Eight Ways To Deliver Photos to Your Client

August 29th, 2010

DeliveryMike Miriello and I recorded another Q&A Podcast a few days ago. One of the questions that Mike and I talked about was the old question about how to deliver photos to your client and whether or not to deliver a physical CD.

I think there are two distinct phases of a real estate photography business:

  1. Building your business and trying to increase your exposure to real estate agents.
  2. You have built your business so you have a level of work you want.

While you are in the “building your business” mode there are huge benefits to delivering a CD personally to your client at their office. You see them face-to-face and you have opportunities to meet other agents in the office. The whole personal delivery thing is a huge customer service and marketing opportunity. However, once you get to the point in your business where you are shooting 2 or 3 or more properties a day there just isn’t time to be running around delivering physical CDs. So my advice is use this personal customer service delivery opportunity when you need it and it works in your life but also have a good electronic delivery mechanism. There are even benefits to doing electronic delivery and popping a CD in the snail mail.

Here are eight 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). As your business grows there’s going to be less and less time for this approach.
  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 and you client has another account and password to remember. One example of a template website hosting service that has a client logon feature is bigblackbag.com ($14.99/mo).
  3. Tourbuzz.net: Tourbuzz.net is a tour hosting site for real estate photographers that has a delivery feature built into it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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/mo for 50 Gig of online storage.
  6. 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.
  7. Pixoasis.com: Pixoasis is a professional looking delivery service available for $11.95/month.
  8. PogoPlug: See my post earlier this year on PogoPlug. The benefit of PogoPlug is that you purchase a one time piece of equipment and you get a very similar service to DropBox without a monthly charge.

Think of photo delivery as a marketing and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to keep in contact with your client and present yourself professionally. It’s an opportunity to talk to you client and make sure they got your delivery.

Update 8/30/2010: Malia in the comments below raises an important issue that may effect your decision to deliver a CD to your client. In states that collect sales tax you may be required to charge sales tax if you deliver a physical product whereas you may avoid collecting sales tax if you deliver your product (photos) electronically. Be sure you check with your local department of revenue to verify their policy in this area, it varies from state to state.

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26 Responses to “Eight Ways To Deliver Photos to Your Client”

  • I have used this service in the past http://senduit.com/

    I am now sending photos with larger resolutions for print marketing and advertising by the agents using Google Docs. The can be zipped up, and uploaded to docs, where the sharing setting is set to public.

  • You are leaving out the most common way to deliver the image: Send them email with links to the zip files from your website – no need to login or remember password.

  • Larry, Great post! A question, if I may, within PFREtour.com , is it necessary to watermark ones work? I ask, as I tend to for protection and marketing purposes. However If a clients still requests an un watermarked selection, is their room to host both sets? Obviously their needs to be a choice available if this was possible. Thanks

  • I have a photo site through Photoshelter that allows me to password protect a gallery and they can download the high resolution images. Only about half of my clients use it. The other half always ask if I can just drop a CD off to them. They say they have trouble with the download (usually the office’s internet is so slow) or their office manager can’t understand how to do it (very behind on the technology side though the directions are extremely simple.)

    Now, I need to look into getting good CDs printed with my branding. Not sure whether to have the CDs branded or make CD covers.

  • Great post.

    We have used Drop Box and it has proven to be very effective.

    We also like to use CDs when it makes sense. Anyone have a suggestion on where I can get affordable CDs with my branding information.

  • Does anyone use shared photo sites such as Picasa for delivery? I noticed a comment about Google Docs, so I am curious about any other experience using that as a delivery method.

  • Thanks for this post! We’ve had a lot of office talk about this lately. We use Zenfolio, and are pretty happy with it. We branded it and have our own domain for it, so it integrates well with our site. We do, however, have a consistent problem with clients not understanding how to download zip files.

  • @Charles- I recommend that you not watermark photos you deliver to your client since a watermark can be distracting.

    @Photo Newbie- I believe it is important to look professional with your photo delivery. If you use Picasa or Google Docs for delivery you don’t appear very professional to you client.

    @Joe & John- You can get preprinted CDs made at: http://www.cdprintexpress.com/Cddvdservices_printingonly.aspx for about $1.25 each in volumes of 250 or 500 CDs.

  • It’s worth noting that in most states if you’re delivering a CD you’re supposed to charge sales tax.

  • @Malia- Thanks for reminding me about this. Mike and I talked about this issue in the podcast but I need to add it to the post as well.

  • At the moment I mostly email the photo files to clients. Also worth noting that there can be compatibility issues with formatting CD’s that can be opened by everyone. Depends on how up to date the receiver’s drivers are. As always Larry these are some good alternate suggestions for me to explore. BTW, your slide show product is looking increasingly attractive. Waiting for the ability to export and post on other sites.

