How it works…


I often get questions about what is needed to use one of my templates.  Depending on where you are in the process, your needs may vary.  This is just a quick primer that includes a look at getting up and running, start to finish.

Domain Name:

The first step in the process is selecting and purchasing a domain name.  Your domain is your site’s home on the web.  It’s best to choose a domain that’s easy to remember, so the shorter the better.  Don’t feel like you have to tack “photography” on the end of your domain, especially if your name is long without it.  You can purchase your domain from any reputable domain source or often, from your host.  Just be sure that you read the fine print.  YOU SHOULD OWN YOUR DOMAIN — not your host.  If it’s not clearly spelled out that YOU will be the owner of the domain, ask the host or simply go elsewhere.  

You are safe purchasing from either of these sites:


If you currently have hosting with a Flash site or WordPress blog, you can probably keep your current hosting (this will not be true with some companies, so you’ll need to contact them and ask).  Keeping your currently hosting is particularly helpful if you already have a WordPress blog.  It means you don’t have to move your blog’s files, which can be a bit scary.

If you don’t currently have hosting and you’re starting fresh, you can choose any host you’d like.  Most large hosting companies offer similar services and pricing.  Many of my clients use BlueHost or HostGator.   I do not recommend GoDaddy as a host, but if you are currently with GoDaddy, you don’t necessarily have to switch — they do support what you need. Check the ProPhoto section below for details on the BlueHost discount.

Once you’ve secured hosting, you can move on to WordPress.


All of the large hosting companies provide cPanel, which will make installing WordPress quick and simple.  Once you’ve set up your hosting, you can log in to cPanel and look for an icon called “Fantastico” or “Simple Scripts.”  Either of these packages will assist you in installing WordPress.  There are lots of tutorials on Google that will help you with this process.   I don’t want to link to a specific one since links change and everyone learns differently — just choose the one that works best for you.

Notes on setting up ProPhoto while on a temporary URL:

If your domain has not yet propagated, you can install WordPress on the temporary URL provided by the hosting company, but there are a couple steps you’ll need to complete once your domain has propagated and you’re ready to make your site live.  When your domain has propagated, you’ll need to go to your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings –> General.

Your temporary URL will be shown in “WordPress Address (URL) and “Site Address (URL).”  Change the temporary URL in both of these fileds to your actual site address.  You’ll also need to make sure that once you switch to the permanent URL, you access your dashboard from and NOT from http://123.456.789/~temporary/wp-admin.

If you are setting up your ProPhoto blog on a temporary domain, you should hold off on uploading your masthead slides.  Masthead slides will not survive the switch to your permanent domain.  You can set up your custom fonts, but they will not function in Firefox, so don’t panic during the development phase — just check your site in Chrome or another browser.  When you switch to your permanent domain, your fonts should work in Firefox.



Once you have WordPress installed and you’re ready to go, you can purchase or upgrade ProPhoto here.  To answer a frequently asked question, yes, all of my templates do require ProPhoto.  🙂

ProPhoto is incredibly simple to install — it’s just a few clicks!  ProPhoto has a great tutorial here:

ProPhoto offers a $30 discount if you use BlueHost.  You must click the affiliate link in the footer of ProPhoto’s site in order to be eligible for the discount. If you accidentally sign up with BlueHost before clicking ProPhoto’s affiliate banner, they will not be able to honor the discount, so be sure you click through from the ProPhoto site.

You can also click this promo link for an additional $10 off ProPhoto:

When ProPhoto has been installed and activated, you can choose and upload your design.  You can shop for designs in the ProPhoto store or elsewhere online, like in my exclusive template store.  🙂

ProPhoto has a tutorial on installing designs here:



More than anything else, people want to know what exactly can be customized in my templates.  The short answer is… everything.  With ProPhoto, it’s possible change everything (within the limits of ProPhoto, of course).  This means that you certainly can purchase a template and completely change EVERYTHING about it, including the layout and structure. However, most people who buy templates aren’t really interested in doing quite that much work.  So, the longer answer is that while you can change the organization and layout, I design my templates with the assumption that you will most likely only want to change colors, fonts, backgrounds, logo, social graphics, etc.

My simple single PSD method is the quickest and easiest method for modifying your template.  There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you will see the light.  I promise.  My template files are sliced into individual graphics.  Each graphic in your PSD corresponds to a certain area in the ProPhoto customization area and I include notes or labels to let you know where each piece goes.  Between the notes in your PSD and the written instructions for your template, the process is pretty painless (though it does take time).

The best way to get acquainted with how my templates work is to download a free template and follow along with my video tutorials.  Once you’ve given it a try, you’ll be able to decide if buying a template and customizing it yourself is the right choice for you.

Note for Elements users:  My single PSD method requires  the full version of Photoshop.  I can’t stress enough how much easier this method is.  You may want to look into a month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, which will allow you to use the current version of Photoshop for $19.99 per month.   However, if you’re super attached to Elements, I do have Elements packages available for some of my older templates and I can create Elements packages for a small fee.  Contact me before you purchase.  My newer templates do include Elements packages, by default.  Photoshop users should not use the individual files included for Elements users (trust me)!  🙂

That’s it!  Just a few steps to get to the fun part.  When your template is installed, you can continue on to my video tutorials to learn how to modify and customize your site!  🙂