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At liveBooks, we make it easy for you to design a professional, mobile-friendly, and secure website. In fact, all liveBooks websites include a free SSL certificate. Read on to learn more about SSL web hosting and HTTPS, and discover the benefits it can provide website owners and visitors alike.

What Is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) creates a private session between a web browser and a website. During the session, the browser and the website use a cipher to encrypt data before sending it to the other party. The website, and the browser being used to view it, use a decryption key to decipher the data. Without the key, the data looks like a random jumble of letters, numbers and symbols.

What Are the Benefits of SSL Web Hosting?

SSL creates a safer web browsing experience, which is a great thing for you and your website’s users, especially if your website gathers personal information such as credit card information, phone numbers, passwords, or medical information. By having SSL you allow your website and the person viewing it to communicate and share data without the possibility of someone intercepting and reading the data.

How Does SSL Benefit Users?

SSL gives website users security, privacy, and peace of mind when browsing the web and sharing private information. There are many network connections between your computer and the websites that you view. Your computer sends information to your network router. From there, the information travels through your broadband modem, your Internet Service provider and various network backbones and data centers before finally reaching the destination website. At any of these points between the user’s computer and the destination website, a malicious individual could theoretically intercept and read the transferred data. But, if the data is encrypted through SSL, reading it is nearly impossible without the decryption key.

How Does SSL Benefit Website Owners?

SSL gives website owners an advantage from both a security and SEO standpoint. Analysis of more than 1 million search results supports the conclusion that SSL is a fairly strong ranking factor on Google, and is steadily becoming more important. Having a HTTPS website shows search engines and web users that you value security, which supports Google’s goal of keeping web users safe while browsing the web.

Beginning in January 2017, Google Chrome — the most popular web browser for PCs — began displaying a warning at the top of the window when a user viewed a page didn’t support SSL but asked for password or credit card information. Today, a user who views an insecure page that asks for private information will see a prominent “Not Secure” message at the top of the browser window, which may discourage them from purchasing items on your website. Having an SSL-enabled website ensures that your users will never see the “Not Secure” message, and allow visitors to make purchases confidently. Overall, having an HTTPS website may improve your website conversion rates by giving website users a safer website experience.

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There are many reasons to add videos to your website. Videos can help showcase your brand and personality, encourage users to spend more time on your site, and give your pages a fresh, modern look. liveBooks’ video gallery functionality that gives you the ability to add multiple videos on one page in a visually pleasing way. Engage your website visitors by adding various video resources onto one page, and let your video content take center stage.

Easily Add Videos to Your Website

video block.jpg
Taking advantage of video galleries make it easy to leverage the power of video content in a beautiful way.

Whether you house your videos in YouTube or Vimeo, this new feature lets you display your videos by simply copying and pasting your video URLs into the video gallery content block.

Your video titles and descriptions are automatically imported, so your website viewers can quickly see what your videos are about.

Customize Your Video Gallery

Online Video Gallery

After you’ve added your videos, our user-friendly design tool lets you customize the look of your video gallery. Choose between 7 video gallery layouts, adjust your video height, add animation effects and more. For step by step instructions on how to use this exciting new feature visit our support library.

Drop Us a Line

Have an idea for a great new feature? We invite you to reach out and let us know what we’re missing! We love hearing feedback from our customers and want to continue building our platform with the tools and features you need to create beautifully effective websites.

Posted in Photography and tagged with , ,

Many business owners are aware of how important online reviews are when finding new customers, but many struggle with actually getting people to leave reviews. We all know that the best way to get 5-star ratings is by perfecting your customer service, but actually getting that review can be a bit trickier. We’ve put together a few ways to get positive reviews so you can quickly grow your online authority.

Recognize the value of getting more reviews

Before we look at how to go about getting more reviews, you should understand why reviews are important. Let’s break a few of these down in a little more detail.

SEO Boost.

Search engines will display businesses in both organic and local results more prominently if they have a high number of authentic reviews with good ratings. When Google decides who to include in their local 3-pack (the three listings that are displayed under the map in local searches), reviews is one of their main ranking factors. As Google states, “more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.

Better Click-through Rate.

Users are more likely to click through to websites listed in Google’s 3-pack. They are even more likely to do so if they have positive reviews associated with their listing.

Higher Credibility.

