DPP Home Business Money While You Sleep: E-Commerce For Professional Photographers

Friday, February 27, 2009

Money While You Sleep: E-Commerce For Professional Photographers

Web 2.0 means every kind of photo business can and should be online

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The only missing ingredient in your web-based business is your pictures. A Web 2.0 photography business is all about getting those images efficiently online and sitting back to collect checks—even while you sleep. PhotoShelter’s Andrew Fingerman says that photographers who don’t take advantage of these online offerings are essentially asleep at the wheel.

“E-commerce is probably the most significant missing element in photographers’ websites,” he says. “While photographers today are insanely focused on search engine optimization to ensure their websites can be found—then what? If you’re not providing a storefront for your work to be purchased, whether as prints, stock photography or personal-use licenses, you’re missing out on potential revenue.”

photo biz
PhotoShelter’s Stock Search Feature
photo biz
A SimplePhoto Photo Order
And Gallery Report

photo biz
Zenfolio’s Design Themes Gallery
Keep It Professional
Online service providers may have encountered some initial resistance from pros who were reluctant to give up control over every aspect of the workflow, but many of them found that by being meticulous with order fulfillment, even the most demanding pros would endorse the results. After all, because the labs offering online integration have long been brick-and-mortar pro labs, and because photographers have the option to continue using their preferred labs, there’s actually no compromise in the results a web-based ordering and printing system can deliver. The only difference is the photographer/lab interface.

Eric Ellis, professional photographer and founder of SimplePhoto,
says that many pros make the mistake of misallocating their time
and energy. That’s where services such as his own really shine.
“In today’s world,” he says, “photographers can do everything themselves. Photographers can make their own prints, produce their own wedding albums, build their own websites and more and more.
So the question is not can photographers do these things, the question is should they. [SimplePhoto] not only saves the photographer time, it also reduces the risk involved in the process. In turn, the photographer is able to do what he or she enjoys most, which is shoot. We always tell our photographers that they will be most profitable by doing what they do best, and to look and see if outsourcing the rest is an option.”

Adds Ellis, “Professional doesn’t mean doing it yourself. Looking professional comes from providing quality on a consistent basis.”

The sometimes-subtle difference between professional photographic services online and any other photographic services online is paramount for pros. Not only does the quality count, so does the seamless integration into a pro’s demanding workflow.

A service such as PhotoShelter integrates directly into the software
that pros already use, like Lightroom, Aperture and Photo Mechanic. That efficiency makes the service not only feasible, but practical.

Photographer Brad Mangin uses PhotoShelter as a fundamental part of his business, and he eagerly points out that it’s more than just a time-saver. Increased efficiency and better margins directly help the bottom line. That’s increasingly important at a time when digital workflows have created more busywork for already busy photographers.

“The change in the industry has also resulted in more work for the photographer,” Mangin says. “What was once done by a team of editors and archivists is now done by me. The days of just sending rolls of film to a client and then sitting back and waiting for the cash are long gone. Instead, I have to caption, keyword, archive and deliver all of my images. This is all new work for no additional money. That’s why it’s important to be as efficient as possible and to make the most of everything. A website that’s just a display piece is a marketing expense, but a website that’s capable of selling prints and downloads that has distribution tools built in—that’s a revenue opportunity.”


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