This is a Guest post by Andrew Gibson of Magical Places Fine Art Photography
So, you’ve taken some nice photos and added them to Imagekind or iStockphoto, and now you’re wondering how to promote them. The obvious answer is to make your own website or blog to promote your work.
Blogs are very easy to put together, just go to Blogger or WordPress to sign up for some free webspace and get started. But what if you want more than what a blog can offer? Then you need to put together your own website.
If you don’t know how to this yourself, one option is to pay someone to do it. Another is to do what my friend Christian did and use Clikpic, a relatively quick way to put together a nice professional looking site. Take a look at the websites of Eugene Donohoe and Tom Forrest for more examples.
Blogs and site building solutions like Clikpic use templates, so if you want your website to look unique (and don’t want to pay someone to build it) then you’re going to have to learn to do it yourself. This takes time but can be very rewarding. Web Design From Scratch is a great place to start learning. Take a look at my website, Magical Places Fine Art Photography, to see what can be done with some basic knowledge.
Now, if you’re into large-scale thinking and want to take on the big boys, you can take it a step further and do what Jason Wickens of Fotoviva did. After selling a few photos through microstock sites he decided that he wanted to sell some fine art prints. He runs his own web design company and he told me that he saw no reason why he shouldn’t create his own website to sell his photos.
That way he not only gets to keep all the profit but has the satisfaction of creating and growing his own business.
So, what does it take to create your own, all-inclusive, photo-selling website?
With any new business venture it’s important to stand out from the crowd in some way, to not only be different but better. One way that Fotoviva does this is through the excellence of the site’s design.
A programming friend helped Jason build the shopping part of the site and it took around three months, working in his spare time, to get it up and running. Of course, not all of us are web professionals but these services can be hired, relatively cheaply, from sites like elance.com.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is also essential, so that a website can rank highly in search engines like Google. This takes time, especially in a competitive market like photography. Jason told me that he has been learning about SEO techniques and that Fotoviva is performing well for it’s main keywords.
Once Fotoviva was up and running the next step was to invite other photographers to sell their work. Adding the work of more photographers means the site can grow exponentially. Not only are there more photos to choose from but as the photographers promote their work on Fotoviva this will bring more traffic and more customers. Then, as revenue increases, some of that money can be used for advertising and promotion.
I asked Jason at what point he realised the potential of adding other photographer’s work to Fotoviva:
‘I realised there were some exceptional photographers out there who did not have the time or understanding of how to sell their images online. With a pre-built shop ready to sell their work it seemed like an ideal solution for them. It also helps to increase the collection with art being so subjective “one man’s gold is another man’s poison”.’
So, where is the business going? There’s a relatively small amount of photos on Fotoviva at the moment, but unlike a lot of websites that sell photography, all the images are high quality. Jason intends to keep expanding and developing. At the moment there are over 170 photos available to buy at Fotoviva, and he’s looking to add to the photo collection. He has the following advice for potential contributors:
‘We are always looking to expand the photo collection to help customers find the image they want. Prospective contributors need to think if their work can match or exceed the work we already have. It needs to be art for walls rather than stock photography. The general rule would be ‘would someone want this picture on their walls?’ Potential photographic contributors should use the contact form and supply a link to their portfolio.’
Fotoviva is a great example of someone setting up their own website to sell their photography. What ideas do you have? One of them could be a winner.