Aside from better search results, having more reviews helps to build your business’s credibility. Every time you receive a 5-star review, it works to bump up the overall ranking of your listing. Also, the greater the amount of positive reviews that you have makes it tougher for one or two bad ratings to hurt your overall score.

Make sure you have a profile on review sites

The first step to collecting online reviews is an important one – make sure you have profiles on review sites. The most popular places to leave reviews are Facebook, Google, and Yelp. Often times, these aggregate sites will rank in the top spots of organic search results, so having a profile with them will give you greater exposure.

Make sure you have access.

Some of these sites may require you to request ownership access or verify your identity. This not only ensures that you can respond to your reviews, but also lets you control aspects on the listing such as hours, phone numbers, and photos. For Google My Business, Google will send you a postcard in the mail to verify yourself as a business owner. On Facebook, make sure that you have reviews turned on for your business profile, as they are not turned on by default.

Ensure NAP consistency.

“NAP” stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. These three things should be consistent on every online listing for your business. When Google decides which businesses to rank in their 3-pack and local search results, they crawl the internet for local directories (like Yelp, Yellow Pages, MerchantCircle, etc.) to make sure that your NAP information is consistent. If this information is inaccurate or different across multiple sites, it can hurt your ranking. As Google says, “Your business information’s placement in search results will vary, but having correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date business information is the most effective way to ensure the best possible ranking.

Take advantage of a local listing service.

Searching for new reviews on all your local listings takes precious time away from running your business. Thankfully, there are services that will automatically populate your business information onto hundreds of local profiles and review sites across the internet, and alert you whenever someone leaves feedback on a third party site, so that you can see it and respond right away.

Make it easier for customers to give feedback

When a customer interacts with you, heading to a review website might not cross their mind. Many will not take the effort to figure out where to leave a review unless they have a bad experience that they are eager to vent about. For that reason, it is important to make it as easy as possible to leave a review, and give ample opportunities for customers to access your review pages.

Prominently display links to review profiles.

The first step is to include links to your review site profiles on your website and in your email signature. Some sites offer widgets and plugins to embed in your website that show your reviews in real time, along with a call to action (CTA) for users to leave feedback. Yelp offers downloadable badges for websites that link to their profile, as well as stickers to display on doors and windows.

Utilize Receipts.

Most customers who give you a rating will do so after they make a purchase or utilize your services. So naturally, a good place to ask for feedback is on their receipts. If you are a brick and mortar store that prints receipts, try including a call to action on the bottom with a web address showing customers where they can leave a rating. In an emailed receipt, you can take it a step further by including links to your review and social profiles.

Send email and text alerts.

Another way to get more reviews is by sending automated emails and text alerts to your customers after they’ve completed a purchase, or recieved a service. This makes it easy to get more customer feedback on a regular basis by sending review requests to your customers at critical customer journey touchpoints (i.e. after a transaction) to connect with customers in-the-moment. In these messages, make sure to thank them for their business, and provide a simple way for them to go online and leave a review of their experience.

Do not incentivise

It might be tempting to want to offer incentives to customers in order to persuade them to leave a positive review. This is not the best idea for a few reasons.

Offering financial incentives for reviews is against the law, and can result in fines – regardless if the review is positive or not. Paid endorsements are legal as long as it is explicitly mentioned that the reviewer is paid for their opinion – which is not a good look either. Google, Yelp, and other sites have stated that offering coupons or incentives for leaving positive reviews is against their terms of service.

Some brick-and-mortar enterprises may set up a tablet or kiosk for customers to leave reviews while in-store. This is an easy way to “corner” people into leaving feedback when they are put on the spot. Some review sites do not approve of this, and will penalize listings that have too many reviews from the same IP address.

Taking it a step further, Yelp’s terms of service flat out discourages asking for reviews at all. If Yelp sees that a listing is getting many reviews from new profiles or rarely-active users, they consider it “spam” and will either suppress or remove the reviews.

The easiest way to get around Yelp’s “no asking” rule is by making the process of leaving a review as easy as possible. This includes displaying links to your review sites on your website, emails, and other forms of communication with customers. Taking advantage of Yelp’s free website icons and window stickers is a smart way to grab the attention of avid Yelp users who will be more likely to leave a review, while people unfamiliar with the platform will ignore it. This way, you are not explicitly “asking” for reviews, but still leaving the door wide open for feedback.

