6 Website Must-Haves
6 Website Must-Haves

Knowing what to include in a website and what to exclude is difficult. Improve your site today with these six website must-haves. By including these simple and actionable things on your site you will not only see an increase in traffic but help to create a better user experience for your reader.

This post does include some affiliate links but I only mention things I use and believe in.

6 Website Must-Haves - I never knew about #2. Wow! Installing this today!

6 Website Must-Haves

  • No.
    Newsletter list

    If you don’t do anything else I suggest in this post, let this be the ONLY THING YOU DO.

    Start an email newsletter list.

    It doesn’t matter what your website is about. Photography services, lifestyle blogger, or selling a product online.


    Don’t build your community on social media. You don’t own that platform and we all know what happens when you rely too heavily on social media to reach your audience. They change the algorithm and now you have to pay to play.

    The people who sign up for your email list are your people. They are the ones most interested in what you have to say and/or sale. Treat them the best.

    I have used several different services and I can’t recommend ConvertKit enough.

    Their interface is extremely easy to use and the possibilities for email marketing is endless at an affordable price.

    I plan to write more on email marketing because honestly, I could fill a book with how to do it but for now, do this.

    1. Sign up for a ConvertKit account
    2. Start capturing email address
    3. Email your list at least once a month but I would recommend weekly
    4. Provide value – Send them your latest posts, offers, or someone else’s post.

    The key to a great email list is to provide value. Don’t just pitch offers to your list each time.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.57.20 AM

  • No.
    Heat Maps

    We spend countless hours creating beautiful websites to help serve our readers. However, do you know what is popular on your site? What people click on most often?

    Install Heat Maps by Sumo Me for FREE to see what people are clicking on your website.

    What I found most interesting was sometimes people clicked on something that wasn’t clickable. This helped me to realize I needed to tweak my design to make it more user friendly.

    Plus, I love seeing what people are not clicking. If people aren’t clicking it then it is taking up valuable real-estate that can be used for something else.

    When you install the Heat Maps you need to install it on each page/page you would like it on. At the very least, install it on all the pages in your navigation bar.

    6 Website Must-Haves - I never knew about #2. Wow! Installing this today!

  • No.
    Informative About Page

    Every website needs an “About” page. This is often one of the most clicked on pages on your site.

    Here’s the funny thing about the About page, it isn’t actually about you. Instead, it should be about how you can help the reader.

    Talk about the benefits you can offer them. Tell them about the community you have created. Answer some of their questions. Share popular blog posts.

    Don’t be afraid to share a little bit about yourself as well but make sure it is geared towards helping them.

    Some people love to share fun facts as well. This is a clever idea because if you are a St. Louis Cardinals fan and one of your readers is as well you have an instant connection. (Which I am by the way)

    Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.45.30 AM

  • No.
    Welcome Mat

    I have said for years you should have a pop-up on your site to capture email addresses. It is essential that you build a newsletter list.

    Almost everyone hates pop-ups, myself included, but they work! It’s crazy how well they work.

    I recently changed my pop-up to a Welcome Mat. This is a screen that slides down the rest of your blog so the only option is for the reader to subscribe or say no.

    This converts well because it forces the person to make a choice. Yes – email me free information or No- I don’t want your free information.

    Download your Welcome Mat from Sumo Me for free.

    I suggest A/B testing (split testing) your Welcome mat to see which design and wording converts the best.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.40.51 AM

    Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.42.19 AM

  • No.
    Photo of you

    I can hear the moaning now. Yes, you need a photo of you on your site.

    People want to connect with the voice behind the website. Especially if people are going to hire you for a job, they want to see what you look like. It’s human nature.

    Try to keep this photo current. You don’t have to change it daily or even monthly but if you chop off all your hair or dye your hair blonde, it may be time for an updated headshot.

  • No.
    Contact page

    This page may not be clicked on as much as your other pages but it is still important.

    People need to know how to get ahold of you.

    Please include your email address written out.

    I realize some people like to use forms and that is fine but also include your email address.

    Personally, I don’t like forms. I have filled them out too many times only to find out the person never received my request.

    Plus, I like to have a copy of the email I sent you in my own records which is why I prefer to have your actual email address to write you from my email address.

    I remember listening to a brand talk one time about how if they can’t find your email address they may not add you to a list of potential partners. They often have to put together a spreadsheet of partners with all their information on it. If they can’t find your email address you may miss out.

    Don’t make them search for it. Create a contact page and place it on there.

    If you receive a lot of emails (as I do) I would suggest putting an additional FAQ section on your contact page as well.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.04.22 AM

  • Anita Weerman
    April 6, 2016 at 2:56 AM

    Dear Courtney,
    this is a very useful blog post at a very good moment, thank you for sharing. In the coming months I want (need!) to update the website of my little shop and your tips are very helpful. I need to make time for that and have been procastinating it for too long.
    Again: thanks for sharing.

    Best regards,


    • April 14, 2016 at 4:46 PM

      Glad you enjoyed it, Anita. Time is definitely hard to find :)

  • Shannon Brooks
    April 6, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Hey Courtney, I have a question about building an email list. I’ve had people use their email to log into galleries and also enter them when I’m photographing events where they will have the photos sent to them via gallery – can I use those emails? Or do I need to find another way to collect them so they don’t get annoyed that I used their email for a newsletter they didn’t necessarily sign up for?

