Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Your Total Website Solution
For conducting business on the web and giving you the ability to “make money while you sleep,” there are a number of excellent options for pros
As a pro photographer, you have different priorities for using the web as a base for your images compared to amateurs. Though sites like Flickr.com and Shutterfly.com are good options for hobbyists, they simply lack the options and horsepower for a professional. Pro photography sites, such as PhotoShelter, SimplePhoto, liveBooks and others, provide a “total solution” approach where you can host images and showcase galleries, sell your photos online, engage clients with social-networking features and provide a wealth of customer service and communication tools.
In this look at the most popular sites for pro photographers, the theme that emerges is one of flexibility—you can use deep features, customize the look of galleries, change pricing to meet market demands and, essentially, conduct your entire photography business online.
SimplePhoto is owned by the company WaveWheel, Inc. Like many parent companies, you’ve probably never heard of WaveWheel. We’re drawing attention to the corporate structure because they have recently launched another website called PageScene. The combination of SimplePhoto and PageScene creates a complete package that’s focused on streamlining and making your images easy to find online with an elegant display and providing for efficient sales of photography.
SimplePhoto (www.simplephoto.com) has been around for years and was developed to be a complete e-commerce solution—“a complete virtual studio and portfolio,” as described by founder Eric Ellis. PageScene (www.pagescene.com) is new and complements SimplePhoto by giving photographers a turnkey front-end website display solution. PageScene is completely independent of Adobe Flash (it uses basic HTML), so the galleries display equally well in a desktop browser as on a smartphone such as the iPhone. This lets clients access your photo site easily. Because it’s built with HTML, a SimplePhoto site resizes better than other sites from any computer and runs well in any browser. You can use SimplePhoto and PageScene independently or together. SimplePhoto is the main e-commerce portal for selling photos, whereas PageScene is purely for showcasing galleries as a website portfolio.
Cost structure for SimplePhoto is a stark departure from other pro hosting sites. Instead of paying a high up-front fee, you pay as little as $10 per month and then pay a commission of about 12% on all photos sold. The advantage is that you don’t pay the commission until the end of the month, but you can generate income on all sales. PageScene costs $399 per year and gives you WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) control, making it easy to build an unlimited number of pages and galleries that are formatted into PageScene’s premade templates. PageScene is all about letting the photographs stand out, so the templates are intentionally kept very clean and uncluttered.
Using PageScene and SimplePhoto together gives you complete flexibility in terms of how your e-commerce portal looks. It’s easy to change pricing and group photo galleries—the grouping feature is one for which other photo-hosting sites sometimes charge extra. You can customize price lists and edit them to match the market and your demographic. SimplePhoto also offers a guest-book feature, so for a wedding photographer, the bride can enter the e-mail addresses for all guests and then you can send out a mass e-mail to those guests with coupons and other discounts, which is a way to keep the site organic and active beyond just the one-time event.
Because SimplePhoto doesn’t host the high-res files nor do they cap the per-upload size, there are no limits on how many photos you can upload or costs per upload. SimplePhoto has “alliance partners” with whom they work for photo fulfillment, as opposed to locking you into an on-site, company-owned lab that you have to use for making prints. Or you, the photographer, can have complete control and make the prints and complete the order fulfillment yourself or with anyone you choose.
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