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I think every photographer that wants to make a living has embraced the challenge of making money, starting your business, and getting exposure. This is definitely in my life right now. There are so many choices to be made.
I have had my website up for about a year and a half, maybe a little longer with just my portfolio. Meaning a place that has my photos just to look at. There is not a button to click to purchase any photo.  I did have that in the beginning with my photos linked to Fine Art America’s website. I then unlinked everything. I didn’t like how there are so many sites one has to go to just to buy a photo from me. In regards to my website in general I redesigned it so it was less complicated overall. I am happy with the changes so, now I am on the quest to make buying a photo from as simple, and easy as humanly possible.

My web-host is iPage, and it does have a “shopping cart” option, but with the nature of photos, and the varieties a person could want a photo printed is way too much for the format that they offer. And to be honest I don’t want to limit my potential customers. If they want a canvas, they shall have it! If they want a 5×7 matted print well than dammit let them have it.

ok, ok, jokes aside, in all seriousness I want to give my customers options, and buying freedom. (some say they may be a bad thing- eeeek!)

Now with my new decision to tack on the buying option to my website I’m finding that this is a lot harder. Currently, I am looking for a web-host that specializes in working with photographers(which there are a ton out there.) Ya know nice galleries, options to be creative, and design the site you want with flexibility in your gallery options. Now, add the printing on demand feature the array of web-hosts to choose from comes down form hundreds to just a handful. I’ve done a bit of days worth of research. The print on-demand option if anyone isn’t aware is just being able to have the customer order a print off your site, the web-host will take that order pass it on to one of the labs they are partnered with, make whatever the order may be then ships it out to the customer.  All the while you don’t have much work to do, besides making sure your website is great, and easy enough to order from.

What I’m finding with some sites is there are some that take commission, some don’t. Annual prices vary(all being pretty expensive at least for someone just starting out.) Some more customizable than others, some too many details to try and figure out.

I guess my top choice is Smugmug.  It seems to be my best option. I was on there for hours one day trying to figure out how to change certain background colors of my page!! Once I got it down it was okay. Even so, not as easy to change anything design wise like iPage is for me. But looking back to when I first started this website endeavor iPage took getting use to as well.

Some people think that Fine Art America is a good print on demand site, it’s pretty much your cheapest option. Free printing options under 30 photos. if you want unlimited on-demand printing it’s a $30 membership annually. Which isn’t bad, but I’m extremely picky. I just don’t like how I can’t customize my page. I also feel like having everything being able to be done entirely on just my site legitimizes my business a little bit more, if not to my potential customers at least to me in my own little head. Hey, it’s the little things, right?

There are others, but I’m not going to review every last one. One blogged helped me out though. Check that out here if you want more info on these type of sites. This person has a lot more experience than I do.

I’m definitely not the best at all this website/web design stuff, but I can hold my own for the most part, but this search started to be a bit overwhelming. The more I researched it, it slowly started coming together. I will keep everyone posted on what I go with, and when I have the buying option on my site.

Wish me luck!

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