    • April 14, 2016 at 4:49 PM

      Hey Shannon, Yes you would need to find a different way to collect emails like a Welcome mat that I mentioned. If they are clients I would specifically send them a personal email inviting them to join your list. Maybe the people on your list get to be the first to sign up for your fast selling family sessions or they get exclusive offers. Give them a reason to sign up :) You actually can’t legally add people to an email list without their permission so it’s best to give them the opportunity to sign up.

  • Kelly O'Dell
    April 6, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Courtney I love this blog post, but I don’t even have a website set up yet. Can you recommend a good one for photographers? I do have a Zenfolio account. Should I create s website through them? I would love more info about building a website!

  • Ellie Augustin
    April 6, 2016 at 2:58 PM

    OHHH LOVE THIS! I “think” I installed the Sumo pop up box.. I LOVE IT! NOW hmmm a picture of who? BUT my kids are waaayyy cuter LOL…OK, OK I’ll work on it.. BUT first my About me page needs SERIOUS Help. Next on my to do list.. HEY it’s only taken me how many years… Slow and steady wins the race? THANKS SO much for sharing w/us Courtney!

    • April 14, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      Your kids are super cute :) But people aren’t hiring them ;) Slow and steady is smart. One step at a time.

  • Julie Enyedy
    April 6, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    Hi there! So in full disclosure, I am a relatively new hobbyist photographer and don’t really have plans to start a photography business. But, I recently began receiving your emails and am learning so much! I am a Consultant that works from home and have been very interested in what it takes to build an online presence. Would like to get more info on both the “what” – technical ins/outs, but also the reality of the amount of time, skills, and attention needs to be given to the website.

  • Jordan DePina
    April 6, 2016 at 4:21 PM

    I am in the exact same boat as Julie! I love photography, started a website but don’t have any plans to start a photography business. I created a space for followers to sign up for a newsletter but I’m not really sure what that would entail on my end. What should I write about? What would help them? How can I serve them if my site is really just a way to share my photography? Thank you so much for your extremely helpful emails! I’m so grateful to have found you on the beginning of this journey!

    • April 14, 2016 at 4:54 PM

      If people are coming to your site to see your work and that is the value you are providing then that is what you share. Maybe you send out a weekly email with links to the posts which are full of your images.

  • lottie @ yellow bliss photography
    April 6, 2016 at 10:10 PM

    Really interesting! One thing I will say, as a reader: I wish there was some way (and there might be, I haven’t done any research) to be able to tell if the person was already subscribed or not… because I am. and I get the pop-up anyway and that pop-up makes me want to not only unsubscribe, but also leave.

    (but I don’t, because I really love it here & you got me interested in learning manual in 2013 and I haven’t looked back… So how could I leave? You’ve been my best friend for the last three years. ;))

    But to give you the heads up, it’s totally frustrating to those of us who ARE subscribed to still get asked to subscribe.

    (Something I did notice was that when you actually click on a post the welcome mat doesn’t pop up so that’s helpful to know for the future. ;))

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:08 PM

      Hey Lottie, Thanks for your feedback. I’m working on having that show up less to people already on the list. Thanks for your patience.

  • Fran
    April 7, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    Hi Courtney! I would love a step by step guide for getting a photog portrait business up and running. I have read countless pieces of info on the net but a cohesive simple set of sequential steps would be great. Also advice as to the web hosts would be great

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:10 PM

      Hey Fran, I can’t help with the step-by-step guide for starting a business as I’ve never started one myself but I’ll see if we can’t find more photographers to share that information.

  • Chantal
    April 7, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    I totally get that I need an email list, but HOW do I get people to sign up. That’s the question I cant seem to get an answer for! I have sign up buttons, etc, but I must be doing something wrong. Thanks girl!

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:11 PM

      You need a reason for them to sign up? Do you have a freebie offer? I have a free ebook people can get. Maybe it’s a discount or first access to something. People won’t sign up without a reason though :)

  • Susan Friedland-Smith @SaddleSeeksHorse
    April 7, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    Very informative. I think I need to change my contact page for the reasons you mentioned. Thanks for the tips. (And I’m a Cubs fan.)

    • lottie @ yellow bliss photography
      April 12, 2016 at 11:10 PM

      haha! Red’s fan here! Booo, Cardinals!! xD

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:11 PM

      I’ll forgive you for being a Cubs fan ;)

  • Sandi
    April 9, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    Dear Courtney- Super tips for the website! I’m in the process of building up a blog, but the focus is duo-purpose- poetry and photography. I’d love to hear your ideas on what type of gallery apps are the best or even which themes you find the best for showcasing photography? Oh, and I love tip #2 on Heat Maps- that is totally new to me and something that would be extremely useful in the future. Thanks again :)

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:13 PM

      Hope you are enjoying the heat map. I will keep my eye open for great themes for show casing your photography. I like ProPhoto themes.

  • Jaclyn
    April 12, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Thank you for this informative post! I am in the process of building my website, so this was very helpful to me. Thank you!

  • Mildred Mendez
    April 13, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    Hi Courtney,

    Thanks for the information. I am so interested in building a wedding photography business on a part time basis. I will like to know the ins and outs of creating this business. I’ve watched YouTube videos but the information is better absorbed when it’s in writing. Thanks again for all your great tips.

    • April 14, 2016 at 6:14 PM

      Hey Mildred, Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope we can share more information you are looking for.

Leave a Comment