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
PhotoShelter (pa.photoshelter.com) has more advanced features, but offers more traditional pricing and a template approach. One of the main advantages to using PhotoShelter is that the site is optimized for photo searches from Google and other search engines using about 30 optimization features per site for keywords and other metadata.
PhotoShelter offers a way to examine your site for search-engine optimization (SEO), providing tools to increase exposure when someone searches for a specific image or photo category. PhotoShelter calls this “inbound marketing,” where you have potential clients searching for photos and finding your site on their own, as opposed to outbound marketing techniques—sending flyers or trying to find clients.
In addition to the SEO features, PhotoShelter allows you to integrate a blog with your hosted site, which is another way to attract search engines—by keeping the site constantly updated. PhotoShelter also is one of the few sites that supports full-resolution RAW and PSD formats—most hosting sites support only JPEG and other compressed formats. PhotoShelter offers better customer service than other hosting sites—instead of just providing a support e-mail, the site actually employs customer-service reps who can take phone calls on your behalf, handling order problems and other client issues.
The PhotoShelter pricing model is a bit complex. There’s a free starter plan, with a $50 setup fee and a 30% transaction fee on sales. The Pro level account costs $549 per year with a 10% transaction fee on sales. Like most pro sites, PhotoShelter offers extensive storage allocations, such as 100 GB for the Pro level account with storage add-on options (e.g., 10 GB more costs $6 per month). For collaboration, PhotoShelter provides a Lightbox mode where clients can comment on photos and rate images. And the site provides embeddable code so you can share a video slideshow of photos on any other site, with direct links back to your images, but doesn’t directly support social-networking sites such as Facebook.
The site provides great flexibility in terms of how you upload images, whether it’s using your own FTP client or built-in upload tools. PhotoShelter offers subtle extras such as a customizable contact form, SSL encryption for file uploads and automatic watermarking. Overall, the e-commerce options aren’t as customizable as those of FolioLink, and liveBooks offers better design options for showcasing your galleries online, but PhotoShelter’s advanced features and SEO settings are the best we found.
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