Lately, there has been a big push to get photographers back into In Person Sales (IPS) and selling prints. There are whole Facebook groups and educational courses devoted to this subject. I do believe that IPS is a solid way to help your clients make good decisions and make more money, but IPS isn’t for everyone. Some of us just don’t have the time to meet after every shoot, live too far away from our clients, or just don’t enjoy the pressure of selling to do IPS. I’m one of those people, so instead I use an online gallery system to show my clients their photos and to sell prints.
An Online Gallery System that Works: ShootProof Review
For quite some time, I was using the built in gallery system on my website. This worked decently, but there just weren’t enough options, and the galleries looked dated and well, ugly. That’s when I found ShootProof, and it and has made a huge difference in my photography business. ShootProof has solved several of my problems, made my life easier, and has helped me earn more money. I highly recommend it.
If an online gallery is the main way my clients are seeing their images, I need it to look amazing. Yes, the pictures are the main thing, but still I believe a bad design will affect the overall presentation and feel. Before ShootProof, my online gallery was very plain and the previews were small. ShootProof galleries look great. It’s a very clean look without a lot of distractions. The previews are large and easy to see. Also, it might seem a little strange, but I like that the images aren’t all lined up in perfect rows. I feel like I’d get bored just scrolling through them and seeing the same pattern over and over again. Having them offset switches things up visually.
Another great thing about the galleries is you can customize them to fit your style and brand. The first thing your visitors will see is your Intro page. This is just the basic information about the gallery and preview image, but you can switch up the look of it with 5 different choices. With the gallery page and the layout of the images, there are two different settings: cascade and subway. Cascade appears to make the vertical images larger than the horizontal while subway does the opposite. To take things even further, you can use logos and create color settings to use with each gallery. If you have multiple brands or maybe just want to use different colors for different types of photography, you can! All of this control allows you to create beautiful galleries that fit your company.
Within each gallery is the the option to view it as a slideshow. This wouldn’t be great for all situations, but it might be nice if the amount of photos is low. One fun feature of the slideshows is you can add a custom music playlist to each one. The downside is you can’t upload your own music; you have to pay a subscription. Still, if you planned on using the slideshow feature often, the $5-10 a month would be worth it.
These days more and more people are using their phones for everything, including looking at photos. It is extremely important that your online gallery looks just as good on a phone as it does on a computer. ShootProof takes care of it all for you automatically. Every gallery you create will automatically adjust when it is viewed on a phone. That means no badly cropped photos or images too small to see.
Not only do you have control over how the galleries look, you have control over the settings and how the galleries work for your clients. This is so important because not everyone is going to use the galleries in the same way, and you might even change things up from one gallery to the next.
If you plan on using ShootProof all the time and creating hundreds of galleries, then you’ll love the ability to organize everything. There are a few ways of organizing things, so I’ll try to give a few examples. Initially what you create is called a gallery. Now, within that gallery, you can create albums to further break things down. For example, I might make one gallery for every wedding client, and within that, I would have an engagement album and a wedding album. That’s just one way of doing it. If I really wanted to keep things organized, I could make a 2018 wedding gallery. Then, I would make albums for each couple and sub albums for the different shoots. The only issue at all with this is your initial gallery settings such as color scheme, the website link, and pricing will be set the same for them all. There’s no way to change it for each individual album.
When you put people’s photos online, there will be plenty of people worried about their privacy. They might not want the world looking at their photos. The good news is that in ShootProof you have complete control over privacy of each gallery. You can choose to put a password on a gallery or even make it hidden and only accessible through a direct link. As I mentioned, most settings are copied to all of the albums, but one great thing is that you can set passwords individually for each album. This is extremely important to me because when I do school photos, I organize the students by classes and each child has an album. I have to be able to secure each album and make sure only the right people can view those photos.
You also want to be able to protect your photos and your sales. I know I’ve seen plenty of people post images that were a screenshot. When you upload your images, you can choose to put a watermark on it. You’re able to customize it, so you can make it as big or visible as you want and control what it says. People still might steal images, but at least my name will be all over it.
