Creating a Website for Your Goats

Episode 128
For the Love of Goats

Creating a Website for Your Goats featured image

New goat breeders frequently ask where and how they can sell their goat kids. When I started with goats in 2002, I bought goats from breeders who had websites, so I assumed I would also need a website for selling my goats. That has been the only sales channel for my goats forever.

In this episode, Emily Nyman and I discuss what information you need on your website, such as an about page, health history of your herd, photos of your breeding stock, pedigrees, and terms of sale.

We also talk about user-friendly options for building your website, so you don’t have to hire a web designer.

good goat photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman

Because the cornerstone of every good goat breeder website is the photos, we spend a lot of time talking about the time of day, shadows, lighting, position of the goat, where to take photos, and more, including equipment.

In addition to breeding goats, Emily is also a professional photographer. You can see her photography at her website KSE Livestock Photography.

good buck photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman

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Transcript – Creating a Website for Your Goats

Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here’s Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:17
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode. I’m really excited to be joined again by Emily Nyman who joined us a few weeks ago to talk about the Arapawa goats because she is the president of the Arapawa Goat Breeders Association and she’s also the livestock coordinator at Conner Prairie. And after we finished recording that episode, we started talking about selling goats through our websites, and so many people contact me and ask me, “How do I sell my goats?” And all of them get sold through my website, which I have had for close to 20 years now. And so Emily and I were talking about that, like the importance of having a good website and good photos on the website. So that is what we’re going to be talking about today. Welcome back to the show, Emily.

goat with weeds in front_not a good photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman
This is not a good photo because the weeds are in front of the goats, and one goat’s head is out of the photo. As a rule, you should not have other goats in the background. It’s hard to tell where one goat ends and the other one begins.

Emily Nyman 1:07
Thank you so much. I’m excited to talk about websites and everything that kind of goes into it.

Deborah Niemann 1:12
Yeah, I was so excited to find out that you’re a professional photographer. And so you are in addition to talking about websites, we’re going to tell people how to take really amazing photos of their goats to make them easier to sell.

Emily Nyman 1:26
Yeah, absolutely.

Deborah Niemann 1:27
So let’s get started with the websites. Now, unfortunately, when most people ask me about my website, I’m like, well, it’s a WordPress site. Which is not- I mean, it’s pretty user friendly, but not the most user friendly thing out there. We’ve had a website since back in the day when they had to be hand-coded with HTML, so for me, moving to WordPress was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so easy.’ However, for some people, they want something even easier. And I understand you have experience with some of the more user-friendly websites. Can you talk about that?

Emily Nyman 2:02
Yeah, so I personally have experience with Wix. That was how I actually got started with the Arapawa Goat Breeders Association was our previous website wasn’t super friendly. And so I had reached out to the association being like, “Hey, I have some experience with website building through this website platform. Is there any chance that I could help the association make a new page that would be a little bit more user friendly?” Because it had all the information out there. It just wasn’t easy to navigate. And so the nice thing about this platform- and I know that there’s other platforms similar to it- is that you can basically drag and drop things onto the different pages. And if you have any sort of questions, they have a customer service that you can talk to. They even have the ability for you to pay someone through the company to actually build the website for you. But they have a bunch of templates that you get to go through. And you can be like, ‘I really like this page, but I don’t like this other page over here.’ And so you copy and paste things. If you have an old website, you can just move it over to Wix too. It is such a user-friendly website.

Deborah Niemann 3:07
That’s awesome. And I know quite a few people who also use Squarespace and who also said that it’s really user friendly, too, and easy for people to get started on that. So let’s talk about some of the things that people need to have on their websites. I know, to me, one of the big flashing red lights- big red flags for a scammer’s website- is that you go on there and all they have are pictures of baby goats, which you know they’ve stolen from other websites. So somebody who’s a legitimate breeder is like really proud of their breeding stock. So one of the things that’s real important to have are pages with your breeding stock on there and to talk about things like- like for me, I’m breeding dairy goats. So I talk about the milk production of the moms, because if you’re going to buy a doe, you want to buy a doe from a mom who’s got good milk production. And if you’re buying a sire, you really want that to be true. And so I definitely focus on that. I also focus on personality because you want a goat that’s going to jump on the milk stand for you and not do pirouettes on the milk stand while you’re trying to milk her. I always say it’s hard to hit the milk bucket with the milk when your goat is dancing. So what are some of the things that you make sure you have on your website for animals?

