Update: 4-5-16 - I've been receiving a lot of email lately from people inquiring about how my experience has been in using Fotomoto. While I was using it, it worked great but that was more than 5 years ago. I like to think they'r still great but I don't have much to offer because again, I no longer sell prints.
One of the most common questions I’ve received since relaunching my site back in August has pertained to how I’ve chosen to sell my prints directly from my website. The response to several inquires has been marinating long enough on my desktop as a draft and until now I find it only proper to share my experience in using the e-commerce system I chose after having spent weeks looking for a one that wasn’t a hassle to manage and one that didn’t interfere with the overall aesthetics of the site itself.
The Old Way of Doing It
For Things Shot, I used the well-established PayPal system to collect payments for any prints sold on the site and printing and shipping was all done through the wonderful Mpix. Normally I wouldn’t object to any procedure that was required of me to ultimately receive an earning but the process of having to handle all the print fulfillments, the shipping and even payment processing became a burden. Not to mention the hassle that came from having to generate a unique code within PayPal for every photograph that was put up for sale. In my mind, there clearly had to be a more efficient way to handle a task that should be a pleasure to do especially when people have already played their part by simply considering your work worthy of purchasing.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, Level & Tap is a side project created by Tom Watson which seeks to showcase photographers and their work in a way where it brings both buyers and photographers together in a beautiful and simplistic arrangement. The purchasing system of his site functioned similarly to how Things Shot did which is where I borrowed the idea from but eventually between being tied up with doing amazing work over at Facebook and dealing with the nuisance of processing orders, Tom in the long run removed the PayPal functionality and left it up to the buyer to contact the photographer directly for the purchase of any prints. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who found the logistics of selling your photographs using PayPal system in dire need of a replacement.
What Are You Using Now?
The short answer would be Fotmoto. What is it? It’s an e-commerce system that gives independent photographers and web publishers the power to sell their work on their own site. Weren’t you doing the same by using PayPal? In essence yes but part of what makes Fotomoto superior lies in how more appropriate it feels to have an e-commerce system where you have more control of how the selling options are arranged on your site as well as delivering an experience that paints a picture of how what you’re buying can be displayed.
How does Fotomoto Work?
Video tutorials are always great and directly on the homepage, the company already does a first-class job in highlighting it’s functionality as well as illustrating the benefits gain by applying the service to your site and making it extremely effortless for your customers to purchase your photographs.
A much more cleaner, professional and innovative experience in purchasing prints.
Rather than struggle to paraphrase on how Fotomoto works, Springwise best summarizes the service:
A single line of code is all it takes to add a customizable Fotomoto toolbar, which analyzes the site’s web pages, adds a “Buy” button to each photo for sale and enables viewers to purchase and pay for photos on the spot or send them as free e-cards.
Fotomoto handles all order processing and then prints, packages and ships the purchased photos to customers. Its control panel, meanwhile, allows users to set the pricing and availability of their photos, manage their orders and even track analytics data such as how many times a particular photo has been viewed or sent as an e-card. There is no subscription fee for using the service; Fotomoto simply deducts the cost of each print sold plus a 15 percent transaction charge from each order amount, sending the rest on to the user.
Is there anything that you don’t like about the service?
I struggled to find a sharp-witted answer for this question but all I can come up with was “no”. Having been overwhelmed in dealing with PayPal in the past, Fotomoto unquestionably fulfilled every plead I had in finding a method where I could make my photographs easily purchasable.
Is there another service that you recommend?
Not really. I recommend Fotomoto wholeheartedly. The other service that I’m aware of that targets to fulfill the same purpose is SmugMug which I’m not too familiar with but right off the bat I can see that it’s costly because not only do they require you to purchase an yearly package but in addition they still take a 15-20% cut on each order. This eats into your profits considerably. With Fotomoto, there’s none of that aside from their 15% cut. Generally all that’s required of you to do is to publish photographs on your site that you’re interested in selling and they take care of the rest.
Once I’ve setup Fotomoto on my site, are there any tips or advice you can offer based on your experience in using it?
There’s a few things I’ve learned through trial and error which I’ll list for you in no particular order.
- Once Fotomoto is installed, all the images you post on your website will automatically inherit the Fotomoto Toolbar. In my case, there are times where I include photographs in a post that are not really intended to be sold but to just complement the article and for those photos, within the Fotomoto Dashboard, I have the option to remove or keep the Toolbar that offer the option to Buy a Print. As another example, my profile photograph is not something anyone would want to purchase so I made sure to remove the Fotomoto Toolbar that had originally appeared.
- To prevent any delays in the processing of orders, make sure to always upload the hi-resolution versions of all your photographs to Fotomoto. Orders can’t be processed without them. There was a time when I went away on vacation for a week and came back to see that 3 prints had sold and it was all possible without me having to do anything other than to collect my payment because the hi-resolution photographs were readily available for all to have happen seamlessly.
- More of a hallmark than a tip, the ability to generate your own coupon is by far one of my favorite features of the service. You can create as many as you want ranging from 10-50% off you’re given a unique code to share with as many people as you want which is determined by you. The system tracks how many people have used it and how many chances it has left for it to be used.
What each photo I upload to my site looks like on my Fototmoto Dashboard.
Anything else you care to share about using Fotomoto?
When I decided to add an e-commerce feature to my site, I certainly didn’t want the ability of selling prints to be seen as just me plastering a FOR SALE sign on each photograph which is how it felt by initially having the notable PayPal button. Through some simple CSS tweaking, with Fotomoto you have the freedom to completely customize the integration of the service straight into your site which provides you with that aesthetic consistency that I was endlessly looking for. To me it looks more elegant and professional and the option to buy anything doesn’t take precedence over the most important element of the whole picture which is the photograph itself.
Are you getting a kickback for speaking so positively about Fotomoto?
Absolutely not but I wish. When you’re fond of something, it just comes natural to talk about it without expecting anything in return. My hope is that by sharing my experience with Fotomoto, it will give you the insight I was desperately looking for myself in trying to find the perfect system that allowed me to take that next step in monetizing from the craft that is photography.