In the last post, I told you that I would show you how to get a free e-commerce site, and give you some hints on developing your own web site. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, scroll down and read them, then come back here.
In Part 2, we talked about putting a collage from the wedding online, the day after the ceremony. Next, we designed a proof album, and posted that. Now, about 10 days – two weeks after the proof album has been online, you will need to put all of your proofs online.
There are two reasons for putting all of the proof files on line. 1. Your bride will need to see them, so she can ask for any additions to the album. 2. So that you can sell photos to family and friends of the bride and groom – without having them bother the b&g – and without them needing to contact you, directly.
A good reason to be concerned about #2 is that many photographers regularly make $300-$500 (some much more), from individual print sales to wedding guests. You might find this surprising with so many guests carrying digital cameras, but mostly, they take snapshots. A wedding is often the only time, all year that a whole family gets dressed up and goes out together. Take advantage of this by getting nice, semi-formal portraits of family groups, throughout the day. Get couples, brothers and sisters, parents and children – you can quickly arrange them in front of a nice background and take a few portraits, then hand them one of your cards, with the blog address. You’ll me amazed how many people will appreciate this – and you’ll make a few extra dollars.
There are many places where you can post files and visitors can order prints. Some are just ways for photo labs to make money, and you get nothing. Others allow you to set prices, but they charge you to host the images, and they take a commission on sales.
I have found only one (there may be others) that allows you to store 1,000s of images (no restrictions on the quantity) for FREE. Actually, you only store a thumbnail. When an order is received, you get an email with the file number, and the path to where you have the photo stored on your computer – even if on external hard drives. You can also log in to your account and see the status of orders.
Once you are notified of a new order, you log on to your account, edit the photo, if necessary, and send it to the lab (there is a network of labs, nationwide, to choose from). When you have finished making any adjustments to the image, you release the order to the chosen lab (there is also a self-fulfillment option, so that you can print the order, yourself). It will be printed and mailed to either your customer, or to you.
They will charge the customer's credit card, deduct any lab charges, charge the appropriate tax, and mail the order. It’s a complete, turnkey e-commerce solution and it costs you NOTHING until an order is placed.
You can add as many galleries, or catalogs, as you want, for each event. For example, if you shot a wedding, you many want to break the event into sections: Getting Ready, The Ceremony, The Reception – and you can break it into even smaller segments, if you want to.
You can set up a storefront, displaying a few of your best images, and well as your contact information, and a few words about you or your studio.
I’ve been using this site for more than five years. Well, I’ve told you everything but the name. Go to www.photoreflect.com. Set up your account, upload the files from your next event, and wait for the orders to come in.
OK, now you have a blog, a place to host you album showcases, and an e-commerce site. They only thing left, to get your photography business online, is to develop a website (this is the last step, but it is an important one). While the blog is an excellent ‘first-step’, it is most effective when it works, hand-in-hand, with your website. That will be the topic of the next post.