Output Options; Online Or Else; Show Your Images On The Web

It's probably no surprise to most of you, but in today's digital world, having a website is almost a requirement if you're to be considered a pro or more than a casual snapshooter. Many publications and image purchasers don't want to deal with looking at contact sheets or browsing at images on a CD or DVD--aside from the task of inserting and reading the contents of the disc, they're worried about viruses.

There are multiple approaches that you can take to get yourself online and have your images seen by potential buyers. You can set up your own website, which is the most common approach; you can use a stock agency, such as Alamy, to market your photography; or you can go with one of the online digital archives, such as Digital Railroad, to target sales. I'll take a look at all three options here, and I encourage you to check into the method that works best for you.

A hosting service provided the template I used for my profiling and printing website, allowing me to get online quickly and with less work on my part. If you want your own domain, this is the least expensive way to get online.

Building Your Own Site
Creating and maintaining your own website doesn't have to be technical, or even hugely time consuming. It does, however, require some thought up front in order to have a successful design. By successful, I mean one that is easy for visitors to navigate, and keeps them looking. A website that drives customers away at the homepage isn't going to do you much good, so my mantra is: keep it simple.

Most of the hosting services include software that will help you build your website with varying degrees of customization possible. I maintain several websites with a different focus for each, and I've selected my host based on that particular need. For instance, my custom profiling and printing work is located at www.customprofiling.com, and is hosted by Host Department (www.hostdepartment.com). Here I have unlimited hosting service, including e-commerce for $12.95 a month. Other packages start as low as $3.95 a month, and all include software to help you set up and maintain your website as well as e-mail accounts, online support, and disk space for image storage.

My photography website is powered by liveBooks. This service is optimized for photographers with an easy-to-navigate layout that makes your images the center of attention.

Another option is to go with a full-service solution like liveBooks (www.live-books.com), which is where I host my photography work at www.joncanfield.com. Although much pricier up front, sites like liveBooks will make your life as a photographer easier with the option to quickly create portfolios and manage images. You can have e-commerce enabled here as well, and they've recently added packages designed specifically for wedding and portrait photographers. And, when it comes to support, I've never had better response than with liveBooks.