If you’re a professional photographer looking to take the next steps to scale your business, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Yes, you could keep taking on more jobs and trying to charge clients more, but eventually, you’re going to run out of hours in the days, and your clients are going to run out of patience for your ever-rising fees.
Instead, you need to look at alternatives. You may or may not have already considered using ecommerce to scale your photography business. It’s an interesting way to diversify your income while keeping your passion at the centre of what you do.
Below we take a look at the relationship between ecommerce and photography, and how you can use ecommerce to scale your business. Read on for tips and tricks to boost your brand — and your profits.
You may be wondering why you should go down the ecommerce route in the first place.
Well if you’ve been a freelance photographer for a while, you probably love your job but it’s pretty knackering, right? The travelling, the effort that each shoot takes to get the perfect shot, the endless hours spent in front of your computer editing…
Setting up an ecommerce site gives you the opportunity to take a bit of a break from this. Yes, it takes a bit of time and effort to set up initially, but it’s not too tricky to do, and once you’ve established your ecommerce store, it’s easy enough to automate processes.
The passive income that ecommerce draws in isn’t to be scorned at either — you can earn a decent wodge of extra cash with minimal effort by using models such as dropshipping (more on that later).
Ecommerce also allows you to expand your business. Unless you’re a travel photographer or you’ve got plenty of spare money lying about, the idea of going global is something that may never have crossed your mind. As a photographer, you probably have a set area or region that you don’t normally venture out of, unless a well-paying client offers to pay for full travel and accommodation while you’re covering a shoot. Any further away and work stops being cost-effective.
Creating an ecommerce store allows you to reach out to a previously untapped audience — a global market that could be interested in your products and skills. An online store gives you the means to engage with prospects, and a market to sell your photography and photography-based products.
Find an ecommerce solution that works for your site
First things first: you need to choose the platform that’s right for you. Depending on the content management system you’ve used, plenty of websites can have ecommerce functionality easily integrated, so you may not even have to create a new site specifically for selling.
If you’re a WordPress user, for example, you may have already heard of the WordPress gallery plugin, colorlib. It’s a hugely popular WordPress themes site and with good reason — it’s highly customizable and easy to use, making it perfect for newbie photographers who want to use their website to showcase their work.
For non-WordPress users, we should mention closed-source CMS options. Closed-source CMS platforms are solid alternatives for running a website on anything other than WordPress. These site and store builders are often template-based and incredibly intuitive, making them user-friendly and ideal for complete ecommerce beginners.
Building a brand
One of the main reasons for integrating ecommerce into your business plan is to build a brand.
An ecommerce element will be a strong value-add for your brand, helping you create a more well-rounded profile as a professional photographer. It shows that you’re not just a one-trick pony — you’re a business owner with a strong vision and plenty to offer your customers.
Most ecommerce platforms or plugins include features to help you out with the marketing side of things, such as your social media marketing and email campaigns. By utilizing these features, you can build on your existing brand and give yourself more exposure — as well as engaging more meaningfully with customers and prospects.
Financially, it could be the start of a business and a move away from the freelance photographer model. Freelance photography isn’t always the most stable of jobs, and the amount of work that comes in can vary dramatically. Ecommerce can offer you financial stability and ensure that your income is regular and stabilized.
Showcase your work
Ecommerce is a great way to showcase your photography work and attract potential clients. You can treat an online store like a portfolio, and display your work in product and photo galleries.
Ecommerce solutions feature photo-centric layouts and attractive themes that are flexible and easy to customize, meaning you can reflect your style as a photographer through your site’s design. Whether you’re a wedding photographer, do fashion shoots or specialize in travel and landscapes, your store can act as an extension of your style and niche.
However, it’s worth remembering that whichever design you settle on for your store, it should never detract from your photos themselves. Your work should always be the primary focus, so try to stick to simple yet effective layouts. Try to steer away from cramming too many images into your site.
Dropshipping & print on demand
Pretty pictures make great products; fact. People like adding photos to products to make them into mementoes, or as unique, custom-made gifts for friends and family. You can use your creative skills and artistic flair to create products and then sell them via your ecommerce store using dropshipping, print on demand or both.
Print on demand does what it says on the tin: items are printed only when you have the demand, meaning you don’t have to pay upfront order costs, and aren’t left with excess pre-customized (and unsellable) items if they don’t sell or something goes wrong with the sale. It’s an easy way to monetize your photography talents in a different way. For inspiration, take a look at the existing print on demand stores on online marketplaces. If you’re interested in pursuing print of demand for your photography business, check out this listicle of great print on demand sites to see what your options are.
Dropshipping involves employing a third party company to produce your goods and then ship them directly to your customers. There are plenty of perks to dropshipping; namely that you don’t have to keep the products you sell in stock. Your third party can deal with creating and sending out your prints or other products — you just need to produce the raw material and make the sales in the first place.
Of course, you can merge the two; both are low-cost ecommerce options, which is perfect if you want to experiment with ecommerce before committing fully.
As you can see, ecommerce is a natural way to scale your photography business, allowing you opportunities to reach untapped audiences and make a profit in a new way.
Are you thinking about creating an online store for your photography? Or do you have one already and have tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.