  • Hi Larry – just curious why you left out MobileMe as a delivery option?
    An email link with a downloadable ZIP file does the job.
    MobileMe also has many side benefits for the $99/year outlay: hosting a website, 20GB of back-up space, syncing of devices etc.

  • @Judy- PFREtour.com currently has syndication to Zillow, Truilia, GoogleBase and Realtor.com.

    @Andrew- I didn’t include any of the photo sharing sites because delivering photos through a photo sharing site I believe comes across as a little tacky and unprofessional. Photo delivery is a time to look professional and reinforce your brand if you possibly can.

  • I use MobileMe also. My agents don’t think is tacky. They can pick the photos they need without downloading all of them and the seller gets a link to keep photos to remember their old house when its sold. All my agents and their sellers think it is great!

  • I did an FTP upload with the LR3 slideshow. The client, a marketing manager for a luxury apartments initially wanted to proof and request edits with emailed jpegs. Ugh! I emailed a hyperlink for the slideshow and she loved it. Also, she was able to forward the link to the individual property managers. The 40 images for each slideshow were numbered so communicating edits went smoothly. The final edited images will be emailed jpegs and delivered to her on cd.

  • I use PogoPlug and couldn’t be happier. I size my photos for my clients for large print, small print, and web. This way they can download what files they need when they need them. Plus they are password specific to share with email’s you assign. This means I can share with a realtor, their assistant, and their office by sending out one email inviting them all to download whenever they need to. I used to do disks but got tired of people losing them and calling me all the time for new ones.

  • @John & Andrew- Perhaps I’m overly critical of MobileMe… I have to admit if you use Aperture the integration with MobileMe is quite nice. And the download features do work well.

  • I exclusively use ZumoDrive which is free. Simply upload the photos via website or application and email my client with the link! I also send my invoice in the same email. =)

  • @Sean- Yea, the ZumoDrive looks good I’m going to try it… it’s worth noting though that this is a Mac only solution.

  • I don’t think there is anything “unprofessional” about sending photo files via your business email system. All professionals should have one (i.e., your-name@your business_name.com). I use a Small Business website hosted by Yahoo. It gives me my website plus email.
    Sending photo files via email attachments gets photos to my clients without any curve balls. Plus it works great.
    I can attached as many files as I want up to 25mb in one easy step.
    And, they remain in my ‘sent’ mail as a back-up. I never have to delete them. In today’s market, I’ve had occation to redistrubute them to other clients more than a year later. Not a problem; just find and forward the original message.
    I don’t understand why the use of third party delivery systems is/looks more “professional”.

  • @Sean
    Yes, invoicing clients who don’t pay “on the spot” with a check/cash is a problem. I’ve come to realize that the big “daddy” of payment is PAYPAL. I’m using them to invoice all my “don’t pay on the spot” clients for the following reasons:
    1. They have a great way to create an “professional” looking invoice.
    2. Keeping track of if/whether you’ve been paid is a no brainer.
    3. Sending reminders to those that need them is slick.
    4. It gives clients lots of options on how to pay (even just putting a check in the mail still works).
    5. Records at tax time are wonderful.

    PS. Oh yes, the fee isn’t wonderful but… Probably worth it.

  • Physical delivery of a CD as #1? I don’t think so. The best “impact” is during your photo shoot. This is when you can explain the “when and why” of your process. If you can’t make a good connection then… 🙁
    During your photo shoot it will become obvious if you shoot “as is” or will go the extra mile and help “stage” each shot. Stagging might not be much: move this or that; bring in a prop from another room, etc. But this can make all the difference to your client (and the shot).

  • @ Mike — I’m pretty sure this post was about delivery of images, not “how to impress your clients overall”. Best way to piss off your clients — email them a 25mb file.

  • Right now I’m offering agents one basic package that includes eight photos for a set price. The MLS here holds 24 photos so my photographer normally takes 30-40 good shots and we tell the agent that if they want more than eight there is a price per photo fee. So they go online to our Picasa web album (where the photos are all watermarked not for use) and pick out the ones they want and we zip them up and email them to them. I want a smoother system though…more automated. Is there a system that will allow agents to view the 30-40 watermarked images, click on which one’s they want and then the system give them the properly sized and non-watermarked version of it on it’s own? Ideally I want them to go on and pick 24 images and immediately download them watermark free and us to get an email saying how many they got so I can invoice them. I don’t want them to pay on the site, we have an invoicing system. I doubt anything like that exists but couldn’t hurt to ask…

  • Phil,

    That is an AWESOME idea & VERY efficient! Let me know if you find anything, PLEASE!
    That is basically what I also have been looking for!

  • Phil and Chris… Photoshelter does just that…upload all the images, sent invite to whoever you wish, set password gallery, invite only, public, it auto watermarked images, you set how many are allowed to be downloaded and at what size, watermark removes itself upon download, done! I do find some client have computer literacy issues and run in to troubles but the service is fabulous and has SOOOO many other features.

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