Respond to all reviews

A best practice to online reputation management starts with responding to feedback – both positive and negative. When you respond to your customers’ feedback, your customers will feel like their comments are appreciated, and outsiders will view you as a business owner who values their clients’ opinions.

Make sure all feedback is honest

Reviews are an honest and open look into your business. Your reviews should be as candid as possible and not influenced by any outside means or incentives.

First and foremost, do not ask friends and family to review your company, especially if they are not a customer. Even if they have paid for your products or services, it would be a good practice to discourage them from leaving a review just to be safe. This is against the terms and conditions of many review sites, and it hurts your credibility.

Reviews do not exist to make you look good. They act as a “confession box” of what customers really think. When receiving a bad review, it should be a learning experience to see how you can improve in the future. An unprompted positive review should be a compliment to your outstanding work. Having tons of 5-star reviews is always nice, but they need to be genuine.

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Many professional photographers start out taking photos as a hobby or a creative outlet. At some point, you realize that your talent is too good to be limited to a few nights and weekends here and there, and take the leap to become a full-time professional photographer. Starting your own business can be challenging. Once something goes from a hobby to livelihood it’s easy to get lost among all the things that need to get done. Building your photography brand and voice is an extremely important piece of creating a successful business. Here are some tips to help you build your photography brand while still enjoying what made you take that leap in the first place: capturing amazing images.

Take photos because it makes you happy

One of the best ways to find your voice and build your brand is to always remember to take photos because it makes you happy – not because you need to sell them. This may seem intuitive, but many times photographers will spend so much energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting different lenses that they forget to step back and enjoy taking pictures. Having fun, trying new things and exploring will naturally bring out the creativity in you and lead to some of your best work. Plus, taking beautiful photographs comes from the heart – trying to “force” a perfect image for the sole purpose of selling it will probably result in a lot of frustration. Bottom line: if you do it because you love it and it makes you happy, people will feel more of a personal connection to the pictures you capture, in turn helping you to build a consistent voice and brand.


Study your previous work

Chances are that if you’ve been photographing for a while (professionally, or otherwise) you have thousands of photos to look through. If you are just starting out with your business, devote some time to studying all of your previous work. Try to find common themes in your images – do you tend to like a certain time of day best? Do you prefer shooting people or landscapes? Do you prefer candid shots, or giving your subjects more direction to stage the perfect image? Once you’ve determined some common themes, this will give you a better idea of how to brand yourself and describe the type of work you do to others.

Build your portfolio to reflect your brand and voice

Studying your previous work is also the best way to start building your professional portfolio. Once you’ve landed on common themes in your work, figure out which photos you’ve taken that have garnered the most responses out of people in the past. Utilize social media. It is probably pretty likely that you have posted your previous work to some social media outlet at some point or another. It would be very simple yet extremely beneficial for you to go back and look at the comments people made on the photos that you shared. Which ones resonated the most with your audience? Which ones got the most attention, likes, shares, or engagement? This will help you determine your best work and what should ultimately make the final cut for your professional portfolio.

Write a stellar ‘About’ page that shows off your brand and voice

While most of your brand and voice is going to be conveyed through your images, being able to show off your personality through your website’s ‘About’ section is also very important. The ‘About’ page is most likely the first time a potential client is really “meeting” you – and it will set the tone for all your written communication with your clients. The page should tell your story, but also help create a connection between you and your current or potential clients. Whether you decide to use that space to talk about the inspiration for your work, your camera gear, or your personal journey as a photographer or creative – what you decide to say and how you say it will tell a potential client a lot about the way you do business.


Don’t kill your creativity

So much of your voice and brand as a photographer comes from your creativity and is what makes you unique and sets you apart. Sometimes, when photographers start to take photos for a living, they become perfectionists – always critiquing and criticizing their work. Constructive criticism is definitely a good way to learn and grow, but too much of it can cause you to shut yourself down as a photographer. Some of the best and most famous photos have some technically “imperfect” aspects, and yet those are part of what has made them so fantastic. Don’t lose sight of your voice in an attempt to create an image that everyone else will love – focus on why you love it.


What other tips have you employed over the years to help build a successful photography brand? We’d love to know!


How to Find Your Unique Voice as a Photographer

Four Tips to Finding Your Photography Voice


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