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Author Topic: Selling direct via your own website  (Read 17340 times)

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SquirrelPower

« on: April 20, 2016, 10:59 »
0
Anyone have any thoughts or experience on selling video clips direct via their own e-commerce site? and the costs of having such a site built and the storage costs for a large amount of clips?.

The site and the all important SEO to get ranked on or near the front page of Google that is.

With these agencies cutting rates for both still photos and video, sales dropping, content requirements tightening up it's become a case of working for free or paying to come to work.  Looking to bypass the middleman and sell direct to customer if that's viable.

I think the only reason we all don't sell direct is we don't all know how to write code and master SEO.

When I say sell direct via own website I mean just that.  No more using these agencies. What are we missing and why can't it work and how much would it cost to make it work?


ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2016, 11:17 »
+4
IMO, the main problem with selling on your own is getting buyers to your site.
I don't think many of us have the volume of files buyers are looking for, to compete with the big sites. Plus they are already well established with SEO.
It might be different if someone had a real specialist niche, that it was unlikely others could get into (but was still in demand).

« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2016, 11:41 »
+4
I currently sell stock and prints direct. I'm going to eventually add video so I can only really comment on the direct sales part.

I use both Photodeck and Photoshelter because they met my specific requirements. Both support video but only Photodeck allows direct uploads where Photoshelter only supports a reference to a file stored elsewhere. Both sites are turnkey cloud based rental models. No coding is necessary. You sign up, pay, and you have a site ready to configure design and add video or images. Both support some SEO configuration but Photodeck's are more advanced. But SEO configuration is only part of SEO. To be successful at driving traffic and sales you really need to understand the SEO strategy or some other ways of driving traffic through social media, email marketing, or whatever.

The good news is if you can come up with a strategy for traffic, brand, pricing, target buyers, etc that there are buyers. My stock and print work is fairly unique and priced high. So I don't have a lot of sales volume but at my price point it way more than makes up for the lack of sales volume. I had a multiple print sale to a business yesterday that was $2,500.

I still have some stuff in micro but it's really only stuff that is so common that I don't think anyone would pay more than micro pricing for it.

Regarding no more agencies, I plan to have a mix of both direct and distributors. I think it's a good idea to spread sales over multiple sales channels. That way if something happens to one of them, like Google does a massive change and my site traffic drops to zero, I still have other income.

Good luck.

SquirrelPower

« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2016, 14:02 »
0
I currently sell stock and prints direct. I'm going to eventually add video so I can only really comment on the direct sales part.

I use both Photodeck and Photoshelter because they met my specific requirements. Both support video but only Photodeck allows direct uploads where Photoshelter only supports a reference to a file stored elsewhere. Both sites are turnkey cloud based rental models. No coding is necessary. You sign up, pay, and you have a site ready to configure design and add video or images. Both support some SEO configuration but Photodeck's are more advanced. But SEO configuration is only part of SEO. To be successful at driving traffic and sales you really need to understand the SEO strategy or some other ways of driving traffic through social media, email marketing, or whatever.

The good news is if you can come up with a strategy for traffic, brand, pricing, target buyers, etc that there are buyers. My stock and print work is fairly unique and priced high. So I don't have a lot of sales volume but at my price point it way more than makes up for the lack of sales volume. I had a multiple print sale to a business yesterday that was $2,500.

I still have some stuff in micro but it's really only stuff that is so common that I don't think anyone would pay more than micro pricing for it.

Regarding no more agencies, I plan to have a mix of both direct and distributors. I think it's a good idea to spread sales over multiple sales channels. That way if something happens to one of them, like Google does a massive change and my site traffic drops to zero, I still have other income.

Good luck.

Thanks, I will check those two sites out asap, to be honest I know nothing about actually doing SEO so it will be a lot to learn and fast, not just the theory but also the practical.  Need to get on the front or second page of Google I think or not worth it, how many people go ten pages deep?. 


« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2016, 16:35 »
0
I recently started with zenfolio and I like their website templates.  I don't know if they would work for videos, but I like being able to get the public site and back office up without a lot of coding.   

I'm glad to hear from somebody that is making it on their own!  I am working on gaining exposure from FB and Google ads.  I'm not sure how well the strategy will work.  I am not really targeting the typical stock buyer.   I am creating a site that will work for family and wedding clients as well as selling some work for prints and mugs, etc. 

I'd like to know what strategies people are using to target buyers, just in a generic way that won't compromise their strategy. 

I agree with Paulie about multiple distribution channels.  And most agencies allow you to post a link to your site in your port, which is pretty cool.

« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2016, 21:36 »
+1
One method a large number of us are working towards is the Symbiostock project. This is a free plugin built on WordPress that allows you to sell your own images, vectors and videos through your own website.

It provides for a lot more control than most other solutions because you host all your own stuff, control exactly how it looks, and pay no one for anything except your hosting costs.

As others have mentioned, the prospect of marketing one's own site is tremendously difficult, but not impossible. Using Facebook and Twitter, and a variety of other methods works, but you need to be steadfast in your resolve and do it continuously even when you see no results.

