So you’ve got a great eye for photography, you’ve produced some awesome images and you’ve even had some interest from people looking to buy prints of your images. Fantastic! But how do you go about selling your work, and what are the best services out there to help you go about it? That’s what Riley wanted to know in today’s episode of #askVENTH – and we can help with that!
There are a few different options to take into consideration when it comes to selling prints, the first is to look at services offering pre-packaged bundles that you come with website hosting, that offer built-in print on demand services for your images that your client can order themselves. If you wanted to have everything hosted in one place for ease, you pay for hosting and then can offer their services through your website quickly and efficiently. They are relatively simply to install into your website, offering a huge amount of image storage, simple e-commerce, and the majority of the time also being mobile friendly stores so that your customers can shop on the go. Utilising one of these services definitely makes your life a lot easier, as once it’s installed it’s all ready to go with minimal fuss or effort on your part.
Here are our service recommendations if you’d like to go down this route:
Zenfolio: One of the more popular providers, offering a range of payment plans starting at 36MB storage for basic plans, to unlimited image storage for more expensive options. They are able to host all JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF file types, are able to sell both digital and print images and have the option to set up password protected private areas of the store for your clients, if they’re looking to buy from a private shoot. Offers also include web hosting and website templates.
SmugMug: This service offers unlimited image storage, supports all JPEG, GIF, PNG file types (RAW, TIFF, PSD for extra cost), offers both print and digital purchases, but offers monthly payment plans as well as yearly. SmugMug packages also include web hosting and website templates.
PhotoShelter: This one depends on which payment plan you decide to go with as to what you get for your money. For example, a basic account priced at $9.99/month will get you 10GB of storage, and a Pro account provides unlimited storage for $49.99/month, so it’s really up to you to decide how many images you’ll be offering for sale and which package will be best suited to you. Probably the best option for those who want to try it out for a short amount of time to see if your prints are getting an traction.
There are further service available offering the same packages at varying prices and storage levels, such as APhotoFolio, Livebooks, Shootproof, Pixpa and Photodeck, so just make sure to do your research!
There’s also the option to host your images separately to your website, with services such as Fine Art America. They still offer a print on demand service, but your customers would visit Fine Art America’s website to purchase your images that way. They also offer extras, such as framing, printing your image onto phone cases, greeting cards and home decor, tote bags, posters and printing on canvas. Perfect if your customers are the gift-buying type!
If you want to cut out the middle man, Fine Art America does now have the ability to incorporate a print on demand service into your own website so that you can create a gallery that your customers can click through and order images as well.
Of course there’s always the third option of setting your own personal service up through your website that is customisable exactly the way that you want it, but this requires a level of technical know how and a little bit more effort on your end, as you’ll need to contact and build a relationship with your own printers and things like that. Not only will this take more time to develop, but if there are any bugs in the system that it’s purely down to you to have to figure them out, as well as providing your own customer service. If you don’t feel confident with the technical aspects of this, it’s probably easier to opt for a pre-packaged service from reputable hosting provider.
The other point you need to think about when selling is: who are your customers and what are they looking to buy? Are they your customers that you’ve done photoshoots for, and they just want to buy the prints from the shoots? In that case, services such as SmugMug and Zenfolio are probably the ones that you’re really looking at, they really focus a lot on this kind of client delivery system. They’ve got a lot of cool features where you can have private galleries just for the client and they can make selections of images, it’s really quite intuitive and useful.
If you’re taking more art shots and you’re looking at selling prints of works that you’ve done to other people, something like Fine Art America might be a better option for you. Their service is pretty reasonably priced and they also have their own built-in marketplace, but their goal is to sell more unique images to a customer as a product, rather than an image you’ve taken specifically for a client on a shoot.
You really need to think about what your customers will be looking to buy, and once you’ve clamped down on that, think about the additional services you’ll require to make that happen – then that should dictate which service provider is best suited to you and ultimately caters better to your customer.