Emily Nyman 4:24
Yeah, I really feel like it’s important for people to know who you are. So, an ‘About You’ or ‘About the Farm’ page, because if I don’t get to have an idea of this farm and who the people are, I kind of back off a little bit because why don’t you want to share that information with people? People love to learn about how your farm got started or if it’s a generational thing. How long has it been in the family? What’s the history behind your property? How did you choose the breeds that you got into? And then on top of that, like that can be its own page within itself is just about you and then the livestock. If you have multiple breeds, you can have multiple pages explaining why you have them, what you like about them, how long you’ve had them. People want to know information about you and your animals. And so I feel like all of those are so important, because without those pieces, you’re kind of missing the connection to the buyer or to people who are looking around trying to find what they would be interested in. Because you might have experience with something that they have questions about, and if it’s on the website, that’s super great because now they can go ahead and skip those questions and get straight into asking, like, the good stuff.

baby goat in someone's lap_not a good photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman 
Although this is a cute photo, it doesn’t give buyers any information they need to know about the kid’s body conformation.

Deborah Niemann 5:30
Yeah, exactly. I also have a page on my website that talks about terms of sale. And it’s really funny. I have changed so much since I got started. You know, when I got started, I would see the terms of sales pages and they would have all this stuff on there about, you know, ‘we refuse the right to sell a goat to anybody,’ and stuff like that. I thought, ‘Wow, these people are grumpy.’ And then, you know, my terms of sale just got longer and longer and longer. Every year that I raised goats for like probably the first 10 years, I would wind up adding several sentences to the page based on something that happened, you know. Like after about 10 years, we had a doe that was nine years old and had a C-section. And I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never kept a doe out of her. And I actually really loved her.’ And so I wound up canceling a reservation, which I had never done before. But I did it because I’m like, ‘I don’t know if she’s going to be able to be bred again. And I really want a daughter from her. And I just realized I never kept one.’ You know, so I added that — a sentence about that. That, like, we have the right to change our mind and keep a goat in case something extraordinary happens. What are some of the things that you — Do you have a terms of sale page?

Emily Nyman 6:56
So I don’t, not for the museum, but I know that I do have like a bill of sale that I like to send to people prior to selling. They have an idea of like what they’re agreeing to for when they purchase livestock from us, but when I’ve helped other people build their websites, I try to give them a template and I’m like, ‘You can absolutely change this in any way, shape or form that you want. But I feel like it’s important for it to be out there.’ Because those things do happen. And like you said, as you go through different transactions, you learn what else to put on there. And so it’s not like a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all kind of thing. It needs to be for your operation. But looking at other people, I know, I was looking at some Oberhaslis the other day, and this terms of sale page that I saw was phenomenal. And she was like, “So many people look at this, and they get turned around, and they don’t like it because it does seem very like, you know, ‘we do have the right to refuse the sale’ and so people will back off.” But then there’s people like me who are like, ‘I absolutely love this.’ And there’s stuff in there about the health of the goats, if they guaranteed anything or didn’t guarantee anything. One of the things in there was that they had the right to collect semen on their own costs from any bucks that they sold up to so many straws. And I hadn’t seen that anywhere. But for them, that was super important for them to have in their terms.

Deborah Niemann 8:13
Oh, wow. That’s cool. Yeah, I’ve never seen that before either. But I could definitely see that because if it was a situation like what I mentioned earlier, you have a goat that you sell a buck out of her when she’s only three or four years old, and then a couple years later you realize, ‘Wow, I really love her and she’s had nothing but does.’ Because some goats will do that. Some goats just seem to have a thing where they just throw does, does, does or bucks, bucks, bucks forever . And so I have had goats where they only threw two or three of one gender their whole life. And you wished that ‘Wow, I wish I would have kept a goat earlier out of this animal.’ And so being able to collect semen from one that you sold is a great way to bring those genetics back.

Emily Nyman 9:03
Yeah, absolutely. I had never thought of that before, either. But I was like, that is really smart. It really is.

Deborah Niemann 9:09
Yeah, yeah, definitely. We also have a herd health page where we talk about all of the disease testing that we do on our farm so that people are aware of that, which I think is really important. We did a whole episode on here about biosecurity testing. I also have multiple pages, and I think you kind of touched on this earlier about additional information about goats. So, like, I have got a page about goat milk and all the fun things we do with our goat milk, like making cheese and soap, and goat FAQs. And then I link out to my Thrifty Homesteader website for more elaborate answers to people’s questions about housing and feeding and all that kind of stuff, as well as I link to my podcast so people can get more information too. Because when people buy my goats, I want them to have good information to take care of them well after they take them home.

