Shutterbug (the magazine) now features a service ‘Shutterbug Storefront’ which allows photographers of all types to host images and galleries to share with friends, family, or clients. Not only can you host your images there, you can sell them as well. I signed up for an account to see how it works.
- Sign Up – It was very simple to create my account. It took all of three minutes and my account was ready to go. I entered my desired username (as well as sub domain), desired account type (Art or Event), basic details, credit card info., and that was it. I received my confirmation e-mail promptly that included login details and direct links to my site. New accounts receive a 15-day trial period and they don’t charge your credit card until those 15 days expire. They do preauthorize $1.00 to ensure your card is valid which isn’t a big deal. You can either choose to pay on a month to month basis or yearly no matter which account type you choose. You get a decent discount for paying by the year too. It works out to about a 22 percent savings.
- Interface – The user interface is simple, although maybe a little TOO simple. I am quite computer and web savvy but still had a little trouble finding things without really poking around. Once you figure out where everything is you have complete control over how your site looks. You can leave the Shutterbug branding or make it disappear. You also have the option of using custom headers and footers if you know HTML. For my purposes, I used the standard layout and just left text at the top of my site. This isn’t intended to by my primary web presence so there isn’t a need for anything else but a simple interface for potential clients to view and order photos.
- Features – I could go on and on here, so I’ll keep it limited to my favorites. 1st: My absolute favorite feature is the fact that you can upload low-resolution files for viewing and when an order is placed you can upload the high resolution version. That’s incredible! I really dig this because it still allows me to upload a lot of images and not use a lot of space. I love that! 2nd: I think it’s great that you can use your own branding. Since you are paying for the service you shouldn’t have to put up with ads or links to Shutterbug or Shutterbug Storefront. The only way someone would know it wasn’t a site that you were hosting would be the domain name. Now, if you use the domain mapping feature you can use your own domain and then no one would know (without some pretty extensive research) that your site was from Shutterbug Storefront. 3rd: Copyright protection. This is something that is big to most photographers and Shutterbug Storefront provides you a lot of it. The site is in HTML and not Flash so it would be easy for someone to right-click (or CTRL-click for Mac) on one of your photos and save it right? Guess again. You can choose to disable the right-click/CTRL-click feature on your site which prevents them from doing just that. You can also embed an image or text watermark to add a little more protection and save yourself some time by not having to do it in Photoshop. All in all, you get a lot of great features for a comparatively small amount of money.
- Order Fulfillment – SBSF provides you a very nice choice when providing prints to your clients. They can provide them or if you have a favorite lab you can use them as well. The other main option is to have SBSF provide the prints which also opens up a whole host of other products that your clients can order. These include mugs, keychains, puzzles, statuettes, t-shirts, canvas, and more. Prints can be glossy, matte, or luster printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper using Fuji Frontier Printers with Fuji Hunt Chemicals. This is the REAL DEAL with regards to prints. No inkjets here! Clients can also order metallic prints that are printed on Kodak Professional Endura paper. One of the huge benefits of the “Pro Lab” (SBSF) fulfillment option is that you do not have to collect sales tax from your customers. This can save some serious time and trouble. You even have white label options when using the ‘Pro Lab’ which allows orders shipped to your customers appear to be shipped by you.
- Pricing – The ‘Art’ account is $6.95 per month or $64.95 for the year. With this account you get 1GB of storage and 5GB/Month of Bandwidth. The ‘Event’ account costs $12.95 per month or $99.95 per year. With this account you get Unlimited storage and 20GB/Month of Bandwidth. That bandwidth is only counted when customers view your images. Bandwidth is not deducted when you are uploading images. SBSF takes a flat 10 percent commission on all sales after subtracting sales tax and shipping. This includes credit card processing fees! You don’t even have to hassle with accepting credit cards which is a HUGE plus. All in all, the pricing seems very fair and reasonable to me.
In summary, the Shutterbug Storefront seems to be an awesome service for amateur and pro photographers alike. There are a lot of really great features that don’t cost you a whole lot of cash. And who doesn’t appreciate saving some dough and getting a great product or service?