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|Amber Brooks • 4/06/18|
The Short Version: In 2010, Lukas Dryja and Tyler Rooney founded Format to give creative professionals access to a website builder designed with their needs in mind. The site’s intuitive tools allow professional and amateur photographers to build websites where they can showcase and sell their work. Many photographers, designers, and other visual artists have flocked to this user-friendly website platform, and the bootstrapped company has grown rapidly because of its dedication to building powerful tools and providing impeccable customer service. Over the years, Format has helped creative people in 190 countries establish an eye-catching online presence. The company now boasts a 95% satisfaction rate. Wedding photographers can subscribe to Format (or use the 14-day free trial) to create a beautiful online portfolio in just a few clicks. It’s an easy, fast, and affordable way to jump-start your photography business.
One of my friends worked as a freelance wedding photographer to put himself through school. At first, his only clients were friends and family, but he attracted more business by keeping his prices low and not requiring a lot of advance notice for a shoot. He likes to think of himself as a photography superhero, ready at a moment’s notice to capture the moment and save the day. What began as a passion project has expanded into small business, and he soon had brides-to-be calling and asking him, “Can I see your portfolio?”
At first, his portfolio was whatever pictures he had on hand. He’s not the most tech-savvy person, so it took him awhile to set up his own website and put together an online portfolio. A niche website-building platform like Format could’ve saved him a lot of time and trouble by streamlining the process of creating a personalized and professional-grade website.
Founded in 2010, Format is a bootstrapped company designed to serve a community of creatives who sell their services and attract customers online. The team helps thousands of professional and amateur photographers set up a domain where they can showcase their work and market their services.
Format takes an all-in-one approach to website creation — so you have everything you need to build a professional photography website complete with beautiful photo galleries and an online store.
“What makes us unique is our mission,” said Zaeem Sarwar, Head of Direct Marketing. “We care about artists and photographers. Our mission is to give them the freedom to express themselves online.”
Format has four monthly subscription plans that range in price from $6 a month to $44 a month. All plans include 24/7 customer support, a free domain signup, unlimited bandwidth, and client proofing (the ability to allow clients private access to review, favorite, and download images). The most affordable plan is the Personal Plan, which includes 100 images, unlimited pages, unlimited videos, and three store products. You can put together a beautifully designed online portfolio within minutes using the website templates and mobile-friendly design in this basic plan.
The Unlimited Plan offers everything the Personal Plan does plus unlimited images, unlimited store products, and custom CSS and HTML editing — so you can grow your site without restrictions. Format offers a 14-day free trial for all its paid plans, so you can test out the services and see what you think.
You don’t need to know anything about designing a website to use these beginner-friendly tools. Within a few clicks, you can set up an About page, create a photo gallery, add videos, and put together a customized online portfolio. A simple drag-and-drop system helps creatives organize their galleries with no muss and no fuss. You can even set up an online store.
“You can do pretty much everything you need to do from a creative business perspective,” Zaeem said. “We make it easy for artists to showcase their work and sell prints, designs, canvasses, and other services.”
If you’re satisfied with the interface, it may be worth investing in a Format subscription because having a professional website can yield returns in the long run by attracting more customers to your business. As Zaeem said, “Presentation is half the work. Your website can impact the way your work is seen and perceived by customers.”
By presenting your online portfolio in the best possible light, you can positively influence a potential client’s decision to hire you. A clean website enhances your work and distinguishes you as a professional.
Zaeem described the Format team as a laid-back and passionate group of people who care about helping photographers succeed. Many team members are photographers or designers themselves — so they understand their customers’ interests and share their enthusiasm for the visual arts.
“We all have an appreciation for art,” Zaeem explained. “We understand the value we are providing to the creative industry, and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve.”
At Format, an in-house user research team pays special attention to what customers want and recommends improvements to the company’s overall design or services. The goal is to be responsive to the needs of modern creatives, so the team is always working on something new and exciting.
For example, the Format team expanded their influence by creating Format Magazine — a free online resource for the visual arts community. The online publication features the stories of professional photographers, illustrators, and artists from around the world. Its guides, galleries, interviews, videos, and news articles promote the work of creative people who offer a unique perspective on the industry.
“Format Magazine is fully dedicated to celebrating visual art,” Zaeem told us. “We hope to inspire people and incite them to grow their careers.”
Format’s all-in-one website building tools have been well-received among photographers and designers in 190+ countries. Format boasts a 95% satisfaction rate among its customers. “Our photographers like that they’re not starting from scratch,” Zaeem said. “We have custom templates, custom pages, and plug-ins to make it easier for them to publish a website.”
“From colors to fonts, I can customize every part of my portfolio without needing to code at all,” said Hudson Christie, an illustrator who uses Format’s tools.
“There’s so many flexible themes to choose from,” professional photographer Jessica Lehrman said in a testimonial. “It’s easy to find one that complements my photos.”
“Our photographers like that they’re not starting from scratch.” — Zaeem Sarwar, Head of Direct Marketing at Format
In 2017, PROFIT 500 named Format one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies. CEO Lukas Dryja and CPO Tyler Rooney, who co-founded the company, have been able to sustain such growth while remaining true to the company’s bootstrapped roots. The leadership team continually reinvests Format’s profits back into the company and its community.
The Format team is so sure you’ll love their website-building platform, they offer a money-back guarantee. If you’re not completely satisfied with the service, the team will refund any payment you made within the last 30 days. You can also downgrade or cancel your account at any time. Once you cancel, Format will show an “Account inactive” message on your website’s domain. If you do not renew your subscription within 60 days, the site will be removed.
For visual artists, a good portfolio is like a good résumé — it can impress people and open doors if you can make it look professional and polished. A strong online portfolio can encourage potential clients to get in touch and hire you on. But not all professional wedding photographers are also master web designers. That’s where Format comes in with user-friendly website-building tools.
You can sign up for a free trial and build a website that fits your particular style and needs. You can even set up an online store to sell your prints. Format doesn’t take a commission from any sales nor does it overwhelm photographers with features they don’t need. The streamlined interface makes creating and running a website much simpler so photographers, like my friend, can focus on their craft and grow their reach online.
“Our goal is to be the platform of choice for photographers,” Zaeem said, “and to continue to build tools that make their lives easier so they can design a website, showcase their work, and get clients.”