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Author Topic: A new way of self-hosted sites - demo launching today!  (Read 7300 times)

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« on: January 16, 2019, 03:59 »
+11
Hi guys,

Some of you might remember that I posted in here months back about some questions regarding a self-hosted platform. Today we are launching our new self-hosted platform. But more importantly, we are also announcing a new product that we are planning to make available to all photographers out there that can change the way you showcase and sell your images.

To give you a bit of perspective, Im going to take you back in time to about a year ago when I started looking for a solution to a problem: How could I license my images directly to my clients?

I felt like I needed a platform where I had 100% control. A place where I could curate my own work and make sure that my clients would see the pictures I felt best represented us. Also, when clients emailed me directly to purchase images, I felt frustrated when I had to then send them on to agencies who would take 70-85% of the royalties.

So I started researching different solutions to build a self-hosted platform. I wanted a site that looked great and was effective whilst easy to use and maintain. Plus, with a portfolio of more than 20 000 images, I needed something that made it super easy to upload and manage all these assets.

I quickly found that there wasnt really any perfect platform out there that could do this. 

During my research, I stumbled upon Shopify. For those of you who dont know, Shopify is an ecommerce platform that offers tons of customisation options. Shopify would provide me with the control that I was looking for, but it didnt really seem to be built for handling thousands of digital products - and that was a big problem.

In our tests, we found out that to put our products on Shopify would take about 10-15 minutes per item. After a few calculations I realised that it would take me about 173 days of non-stop work to get my entire portfolio online. No thanks! I quickly but reluctantly abandoned this idea and went back to looking for another option. None of them felt right. I guess I had fallen in love with all the possibilities of Shopify.

One of the things thats so great about Shopify is that it has its own app store that lets third-party developers make all kinds of features that you can install on your shop. This made me realise that there might be a way to make it work after all. What if we could make a tool that could automate the uploading process that would otherwise take me 173 days to do?

I met with a friend of mine whos a super talented programmer just to get an idea of what it would take. He made it clear that it was no easy task. Something that looks so simple isnt actually that simple when you have to make a computer do it. After some consideration, we decided to give it a try. We started building an app.

At the same time, there were other challenges. Shopifys built-in themes were simply not made for browsing thousands of stock photos. By now Id also looked through 100s of third-party themes out there with no luck in finding something that was just right.  So we also needed a storefront design built from scratch. I started asking around for talented Shopify designers and luckily found one who had previously created some of the most stunning Shopify shops that Id seen. We teamed up and he started building the storefront design.

Fast forward to January 2019. Its now been more than half a year since we began the process. A process that clearly proved to be more complicated than we anticipated at the beginning. But I believe we have created something really good. Something that enables photographers to use the power of the worlds leading ecommerce platform.

Our new store (http://store.jacoblund.com) was made possible entirely because of the app. We are not fully there yet - the app still needs tweaks and there are additional features we are planning to add. Soon well invite a few people in for a beta testing program, so we can get more user feedback from other photographers.

If you are interested in the app or the beta testing program please visit http://pixify.landen.co.

Very best,
Jacob


csm

« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2019, 05:09 »
0
Would it work for video clips?
Great looking website.
I love your work!

« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2019, 06:33 »
+3
Would it work for video clips?
Great looking website.
I love your work!
Yes it will. It's one of the things we are working on right now - it's just a bit more complicated handling video. But we are getting there!

« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2019, 07:20 »
0
Looks great! I am interested

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2019, 07:46 »
+1
I'd love to test it, I have multiple websites that I own or manage.

Found answer to the question: Shopify Buy Button lets merchants generate an embeddable product card and checkout that can be placed on any type of website.

But still, will this run on my website or is it Shopify only?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 08:40 by Uncle Pete »

« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2019, 07:56 »
0
Hi Jacob,
not really for me (don't have that much files to have own shop), but congrats on very professionally looking product! Very well done, best of luck with it!

« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2019, 08:04 »
+2
Compliment for the site! super! very well thought.
Few years ago i made my website to sell images, but few months after I gave up, to much time to care...speaking of difficulties I know what you mean :-)
Compliment also for the endurance.
Are you thinking of any synergy among photographers and/or illustrators on the Shopify platform?
That could be a very good alternative to the agencies.

« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2019, 11:38 »
0
Are you thinking of any synergy among photographers and/or illustrators on the Shopify platform?
That could be a very good alternative to the agencies.

That would definitely be an option. But baby steps. Now we just have to get basic functionality to be 100% on point. :)

« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2019, 12:08 »
0
...wrong message
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 12:10 by jonbull »

« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2019, 12:39 »
0
Your site looks great - congrats on getting this set up

Couple of general questions about what you propose for other photographers potentially interested in this platform. What about costs?

I looked at Shopify's site and it says their basic plan is $29 per month. What are you charging on top of that for your tools? If we currently have a hosting service, does yours work with that or does it mean establishing a site on Shopify's servers (you can tell I don't know much about Shopify!)?

Lastly, your information page on Pixify mentions a drag and drop uploader; is FTP also an option?

angelawaye

  • Eat, Sleep, Keyword. Repeat

« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2019, 17:35 »
+4
Wow, it looks AMAZING. Very clean and easy to use.

I would love to try it but my problem is finding the customers to buy my work directly. Are you advertising anywhere?

« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2019, 20:50 »
0
Wow, it looks AMAZING. Very clean and easy to use.

I would love to try it but my problem is finding the customers to buy my work directly. Are you advertising anywhere?

I find this hard to start at $29 a month without the income to pay for that. Somebody with more and different might get enough to break even after a year. I would like to know about advertising ideas.

« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2019, 21:19 »
0
Looks great. But when you work with a lot of files, especially videos, ftp upload is a must.

« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2019, 09:24 »
0
Thanks for your feedback and questions.

Jo Ann Snover and alan b traehern
Regarding PRICING: Shopify plans starts at $29. The Pixify app will also have a recurring charge to cover costs of running servers, hosting, etc. We haven't started looking at what the price for the app will be, as we need more time testing what server configurations we need when we start to have multiple users on the app. I'm aware that many people compare this to Symbiostock - in that case it's probably going to be more expensive. But it's also going to be more plug and play. And once you are started - you are on a very powerful ecommerce platform with tons of apps that can help you improve your store.

For me personally this was a no-brainer. A recurring cost of $29 (+whatever the app costs will be) for having our own platform where we can showcase all our work is AMAZING. To me it's just one of those costs of running a photography business, and compared to what we spend on shoots and cameras, computers, etc. I believe this provides quite a lot of value.

We are looking into FTP-upload as well.

« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2019, 10:26 »
+15
The platform can be the most excellent out there, but in order to self-host, people need to understand that a huge marketing/advertising effort is required to bring customers to the site. Just because you build it, and the photographer builds it, doesnt mean they will come. I dont think photographers are looking to showcase their work...I am pretty sure most want sales. I tried three different platforms while I was knee deep into microstock. I spent so much time working on the site and finding ways to sell the images, there was no time to actually do what I enjoyed...taking photographs. Sure, there will be some who can afford to hire someone to do the website crap while they shoot, but not sure that represents the majority. But all the best to those who try.

angelawaye

  • Eat, Sleep, Keyword. Repeat

« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2019, 10:43 »
+4
Totally agree with Cathy!

« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2019, 10:55 »
0
Looks great! Nice work!

I have around 3000 Videos and 3500 images, constantly growing. Does this small size could be worth it? What do you think?
What about different video framerates? Is your app able to convert in different framerates automatically?

Best regards,

Martin

« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2019, 04:53 »
+2
Looks great! Nice work!

I have around 3000 Videos and 3500 images, constantly growing. Does this small size could be worth it? What do you think?
What about different video framerates? Is your app able to convert in different framerates automatically?

Best regards,

Martin
We are still working on video. I don't think there will be any conversions going on as this is quite a heavy thing to build at this stage. But we are planning that you would be able to upload a file and have a thumbnail video generated automatically for putting on Shopify. The original video would be stored as the one clients would get when purchasing your video.