Another small but important setting is the ability to set the start and expiration date. If you create galleries in advance and want to release them on a certain date, all you have to do is set the release date. That means you can create a bunch of galleries and they will automatically open at that date. I tend to create all these galleries and then forget about them. To fix this, I set an expiration date, so the gallery won’t sit there until I get around to moving it. Two different things can happen when a gallery expires. One, it expires and just sits there or two, it gets archived. We’ll go into this more when we talk about pricing, but archiving it is a cheap way to have the photos saved and not have them count against your total photos. If they just expire, it still will count against your total photos, but the album will at least be moved to the bottom of your view and not be accessible to clients.
When I initially started using online galleries I did it mainly to have my clients select photos. Now, though, I use it for so many other reasons, mainly selling and delivering products.
If you do decide to use ShootProof for sales, there are some options that make it very powerful, one being the pricing sheets. First, you can create different price sheets. For each price sheet, you can choose the products you’d like to offer and the prices. This means you can offer one set of products for something like family portraits and something completely different for school photos. When creating a gallery, you simply select which price sheet you want to use. I also love that they have a built in function that shows you how much you will make from each product and it can even suggest prices for you.
Second, you can create sales, packages, and discount codes. We all know people will spend more if they feel like they’re getting a deal. There are a lot of options like discounts if they spend a certain amount or free shipping. It’s been very helpful.
Once you’ve gotten the pricing set up, ShootProof can take care of the rest of the selling process. When a client purchases a product, ShootProof can process the payment. There's no need to go to Paypal or some other way of sending money. It’s done right there. If it’s something a little more involved, you can also create and sign contracts and create invoices, all in ShootProof. The great thing about that is you can do everything in one spot. You aren’t having to go to three different programs to take care of it. The only issue I’ve seen is that there aren’t any contracts included for free. You can create your own or you can buy some from their marketplace.
Most of you already know this, but you have to keep in contact with people when it comes to sales. Very few people are going to buy something on their first visit. Most people will look at something and then get distracted and go do something else. This happens to me all the time. You need to keep reminding these people, so they will come back and finish the sale. Luckily, ShootProof has made this easy. One setting you can use in each gallery is that the user has to enter an email address to enter. From there, ShootProof will gather information about their activity. Did they buy something, put something in the cart and not finish the sale, or plenty of other things. Through ShootProof, you can send out emails targeting the visitors to the gallery or even visitors that did certain actions.
This works! I’ve sent out reminder emails to visitors that hadn’t made purchases, and within minutes, more sales came in. People just need to be reminded.
What if you’re like me, though, and you’re busy and don’t have time to send out a bunch of emails. It gets even better. You can create an automated email system through ShootProof! All you have to do is create a set of emails and conditions and ShootProof will send them out. They also include templates, so you can use them or create your own. I use this automated email system with wedding guests. I’ve got a whole set of emails that get sent out giving reminders and even discounts, and these get sent over a few weeks, and I don’t have to do any work.
All of these things are very helpful, but you still need stats on the sales. A good chunk of information can be found in the Dashboard section. At the top you have notifications about orders, so you can see what’s recent. Then, at the bottom you have a chart that quickly shows you your monthly sales and a another chart that shows where you are with orders. For more detailed information, you can go to the Reports section. From there, you can go to monthly sales where you’ll see sales, tax collected, shipping, and other details. One report that I find very helpful is Items. It shows you how much you sold of each item. It also tells you the gross sales for each item, but I wish it subtracted the cost to produce the item to give you a real idea of how much you made from each. Still, all of this is very useful information.
Time is valuable, and I try to save as much time as possible. If there’s a way to save some time, I’m all for it. ShootProof has helped me save large amounts of time with delivering digital files and ordering and shipping prints.
Over the years I’ve delivered digitals in many different ways. I’ve done email, DVDs, USB, and Dropbox. Out of those, Dropbox has been the easiest, but I think ShootProof can make it even easier. With digital downloads, you can allow people to download the entire gallery for free by just turning on a setting or with purchases of digitals, ShootProof will automatically email the files to them. If you sell different types of digitals (for prints or for social media), you can also control the size of the file and again, ShootProof takes care of the resizing for you
Selling prints is just as easy. You can choose to be involved in the printing or have the whole process taken care of by ShootProof. When making a pricing sheet, you can choose self-fulfill or choose a lab. With self-fulfill, you still have to send off the digitals to a printer and do what you'd normally do. When you choose a lab, all you have to do is confirm the order, and your print company will print it and ship it directly to the customer. ShootProof works with all of the big name printers out there, so you can use the print company you are use to and trust. I personally use Miller’s.