The amalgamation of the Symbiostock project is Symzio - check it out and take a look. This is basically a 'contributor run agency'. It means you control your pricing (for the most part), control what shows up on Symzio, and there is no screening process for individual media other than your initial application. You keep 70% of all revenue on it, and it supports vectors, images and videos.

Best of all, once you have your Symbiostock site running, if you apply to Symzio and are approved, your media gets included automatically and you don't have to do anything. The same control panel that you use to manage your own site is used for Symzio - so if you change a title or keywords, it reflects in Symzio and your individual site simultaneously.

The primary downside to Symbiostock versus some other solutions is you need to get your own host and setup your WordPress install yourself. It's not difficult for the most part, but is more involved than just signing up.

You can check out our project site at
http://www.symbiostock.org/ and visit the forum as well to get a feel for the community and ask any questions. IMO, it's the best and most scalable method moving forward as you will pretty much always remain master of your own media.

alno

« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 07:31 »
+1
There are a lot of poor sellers even among the stock sites with thousands of clips. In fact most of them are poor sellers. It's hard to belive they haven't heard of SEO and ads. The most important things buyers and especially big buyers like about pond5 and shutterstock are great choice on single site, fine legal clearance and... habit. The only thing which will work is personal site selling some kind of very special videos IMO. Urban aerials, volcanoes, African wildlife etc. It's impossible to make the second successful amazon.com with several grand in cash but you still can be nice dish or bike part seller.

« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2016, 08:42 »
0
The only thing which will work is personal site selling some kind of very special videos IMO.

I agree 100%. I inherited extremely rare historical footage. That might be worth the time and trouble selling privately but any of my own clips are best with SS.

« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 08:54 »
0
I think for it to work you really need to be working in a hard to do Niche, where regular clients will come to.
Not something which is on all the stock sites.

« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2016, 09:59 »
+2
I think for it to work you really need to be working in a hard to do Niche, where regular clients will come to.
Not something which is on all the stock sites.
I'm not sure if it has to be a hard to do niche, but it must be a niche and it has to be done well with a minimum amount of second rate material. And as someone else mentions, there needs to a good selection within the niche. Saying I'm not selling anything, therefor it must be the price, therefor I'll lower it, is the wrong approach.

Peter

« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2016, 10:49 »
0
I think if you do something special - medical shots with children and parents, engineering themes if you are an engineer, probably even really well rounded location specific shots - your hometown with real locals, special food etc..maybe you have a themed blog to go with it.

But I think you need a lot of files, to make it interesting and get people to bookmark you. As a single artist I don't think I would produce enough volume to really fill one niche.

« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2016, 10:53 »
0
anyone know sellfy or gumroad?

« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2016, 12:10 »
+2
I'd agree with all of the other comments about niche. That's why I mentioned the stuff I sell direct is somewhat unique. It has to be. You need to give a reason for buyers to come to you by offering something they can't find elsewhere.

To sell direct you need to have a clear and compelling strategy and be able to communicate that to potential buyers. "I offer [personalized service, unique images, etc] that is a benefit to buyers [because...]. If you can't complete that sentence with something that makes buyers want to buy then you most likely sell little to nothing. And by compelling, I mean something more than "because it's buying direct from the artist". How does that benefit the buyer? Goodwill? Maybe some will care but it's not overly compelling.

Think like a buyer. Media buyers go to their trusted source first (Getty, Shutterstock, whatever) and if they can't find what they need, then they start doing a Google search. Figuring out what they can't find is the key.

« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2016, 16:01 »
+1
I've been happy with Photoshelter too.

I license stock from there as well as prints, and it also helps me bring in clients for portrait and editorial work, and gives me online backup storage for all my work. The templates are easy to use and while you need to drive traffic to the site yourself if you want to make substantial sales, they bring in some traffic for you too, since there are, e.g. magazines that will go there (they can search the entire Photoshelter archive as well as an individual's site) if they can't find something on one of the agencies they use. I've gotten some $200-300 licenses that way. Others find me via google searches (all your keywords are searchable and the site is indexed by google) and of course some go to my site directly.

I've licensed traditionally priced RM images from there as well as some of my microstock work at much lower prices; you can set up any kind of pricing structure you want both for prints and for stock, they have an RM pricing calculator and licensing language on the site. Definitely worth checking out.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 16:04 by wordplanet »

Millionstock.com

  • Architecture; Arts; Historic buildings, Landscapes

« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2016, 10:18 »
+1
I'm using Symbiostock, an open source platform. It's easy to customise and the result is excellent. Also transactions are 100% safe for your customers as the payments are made via paypal.

For example I have developed my personal site using this technology. Check out my site at
www.millionstock.com

Have a nice job!

« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2016, 13:35 »
0
Nice website! Can you comment on how many direct sales you are making a month? I think you are a good example of traditional stock which most people do!


