I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at two WordCamps this year, both on the topic of selling images with WordPress. That is a topic I love to talk about, because depending on your audience and depending on what you are selling certain components of the setup might be different than others.
But today I want to talk to you specifically about how to sell photos with WordPress, in 5 easy steps.
This article is intended for photographers specifically. If you are not selling photographs then these steps might not suit your needs.
Needed To Sell Photos With WordPress
Photographers need a few specific things in order to sell their photographs.
- Fast server
- Reliable website uptime
- Beautiful galleries
- Mobile ready
- Ability to sell in public galleries
- Ability to sell in private galleries
- Ability to proof photos
- Multiple pricelists w/ manual override
- Print lab(s) integrated
There are other smaller items that fall in between each of those, but the 9 you see are the most essential.
5 Steps To Sell Photos With WordPress
Step 1. Get a fast and reliable server. I personally recommend Imagely. They host my website and have so many advantages to you.
The average loading time for a website is 4.7 seconds. The average load time at Imagely is 1.07 seconds.
This is beneficial because as a photographer you will be selling large photographs, and potentially displaying fairly high resolution photographs on your website. So having a server that can handle that, and distribute the website at an impressive speed is beneficial for you. It’s beneficial for you, your customers and for your website’s ranking on search engines.
When it comes to security Imagely is at the top of their field. In some testing, it was found that Imagely isolated websites from a server where a website was hacked. The hack was not due to any fault of Imagely either. It was due to poorly picked admin password. Typically with shared hosting, if one website is vulnerable then all the sites on that server are vulnerable. With Imagely, their isolation practice makes that idea null. That’s just one of their security measures taken for all customers on their shared hosting and managed cloud hosting.
On the support Imagely SiteGround is one of the best. They offer 24/7 support for customers.
WordPress is fantastic, but it’s not perfect. So if you can be sure you’re getting great support then you already have a head start towards continued success.
SiteGround offers multiple plans depending on your needs, starting at $24.95 and going up to $99.95 with addons for more storage.
Step 2. Pick a WordPress theme that suits your taste and brand. There are many photography themes out there, like the Photocrati Theme, or ProPhoto. But those might not be best for everyone. Some photographers don’t want photographer specific themes. I suggest doing research and looking at as many demos as you can find. For example, Divi or X Theme might be better suited for you, if you want a drop/drop style system.
Whatever theme you pick, make sure the support the company offers is top quality, and that the theme can be customized to fit your brand.
Step 3. Install NextGEN Gallery to manage your galleries, albums and eventually your photo ecommerce. NextGEN Gallery is the most popular WordPress gallery plugin for so many reasons. It has over 1.3 million users and growing.
The plugin is feature rich with all the essentials photographers would want. In fact, all new features being added are specific to photographer requests.
The plugin is 100% free from the WordPress directory, or from within your WordPress admin.
One of the advantages of NextGEN Gallery is the ability to have it resize your photos during upload. That way when it comes time to sell your photos, it will display the smaller photos on the front end and sell the photos from the backend.
Like I said in Step 1, site speed is important and beneficial for you, your customers and for your website’s search engine rankings. Displaying smaller photos on the front end is part of that process.
NextGEN Gallery also has watermarking built-in for photographers who want to watermark their photographs as well.
Step 4. Purchase and Install NextGEN Pro which will handle selling photos on your WordPress site. NextGEN Pro has a small annual fee, but it’s a plugin that sits on top of NextGEN Gallery, and uses it’s powerful gallery management system and feature-set in order to sell photographs.
The plugin will utilize the original backups that NextGEN Gallery can save, and sell them for prints and digital downloads. The plugin also includes a proofing option that photographers can use in private or public galleries, just like regular ecommerce galleries. This feature allows photographers to easily obtain a list of photographs that their clients want them to edit. The list is sent via email, separated by commas, so it’s easily findable in Lightroom.
NextGEN comes with multiple payment gateways built-in like checks, PayPal Standard, PayPal Express and Stripe. It also included image protection so you can have your photographs pretended from right click and dragging.
The plugin is responsive and retina, which means it looks fantastic on all devices, included small screens like iPhones and Android phones.
One thing that makes NextGEN Pro awesome is their pricelist feature. You can create unlimited pricelists, assign one to a gallery and the override individual photos with a different pricelist or make it not for sale.
But what’s missing, at the moment, is print lab integration. That’s a big thing that is and will prevent some photographers from switching from Smugmug and Zenfolio type platforms over to a 100% WordPress solution. Lab integration is in the works and it’s going to be awesome!
You can see an example of an ecommerce gallery in my Places portfolio.
Here is an example of a proofing gallery.
Step 5. Start selling your photos on WordPress. With a fast host, a pretty website and a plugin designed for you to sell photographs you are good to go! It doesn’t take much and know that there are people to help get you there. If you purchase hosting, a theme or plugins be sure to contact their support staff when you run into questions. That’s what they’re there for.
Bonus Step. If you are like me then you manage your photographs inside of Adobe Lightroom. There is a $15 Lightroom plugin called NextGEN Gallery Export for Lightroom. The plugin allows you to create and manage NextGEN Galleries within Lightroom. You can even make changes offline and publish when you’re back online.
I mentioned earlier that there are some items needed to sell photos with WordPress. So now I want to wrap up this article with restating those points, but including where to go to get the solutions.
- Fast server – Imagely starting at $24.95/mo
- Reliable website uptime- Imagely
- Beautiful galleries – NextGEN Gallery which is free
- Mobile ready – NextGEN Gallery
- Ability to sell in public galleries – NextGEN Pro which is between $79 and $99 depending on the sale
- Ability to sell in private galleries – NextGEN Pro
- Ability to proof photos- NextGEN Pro
- Multiple pricelists w/ manual override- NextGEN Pro
- Print lab(s) integrated- Coming to NextGEN Pro
I’d love to see how you’re selling your photos and to read about your reasons for choosing what you did. Please comment to share!