This is a guest post from Imogen Reed.
There are many online providers who will handle your portfolio and help promote your photographic stock to the marketplace. It is important to be able to look at the various options and measure up the best provider for your particular requirement. Whether you are selling high end artistic portraits or just simple effective shots of table lamps there are many perils and pitfalls out there and you need to measure up all the key ingredients of cost, storage, accessibility and appearance to make an informed choice for you and for the people who want to buy your pictures.
Do I need my own website?
To have complete authorial control over the presentation of your portfolio constructing your own website is a desirable option, but not always a must. There are plenty of design companies who will do this for you, but when you look at the final product you might be forgiven for wondering how many levels of Chinese whispers your proposals must have gone through before they ended up looking as they have. You can always purchase a domain and build the site yourself, but the process is time consuming, the software is often difficult to work with and you may end up settling for something which is not quite what you wanted in the first place.
In the current fast changing face of this second generation Internet having your own website is no longer a must. It is possible to promote your work via a blog or Facebook or twitter and then outsource a company to handle the watermarking storage and processing of those all important sales. Connecting the various posts, threads, discussions and ultimately customers to your stock can be a tricky process and it is important that if you chose to outsource your storage and sales that the click to find your pictures is as simple a process as can be possible.
Instaproof is one of several options on the market like iStockphoto, which offers you the benefit of have some handle your storage and sales whilst leaving you at the business end of a camera doing what it is that you do best. It is not the best option for everyone and although there are no initial costs if your business does upscale then the slice that you lose makes it a less favourable option, but certainly for fledgling businesses it does provide a less expensive method for gaining a foothold.
How does it work?
Creating an account is simple, just head to instaproofs.com, click on sign up and follow the process through. It literally only takes a few minutes and you really only need an email address. From that point you can begin uploading images to the site. One clear advantage here is that there are no initial costs, and there is no limit on storage or bandwidth. There is a time limit of 270 days but this does give you plenty of time to set your own promotional wheels on motion and to start directing potential customers to your stock.
The company have worked with their clients to try and improve the sales process so they have a number of built in features which you can use if you want to improve the prospects of selling your work. Features that you can use from the site include automated sale and discount notifications, social bookmarking, photo forwarding, exportable visitor lists, and a referral commission program, but be aware that these do come at a cost and will reduce the mark up you make on each of the images that you sell.
Are my images secure via instaproofs?
Nothing can guarantee total security and once your pictures can be viewed by the web there is always the possibility via screen shot and secondary software that someone will be able to reproduce the image elsewhere. Instaproof does include a number of tools to try and restrict access to your work and allows you to be involved in this process. You can choose where to watermark your images, have the right click feature disabled and password protect certain events or images to ensure direct clients are the only ones who can access selected groups of images.
There are a host of other features within the website which make their 15% commission seem like a very reasonable cut. A major downside is the level of competition. There are a lot of very competent practitioners using the site so directing a customer to have a look may leave you in danger of sending a client elsewhere.