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Six Popular Alternatives For Real Estate Photo Delivery

December 12th, 2009

In the last two years we’ve occasionally had the opportunity to hire a real estate photographer because we now live 250 miles south of where my wife lists properties.

I found the most interesting and instructive part of hiring a real estate photographer to be the photo delivery process. One photographer delivered photos attached to an e-mail. Another photographer delivered photos via box.net. The difference was amazing. The attached JPGs seemed crude and unprofessional compared to the box.net delivery process. Being on the receiving end of photo delivery really heightened my awareness of how the photo delivery process can effect how professional you appear to your clients.

Here are six popular alternatives for real estate photo delivery:

  1. Physical delivery of a CD: Don’t underestimate the customer service impact of personally delivering a CD into the hands of your client. Giving your client a CD with your product on it has a nice professional touch and it gives you chance to make personal contact with your client. CD delivery can also be coupled with any of the online techniques. That is, deliver photos electronically and later on a CD for the clients files. Remember, most agents are not that technically adept so having a CD with the photos on it is a big benefit (a CD is harder to loose for some people than a download link). By the way if you are competing with Open2View.com in your area this is what Open2View.com photographers do.
  2. Client logon to your site then download: This approach is the most professional for online delivery because delivery is via your personal branded site. However, this means you have to have a site that has this capability. One example of a template website hosting service that has a client logon feature is bigblackbag.com ($14.99/mo).
  3. Box.net: This is a great site that allows photo delivery very smoothly. It has a 2 gig free version so you can try it out but the pay version has better delivery options than the free version.
  4. Dropbox.com: Dropbox is designed more for online backup and online syncing between computers but it has a publicly accessible folder and a photo sharing feature that can be easily be used for photo delivery. You can send clients a download link via e-mail. The 2 Gig free version is even usable this way. The lowest level of fullservice is $9.99 for 50 Gig of online storage.
  5. YouSendIt.com: This is a very popular delivery with real estate photographers. It has a 14 day trial. The lowest level of service is $9.99/mo. It has tracking features, security features and a return receipt feature as well as plug-ins to make it work smoothly with Photoshop, FinalCut Pro, Aperture, iPhoto, Outlook and CorelDraw.
  6. Pixoasis.com: Pixoasis is a professional looking delivery service available for $11.95/month.

Think of photo delivery as a promotion and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to keep in contact with your client and present yourself professionally.

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18 Responses to “Six Popular Alternatives For Real Estate Photo Delivery”

  • Larry:

    Very good post.

    I especially like the paragraph on “personal delivery of a CD.”

    I have found that to be a very important marketing point.

    While I email the low resolution images to my agents, when I deliver those CD’s of both the low and high resolution images, they really like it.

    And as they lay around on their desks, they are an advertisment for me.

    Michael

  • Some turnkey real estate tour systems, including our TourBuzz product, include a branded client login / download area.

    The idea of personally delivering a CD is great, but obviously time-consuming. I’d imagine many photographers would choose to do that strategically and use an automated system most of the time.

    While the client login / download area with branding is great for your business, the ease-of-use is very important for this system. Agents are easily confused by zip files, email attachments, or third-party website login systems and other unfamiliar tools. They also need sizes that their local MLS will accept as well as larger versions for print.

    At TourBuzz it took multiple iterations before coming up with a system that is easy to use for agents. This vastly reduces your support time and is also a big time-saver and frustration-reducer for your customers. So choose carefully when selecting a way to deliver files to customers or you could end up spending a lot of time doing technical support instead of selling and shooting!

    Alan

  • I nearly always deliver personally by going to the office to have the 2 sets of photos..print and net size folders….copied from a USB drive.
    It’s amazing how many times I pick up additional work when I’m seen in the office, and it’s a chance to re-affirm rapport having a chat to agents that are in the office, or meet new agents that have just joined the Company. Yeah, it takes time…but it pays off in the big picture, and can usually be mapped in with shoots.
    For quick delivery, I upload the net size to my Web Gallery in iPhoto, then send off the Tell a Friend email with the link, and although commented on in the past in this Group as being a bit amateurish , I often receive comments on how professional it looks!! For $120 pa and you also have the iPhone link for emails etc..I swear by it!!
    However..will have a look at these other sites, as I seem to have hit my limit with the number of Users/Passwords in iPhoto, where I have social and personal users too.
    Cheers Milton

  • Hi Larry,

    I try to personally deliver discs to my clients. By doing this it also gives an opportunity to go over the pictures, allowing for feedback so you can learn what a particular client likes and dislikes. You are right about agents being a little challenged when using a computer. Some of them even have me open the files from the disc to save them to a file on their computer.

    When I can’t personally deliver the discs, I will email the small files and (snail) mail the full disc to their office.

  • Larry
    Re point 1, are you hinting here that Open2view are being successful at making serious inroads into the US market?
    In your land of milk and honey that is not just weird, its more than that…but tell me anyhow?
    From down-under where they…………….and I…………. come from …….there should not be given an
    opportunity from where which they can come from…………and if there is…..so why?
    This is really weird.
    Yup they do an ok job….but not from what I hear the franschise point of view………..according to a source you should be able to
    buy a Maccas and a Burger King for similar outlay.
    Then again ………..then there is the ongoing. But hey this is just heresay….so what have you heard?
    Please tell where does yourse figures come from?

