As photographers, we would like the purchasing process for our customers to be as easy as possible. However, when setting up your site to sell, it is not always possible to figure out, ahead of time, the best workflow or which tools you should take advantage of.
To save you some time (and minimize hair loss), we have compiled some ideas about selling workflow efficiency and highlighted specific tools that may be useful for you.
Preparing your files
It’s important to think ahead about how your images are going to be used on your site when preparing them in your editing software. If you create a strategy for handling images beforehand, you can save yourself oodles of time and effort in the long run. (Raise your hand if you love efficiency!)
Understand display sizes
With customizable websites, different display-sized versions are automatically created for each image uploaded into a gallery. Having multiple sizes allows the flexibility for viewing your images on a variety of browser window sizes (if your galleries are dynamic). If you think ahead and create images for uploading that are at least the largest display size possible, then you can maximize the quality of how your images will look on your site.
Add metadata to original files
If you are using your site for storage and want to download your original files at a later date, add all pertinent information, such as keywords, to your files before uploading them. This way the information is still available in the original file if you need to download it back to your computer.
Because many sites can also be used for placing orders, knowing the best size to upload can be confusing. The ideal solution is unique for each person’s chosen workflow. Here are some scenarios to consider:
1. You sell a lot of images and want the original file to go straight to the lab
In this situation, it would be best to upload images that are the minimum resolution of the largest display size available and will meet the resolution requirements for all products that you offer through your partner labs.
2. You want to upload edited files into each order before they go to the lab
In this situation, it would be best to upload images that are the minimum resolution of the largest display size available in the gallery. This will lower the total amount of time it takes to upload your files.
Having the option to view your orders before they go to the lab will give you time to upload larger, edited files to the order before approving them.
Client navigation and image protection
It is also important to consider how your clients are going to navigate to their galleries. Some folks are not concerned about the privacy of images and use one landing page from their site menu for all client galleries. Clients can search through the thumbnails or use a search feature to find the name of their gallery.
However, if you are concerned about keeping your clients’ images private, consider using a client access page where your clients can enter a unique code to find their gallery. It’s also a good idea to add a password to the gallery so outsiders cannot see the images if they come across the link, and to set up the gallery so that search engines do not include these images in search results.
If you want to learn more information about the people who visit your site, you can enable visitor sign-in for your galleries to collect their name, email address, and phone number. You might even ask a question such as, “How did you find us?” to learn more about which marketing efforts are working or who referred them to you.
To shorten the number of clicks it will take for your customers to add a product to the cart, you can enable featured products in your galleries. These products appear as links next to your images. When your clients are browsing through a gallery, they can be inspired by your product suggestions, click on the link, add the product to the cart, and continue shopping.
Creating incentive to purchase
When it comes to photography, it is easy to enjoy viewing images in the gallery and put off buying prints until later. To give your clients more incentive to commit to a purchase in your desired time frame, consider using any of these three options:
1. Set a gallery expiration date
Setting a gallery expiration date is a great way to encourage customers to make a purchase before their images become unavailable to them.
2. Give coupons with a minimum order requirement and expiration date
Coupons are a great way to encourage customers to make a purchase on your site. Creating a coupon with a minimum order requirement will ensure that your customer is purchasing enough to pay for the cost of the products and for you to still earn a profit. By setting an expiration date for the coupon, you are encouraging them to make their purchase by a specific date.
3. Offer packages
By creating packages and lowering the total cost of what customers would pay for the same items a la carte, you are encouraging visitors to buy more at one time, and they feel like they are saving money. You can earn more by offering packages because you set a minimum price point for selling, whereas, with a la carte items, customers may purchase fewer items at one time.
Testing your galleries and placing a test order
Testing is the last step before inviting your clients to their gallery. It is always good to log out and test the gallery before sending out a link because it can be embarrassing to have something go wrong when a client is trying to view their images. It is also a good practice so you know how the ordering process works.
Inviting your visitors to the gallery
When you are confident that your site is ready, you can send a beautiful email invitation to invite visitors to their gallery. This is a great way to communicate with your clients and keep them excited about viewing images and buying products.
BONUS: Getting started with SEO
Building strong SEO for your site requires patience, common sense, and continuous action. Here are the steps you can take to get the ball rolling:
1. Submit a sitemap to search engines like Google and Bing.
2. Add a display name and a website description.
3. Add rich, relevant text to your pages such as “San Francisco Bay Area portrait photographer” as opposed to generic text such as “photos, photography,” etc. to help your market find you.
4. Use smart keywords and categories on thumbnail and photo pages. Note: Search engines will actually punish people who stuff sites with irrelevant text—so save stuffing for the holidays.
5. Show categories, keywords, titles and captions on thumbnail and photo pages.
6. Create friendly links for your galleries.
7. Add alt attributes to individual photos, this allows screen readers to give a description for those that can’t see your images.
8. Be active. This is probably the most important thing you can do. You can share your site through social media and with your contacts and friends; cross-reference by sharing your links on other sites (and share theirs on yours); and maintain a blog that has relevant content that your audience would be interested in.
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