You must be careful in choosing where you display your images online. The site itself forms part of your audience’s first impression of you and your work. You should be conscious of this whether you intend to sell your images online, or simply use those images as tools to market to clients. The platform you use will tell potential clients a lot about you.
To help make sure you know who their audience is, here’s a look at a few of the more popular online galleries.
One of the biggest sites on the internet, Flickr is a basic website that integrates well with simple to professional photo editing software programs, as well as with smart phones and various social media platforms. Just about anyone who is interested in sharing pictures on the Internet uses it, from photographers interested in improving their own skills to families sharing pictures of the kids with grandma. Most images feature EFIX info, so you can see what settings were used.
If you allow everyone to see your images and tag them appropriately, you will get lots of comments and feedback from the Flickr community. But on the flipside, its privacy settings give you great control over who sees your images. If you don’t have a website yet and want to direct potential clients to a place to see your work, Flickr is a great place to be.
A relative newbie to the online gallery world, Redbubble focuses mainly on helping users sell images with an emphasis on artistry; “Living Art: Share It, Wear It, Hang It” is their tag line. Their audience is made up of more serious photographers, their site is more professional-looking, and it features a wealth of informative articles created by the community (No EFIX info here, however, since it does not upload with the images).
Membership is free, but the Redbubble “store” will take a 50% cut of what you sell. You can set your own prices, though, and they offer a number of products and services, printing and shipping included.
I wouldn’t hesitate to direct clients to Redbubble or put it on my website or business cards. It is easy to navigate, and because of how well it works with programs like LR, Aperture and Picasa, it is easy to upload galleries. If you like a site that can help you sell your work, and do it with a little personality, this one rocks.
Smugmug offers it all – personalized website, protected galleries, and sales – for a price. $150 per year gets you a site you have complete creative control over, both in terms of its appearance and whether or not you want to allow “sharing,” whether or not the images are password protected, are easily found on search engines, etc. You also get to set your own prices for your images (There are two pricing options that cost less, but they don’t let you set prices on your images).
If you need a professional website to direct clients to, or if you don’t want to hassle with print orders and shipping, Smugmug is great value because of their partnership with Bay Photo, a top notch print company based in Santa Cruz, California. In addition to the print services, you’ll find lots of tech support when you have a question that falls outside their FAQ. Their “Support Heroes” answer quickly and thoroughly.
You may find that you can utilize more than one of these sites. Some of your images might belong on one site, while others belong on another. No matter which combination you use, they are invaluable marketing tools that will let people know where to find you and show off your best work.