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

photo bizThe Possibilities Are Endless
The crucial difference between photographic success online in 2005 and success online in 2009 is revenue. Four years ago, most sites were passive display ads with contact information—a glorified business card. Today, the e-commerce aspect allows literally every type of professional photographer to put vital business services online, and to do so without added time commitments or additional busywork. In fact, it’s the reduction in time involved that makes being online so valuable.

Explanations For The Web Business Chart

photo bizArchiving/Storage. Online archiving is intended to augment offline storage, with searchability for clients. Photographers are able to maintain ever-expanding databases of images online, making it that much easier to deliver appropriate images directly to clients.

Unlimited Galleries. Unlimited galleries mean that photographers don’t have to worry about doing too much business. The main difference is that individual galleries are separated, usually by client or job, instead of combined into a single searchable archive.

Online Ordering (not lab-specific). Non-lab-specific online ordering does result in orders fulfilled online. But because no single lab is tied to the service, it’s up to the photographer to choose where orders go—to a lab for fulfillment or back to the photographer.

Online Fulfillment (lab-specific). Lab-specific online ordering delivers customer orders directly to the lab affiliated with the service. In some cases, online service providers have partnered with a lab as a default option, even if non-lab-specific ordering is also available.

Stock Sales. While many services are geared to photographers who sell prints and products to individual customers (i.e. wedding, family, school and sports shooters), those who license stock images for commercial use are able to do so automatically online.

Proofing Lightbox. A valuable feature for photographers of all types, Lightboxes are typically password-protected and allow customers to view images from their shoot (or their image search term). In most cases, orders can be placed directly from the lightbox.

Website Design Templates. Many photographers already operate websites, so web service providers designed their offerings to integrate with existing sites. Those that also provide design templates are applicable even for photographers without existing sites.

Web Marketing Tools. Marketing online once meant having a website. These days, getting your site found is the real challenge. The companies that offer marketing tools aim to provide a competitive advantage for their clients to increase the opportunity for sales.

For example, photojournalists and stock photographers now can use their sites not only as digital archives, but as storefronts that allow image-licensing searches for their existing clients—as well as to a broader client base who finds the photographer thanks to search engine optimization incorporated into sites. Wedding photographers and family portrait specialists can utilize a robust customer interface for ordering prints, albums, novelties and more. The lab-direct connection means the customer’s order goes directly to the pro lab for fulfillment and shipping, and the online storefront means interested friends and family can place their own orders easily, further increasing the photographer’s revenue stream. In all cases, the photographer’s obligation beyond uploading can be as much or as little as he or she likes.

No matter the type of work a photographer does or the type of sales he or she makes, the ability to seamlessly blend a third-party e-commerce solution into a personal website is crucial. In all cases, photographers are able to seamlessly blend online vendors into their own branded offerings if they so choose. A clickbooq-powered website, for example, has no clickbooq branding visible to the customer. A print order form from Kubota’s site may go directly to Bay Photo’s lab, but by all appearances the customer is dealing directly with Kubota’s company. In fact, they’re receiving the exact same services from the exact same vendors as they always have; Kubota’s company has simply changed the interface, but maintained the relationship with the same qualified vendor they’ve always relied on.


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