Website Hosting - What do Full-time Pros Use?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by rnelson, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. Hello All -

    Yes I realize there is separate thread for website questions, but I already have a photo site up, however I am just not happy with the performance or reliability. So I am posting here as more of a business question than a technical one.

    I'm beginning to get the feeling that high-end pros do not use 'turn-key' sites as much as the providers of these sites seem to suggest. Am I wrong about this?

    I'm interested in how pros deliver their images for proofing and for the selling prints. I'm beginning to think a regular web site with galleries, combined with a separate order-fulfillment site and or dropbox or google drive might be a better way to go. Thoughts?

    My current photo hosting plan is feature rich, but performance and reliability IMO is low. My site was down for nearly five hours yesterday. Sometimes I am waiting between 30-60 seconds for a simple action to load in my web browser (not counting moving files, which I would expect to take longer, of course). As I begin to add up the time waiting for this service to respond I'm feeling like I'm settling for a poor performing product/service.

    I am attempting to go full-time now, and while these issues were not of great importance in the past, they are now of much greater importance now.

    Any and all thoughts are welcome, thanks!

    Randy -
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I agree.

    What is/are your main customer base(s) and your typical item(s) for sale?

    It occurs to me that "high end pros" are typically specialized a particular genre and/or customer base, This observation applies to the "full time pros" whom I know.

    The points that I am making are -

    1. Marketing Portals might necessarily be different to Customer Viewing and /Delivery Portals
    2. Both Marketing Portals and Delivery Portals might number more than one and be dependent upon Customer and /or Product type.

    Styling the appearance of your web presence to fit firstly your branding is important, yet I think many businesses do not build or buy a web presence which suits their OUTPUT nor consider having different channels if the business has multiple outputs.

    By the way, I suggest that you do not 'attempt'. but rather make it an outcome of your business plan. Words are very important, especially the words that you say over and over in your brain.

    markdavidson likes this.
  3. As William notes your market is key.

    A "high-end pro" is an ambiguous term but it seems you are implying a wedding or portrait business.

    If so, the portrait business yields high per-session sales by being a very personal and hands on business. The business is less about the photography than the sales effort.
    That said the entire marketing effort is one that is informed by the brand you establish. Form your premises to your products to your website and your process for meeting and booking clients and of course the quality of your work. Post session follow up is also key to create that relationship that yields large sales.
    All this also applies to the wedding field.

    Your website is but a part of that.
    I would also note that online sales portals are the province of businesses that rely on volume.
    A studio that needs high per unit sales will die a swift death relying on online orders. This is because portraiture is an emotional event. Time erodes the emotion that moved the client to book and thus results in low sales.

    Sports and events are not high end. They are volume markets.

    Fashion and editorial are closer to high end but one markets to them via range of efforts including but not limited to: Instagram, promotional mailers, cold calls, networking and your website. Note I say closer because a vast amount of work produced in this area is unpaid but can be very decently paid.

    Advertising, Architectural, product and other forms of commercial photography are where good money can be made. However these clients rarely if ever order online.

    I do deliver digital files to clients but only after they have selected images and paid. I use Dropbox but have increasingly used ShootProof. Shootproof can be configured to allow clients to order images or prints. Of course then that means you need to upload fully retouched images to the gallery.

    I use Tave for studio management and it has online portals for contracts and booking in addition to scheduling, invoicing and general financial functions.
  4. Shoot proof or Pixieset
  5. You should go with something that does both, a portfolio website and order fulfillment. Pixpa and Format are two platforms to name. I personally like Pixpa due to its variety of features which include a portfolio website and selling images and products within the platform. Currently they do not have any integration with labs but their support team claims to add WHCC within next four weeks. Format's themes on the other hand look clean and elegant but do not have much options. You can try out free trials for both and see which one works for you.
  6. I can't say that I was a "high end pro" but I've used to host my web sites (I have 2). Their service is good with few to no outages, unlimited storage, and good bandwidth for a reasonable price. I had a professional design and implement both of my sites, and don't do e-commerce from either. and

    My $0.02 worth.

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