I'm using Symbiostock, an open source platform. It's easy to customise and the result is excellent. Also transactions are 100% safe for your customers as the payments are made via paypal.

For example I have developed my personal site using this technology. Check out my site at
www.millionstock.com

Have a nice job!

Millionstock.com

  • Architecture; Arts; Historic buildings, Landscapes

« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2016, 03:26 »
+1
Well, at the very beginning sales were poor, but with a good SEO and spreading around the word among friends and photographers are going better and better every day.
People that want my art now simply buy through my site.
Also transactions are 100% safe for my customers as the payments are made via paypal.

« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2016, 07:11 »
0
Good luck to you!
Any sales are welcome in these tough times.

« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2016, 07:31 »
+2
It would be nice to see a sales report from the marketer of SY. Along the lines of:
Site 1 has X images on their site. They have been online for X months. They have seen their sales increase by X percent every month. Currently, they are making approx. X sales per month.
Site 2 has X images on their site. And so on.
General dollar amounts could be given, names of sites don't need to be given.

Are there only 5 sites getting sporadic sales? Are there 100 sites showing a 50% increase in sales each month?
That would be useful data.

Contributors are looking to dump the agencies and replace the income with a sell-direct site. Without having any idea of the potential of sales, it would be difficult for most people to commit to the time and energy of starting one up.

Millionstock.com

  • Architecture; Arts; Historic buildings, Landscapes

« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2016, 11:08 »
+1
I would stay both in the agency and in the Direct-Sell business as they are not conflicting themselves.
Your own site cannot compete of course with the SEO gunfire of the agencies.
I use mainly my site to adress sales coming from people around my world, since transactions are 100% safe (made through paypal). Spreading the word and making personal marketing is essential to get some sales

cascoly

  • Photography, travel & online games at cascoly.com

« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2016, 15:51 »
+1
It would be nice to see a sales report from the marketer of SY. Along the lines of:
Site 1 has X images on their site. They have been online for X months. They have seen their sales increase by X percent every month. Currently, they are making approx. X sales per month.
Site 2 has X images on their site. And so on.
General dollar amounts could be given, names of sites don't need to be given.
...
That would be useful data.

....
while it would be useful, it's probably not even feasible, since all sym sites are independents, so there's no way to track sales;   even if there were that would be confidential, so it's up to each site owner to decide what to report

« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2016, 17:30 »
+2
It would be nice to see a sales report from the marketer of SY. Along the lines of:
Site 1 has X images on their site. They have been online for X months. They have seen their sales increase by X percent every month. Currently, they are making approx. X sales per month.
Site 2 has X images on their site. And so on.
General dollar amounts could be given, names of sites don't need to be given.
...
That would be useful data.

....
while it would be useful, it's probably not even feasible, since all sym sites are independents, so there's no way to track sales;   even if there were that would be confidential, so it's up to each site owner to decide what to report


I dont think it has to do with feasibility, and there doesnt have to be a way to track sales. How about an anonymous poll, like the ones that get posted here? There seems to be a lot of people talking up SY. That is, until it comes to useful data, then all there seems to be is a bunch of clams. :-)

SquirrelPower

« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2016, 17:29 »
0

Contributors are looking to dump the agencies and replace the income with a sell-direct site. Without having any idea of the potential of sales, it would be difficult for most people to commit to the time and energy of starting one up.
[/quote]

This is a good discussion to have especially regarding the feasibility of operating your own site, storage costs, hosting, and the all important SEO, to do it yourself or hire someone if you can't write code in your sleep and do SEO in your sleep, legal stuff, insurance, lawyers, all are needed in case someone buys something direct from you that's editorial and uses it in a movie and you get sued, there is so much involved.

It's really gotten to the point at several sites (photo and video) that it's time to give the middleman the boot and how we do that and execute it on a technical level we have to learn or go back to school and learn coding or whatever, it's doable, I have stumbled upon other privately run sites by artists, some use Shopify as well.

There is a way.  Pay cuts and tons of rejections at the agencies as they need to make massive profits now mean we are not able to make a living anymore, not even better than minimum wage for some.

Other industries have done away with the middleman so why are we still using the agencies for the sole purpose of keeping their shareholders happy? 


alno

« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2016, 14:26 »
+6

Other industries have done away with the middleman so why are we still using the agencies for the sole purpose of keeping their shareholders happy?

Because average contributor doesn't have SEO skills, advanced legal experience or even sufficient knowledge of English :) Big buyer buys not only clip but confidence as well.

SquirrelPower

« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2016, 09:22 »
0

Other industries have done away with the middleman so why are we still using the agencies for the sole purpose of keeping their shareholders happy?

Because average contributor doesn't have SEO skills, advanced legal experience or even sufficient knowledge of English :) Big buyer buys not only clip but confidence as well.

You got it and that means a lot of us might need to go back to school and take the appropriate courses to learn all of this stuff from writing code to SEO and it's not something one can learn in a week.  I am in that boat myself, I am good at photography and video but lack in coding, web design and SEO skills and it sure became evident when I now need those skills.



 

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