How To Create Great Photography For Houzz Marketing

Taking Photographs For Houzz Project Pages

Houzz is by far the best social media platform for residential interior designers, design-build professionals, and architects looking to market their business. If used correctly it generates high return on investment over a sustained period with minimal effort or expense. I've been contradicted when making this statement on Linkedin groups or during speaking engagements. Naysayers will tell you that Houzz is a waste of time and if they want new clients they just "pick up the Rolodex." (This exact term has been used twice in the last year. I don't think I've even seen a Rolodex since 1984.)  Inevitably an audience member blames Houzz.  But when you take a closer look at their profile on Houzz, they have done one or more of the following;

  • Posts are either a small number or low-quality set of photographs
  • Did not add full project descriptions (who, what, where, when why and how)
  • Used poorly searched keywords, repetitive keywords or little to none at all
  • Has a single backlink to the homepage of their website
  • Did nothing to capture the contact information of the lead and follow up with them

Houzz is a great way of driving prospective clients to your website if all the steps are in place to attract people, wow them with your work and provide a seamless click-through to your site. This is important because your goal is to get potential buyers to fill out a form on a landing page so that you can continue to reach out to them through email marketing. If people are visiting your Houzz page, they are most likely seeking interior design, design-build or architectural services in the not too distant future. Houzz is used by people dreaming of and gathering ideas for a built environment project.

Your goal should be to attract those prospective customers, show them a portfolio they've indicated they're interested in and engage them in an online conversation. Why are there so many steps? The majority of people on Houzz are not ready to use your services. They have a plan in mind for the future, and they are conducting research on style and potential service providers in their area. Consequently, don't expect something to happen immediately. Just posting an online portfolio does not mean people will pick up the phone and then send you a check. Marketing requires effort; you must reach out to them so that your firm is "top of mind" when they are ready to use your built environment services. Email marketing is your best opportunity for remaining on their radar when the time comes to begin a project.

Let's look at the steps needed to use Houzz as a lead generation tool and not just an online ego boost. They include;

  • Creating and uploading only high-quality photographs
  • Using a full set of highly searched and longtail keywords
  • Adding backlinks to your website landing pages

Taking Photographs for Houzz Project Pages

Photography is the tangible representation of the work you do and the services you offer. Unless a prospect has a relationship with a former client and has seen your work in person, photography is how they will know your capabilities. If when looking at your competitors on Houzz, you feel their images are better than yours, you have some work to do. We strongly recommended that you invest in professional photography but if hiring a professional is beyond your means, you should make an investment in time and equipment to make high-quality images.

In reviewing portfolios on Houzz, you will come across some familiar image making mistakes. Houzz reviews affect the perception of your company and images set the perception of your work. Avoid the following;

  • Using a cell phone to document your work
  • Having walls that do not appear to be straight because the camera is not level or parallel with walls in the shot
  • Mixed lighting that causes some areas within the scene to be overly yellow or green
  • Blurry pictures caused by camera shake in low light situations
  • Using a normal length lens when a wide angle lens is a better choice
  • Choosing a poor angle of view that crops out essential features or includes elements that are distracting
  • No close up or detail shots of essential design elements
  • Including personal items that diminish your work such as family pictures or an ugly Keurig on a counter
  • Images that have too low a resolution
  • Use a keyword within the name of your photograph. No one has ever searched Houzz for DCS190567.jpg

Houzz is not the place for Instagram-like filters or images that fall outside of accepted practices for architectural photography. Creating sharp, well-lit images that convey a sense of place will increase your odds of having Houzz feature your photograph on their home page. Being featured will exponentially increase the numbers of visitors to your page. Save your filtered images for personal posts on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Taking images of your work should be the last step in the completion of a project. As an artist friend of mine used to say, "Without documentation, it did not exist." Photography is proof of the value of your expertise. Negotiate the ability to take images during the contract stage and use those images on Houzz, your website and in ongoing email marketing.

Equipment List for Taking Architectural Photographs

Buy a Decent Camera

For the purposes being discussed here, a professional level Digital Single Lens Reflex "DSLR" camera is unnecessary for documenting your work. Why? Pro level DSLR's are twice the size and three times the weight and four times the cost of the newest generation of small mirrorless cameras. I like the Sony line of mirrorless cameras. (I use an NEX-7 and an Alpha 6000) They are inexpensive, have a large sensor, full DSLR like controls and quality Zeiss lenses are available. Best of all? They fit in your pocket. The best camera of all is the one you did not leave back at the office. 

A Wide Angle Lens is a Must

If you've ever tried taking an image within a powder room or half bath, you know the value of a wide angle lens. A wide angle lens captures a larger angle of view allowing more of the room to be seen in the final image. I keep two lenses in my camera kit. A 10-18mm wide angle zoom and a 16-70mm wide to short telephoto lens. The wide angle is best for interior pictures in tight places, like bathroom remodels or walk in closets, and in situations where you want to show the whole room. A normal or slight telephoto is helpful when taking exterior images.

Get a Tripod and a Bubble Level

For more in-depth information on taking architectural photographs, read Architectural Photography: Composition, Capture, and Digital Image Processing by Adrian Schulz. It may be more than you will ever want to know, but it will help you better understand the thought process behind taking good architectural photography. Just disregard his recommended choice of camera and buy a good small camera. 

Equipment does not make the photographer. An emotional connection and an instilled sense of desire are what you should be striving to achieve. The key to getting great images is to practice and look, really look at the work of master photographers such as Eugene Atget, Walker Evans, Robert Damora, Leonardo Finotti and many others.

If you have questions about how to create better architectural pictures or want a review of the images you've taken before you post them on your Houzz portfolio, give me a ring or email me at mc@means-of-production. Take free advantage of 30+ years of experience and 12 years teaching at a variety of schools including Maine Media Workshops, The University of Massachusetts and the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.


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About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.

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