power of showing your face on your website and the clear advantages of working with a branding photographer, I'd love to turn the spotlight over to you, my readers.

Have you had a positive experience with a branding photographer? If so, I encourage you to share their name and where we can find them in the comments below. Let's create a community resource of trusted professionals!

To begin, I'd like to recommend five exceptional branding photographers, along with the cities they primarily serve. It's worth noting, however, that these talented professionals are usually willing to travel to meet your needs.

Your recommendations could prove invaluable to someone in search of the perfect photographer to bring their brand's story to life. Sharing your experiences can be a significant help to others embarking on their journey to create an exceptional website. So, let’s build this community resource together – your input is eagerly awaited!

If you're a branding photographer yourself, I warmly invite you to share your details in the comments section. Tooting your own horn is not only accepted here, it's encouraged!

And please, let's not end the conversation here. Are you looking for more tailored insights and tips, especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners? Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I’m regularly sharing strategies and ideas for crafting stunning, user-friendly websites that don’t require high-tech expertise.

To stay even more closely connected, why not sign up for my newsletter? You’ll get regular updates directly from me, along with notifications for new blog posts and exclusive content designed to help you enhance your online presence. Join our growing community of inspired entrepreneurs and take your website to the next level!


Disclaimer: Please note that the branding photographers mentioned in this blog post are recommended based on their professional merit and the positive experiences shared by clients. I am not receiving any incentives or compensation for these referrals. My aim is simply to provide valuable resources and suggestions to help you in your journey to creating a standout website.


About Stephanie Smout

Stephanie is a seasoned marketing strategist, bestselling author, and speaker who specializes in creating low-tech websites for entrepreneurs, empowering them to establish a compelling online presence that amplifies their credibility, visibility, and profitability. She is the CEO of Stephanie Smout Marketing Solutions and the founder of the Clicks & Tricks Academy™ – a comprehensive digital course in which she shares her unique method to launching websites that not only capture attention online but also bolster a business's bottom line. Learn more about Stephanie Smout.

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Nov 17, 2023

As a brand photographer, I obviously agree with you 100%- but I LOVE how you went the extra mile to explain the psychology behind showing your face on the website, and how it translates to results. Perfectly said, Stephanie, and I’m honored to be included in this conversation!

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