We could use some good advice!

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by statesofminds, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. statesofminds

    statesofminds TPF Noob!

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    Greetings, all. I have a problem that I am hoping to get some perspective on. I am a wildlife/nature photogrpher for the most part and just last month set up a storefront with Shutterbug in hopes of sharing some decent scenes with people and making a few bucks. A close friend has helped me a great deal in setting up that site, a photoblog, and giving marketing advice. We hit a big snag though, one that we have yet to find a good solution for.

    We have yet to make any sales online! We have had about 2,000 visitors in almost 2 months, but people are only looking, and we cannot figure out why. I thought maybe I had the prices set to high, but we got no more attention when we ran a big sale than without it. Meanwhile, our blog traffic is very low; we do have some fans, but not enough readers despite posting the links in many places (folks follow the gallery links, but not the blog links). We are at a loss as to what the problem could be. We would greatly appreciate some good feedback and advice.

    Our sales gallery is here States of Minds - Wild Photography - Main Gallery

    And our blog is here Dan States | States of Minds: Wild Photography

    Please either leave your observations here in this thread or email us at statesofminds@gmail.com

    Thank you all very much!
    Dan States
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    From what I can tell, selling photos (including prints & other products) online is a very hard way to go about it.

    Firstly, because it's on-line, people are probably unsure...maybe about the quality of what they would get, or just unsure about ordering something like this and having it shipped to them. Also, seeing a small image on-line, is a lot less impressive than seeing the same image printed at 30x40 in a frame...or on canvas etc. I think that art will always be something that sells better in person.

    Secondly, 1000 visitors a month is relatively minuscule in the big scheme of things. I'm not sure what the average visitor to customer rate is, but I'd guess it's only a fraction of a percent...and landscape photographs are probably lower on the scale than most things. You may need to drive your traffic up to hundreds of thousands of visitors before you can expect to see some satisfying results. (I'm guessing...I'm not a marketing guru). And I'd also guess that just selling prints won't be enough to bring in those numbers. Of course, the blog does help. Anything to bring in viewers and generate more buzz...but you also have to consider that there are millions of blogs and almost as many photography sites...so you a)would need to show people something spectacularly interesting and b)find a way to let people know about it in the first place.

    Another thing to consider is that every other 'soccer mom' or 'Uncle Bob' has a DSLR camera these days. Even without knowing much of anything about photography, they can go out and get decent landscape images. If you want to sell images, you had better WOW the pants off of them with your images. From what I've seen, your photos are good...but I'm not wowed into reaching for my wallet.

    I've come to the conclusion that the best way to make money in photography, is to sell to photographers. Many of the 'big name' photographers end up writing books and going on tour giving talks and seminars. Those are people who could probably make money selling landscape photos...not necessarily because their photos are that much better than yours or mine...but because people (mostly amateur photographers) look up to them. So if you could somehow turn your blog into a wildly successful site where many thousands of people come to hang on your every word (see David Hobby and his Strobist blog)...you might convince them to also buy some landscape photo...or more likely, some cheesy 'how to' book etc.
     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    As Mike said, nothing really special here, people might look but tend not to buy unless its a stunner, the croc shots swimming, yawn, I had many jaws agape leaping from the water, action type, not a single sale, gave up on them, landscape I do for myself. People + commission shots pay, free download and theft gets them everything else. H
     
  4. statesofminds

    statesofminds TPF Noob!

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    Thank you both for your honest appraisal of our situation. While it may be a hard pill to swallow at times, it is better to know sooner rather than later so that I can adjust my strategy.
     
  5. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    Try going to another website. Like SmugMug, or Zenfolio.

    Image quality looks bad on your Shutterbug, deters potential customers.
     
  6. statesofminds

    statesofminds TPF Noob!

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    I was wondering about issues like resolution on Shutterbug (they highly encourage folks to display low res. shots in the storefront), as well as a few other things (such as difficulty to navigate, shipping prices, print prices, etc.). To be perfectly honest, the 2 advantages of that site that swayed me their way are price (about 7$ per month) and their full service (customer orders, payment, printing, etc. all taken care of by Shutterpoint).