Emily Nyman 10:09
Yeah, I feel like it is really important to have those, especially links to similar styles to how you raise your livestock. So that way when the animals move, people have an idea of how they’ve already been raised so it’s an easier transition. But it is really fun because on some of these websites, you can have like a little e-commerce. So if you do goat milk soap or goat milk lotion, or it doesn’t have to be goat related, but like you can have little links to a little store on your own website. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but then that’s your own products that’s being advertised just in different places throughout the website.

Deborah Niemann 10:41
Yeah, I’m so glad you mentioned that because we don’t actually have that on our goat site, but we have it on our farm website, you know, links to products that people can buy from us. And nobody- most people don’t need to have two separate websites. We went a little website crazy, you know, like 20 years ago and we created one for the farm and one for the goats. But you can definitely put your products on there that people can buy from you. So the big thing about your website that is so incredibly important are the photos. And that is what we started talking about a few weeks ago when we had our first recording was the importance of taking good photos. I know I have seen a lot of people post photos where they’re just standing across the barn from the goat, and they’re standing up at their full height, taking a picture of the goat so that you really can’t see anything about the goat’s conformation. You can’t see anything about the length of body, the depth of barrel, any of that stuff. So do you want to give some tips on taking good photos of goats?

Emily Nyman 11:48
Absolutely. So if people don’t know this about me, I love photography. I got started taking pictures around the age of 10. And then once I got started with livestock or being in the agriculture industry, I was about 15. I really loved to take photos of the animals and I was horrible. I mean, if I look back at those pictures, they are the worst pictures I have ever taken. But I have learned from those pictures. And so one of the best things that you can do is just go out with your animals and just practice taking photos. Because at some point, you’re going to kind of figure out what you’re looking for. But specifically, with animals, you want to be on their level. Because like you said, if you are too high above, you can’t see anything. And so there’s some pictures of me where I’m crouched down or I’m even laying on the ground because, you know, with my breed, they’re pretty small, so I need to get down pretty low. And you want to be usually taking pictures towards the middle of the animal or just a little back towards their hip. I like, kind of, the show style, if you will, of how animals are posed. But I will not put my hands on the animal. If I have a second person, you can kind of have them help walk them into a position. So that way, your front legs are a little offset, so you can see both legs. You can clearly see if there’s any structural issues there. And with the back legs, you do still want them offset. You can either have them straight together, or you can have the back legs where the leg farthest away from you is up a little bit because it kind of shows off that hip a little bit. But making sure that you’re on their level and at the side of the animal. You don’t want to be up above, you don’t want to be in front of them, you don’t necessarily want to be behind them unless you’re taking an udder photo. But that will give you a really good idea of the top line of the body, what kind of flank they have, how their neck looks, because that’s all really important stuff when you’re buying goats.

baby goat with shadow all over the body_not a good photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman
In this photo, the shadow is all over the kid’s body and the kid blends in with the background.

Deborah Niemann 13:40
Yeah, exactly. I know one time somebody had some pictures- a buyer, she was new. And a buyer asked for photos. And she was holding the goat and had her children take pictures of her holding the goat- the babies. Which, obviously, that does not work because you can’t see anything. But she was new, so she didn’t know what they were looking for, you know, like maybe she thought they were just looking at the color or something. And that’s really, like, not important. Like if you’re breeding goats, unless you’re breeding eye candy, which some people are- If you’re breeding goats for meat or dairy or whatever, you need to be seeing what the animal looks like, what their conformation looks like, and if they’ve got good dairy conformation or good meat conformation and all that kind of stuff. I know when I got started, I thought there was something wrong with people who had udder pictures on their website, like ‘That is weird. Why are there pictures of their goats udders on the website?’ But again, it was because I was new and clueless and did not realize the importance. Like ‘This is a dairy goat.’ You know, I had the naive idea that like, ‘Oh, all goats produce milk.’ I didn’t realize there were good producers and bad producers and goats with good mammaries and bad mammaries . And after a few years, there’s no way I would have bought a goat without seeing what its mother’s udder looked like. So for people who are selling dairy goats, definitely need to include photos of the mother’s udder. And you want to do it, too, just before you milk her when she’s got like 12 hours of milk in there, not when she’s been nursing kids all day long, because that doesn’t really show you much about her capacity or the shape of her udder or even if she has good attachments, you know.

