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Nine Principles Supporting Top Photo Websites
by Randall Tomaras

Those who don’t know me, may look at the site and think that it is self-promotion because I am high in rankings.  Nothing could be further from the truth. A web site takes work, just as a photograph does. In January 2013 I was number 3 in USA traffic when I came up with this idea. I thought to myself this is not right; there are so many photographers better than me. What I came to realize, there is far more dramatic change in web traffic and how it works, than the changes in photography over the last 10 years. And most of us know the changes photography has gone through. Too many are giving in to the big companies, and we know what happened to the "stock photo" market when that happened. So I said to myself, photography has made and changed my life so much that I need to pay it back. I believe there is a way to unite photographers FOR photography, not a company. I don't receive a penny from photographers or consumers.


Not a complete list of photographers to be found

Since TPW’s list is based on web traffic that is public knowledge, this was going to be easy and all I had to do was find a list of photographers and check their traffic. I thought I had it when I found a list of photographers that Alexa had. On further inspection their top 100 was missing at least 50 and I am still finding more.  Keep in mind I am using their traffic numbers, go figure. Truth is there is not an accurate list and I do not think this one is yet.  It takes human inspection.  After 15 hour days, 7 days a week for 3 months (no kidding) we have a beginning of a web site. It will improve with everyone’s participation.


Photographers help photographers

It was fellow photographers that taught me photography. Sure I took some classes, but it was the professionals that took me under their wings and taught me what I really needed to know to make a living in this business.  Like all photographers who have been in photography for over 40 years I’ve had ups and downs. What I learned was if I needed advice on repairing my brain, I’d go to a neurologist, not a plumber. Being a working photographer who does have good web traffic, I sincerely hope that my fellow photographers will trust and accept some of my advice, rather than the plumber’s.


Your  photo website takes work.

If you don’t know what to do or you are applying outdated knowledge (over 1 year ago,) then you are losing ground. To give you an example of how much work a website takes I am going to use myself as an example.  I am still a working photographer and like I mentioned above when I started this website in January 2013, I was ranked #3 in US traffic , when I finally took a reading of all 6,000 photographers within a time frame in February, I was # 15. Now that I notice the decline I worked on it for a couple weeks and I am currently in 5th place prior to publishing TPW.  The truth is, doing your website is a lot like brushing your teeth – you have to do something about it every day.  Now the US Rank is a 1 month average so you will see movement there quicker than the 3 month World Rank.


Most of the traffic on the Internet and especially those companies that make profit on the Internet receive the majority of their traffic from marketing and promotion, not the search engines.  Once we get photographers on board, we will concentrate on improving their websites. I am not going to do the work for them, but I will tell them how. It is not something I will give to everyone, only OUR TEAM. Look at it as a reward to participating. First step is getting photographers to participate.


Not a directory, Not a ranking, it’s a TOOL

If you are looking at TPW as a directory or a ranking of famous photographers, you are looking at it all wrong. Whether you are a consumer of photography or a photographer it is a tool if you use it properly.  For the consumer it is the easiest way to find quality photographers in the category they are looking for. It is a real time saver. Occasionally you’ll find a photographer that does not meet your expectations, but generally the consumer does not waste time on a site they do not like. Categorizing photographers by web traffic is a very wise decision.  Does it get everyone? No, but it beats directories, and people who pay to be number one. For the photographer it is a way to monitor their traffic compared to all other websites and other photographers. It is also a resource for OUR TEAM to improve their web traffic and sell clients.

Why you need your own website

Assuming you know that the Internet is taking over marketing, you need control your own destiny. Some photographers tell me they have better success with social media or directories. That’s great but do not neglect your personal website for a number of reasons. First and most important is that if your website is not working it is because you or your web master is not doing it right. Second, if you give up control to big companies, you give them power to raise prices. You may not see it yet, but remember when your phone bill was $15 a month.  Remember when there used to be quality food with little farms? Did you know that if you watch a 2 hour Netflix on Verizon air time it cost you $10 in bandwidth?  This is where the Internet is going since the development of smart phones and ipads. Phone companies fall under different government regulations rather than Internet. That is why Google developed the Android phone, the profit margin is so much greater. So don’t give up total control, you may not get it back.  If you don’t know about the Internet taking over marketing, you better take  a look at what is happening to Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and print media.


NO charge to photographers or consumers

Not sure how we make this financially feasible yet, I just know that photographers  and consumers need it. Our goal is that this will prove so successful that sponsors will be recommended,  speaking engagements will be requested and photographers will attend our photography trips to gain additional knowledge.


There is a big reason you don’t have  web traffic.

These people have done an outstanding job of accumulating wealth:  Bill Gates 66 billion (Microsoft, MSN); Sergey Brin 20.3 Billion (Google); Larry Page 20.3 Billion (Google); Steve Ballmer 15.9 Billion (Microsoft, MSN); Paul Allen 15 Billion (Microsoft); Mark Zuckerberg 9.4 Billion (Facebook); Eric Schmidt 7.5 Billion (Google). They have built a machine that has allowed them to reach in every ones pocket. Not arguing that we all benefit from it, but they are not going to allow anyone to take away their cash cow. The search engines make money off of advertising, when you figure out how to obtain a top ranking for key words, they are going to change the rules. They can it’s their company, and it forces you to advertise. Frustration with search is one of the main reasons social media took off. Now they are protecting their turf. Truth is, it still boils down to good old fashioned marketing. Today those that are making the web work for them are creating their own traffic, and you control your destiny not someone else. We are going to help teach Our Team to do that.


Web traffic is only part of it.

While it may be a part, if you don’t have traffic you are wasting your time and money on the Internet. It is a HUGE part of making your site work.  The other HUGE part, where 99.9% are failing, is what we call conversion. Once you get someone to your site, are they just looking a beautiful images or are they motivated to action.? How do you get them to respond? Will they come back?  There is only two ways to get business: they come to you or you go to them. Guess which one you can control? Guess which one makes more money?  If the web is not working for you, it’s because you have not taken control. If you do not know how, don’t feel bad, very few do.


Don’t deny yourself.

Not happy with where you are? Do something about it. is a tool and a resource not a product or service. If it increases your business or helps you out, you are more than encouraged to donate to the cause, BUT it is not required. Let’s see what we can do together for the good of the photography.


What makes Top Photo Websites so effective?