  • Alot of the site that are listed for delivering photos do so in a .zip file format unfortunately….which is a BIG no no simply because:

    1. alot of agents dont want to have to download the entire shoot and especially learn how to use a zip program

    2. they sometimes want to have the option to just download a selection of photos they like from the shoot and those sites mentioned make you do either the whole shoot, or each individually…..using a ftp allows the user to select as many as they wish and download them at one time, without compression (.zip)

    The easiest way to do this is to set up your own ftp server where the agent uses a simple log on and has read only (download) authorization. Internet explorer has a built in ftp program already so its a very simple process for the agent to simple click on a link that you send them via email and follow some very simple instructions to download their photos, its basically like copying and pasting from the server to their own computer.

  • I’ve been using DropSend

    http://www.dropsend.com

    for a few months now. I tried YouSendit and a few others, before I settled on DropSend. It’s simple, pretty fast and some of my clients prefer I deliver files in this manner.

    Michael

  • “we now live 250 miles south of where my wife lists properties.”

    So – how do you make that work?

  • I use Yousendit. I tried Box that worked well too and Yousendit kept sending new emails for a few months, each one with bigger discounts, so when it got from $120 to one year for $50, I took it. As long as I don’t let it expire, I can renew each year for the same price.
    As to some who do not like zip files, Yousendit allows me to send a group of individual files unzipped. Folders are always sent zipped.

    For Yahoo.mail users, they have free drop.io for up 100MB. They can upgrade to the premium for yahoo mail ‘attach large files’ users, a plan that allows you to attach up to 1GB of files to each email you send, with other premium features $5.99/month. I have yet to use it because I got Yousendit before Yahoo started offering Drop.io
    Premium Features:
    Make drops larger than 100 MB
    5 GB of storage
    1000 managed drops
    Easily manage multiple drops
    View full activity stream across all drops
    Encrypt drops for added security with SSL
    Enable custom branding for groups of drops.

  • this is a new website wich might be great: https://www.wetransfer.com/

  • Larry, if you had to choose, which of the methods you describe do you prefer? As a guy just starting out, would I want to just pick one method or another and wing it or ask potential clients (agents) their preferred method?

    Milton–are you saying you download the two folders to a USB flash drive, get to the agents’ office and hand them that drive or download it to their computer once you’re there?

    I would think that it should be assumed that whoever is going to receive our pics is computer challenged and the absolutely most fool proof method of delivery would rule. But…is that hand delivering a CD? I’m just trying to not look like the rank amateur I am when first contacting agents to solicit work. Are they going to naturally ask me for my website address? Which I don’t have yet!

  • I export from Lightroom one set at 2500 pixels wide, full quality to a main folder already named to suit how the agent stores their photos; then export another set in to a Net folder (within the main folder) 75% quality at 800 pixels wide.
    When I go the office, the receptionist or agent simply drags and drops the folder to their Desktop and I leave it to them to reallocate the photos to where ever they store them. A ” safely remove/eject USB” and I’m off……after having a quick hi/chat with any agents in the office.
    Time consuming yeah…but business gathering…YEAH!!!! As I said, I usually can work this in to my shoot appointments due to the increased number these days…it’s rarely a special trip out to deliver…I’m lucky that most agents are within 10km of me.

  • My agents don’t want surprises and don’t want to learn new download systems. They prefer email attachments. Email systems are getting better. My website and email is thru Yahoo. They recently allow batch uploads and downloads making the process simpler and quicker. And with unlimited storage, its almost a back-up system for my images. I haven’t deleted a business email since starting up about 4 years ago

  • I think personally delivering CDs is a great marketing tactic. However, people need to find out if it affects the taxable nature of the photos. Here in CA it does. If you send a CD or DVD, you have to charge sales tax. If they are downloaded, they are not.

  • And to tag on to M Cole and Milton, if you “load and leave”, Milton does, in CA no sales tax needs to be collected. APA has a flow chart outlining what is and is not taxable for CA here:

    Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Okay, trying that APA link again since it didn’t show up before:

    http://www.apanational.com/i4a/pages/Index.cfm?pageID=3847

  • One thing that you quickly learn is that if your driving around CD’s, then you aren’t shooting.

    My clients are used to fast delivery the first shoot of the day is usually available for download as a compressed folder by 9PM, the second, by Midnight and if there is a third by 2AM. Download sizes are usually about 70 Megs for all images in three files sizes. My clients would not want to wait for a personal delivery, they want them ready to go when they get up. I upload all the compressed folders before I go to bed. When I get up, I’m on my way to the first shoot of the day.

  • Notice the differences in approaches that different successful real estate photographers have regarding delivery of CDs. I believe there are many factors that lead to this difference:

    1-The number of shoots you are doing. If you have a full schedule and are not in the phase of your business where you are not actively marketing so it makes little sense delivering CDs just to meet new agents and have face to face with you clients… you are going to be focused on ASAP delivery.
    2-There are different business cultures in different geographic areas. Having listed homes in the market area that Dan is working in, I appreciate his comment “My clients would not want to wait for a personal delivery”. Seattle, where Dan is, is fast, competitive and high tech. I’ve not been to Hobart, Tasmania, where Milton is but I’m willing to bet it is slower paced that Seattle.

    Understand your local business environment and your customers needs so you can make the right choices on these kind of issues.

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