Emily Nyman 15:30
I know one thing that has really helped me with taking photos is figuring out what time of day to do it. You don’t want to do it when it’s too early in the day because there’s not enough light. You don’t want to do it when it’s too late because, again, not enough light, but you also don’t want to do it at noontime because the light is just so harsh. So for me, I figured out, like, middle morning and middle afternoon is, like, the optimal time for taking photos of any animals. And for whatever reason, I don’t know why this only hit me like two weeks ago, but you always want the sun directly behind you. So that way the sun, all of that light is directly on the animal. And so it really gives them all of the light that they need to shine in those photos. It is so- it makes a big difference. And even if it’s cloudy, you still want to make sure that sun’s behind you because it still distributes the light just perfect. It’s just, it’s a little chef’s kiss.

Deborah Niemann 16:23
Yeah. And the darker the animal is, the more important that is because otherwise- like if you take a picture of a black goat, when the sun is on the other side of the goat, nothing- it’s a silhouette. And you really can’t see any kind of definition in the photo at all. Oh, and I’m so glad you also mentioned that too, because the other important thing about that is that the photo should be taken outside. I see a lot of people posting photos online of a goat in the barn. And the problem with that is the lighting.

Emily Nyman 16:54
It absolutely is.

Deborah Niemann 16:55
Yeah. The lighting in your barn is not good.

Emily Nyman 16:58
Sometimes too, being mindful of what is behind the animal is also really important. I know this last year- so I try to take photos of the goats every year, just because I like to kind of have like a little memory book to see how they’ve grown. And then that’s also really helpful for me just because then I can watch like different family lines to see if they have any specific quirks. But I took photos of some of my goats behind a barn, and they were way too close to the back of the barn, so it kind of, like, threw them off proportionally versus all of my other photos I had taken against an electric fence. They were a little bit off the fence, and then there’s a fence probably 50 feet behind them. But with that other fence being that far away, it allowed a depth within the photo, so you had a better picture of the animal. But sometimes people, they take beautiful, beautiful photos, but then it’s like their compost pile right behind them, or there’s a tractor and a manure spreader sitting right there. Or you’ve got four other goats in the photo, and so like you’re trying to stare at the one, but one of the other goats is making a silly face in the background. So being really mindful of what’s also behind the goat is super important.

Deborah Niemann 18:04
Yeah, that is a really good point. A lot of times, if there’s another goat behind them, and that goat- especially if that goat is really colorful or spotted or whatever, it can completely disrupt your view of that goat that you’re trying to take a picture of. You’re like, ‘Hold it, where does the goat’s neck end?’ And it can make them look unproportional, or just all kinds of weird things. I think one of the challenges for people is that they think that they’re going to go out, and they’re going to take- they want three pictures of their goat, and they’re going to take three pictures of the goat, and that’s not the case. For every photo that you wind up sharing with the world, how many photos are hidden away on your hard drive for eternity?

beautiful goat
Photo credit: Emily Nyman
Although this is a nice photo of the goat, the background is distracting.

Emily Nyman 18:51
On Monday, I actually have a number. On Monday, I took 367 photos, and out of all of those photos, I kept 32.

Deborah Niemann 18:59
All right, that is awesome.

Emily Nyman 19:02
I am very picky about what I share, but even if you were to scroll through my phone right now, there are goat pictures, goat picture, goat pictures, and out of all of those, it’s maybe like four or five that are favorited, so I can find those the quickest, because I am very picky about what gets shared, because I only want the best photos shared to other people to have a good image of what kind of quality stock I can provide.

Deborah Niemann 19:25
Yeah, exactly. I have about 20,000 goat photos, so I keep saying I need to organize them, because it can be very challenging to find the one I want when I want it. But yeah, that is something that people need to know. Like, when you see really great photos of this goat standing just perfectly and looking awesome, that we probably had to take at least 10 or 20 photos to get to that one.

Emily Nyman 19:58
Oh, absolutely. There might have been some words said, too, if the goat wasn’t quite cooperating, but you get there eventually.

Deborah Niemann 20:05
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s so funny. I remember one time I got this great picture of these three bucks lined up just perfectly, like a painting, with their heads all pointed in the same direction and everything. And when you look at all the photos around that one, all the photos that were taken before it and after it, it was like one goat was standing in front of the other one, and one had their head turned in the opposite direction, and you know, they were all just, they were not good at all. But I got that one gem that I then have wound up using a lot.

