Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Business - Building Your Web Presence, Part 3

This is Part 3 of 3 in a mini-series on Building Your Web Presence as a Photography Business.

Part 1: Building your Web Site
Part 2: Driving Eyeballs to your Web Site
Part 3: Providing Commerce on your Web Site

In Part 1, we discussed how to build a web site and fill it with content important to photography customers and potential customers. Then, in Part 2, we learned about ways to drive "eyeballs" to your web site through search engine optimization and other web resources.

In this article, we'll discuss how to sell your products on or through your website.

There are two main ways to sell products: (1) Through links to third party selling engines, or (2) Through a localized gallery/sales tool.

Third Party Selling Engines

There are many sites that will host your images in protected galleries so that your customers can browse, order and pay for them. Some of them will also print and ship the images if you choose. Years ago I used for this purpose. Their model did not cost me until someone ordered photos. Then I moved to Their event-based hosting model charged me by the gallery and image count, but I don't believe they actually collected money -they simply sent the order to me via email. I know that will also do this. Every one of these sites has some revenue model - subscription, per-gallery or commission on sales, or something related to these. As your customers use the site, they make some money off of the act of shopping or buying.

Pros - you can get up to speed quickly and you have a professional looking interface.
Cons - it will cost you to do this, and the images and website are usually off your main domain.

Localized Gallery/Sales Tool

There are a number of packages you can purchase or acquire that will allow you to host your galleries on your own website and provide secure shopping and even backend fulfillment. A quick web search on "photo shopping cart" shows ($279) and ($115) to name just a couple. There are many more out there. Most of these have you upload the images to your website and set parameters to indicate how the images are to be shown and sold.

Pros: The site is on your domain and you can customize to your experience.
Cons: Still costs money and you have to learn how to customize it.

Jalbum and Fotoplayer

I forget how I stumbled on this, but there is a great flash-based gallery display engine called Jalbum. It is free to use, and the PC client lets you import images and define the gallery experience. But it does not have shopping cart, security and other features. The great thing about Jalbum is that it allows 'skins' to be used over it. The skin called FotoPlayer, written by Dhinakaran Annamalai (Dhina), is a highly customizable interface for photo galleries. The features are numerous, including: security (userid/password, optional), shopping cart, image download (free or paid), usage tracking, discounts, coupons, customized shipping, eCard, watermarks, image ranking, full screen, customizable MP3 soundtracks, slide shows, Paypal and credit card gateway interfaces, and lots more. The license to use the pro version of FotoPlayer is $89. Their support forum is great and I have not had problems last very long without getting resolved. I host over 30 albums with an average of 80 images each. Your web server needs to support 'php' to handle this.

Pros: Great price, very customizable, great interfaces to Paypal and other selling methods.
Cons: I had a bit of a time getting this one installed and running, but then it's a great tool!
Click here to see a slide show that is not protected, and check out some features.


To show and sell images online, you can either lease the space and service from a third party, or host it yourself with a variety of products. Your expected sales customers and patterns and your technical skills may dictate your path here. Don't be afraid to try out an "easy one" and then move on to another product at a later time.

Thus endeth the 3-part series on Building Your Web Presence. I hope this gave you some ideas!

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