5 Essential Sites for Professional Photographers (on a budget) 

 December 29, 2009

By  Pascal Depuhl

(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:

1. SiteGrinder

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.

Photoshop plug in that codes HTML for your PSD design
Photoshop plug in that codes HTML for your PSD design

Pricing: $129.- for the basic version

2. Photoshelter

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.

Photoshelter provides the backbone for the images on your website.
Photoshelter provides the backbone for the images on your website.

Pricing: $9.99 per month for the basic plan

3. Salesforce

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.

Salesforce is an amazing Customer Relationship Management tool
Salesforce is an amazing Customer Relationship Management tool

Pricing: $17.- per month for the Group edition

4. Google

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, …

Google does much more than just search
Google does much more than just search

Pricing: $Free

5. 1&1

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 name@gmail.com address right?) 1&1 reps can answer all your questions efficiently and quickly.

1&1 - a great website hosting company that offers many extra features to its customers.
1&1 – a great website hosting company that offers many extra features to its customers.

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.

  • Just saw this. Well I love the Sales Force how to sheets but they don’t really have a sample simple workflow from beginning to end for a small business like me. Do you have it laid out what you do when you get a hit on the contact sheet from your site?

  • Mark,

    Thanks for your comments and questions and yes, I do have more on my setup and process, actually I have a whole blog :)

    Seriously, what would you like to know, I can either point you to a past article or write a new one to answer your question.

    Unless of course you ask about my super secret sauce. That’s off limits LOL

  • Love SalesForce. Check out my post on how I integrate SalesForce in my contact form that I wrote on ASMP’s Strictly Business. As for SiteGrinder sadly no. They are no longer in business if I remember correctly. I currently use Photoshelter as the backbone of my website, that combined with WordPress for this blog, SalesForce for the contact form and all my CRM work is pretty much it. [By the way, this post is from 2009 – an eternity in terms of software and web development. Facebook was barely 5 years old, just to put it in perspective.]

  • I set up Sales Force because of your advice and I’m so happy I did. I’m loving the free trial so far. It’s very capable.

    Do you know if the Site Grinder thing is still relevant with PS CC ability to create HTML?

  • I follow your web site for quite a extended time and definitely should tell that your articles usually prove to be of a high value and high quality for readers.

  • I knew that research said that 97 % of weblogreaders just read and only 3 % responds, but it is good to see the reasons why those who don’t do this! Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Great info you have in this post, thanks. I have recently started to build my own websites using WordPress at the moment, but further down the line i would like to start using something a bit more robust.

  • I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are tough to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will defintely reach your goals! have a great day!

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    Pascal Depuhl

    Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.