How To Sell Photos With WordPress In 5 Easy Steps
How To Sell Photos With WordPress In 5 Easy Steps

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.

  1. Fast server
  2. Reliable website uptime
  3. Beautiful galleries
  4. Mobile ready
  5. Ability to sell in public galleries
  6. Ability to sell in private galleries
  7. Ability to proof photos
  8. Multiple pricelists w/ manual override
  9. 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.

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.

Imagely offers a free plan, but you can upgrade anytime!

Step 2. Pick a WordPress theme that suits your taste and brand. There are many photography themes out there, but Imagely’s hosting platform comes preloaded with a lot of beautiful themes ready to use.

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. Imagely also preloads NextGEN Gallery so you’re good on that front.

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!

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.

Wrap Up

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.

  1. Fast server – Imagely starting at $24.95/mo
  2. Reliable website uptime- Imagely
  3. Beautiful galleries – NextGEN Gallery which is free
  4. Mobile ready – NextGEN Gallery
  5. Ability to sell in public galleries – NextGEN Pro
  6. Ability to sell in private galleries – NextGEN Pro
  7. Ability to proof photos- NextGEN Pro
  8. Multiple pricelists w/ manual override- NextGEN Pro
  9. 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!

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I use the NextGenPro on my site, Do you know of a plug in to add promotional codes to the shopping cart? I would also like to know if there is a way to display the regular price of an item with the sales prices when sales occur, so consumers can see the discount they are getting.

    1. The team is working on adding coupon code options. For offering sales currently you could put the regular price in with the product description.

  2. Hi Scott

    Great info – I’ve been looking into using a different platform than Zenfolio as I never liked the ordering system.

    I use WordPress (and also help others set up their own websites so will need a larger/reseller hosting plan) so using the funds I would pay to continue Zenfolio could be put towards a better hosting plan – my main issue would be size of hosting and protection of images that I’ve uploaded – I was wondering if I could use this system with lower res images so potential customers can view the photographs and pick out prints/size etc to purchase – I then organise the printing of the hires myself once I’ve received the order /payment information.

    I have a huge collection Zenfolio – 15GB! (it does need resorting/culling) but I also have a collection of portfolio images that wont be for sale.

    Trying to find an easier solution that wont cost a fortune is giving me a headache :-)

    any tips/thoughts – thank you for the article, very helpful!

  3. Earlier in 2015 it was mentioned that print lab integration was on the list of improvements for the pro interface. I was curious if this was moving forward, specifically with regards to WHCC.

    1. It’s in development. No ETA on it, but the 1st two labs will be WHCC and ProDPI.

  4. Hi,
    Does it allow vendor to upload image for sell? If not then is there any plugin for it?

    1. It allows the site owner to upload and sell whatever images he/she wants.

      1. What size images should I upload for sale?

        1. I upload full size, 300DPI images. Because NextGEN Gallery has a system to backup original images securely, and resize images displayed on the front end. So NextGEN Pro sells images based off the original full size image.

  5. Any status on the ProDPI integration?
    I desperately need some type of print shop integration

    1. Plans shifted a bit when WHCC acquired ProDPI. Now the integration is with WHCC but ProDPI products will still be available. ETA is October just before PhotoPlus Expo. Fingers crossed!

      1. What should I do? I’m very new to the Photography game, and I need to finalize my printer. I was going to go with Nations Photo Lab, but then I seen that there will be integration with ProDPI. Now it’s WHCC…
        Can you give any details as to what the integration would entail. I’m basing a lot of the structure of my business on the operations and functionality of this plugin. I love the plugin, but I’m running into a lot of extra stuff I hadn’t planned. Stuff like ability to print directly from the original backup uploads; uploading to an CDN such as Amazon S3 instead of my small 100GB hosting package; and issues with different Featured images for different albums instead of the single PAGE featured image.

        Of course, the biggest things is the integration. Is it a feature set worth basing my print shop selection on?

        1. The print lab integration will be seamless to what you’re already doing in NextGEN Pro. The major difference would be that there will be organization by product type in the Pro Lightbox ecommerce panel. I for one am looking forward to it. Saving me print and delivery time without the added fees of other platforms offering lab integration.

          1. I’m assuming the client will be able to select what prints they want that are offered by WHCC? So my pricelist would become automatic of some sort?

            Is there a BETA sign-up? I’m not sure I can wait that long. I am having the worst time trying to allow album prints from my website. Between ALL of the options and variations of paper, there is no clear way to create a pricelist at the moment.

            If there is no BETA, how would you recommend I setup my pricelist? Right now I have basic 5×7, 8×10, 10×12, etc. No paper options and only about 10 selections for print size. Not sure how it should be done, but I would love to sell a metal print or a canvas print at one time or another.

  6. HI,

    I’m new to WordPress and NextGen Gallery and trying to setup a website for my girlfriend who’s a starting photographer.
    What I find unclear – in the NextGen Ecommerce – for the viewers of the website is the fact that if they want to sell a photo they need to click on that shoppingcar-icon (that is very small)
    I think that you have the same idea about that because in your example ( you have some bold text to point the viewers to that icon.
    That’s a very good idea and I will also use something like that!

    But when you click on a photo on that website that photo is shown and the pricelist immediately visible (without clicking the shoppingcar icon), how did you manage that?
    Because that is even better the some text to point the viewer to that icon


    1. There are things you can do, like increasing the size of the trigger icon (if you want those displayed) or have the e-commerce panel load by default when the Pro Lightbox is opened. I just choose not to.

  7. Hey Scott,

    Your CMS management suite for Photograpghers has been on my radar for a while and I have been following your podcast with great interest.
    As you are aware the MAIN tool missing in that workflow is a Photo Lab integration…and so far the only serious options are through Photoshelter, Smugmug or Zenfolio.
    I am in the process of setting up myself online with a blog with the goal to have a SEAMLESS integration with galleries, proofing and selling, but I don’t want the hasstle of sending my customers to Photoshelter through a link on a “Galleries” tab on my top menu bar (and the nightmare and cost to code-reformat my Photoshelter site to the look of my WordPress site)….so an offer from NextGen to have the first truly online integrated Photo Lab (with a network of local international labs…I am based in London UK and would of course serve mostly local clients) would be a godsend.
    I will have to choose very soon…

    So my question is: do you have an ETA for your Lab Integration offering?? And will it be a standalone plugin option ?
    Cheers an thanks again for the truly informative and entertaining podcast!Keep the good work.


    1. Lab integration is now in internal beta. So it’s nearly there.

  8. Hi Scott,

    In your Places gallery (which is beautiful BTW), how did you get those overlaid icons? Is that a NextGen Pro feature? Also, when you say I have the option of increasing the size of the trigger icon, what do you mean?

    1. NextGEN Pro offers hover captions and social icons. The trigger icons can be resized using some basic custom CSS.

  9. Scott – it’s been almost a year since you mentioned that lab integration is in beta testing. Seriously considering making the jump and using NextGen. Can you provide a status update on photo lab integration?

    1. It’s been a long project, due to the complexity of ensuring print lab integration can work in any environment that hosts a WordPress site. But we’re almost there. We don’t have an ETA as we never know what other curves will be thrown in our development road. We’re hoping real soon!

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