Semi-professional advice

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by LordHedgie, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. LordHedgie

    LordHedgie TPF Noob!

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    I'm an avid skier, and I enjoy taking shots in the backcountry. Recently I've had a number of friends try to encourage me to start selling prints, mostly at local markets and fairs. I've got a good full-time career, and no real interest in spending time selling prints. I have thought about putting together a nice gallery website, and allowing visitors to purchase prints and so forth from the site.

    I've got no illusions about making tons of money -- as I said, I have a good job, and don't want to put the time out to be "successful" in the traditional sense. On the other hand, I don't mind if someone wants to buy a print or two, and I don't mind earning a little money off the deal. But realistically, I'm not expecting to make enough money to justify any up-front costs many printing houses charge for "pro" packages.

    Here's my problem... I feel it looks very amatuerish to host e-commerce visibly on another company's site. I own my own domain, have my own server, and have no issues coding and developing a professional website. In fact, this aspect could be considered "fun" and part of the reason I'm willing to put forth any energy at all. Having something like http://whatever.shutterfly.com for a gallery is right out. Making money is secondary; putting a professional looking gallery online is more important.

    All the printing services I can find either charge large monthly/annual fees, require the gallery/orders to come from their server, and/or limit the photos available to unreasonable numbers (e.g., 25). If anyone knows of a good online service that doesn't charge an upfront fee, lets you send orders from your own website, and would allow at least 100 images, please let me know.

    Barring that, I'm thinking I have two options:

    (1) Create a website, process orders myself, and utilize a local printing company and ship the orders myself. While using a local printing company gives me the advantage of not having to trust the quality of a company I'm unfamiliar with, I really don't like the idea of handling shipping myself.

    (2) Create a website, process orders myself, and utilize an online printing service but have them ship the product directly to the customer. This simplifies things greatly for me, but could potentially lead the customer to think I've pulled a "bait and switch" tactic.

    As much as I hate the idea of handling product myself, I'm leaning towards the first option. Given that I'm not planning to sell many prints, I'm actually thinking I might even forgo putting prices on prints, and just include a link to contact me for pricing information.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with you completely about the 'pre-packaged' e-commerce sites. I use option 1 as my method; if people are interested in a print, they e-mail me, tell me what they want, and I have it printed it up a local lab, and send it out to them. For the number of prints I sell that way (VERY few) it works just fine. In reality, the website is simply there to provide a venue for me to refer potential clients to.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I will have to agree as well.

    Have you seen or heard of Photocart? It's an application that is loaded onto your own website. It is specifically designed to sell photos. It's really quite good, I know many photographers who use it. I purchased it a few weeks ago but have yet to 'go public' with it.

    Anyway, check it out... http://www.picturespro.com/pages/photography_shopping_cart/
     
  4. LordHedgie

    LordHedgie TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I've seen it before. A $279 investment is definately nothing if one is starting a business, but as I'm not expecting much return I'm trying to do this on the cheap. Nice product, though.

    I'm pretty sure I'm going to just fulfill orders with a local printer. Right now I'm debating just coding my own little e-commerce cart system, with a paypal backend, or alternatively not list prices at all, but just give a "contact me for purchasing options." The latter allows me to be far more flexible in what printing options I offer, but would undoubtedly result in far fewer sales. Much easier to code, though. :D
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Why even bother if you are only half way interested? I say stick with your full time job.

    Love & Bass
     
  6. Pure Captures

    Pure Captures TPF Noob!

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    You should check out www.candid2000.com. I think you have to supply sales tax license to show that you are a photography business, but they seem to be a pretty easy to use service: accept orders, print, and drop ship. I don't know if it's quite what you're looking for, but it sounds close at least.

    Matthew Block
    http://www.purecaptures.com
     
  7. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Contact the photo editor/art director at Powder mag! I'm sure they'd always be up for shots of that crazy micro-climate at Mt Baker! God I miss skiing out west. Tahoe was my spot.
     
  8. LordHedgie

    LordHedgie TPF Noob!

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    I really should submit some of the shots to Powder. I've also got a few taken in-bounds at Snoqualmie, where I work part-time as an instructor, that I've debated trying to pitch to them as advertising material, like this one:

    [​IMG]

    My best shots have all been at Whistler or backcountry, though. Maybe it's just me, but groomed terrain just ruins a beautiful winter landspace.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    The gang at Powder is looking for skiers skiing untracked powder. The shot you posted will bounce like a tennis ball.

    Love & Bass
     
  10. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I would contact the marketing departments at any resorts where you've shot. And seriously consider contacting Powder.
     
  11. clupica

    clupica TPF Noob!

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    I agree with craig. If you're not going to put a full effort into it why put in the time?

    But, if your images are good, why not consider stock (not micro-stock). www.Alamy.com, www.photoshelter.com and www.Photographersdirect.com are a few that will accept stock from anyone; the first two being the best.

    I recently sold my first photo through Alamy for $135 for a 1/8 page photo in a texbook.

    With a stock site, you can work at it at your own pace. They may never sell, but there are no time demands either. You can still sell the images yourself because these agencies are non-exclusive.

    Just a thought
    Charlie
     

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