(Since this post was written in 2009, pricing on these packages may have changed. For a more upto date look read “4 must have products to build your photo website.’ posted in August 2010)
Now more than ever being a professional photographer is more than capturing an image. Technology has changed the way we capture photographs from a photochemical process (film) to a electronic (digital) one. This shift in technology has also caused a shift in responsibility. A commercial photographer has to do much more than just take a picture. He has to become an IT specialist (or hire one) to do everything that today’s clients expect.
We are able to manage our business online, which begins with building our website, how we deliver our images to our customers, the way we manage our clients and business contacts, how we track the performance of our web presence and ads online and where we actually host our website.
Before you read on I do have to make one disclaimer, this post is inspired by Jeana Lee Tahnk‘s mashable post “5 Essential Sites for Professional Photographers” and were her blog gives you the turn key solutions to some of these needs, the sites that I have listed here, require you to do a little more work – be it learning a new software, re- interpreting how a cloud can be used for your business or figuring out how to bounce data through a few services to make it work for you. The upside of this is that you do save money. Here are the sites in no particular order:
SiteGrinder is a Photoshop plug-in, which allows you to design your website in a program that any professional photographer is very familiar with. It requires you to learn a few hints at the end of a layer name, which are very easy to understand video tutorials and very good customer service. They usually answer my email questions within 24-48 hours.
Pricing: $129.- for the basic version
If SiteGrinder creates the face of your web presence, Photoshelter is the backbone of your image delivery system and portfolio presentation. It allows you to store your photographs remotely, i.E. offsite but also has good security features for protecting your content and your client’s privacy needs. You can create password-protected web galleries and share them with your customers. It also allows you to sell the images directly. They have incredible phone tech support.
Pricing: $9.99 per month for the basic plan
Salesforce is the kingpin of your online presence. It helps you manage all of your sales leads, opportunities, customers, correspondence, … Salesforce is built for salespeople, which professional photographers have always had to be. It is the most powerful one of these websites since it can integrate the information your visitors type into your contact form with the client database it maintains, it also can track your click-through traffic from your Google ads, letting you know precisely where a lead originated. (You can read more about how to integrate Salesforce with your website here.) These guys invented awesome technical support.
Pricing: $17.- per month for the Group edition
As you know Google is one of largest players on the web. I use Google docs to let my clients track their products through my workflow, when I am photographing a large volume of items for them. Google analytics helps you track the performance of your website, Google Adwords keeps your business in front of potential clients, …
You’ve designed your website, you’ve customized your image delivery and your CRM. One thing you need underneath all of this is a web hosting company. The one’s that actually serve up your website, email, … 1&1 allows you to host your URL, your email addresses (you are not still conducting business from your email@example.com address right?) 1&1 reps can answer all your questions efficiently and quickly.
Pricing: $9.99 per month
These are just a few of the software, services and sites I use in my commercial photography business. Many of these services run specials on their pricing structure and also offer free trials for their services. So give them a whirl, kick the tires and see how they can make you business more productive in 2010.
I would be interested to hear which ones you use.
Read my more recent post for more information on tools you need to build your photo website.