Whether or not it would be worth it is obviously 100% up to you. Personally as a photographer I decided to get this solution, because I wanted to have a place that I could lead clients to if they wanted to browse my content. I felt it was frustrating to lead people to my portfolio on the stock agencies, where I would give away 80% of the commission and furthermore not have any control of how our work was presented. I decided that whether or not this shop would become profitable it would have a lot of value for me in terms of presenting our work on our own platform - whether it would be for clients, models, or other people we collaborate with.

« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2019, 05:55 »
+4
The platform can be the most excellent out there, but in order to self-host, people need to understand that a huge marketing/advertising effort is required to bring customers to the site. Just because you build it, and the photographer builds it, doesnt mean they will come. I dont think photographers are looking to showcase their work...I am pretty sure most want sales. I tried three different platforms while I was knee deep into microstock. I spent so much time working on the site and finding ways to sell the images, there was no time to actually do what I enjoyed...taking photographs. Sure, there will be some who can afford to hire someone to do the website crap while they shoot, but not sure that represents the majority. But all the best to those who try.
Shutterstock spend 25%+ of their income on marketing if you have your own site you need to spend a similar amount  of your time on this.

« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2019, 07:15 »
+3
I use PhotoShelter.  I spend about $20 a month, I think.

« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2019, 09:05 »
+6
As I had mentioned a long time ago (figured I knew where you were going with this, I was pretty accurate)... most stock photographers/videographers don't really care about "uploading" their content, they care about *sales*.

If you can figure out how to make more *sales* (more specifically - a "healthy profit" after paying expenses) - then you'll have a winner.

But shopify - to do anything "reasonable" - is actually a *very* expensive platform. Once you start using their plugins/addons/etc - you'll be looking at paying at least $200-$250 USD/month, if not more.

If you can't show how a stock photographer is going to start making that (I'd say at least $500/month - to compensate for the time in setting it up/etc)  - you'll have a difficult time selling it.

It looks 'nice' - but profit is what matters.

« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2019, 09:11 »
+2
Also - reading your notes - you are "lucky" in a way that you already have an established clientelle.

If you have clients "looking" for your work - then yes - it makes sense for you to direct them to your website. You'll take more home.

It would have been better to develop a one-time payment wordpress plugin as opposed to shopify. I know the recurring income is 'nice' - but again - getting people to buy it/use it is an entirely different thing. Plus - you have more control of your data - whereas there are some issues with using shopify as an intermediary. Also - there are already a lot of 'photo' wordpress templates readily available, for $25-$50 as a 'one-time' fee (as opposed to $25/MONTH), which are also a *lot* easier to set up than shopify's interface.

I would make an educated guess that most of the stock photographers here not only have never seen the inside of a studio (or even ever owned one) - but simply work from home. I believe most don't have an established clientelle familiar with their work.

Good luck though, but I believe you have your work cut out for you.

« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2019, 09:23 »
+2
My symbiostock shop is still hanging off my site.  I have no links to it anywhere.  Two weeks ago I got a sale from it.  I had to figure out where the money came from, lol.  No idea how they got there.

« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2019, 09:30 »
+1
Also - reading your notes - you are "lucky" in a way that you already have an established clientelle.

If you have clients "looking" for your work - then yes - it makes sense for you to direct them to your website. You'll take more home.

It would have been better to develop a one-time payment wordpress plugin as opposed to shopify. I know the recurring income is 'nice' - but again - getting people to buy it/use it is an entirely different thing. Plus - you have more control of your data - whereas there are some issues with using shopify as an intermediary. Also - there are already a lot of 'photo' wordpress templates readily available, for $25-$50 as a 'one-time' fee (as opposed to $25/MONTH), which are also a *lot* easier to set up than shopify's interface.

I would make an educated guess that most of the stock photographers here not only have never seen the inside of a studio (or even ever owned one) - but simply work from home. I believe most don't have an established clientelle familiar with their work.

