Building a website to display your photography is common for professional or amateur photographers alike. It’s your window to the world and a chance to show off your very best work. And building upon that website to turn it into a successful online shop to sell your digital work is an excellent way to tap into new markets and expand beyond local photography studios.
In this article, we walk you through the process of converting your online photography portfolio into a thriving, digital ecommerce store using WordPress. We discuss the best types of WordPress themes to use, why selling photography online often has specific and unique requirements compared to most other online stores, and we recommend our favorite WordPress plugins that enable you to sell your digital photography.
Why Selling Photos is Different from Other eCommerce Products
When selling photos online, using a generic shopping cart often isn’t the ideal solution. You’re likely to require specific and unique functionality that most standard shopping carts don’t have. For example, most shopping carts, unless built specifically for photographers or the selling of digital products, don’t come with features such as the ability to watermark photos or different pricing per photo dimension and/or resolution. It’s for this reason that the plugins we’ve recommended below all have a specific focus on photography and digital products, to ensure your ecommerce website is perfectly suited to your requirements.
Can I Use Any WordPress Theme When Selling Online?
Most, if not all the plugins we discuss below will work with any WordPress theme. However, it can sometimes be an advantage to find a theme that advertises itself as “eCommerce Ready.” This means the developer of the theme has created specific pages to work with a particular plugin (often the WooCommerce plugin). Having these pages already built for you will save you a lot of time and is usually the most cost effective way for a novice WordPress user to start selling products through their WordPress website.
Choosing an eCommerce WordPress Plugin
There are many ecommerce WordPress plugins available, and even when we narrow down this list to only take into account those plugins specifically built for photography or digital downloading, the list is still relatively long. Below, we talk about some of our favorites.
Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads has been built specifically to allow WordPress users to sell digital products that can then be downloaded from their website. With nearly 1.5 million downloads, this plugin is very popular, and for good reason. The free plugin comes complete with basket/shopping cart functionality, allowing your customers to purchase more than one item at a time. It integrates seamlessly with PayPal and Stripe, includes varying prices for different options per product therefore allowing you to set higher prices for higher resolution photos, and has built in earnings and sales charts, allowing you to easily track the progress of your digital business.
WooCommerce is arguably the most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin. While the free plugin hasn’t been specifically built for photographers, the free plugin does have a premium WooCommerce Photography extension available from $79 for a single website license. This extension boasts a batch upload tool to reduce the workload of uploading each photo, and also includes improvements to the customer experience, ensuring it’s as simple as possible for your customers to view and purchase your photos.
Because it’s the most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin, there are thousands of WordPress themes available that are able to integrate seamlessly with WooCommerce, including many that have WooCommerce pages already created as standard when you purchase the theme. Plus, the plugin is built to sell both digital and physical products, giving you the flexibility to sell in a format that suits you, via a robust and professional WordPress theme. Even without the premium extension, these two key features may mean WooCommerce becomes your preferred ecommerce plugin.
WP iSell Photo
WP iSell Photo, while not as popular as the two plugins above, packs a small punch and is specifically designed for photographers to turn their photography portfolio into an online store. The plugin enhances the functionality of the built in WordPress image gallery, allowing you to add a price and a PayPal purchase link under each photo. It’s simple, but if you’re looking for a quick way to sell online without some of the more advanced features of WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, this plugin is the one for you.
Sell Media is a multipurpose ecommerce plugin, allowing you to sell all digital products through your website, including photos, videos and documents. As with WooCommerce, there are WordPress themes that have been specifically developed to integrate seamlessly with Sell Media, making your life easy as you build your online store. The plugin supports PayPal integration and allows you to charge differing amounts for different licensing rights. For example, you may wish to charge more for your photos if they’re being used for commercial use. It isn’t as advanced as WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, but it sits comfortably as a middle of the road solution between these more robust plugins and the simplicity of WP iSell Photo.Good Read: Easy Way To Start Selling Your Photos/Digital Products Using WordPressClick To Tweet
Whichever plugin you choose to use, WordPress will always provide a solid platform when you’re building your online photography store. Many of the features these plugins contain often make it easy to develop and manage your own online store, but don’t forget the experience of your customers. Ensure the plugin and theme you choose are able to work seamlessly together, allowing you to give the very best customer experience to your website visitors while making it simple for you to grow and manage your online business.