In the March 2009 issue of Studio Photography magazine, we featured a roundup on companies who offer website services and products to boost professional photographers' bottom line and online presence. For this continuation on the web, we received some insightful perspectives from those who provide website services and products, on trends (and they may be responding to these trends) and benefits. You can go to the individual company websites listed below for more information about specific products and services.
When photographers first started jumping onto the internet and setting up their own websites for business purposes, sites were usually nothing more than landing pages for customers to view a company logo, address, phone number, and email address. Today, however, more and more professional photographers are leveraging the power of the web to put their sites to work for them in creative and industry-savvy ways.
Services are available to help you upload your portfolios or create interactive slideshows for prospective clients to see, establish an online brand presence, or blog about what you see going on in the photographic industry. Website services range from preset, drag-and-drop templates for those who might be intimidated by the process to customized sites for those who already have their own site and want to integrate their own aesthetics with additional powerful features. Following are some of the companies that can assist you in entering (or enhancing your presence) in the online arena.
Web sites are becoming fundamental to a photographer's business, [and] customization of websites is a definite trend. Our customized sites offer user-centered control and infinite options for creating a unique design. In 2009, the biggest 'must-have' for professional photographers from BIG Folio is going to be our online proofing and e-commerce services."--Mike Caston, CEO
There are two distinct products our company provides via the internet. First, there's an online sales system for photographers so they may market their images directly to the public. Second, we have online print ordering for the photographer via EfotoPRO ROES (Remote Order Entry System).
Direct online sales are an incredible time-saver and marketing tool for the photographer. Posting images in an online gallery expands the photographer's reach beyond the original intended audience. For example, a wedding photographer's images are typically limited to the bride and groom and the immediate family. Placing the orders online expands the audience to every one of the guests and anyone they forward the gallery information on to. In addition, accepting a lot of small orders can be a time-consuming task. By providing access to their images via online galleries, a photographer's customer's orders are processed directly through efotolab.com. We remove that responsibility from their workflow, therefore freeing up their time to make photographs.
Depending on the type of work you do, I've noticed a large increase in the use of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn--the internet has provided unprecedented opportunities to market yourself for little or no cost. Blogs have become very popular as well. The best marketing for any photographer, especially those who specialize in weddings and other special events, is word of mouth. Staying connected with your customers is key--don't let your relationship end after you deliver the final product. Stay in touch. Eventually your customers will need a photographer, and you want your name to be the first that comes to mind."--Joel Plotkin, president
We offer a full spectrum of web marketing, design, and communications services for individual photographers, as well as for photography studios and galleries. Our design services typically integrate each photographer's images with his or her website from both a design perspective as well as a branding effort."
[This] benefits [photographers] in several ways: It helps brand their photography talent to a specific genre or style. It helps them by allowing each to focus on his or her passion rather than on aspects of online technology and internet marketing. Lastly, and more importantly, our web marketing communications services make it so commercial photographers, studios, and galleries can not only better promote themselves by having an online presence, but also make it so they are better targeting themselves so businesses and consumers alike can easily search and find their site by such things as genre, style, location, availability, and more.
From advanced content management systems to video blogging and more, we see and hear about growing trends all the time. eWareness doesn't necessary look at trends in general but [at] what technology and marketing trends will best help our clients who are directly or indirectly involved with photography products and services. One of the biggest trends we feel works well for our clients is to seamlessly integrate their sites and/or blogs with third-party software and/or third-party online programs. This allows our clients to focus on what they do best: photography and photography-related services.
Our clients don't want to spend valuable time and money uploading photos, watermarking photos, order processing, printing, shipping, and more. Why should they when they can have a company like eWareness integrate their online presence with an online system that will quickly, easily, and affordably handle most of the work for them?--Brian K. St. Ours, president
ExpressDigital's primary business is a total workflow solution that allows photographers of all types and genres to automate their processes, organize billing and marketing operations, integrate an infinite number of product offerings, and sell and fulfill orders locally and/or online. All Darkroom software versions--Web, Core, Professional, and Assembly--offer photography businesses free internet storefronts with a feature called PhotoReflect, [which] publishes the commissioned photography that can be purchased by clients as digital files, photos, and really any product one's imagination can conjure. The photographer can use the storefront by hosting it on their own website or they can use one of [more than] 80 free templates that are hosted at PhotoReflect.com and managed by the Darkroom software.
With an internet storefront, professional photographers can sell to anyone, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They can promote their photography business with online portfolios, regimented prices, discount groups, gift certificates, and other automated tools of the software, including email reminders and client referrals. PhotoReflect users can [also] illustrate unique competitive advantage by offering more than 1,000 different fulfillment products online. Items they can fulfill locally (with purchased software) include templates and greeting cards. In addition, all users can sell anything they can imagine by utilizing over 200 Labtricity Labs that are also connected via the Darkroom software.
Being able to sell online is integral to the future of all professional photography businesses. A secure transaction to be able to do so is a part of this. Many photographers neglect the fact that their one client can easily become more than 100 clients when they offer and sell online.
One trend ExpressDigital has noticed that has the potential to improve a photography business' profitability is the ability to sell the digital rights of individual or packages of pictures. It's because of this that the Darkroom software has been integrated with a feature called Digital Delivery. By utilizing this feature, PhotoReflect users can sell the digital usage of individual pictures and products. Since this feature's inception we have found that professional pictures are now on client's cellphones, iPods, and Facebook pages (to list only a few), and for the first time ever, it's done so with the blessing of the professional [who] took those pictures because they were sold for a fee of their choosing.--Graham McFarland, CEO