eCommerce and selling prints online

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by Andre Moon, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. Andre Moon

    Andre Moon Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    16
    Howdy

    I've been researching for how best to setup an eCommerce store to sell photographic prints and other flat artworks.
    I've had a brief look at services like squarespace, smugmug, format, zenfolio and all I can say is I'm a bit confused. They can all solve your issues for $5-$50 per month.

    It should be noted I'm not adverse to paying for a service either, it just has to be the right fit.

    I have a self-hosted wordpress website with a custom domain; plugins such as woo commerce, opencart and shopify are also a way of developing a store for the sale of flat items.

    I have a fine art printer that I have a relationship with and I'm currently sending out test prints to another who also does drop shipping e.g. Order placed on my website - Order forwarded to printer to produce and send work.

    FaceBook and Instagram also have store functions and this seems to a be new area of their business (possibly) and I'm currently reading more into those options.

    I understand the hard work and staying power involved in starting a (very) small business and have a few questions for the OCAU photogs out there.

    Do any of you wonderful folks have any experience with selling prints online?
    Had a store and lost interest due to some unforeseen circumstance?
    What worked and what didn't?

    Cheers
     
  2. theicemagic

    theicemagic Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    3,937
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hi Andre,
    I'm running a personal website (kagetsubuic.com) through Squarespace with an ecommerce store using the Stripe setup that's built in.
    It's has pretty straightforward types of products/services you can issue. Though depending on how much work you want to put into it, it could do more advanced things too. It's relatively easy to use for individual items, but I fear if your stockroom becomes exceedingly large it may become more difficult to manage stock.
    As for success, I've never actually sold a thing through the website. I've only ever sold in person and through my other project I started with my wife, a gallery, studiobgallery.com.au, which is also through Squarespace. We use the ecommerce component, but don't allow for purchase through the website yet.
     
  3. TheBear21

    TheBear21 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Central QLD
    I looked at a few with my photography sales. I ended up settling on Pixieset (bonus if you use this link) as I found it the most economical for my uses. You could even go the free option although they take a slice of your sales. With the paid version they don't take anything. I looked at a few others like Smugmug and Shootproof who had more features I didn't need or want to pay for.

    Another option is NextGen Gallery WordPress plugin does a lot of this too if you wanted to keep it on your site. I also looked into this but the extra space I would require for my website hosting was more expensive than what I pay for Pixieset.
     
  4. Vladdo

    Vladdo Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    8,521
    Location:
    Laverton, Melbourne
    As some of you may know, I do a lot of aviation photography , all ground to air stuff. I have a pretty active facebook page that I throw everything onto, with about 1100 followers. The most interest comes from the pilots themselves, asking for photos, and most of them expect a hires version for free. So in terms of actually selling a print or a jpg, it's very difficult. I ask $5/image and I reckon 99% of that, don't want to pay anything.

    I also run a website, www.duncanfenn.com , which is a smugmug site, so I pay $160/yr (ish) which uses a custom domain and has a shopping cart facility to buy jpgs/prints/canvases etc. A few years ago, I had a zenfolio site, with a shopping cart and sold 3 images for about $10. I gave up the zenfolio site as I didn't have too much of a following (mainly facebook) and felt it was a bit of a waste of time and money. I set up the smugmug site 6 months ago, and looked at zenfolio for pricing and for the same features, zenfolio was $300/yr. That said, zenfolios template editor is much more configurable and has a lot more templates. Smugmug has a handful and the editor is somewhat basic by comparison. However, after fiddling with it for ages, I finally made a landing page I was happy with.

    The reason for my website is that (I feel) it creates more presence.. better brand awareness and even an online portfolio. I have business cards printed with my email and web address so when I'm out shooting, people often stop me and ask about the gear, and I can hand them a business card and gives the impression of a pro. It's also good for directing Joe Public to the website if they want to buy a photo, rather than me awkwardly asking for money for an image. That said, I'm 6 months into the year and have sold about $150 worth of images. A couple of prints and 3 commercially licenced images for a flight sim business in NZ. I do feel that smugmug's pricing is quite expensive, but if I was to setup a wordpress site, by the time you've added a nice theme and a shopping cart and hosting, you're probably up around smugmug's pricing anyway. I also feel smugmug is double dipping as not only do you pay a yearly fee, but they also take a 15% cut from whatever you sell. Whether that's through their overpriced prints or downloadable jpgs, you still pay 15%. And what's worse is that you have to wait up to a month to get the money, since they only pay out once a month and you have to request payment as I don't reach their minimum payout value.

    My wife runs an etsy shop, costs her 30cents per item listing and the fee from every sale is about 5%.. no hosting fees, no shopping cart fees etc. She gets paid instantly. It is extremely cheap by comparison.

    Personally, I think the reality is that selling prints online, on a small website with little to no exposure is a waste of time and money. Unless you're someone super famous and has a massive following and pushing out truly unique images, I just find it difficult to believe that anyone would sell (m)any images. It's just far easier, cheaper and instantly gratifying to go to Ikea and get a print and hang it on your wall.

    I'll keep persisting with an online store/glorified portfolio, whether that's through smugmug or not, I don't know. I do feel it adds a level of professionalism to my brand and reputation. I get about 5 unique visitors a day, mostly from facebook referrals, so maybe that might increase in future.
     
    Pinkeh likes this.
  5. OP
    OP
    Andre Moon

    Andre Moon Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2018
    Messages:
    16
    Thanks Kagetsu, that's great information and congratulations on opening the studio space in Prahran.

    Pixieset looks very promising. NextGen gallery seems very capable and involved. They do have a 'buy it all forever' option which is great in this world of subscriptions.

    There was another, http://www.fotomerchant.com/ which was developed in Australia but lost my confidence when I saw they charge $99 to setup Google Analytics.

    Great responses thus far :thumbup:
     

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