Emily Nyman 20:41
Yeah, once you have that good photo, you do see it quite often, and I know from a photographer standpoint, I get a lot of questions of like what my equipment is. It’s like, “What kind of camera, what kind of lens, what do I need to buy to take photos as good as you?” And I’m like you have a cell phone with a camera on it. You can take just as good photos on your phone that are perfectly able to be posted on your website. You can still sell photos to use for social media. You don’t have to have a fancy camera with all these lenses to get good photos, your phone can do it.

goats eating off the ground_not a good photo for the website
Photo credit: Emily Nyman
When goats are eating off the ground in a photo, it doesn’t give the viewer a good idea of the goat’s body conformation, especially the topline.

Deborah Niemann 21:15
Yeah, exactly. The only thing about it is that, like you said, if you wind up taking 300 photos, then it does clutter up the photo album in your phone. So I never go outside without my phone. And well, you know, it’s Murphy’s law of owning goats is that you go out there without your phone, and they are going to do the cutest thing that you are going to be kicking yourself for not having your phone, so that you can get a picture of it. So my phone is always with me, which means I’m taking photos of goats pretty much every time I go out there. But every now and then, like if I know I need something specific, you know, like I need pictures of all my first fresheners so that I can put them on the website or something like that, then I will take a camera out there with a little memory card in it because I know like I’m probably going to take at least 100 photos. So I’ll do that just so that I don’t clutter up my phone with more goat photos than what is already in there.

Emily Nyman 22:24
I know if people want to know from my experience, with Canon, they have a 70mm to 300mm lens for- it’s a couple hundred dollars, but it’s not their, like, several thousand dollar lens. That lens is what I used for a very long time for my field photos. And you do have to be a little bit farther back, but it does create absolutely amazing images and you’re able to zoom in really nicely so you can crop the photo within your camera. I highly recommend it. Anything that is focal length less than 50mm is not going to be a good lens for you because it’s going to kind of fisheye that photo and throw those goats off proportionately.

Deborah Niemann 23:04
Oh, that is a really good tip. Yeah, I don’t know anything about the super technical aspects of lenses, but thank you for sharing that, and we’ll make sure that that gets in the show notes too so that people can see that, in case they’re driving or something while they’re listening.

Emily Nyman 23:19
Yeah, absolutely.

Deborah Niemann 23:20
Do you have any other tips for photos?

Photo credit: Emily Nyman
This photo was taken later in the day, so there was not enough light to show off the goats’ features, especially since they blended in with the background. Also note that the photographer was standing up rather than getting on the goat’s level, which will give you a better definition of body shape and conformation. 

Emily Nyman 23:22
Any other tips? Be patient. Oh my gosh. I get impatient very quickly. I think any of my friends would tell you that, but taking photos, especially if you’re trying to get good photos for sales, for websites, for social media, sometimes they can be really quick, but you do have to plan sometimes. I know for us for our photo day, I plan an entire day for it. We take lunch in the middle of the day when the sun’s too high, but when you’re moving animals, and you want to get that perfect image, you have to have patience because your animals are going to start feeding off of your energy pretty early on, especially if you’re getting frustrated. The other thing too is you can have all your goats in the barn and bring them out one by one. You’re going to notice most likely that they’re going to be a little bit more fidgety because they don’t have a buddy. So for us, I’ve got this dairy doe. She is a phenomenal goat. I can literally put a halter on her and she’ll stand next to me, but she’s a buddy for all the other animals when I’m taking photos. She’s a really calming animal. Especially when I’m doing yearling photos with goats that just don’t have an idea what’s going on yet, she is a good photo buddy. I’ll have her hanging out next to me. Sometimes if the animals can’t figure out which way to stand, I can move her over somewhere. She’ll just stand there and the goats will then face them. Some people will literally just keep a wether for photos specifically that the other goats are already used to. That has been a really big help. I could not figure out the first year why my goats were freaking out, but they’re herd animals. They want to have a friend. Even if their friends are literally 10 feet inside the barn, they don’t see them. You’re doing something different, so having an animal that you can trust to just chill around is really important.

Deborah Niemann 25:07
Oh, I love that tip. Thanks for sharing that.

Emily Nyman 25:10
Yeah.

Deborah Niemann 25:11
Well, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a lot of fun and I hope people find this helpful because definitely it is so much easier to have a website so that people can find you and then look at all your magnificent photos and buy your goats.

Emily Nyman 25:30
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it and I hope that people got to learn something.

Deborah Niemann
And that’s it for today’s show! If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the subscribe button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit ForTheLoveOfGoats.com and you can follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoveGoatsPodcast. See you again next time! Bye for now.

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