Good luck though, but I believe you have your work cut out for you.
To be clear thats where my 25% comment came from...its not just about promoting the site on the web its building your "brand" networking, getting noticed, talked about, sought after etc etc. That's as big a skill (at least) as being a good photographer.

« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2019, 09:37 »
0
instagram presence nowadays is fundamental...i'd say it count 80% of success for a direct website...without it good luck. so before make a strong insta feed then a direct website.

in the past i was impressed by this website...tried their free prograM, FULL OF OPTION AND NOT VERY EXPENSIVE PLUS the template look very good..

https://www.photodeck.com/plans/

maybe somebody know it and used it .

it would be nice to ke a little guide for the different possibility to sell direct

i think we have

1- wordpress plus pluie
2 smugmuh photo shelter photodec kind of website
3-shopify


« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2019, 04:46 »
0
I've sent out a newsletter today explaining a little more details about what we are aiming to do with Pixify and some information about our beta test.

If anyone is interested it can be read here:
https://mailchi.mp/ad96271f08ad/what-does-pixify-actually-do

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2019, 09:14 »
+1
Hi Jacob

I went to your newsletter and then to your own site. Very smart and modern looking. But I scrolled to the bottom of the page and was looking at the footer when the screen froze. My other Chrome tabs were fine. It started working again and I looked at a specific image and it froze again - I was trying to press "Extended" but nothing worked. After a while, it starts again. Don't know if this is a server issue, but worth looking at.

On the more general point, I still have my Symbiostock (Version 2) site and it works fine. I recently moved it to a new hosting company to give myself some more storage for new images, but sales are rubbish - one or two a year. I only keep it because I put so much effort into it (and I know that make zero business sense but I'm attached to it!)

Steve

« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2019, 09:29 »
0
Hi Jacob

I went to your newsletter and then to your own site. Very smart and modern looking. But I scrolled to the bottom of the page and was looking at the footer when the screen froze. My other Chrome tabs were fine. It started working again and I looked at a specific image and it froze again - I was trying to press "Extended" but nothing worked. After a while, it starts again. Don't know if this is a server issue, but worth looking at.

On the more general point, I still have my Symbiostock (Version 2) site and it works fine. I recently moved it to a new hosting company to give myself some more storage for new images, but sales are rubbish - one or two a year. I only keep it because I put so much effort into it (and I know that make zero business sense but I'm attached to it!)

Steve

The site works fine for me when I use the latest version of Chrome. I have no problem on Android either. Very clean and stylish looking layout btw.

« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2019, 09:49 »
0
I went to your newsletter and then to your own site. Very smart and modern looking. But I scrolled to the bottom of the page and was looking at the footer when the screen froze. My other Chrome tabs were fine. It started working again and I looked at a specific image and it froze again - I was trying to press "Extended" but nothing worked. After a while, it starts again. Don't know if this is a server issue, but worth looking at.

Thanks for the feedback Steve. It's definitely something I'll look into and see if we can try to replicate. Everything you see in your browser is hosted on Shopify, so servers should't be an issue. But thanks for letting me know.

On the more general point, I still have my Symbiostock (Version 2) site and it works fine. I recently moved it to a new hosting company to give myself some more storage for new images, but sales are rubbish - one or two a year. I only keep it because I put so much effort into it (and I know that make zero business sense but I'm attached to it!)

Yeah as I mentioned in the newsletter - beating agencies won't be realistic and it should't be the objective. But if you can at least offer some additional service that people don't get at the big stock agencies, then maybe you can start attracting some returning customers.

« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2019, 14:07 »
0
I visited your website!
Great look and nice photos!
All the best for you.
 :)

« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2019, 05:03 »
0
I've been thinking about this kind of problems for a while too. The agencies take too much percentage from us. I'm definitely in for this project!

« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2019, 11:11 »
0
That's one gutsy move to start your own business in such a competitive branch as the stock industry is. Hope everything is going well with this project.

« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2019, 14:09 »
+1
Very Impressed with You and your Ideas. Looking forward to any new Info..... I passed along a Link to some good Veteran Friends.
Laurin


 

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