    I would really like to find a different site that offers that full spectrum of taking the orders through shipping and would correct some of the downfalls of Shutterbug. I would pay a bit more for the service and would continue to do so if it were effective. If Adorama had this type of service, I would not be likely to be asking this advice! Anyone know of any other sites that come to mind?

    Thank you again everyone for taking the time to offer all this great advice-I really appreciate the help!
    Dan
     
  7. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    For less than $84 USD a year, which is what this Shutterbug offers, go to SmugMug instead.

    Have a read through here
    Your photos look better here
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The web site's design needs some re-design. Once one leaves States of Minds - Wild Photography - Main Gallery

    which is the main page,and goes to the individual galleries, there is no clear "back to main page" hypertext link.

    Also, the galleries do not show at-a-glance thumbnails...I am not willing to look through slide shows or individual, one-at-a-time image presentations just to look at somebody's stock photo offerings.

    The current problem is that the stock photo market has *changed*, dramatically changed, over the last few years. The market is flooded with photos very much like yours. The old cliche shots, the picture-perfect, postcard type images have all been done now, by hundreds of shooters. People are now looking for different image types--it's hard to classify or explain without a very long write-up, but suffice it to say traditional *people,person,animal,place* photographs are no longer sufficient.

    There's very little motivation to buy images either, especially when we have the New York Times earlier this year, in a Sunday issue IMMSMC, advocating downloading and printing and decorating one's home and office space with images leached off of Flickr.
     
  9. statesofminds

    statesofminds TPF Noob!

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    Thank you FC, I will certainly look at Smugmug again. I looked before and something seemed to turn me away, whether it was the pricing (products and shipping) or something else, I can't remember. But I will certainly read about them very carefully this time around. Any others that work for them and offer the entire services from taking/processing orders to printing and shipping? Thank you!
    Dan
     
  10. damonb

    damonb TPF Noob!

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    One of the issues is that landscape photography and wildlife photography is fairly saturated with a number of quality images, pro and amateur alike, so making a sale can be a little more difficult in this arena. In addition, since it is a saturated market, you would want to make sure you're pricing your images in a range that will make people more inclined to purchase (I personally found your pricing to be pretty reasonable compared to what I've seen other photographers offer for similar images).


    The good news is that the holiday are coming up, which means you may be able to increase the likelihood of a sale for certain products (cards, for example). While I don't know what kind of marketing you're doing for your blog, you should also consider being active on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to draw additional attention to your images.

    One thing you don't want to rule out: try to sell physical items at art fairs or other events in addition to online selling. Even the pros will tell you that selling online alone isn't easy...



    Disclaimer: I work in the industry at Fotomoto.com.
     
  11. statesofminds

    statesofminds TPF Noob!

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    Thank you Damon, for your thoughts on the matter. I have given a decent amount of time considering pricing, but even when I ran a sale, I had the same results. I have been quite active on Twitter and slightly less so on Facebook, but that is how I got many of the visitors as I have had; I had started to believe that may be the reason for many visitors and sagging sales...low commitment, and have begun looking to advertise in other places also. As to the blog...well, I will have to solve the issues one at a time to keep my sanity (and keep getting the little amount of sleep I do manage to get, lol!).
    I do have a physical gallery space, however it is difficult to do very much with being that I live in a small town; not many visitors, to be sure. So I talk with most everyone I meet-never know what connections will avail themselves! And keep looking for additional space for more exposure.

    Thank you all for your advice and ideas; I am always open to both!
    Dan
     
  12. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Why not have a proper web site and hosting package, I use vision internet, I get 760mb of space for the equivalent of $120 a year, its uk based but I don't think that is a problem, there are tools in the control panel for adding basket shopping and anything else you can think of, its only a matter of designing your site from there, include galleries and inform your bank you wish to take cc payments and other types, send no prints till cash clears and pp your pics till they are stunning. Be your own worst critic, ditch anything you rate as below 8 from 10. Its a tough game but plenty do manage to make a living from it. H
     

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