Sell Your Photos Online - Step 1
How to get your images online...
You've done all your research. You know your target audience and your competition, you have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve by putting your images online. Your portfolio has a sufficiently diverse range of images ready for display. It's now time to start attracting some customers!
Let's explore some of the methods that you can use to get your pictures online ready for the world to see.
Micro-stock sites generally sell Royalty Free images at low prices. Images are normally available for immediate download after receipt of payment . These sites are fully equipped ecommerce sites with secure credit card payment facilities.
Some micro-stock sites take a different approach, rather than a per image licencing fee, members can pay a subscription for a set period of time and download as many images as they want.
In my opinion these types of sites de-value the art of photography. As the photographer only gets a very small amount of money per image and you are competing against thousand of other photographers on the sites there is very little chance of actually making any money let alone covering your costs. The only people that make money off these types of sites are the site owners - not the photographers (unless you are extremely lucky).
If you are a professional or serious amateur these sites are best avoided. I'm yet to meet a photographer who makes a living off selling their work on micro-stock sites.
Stock Image Libraries
Image libraries normally offer a similar service to that of a micro-stock site in additional to some extra services. However one of the main points of difference is the pricing model. Stock image libraries go for quality as opposed to quantity (that's not to say that micro-stock sites don't have good quality images). Their clients request particullar images in turn this allows photographers to respond to specific image requests.
As well as the Royalty Free licencing model Stock Image Libraries also have specific images available as Rights Managed. The photographers can specify what type of licencing should apply to an image when it is submitted.
Only the best quality images are sold as rights managed. If you can find your niche the sale of rights managed images can be quite lucrative.
Free Image Hosting
There are lots and lots of sites now offering free image hosting. They are more suited to building image galleries for personal usage. Pictures of the kids, holiday snapshots and the like to show to your friends and family.
These types of sites are not really suited to a professional photographer’s portfolio.
Paid Image Hosting
By paying an annual subscription you can buy your very own preconfigured image gallery website (usually a sub-domain).
Other sites give you an album within their gallery where you can display your portfolio and or sell your photos and prints. These types of sites normally also have a complete list of contributing photographers from the main gallery or a photographers page.
Very convenient, but perhaps not very flexible.
Build Your Own Website
(Or work with a website developer to build one for you)
If you want to have ultimate control over how your portfolio is displayed perhaps you should consider building your own website. There are lots of Image Gallery type scripts around - some open source (free) while others come at a premium. Or, you only have a small number of static images that you wish to display you can hand build your site.
I have done an extensive amount of research on this subject in order to build some of my own sites. As a strong advocate for GNU Licenced software and the help yourself approach I have settled for Gallery as my product of choice. They have a very active development team and an extremely knowledgeable and active support community. Gallery can be run as a stand-alone application or embedded into any number of Content Management Systems such as Drupal to run the rest of your website.
There are plenty of other good scripts around. Take a look at the OpensourceCMS site under the Image Galleries category for list of around 15 of the best open source scripts. They have demo (base installs only with no additional functionality from additional plugins or modules) versions of the scripts running so that you can get an idea of what you can expect from each.
If you haven't figured it out by now my preference for a professional photo portfolio is a custom built website. Every photographer has different interests and different strengths. The site should reflect and display the photographer’s character and photography style.
A mixture of simplistic elegance normally works quite well. Sites are best kept as clutter free as possible. Remember, the focus should be on the images!
Next time we will be discussing in greater detail how to go about building your own image gallery...