Hey photographer-you don't need a website of your own, yet.
Way back in the day when I decided to take a passion to create photos seriously I thought a website is a requirement. Those Hollywood photographers would write posts about own your space and how important that was. Websites are inexpensive for the most part, why not have one.
Why, because you have no idea what you are doing yet or what your work will end up looking like. So here we go down my rabbit hole of ideas and sites. When I first started I was going to be a fine art photographer. Oh, my photos were the best things I ever seen. My family said they loved them. I went to art shows where I met a retired dentist who was selling his art for, what seemed to me, an exorbitant amount and was selling. Hell, I can do that I thought.
First I think was Sabot Images, this website. I could go on about how it was named and my planning ideas about franchising and more. Needless to say, I love the name, but the more I learned about branding and advertising from my regular job at an advertising company, college classes, online classes and many a business book this may have been a huge mistake.
I did not have a following and since I am a very lazy person overall, I thought if I build it they will come like that stupid baseball movie. (sorry, the only baseball movies I have ever liked were "League of Their Own" and the original "Bad News Bears"). What happens is that you do not have the images to get views and unless you have the supportive friends network (guys, we typically do not seem to have it like the ladies) or the exhaustive capital to advertise your website will lack any serious viewership in the early days.
What I suggest for new(er) photographers. Pick a solid rented/free site like Flickr or 500px. Start sharing your photos on this site. Share them on Facebook or other social media. Go ahead and use these sites over Facebook as the quality of the images seem to be higher. Create slideshows and share them on Youtube. But always create a fan page on Facebook and use your real name such as namephotography.
Personally, if I had to start over after reading this, I would choose 500px.com. The photography on their is steps up from the mostly guy/gal with camera who takes photos but if you are relatively really new, nothing wrong with starting with Flickr and moving up to 500px once you have a portfolio set. Let Flickr be the place you share, experiment and grow but once you think you are grown as a photographer (no professional) see how your work on 500px gets received.
Once you have improved so much that every photo you show on 500px makes at least upcoming, that is when you should be ready or you have such a fan count (honest not purchased) on your Facebook fan page and Instagram that you know you are ready to go pro level and have a website. See, an easy step process instead of what I heard, just jump in, the water is fine. It is not, it is cold and sometimes very hot and never deep or shallow enough.
Where to go from there. If you are going to go pro at that point or just part time pro you need a website where you can backup your photos online, share what you want, and customize it to your hearts delight. With the exception of not having a fully integrated blogging system, I recommend SmugMug. Here is the facts, I pay to use SmugMug, they are not a sponsor nor know I am even writing this.
There are other option out there, like Squarespace, Wix, and Zenfolio. Most have a free option to try, including SmugMug. Just don't do what I did, get a website right out the gate and then another one, and another one and still not have a paying client base to pay for it. Unless you are vane like I was/am and think you are the shit already.
Edmund (Ed) Devereaux is a professional photographer in Portland Oregon, Army veteran (retired), businessman, father, husband and sometimes butt hole.