Ease of Use
ShootProof has all of these options, but how easy it to use? That’s what really matters right? Overall, I’ve found it simple to use. Initially you’ll have to create templates and gallery presets, but once that’s done, things move quickly.
Getting your images into the galleries is really easy, and ShootProof has several different ways to do it. Through the website, you simply create a gallery and then click on the add photos. From there, you can select the images individually or by folder. That really is an easy way to do it, but some people might prefer the other methods. If you’re a big Lightroom user, ShootProof does have a Lightroom plugin. It allows you to connect and upload images directly from your Lightroom catalogue. I’ve tried this a few times, but I didn’t really like it. To get it to work, I’d have to import the jpegs back into the catalogue, which just seems like an extra step.
The Desktop Uploader was much easier to use. You have to sign in at first, but then it’s very similar to being on the website.
I believe ShootProof is easy for clients to use as well. As we’ve already talked about, the galleries look great, they have large images, and it adjusts to mobile. Making selections is easy as well. When viewing all the images, there is a little star at the bottom of each image. Just click it and it’s saved to your favorites. Right next to the star is a cart icon. Once you click on that, a side menu opens up with purchasing options. Pretty simple.
There is so much going on within ShootProof that you’d think it’s a really expensive system. Well, not really. ShootProof has plenty of different pricing options and one of those is even free, so everyone should be able to check it out.
ShootProof structures its pricing around the amount of photos you have uploaded and in galleries. If you think you can live with only 100 photos, you can use the free version as much and as long as you want. That’s not going to work for most photographers, but at least you can jump in at that level and try it out. I’m currently using the 25,000 photo plan. I know that sounds like a ridiculous amount of photos, but I’ll often upload around 2,000 photos per wedding. Throw in engagements and other shoots, and it adds up quickly.
The real great thing about their pricing plan is you can make changes. If you find that you’re about to run out of space, you can just up to the next level. If you paid for the 5,000 level but find you don’t need it, you can jump down to the lower level.
Technically that’s the only cost for using ShootProof, but there are a few other fees I have to mention. One I mentioned earlier and that is archiving galleries. After a gallery expires, you might not want it sitting around taking up space, but then again, maybe you don't want to delete it. Archiving saves the gallery, but the photos no longer count against your plan. A gigabyte of archiving costs only $0.04 a month, but there is a minimum of $1 a month. If you plan on doing sales through ShootProof, you’ll be charged for two different things: payment processing and deposits to your bank. The big fee is the payment processing. For every transaction, they take 2.9% plus 30 cents. If someone spent $100, that means you’d pay ShootProof $2.90 plus the 30 cents. That’s the same as Paypal, but you would think it’d be a little lower since you are already paying for their services. The other fee is tiny, but I figured I should mention it. Every time you want to transfer your funds to your bank account, there is a $0.25 fee. I just wait until I have a large chunk and then do it.
I know we’ve already covered a ton of features, and it can be really overwhelming. I just wanted to share two other things ShootProof does.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve heard about a lot of people using personalized mobile apps for their clients. Stickyalbums was the first company that I was aware of. I tried it for awhile, but the cost was just too much. Well, ShootProof includes the ability to make mobile apps with your subscription! That’s right! No need to pay for it somewhere else, you get it here for free.
The other fun extra is the ShootProof Events Email app. This is a free app that lets you easily collect email address at an event and then you can email them when a gallery is ready. I love this idea for photo booths or other events. We do portraits at several galas and using this app would be a fast way to gather info and hopefully make more sales.
I love ShootProof! It has made my life easier and helped me make more money. I still don’t use every feature as much as I should, so that’s my goal for this year. I know that if I really take advantage of all the features of ShootProof things will even get better.
There are other options out there for online galleries like Pixieset and Zenfolio, but I have been so happy with ShootProof I haven’t even looked at the other options. If you don’t have an online gallery company or are looking to switch things up, I highly recommend ShootProof. Check out the free version and see what you think. I bet you’ll love it too!