Real Estate Photo Delivery – A Way To Provide Great Customer Service And Look Professional

September 20th, 2015

DeliveryOlly in the UK recently asked the question:

Is there an article or has there been a discussion about ways to deliver files to clients? I’m interested to know if people just use Dropbox and the like or more advanced services like Photoshelter, Shootproof, Pixieset etc.

I’ve written several articles on this subject in the past but, it’s been a long time and the world is changing so it’s time to do an update.

The few times I’ve been on the receiving end of photo delivery have really heightened my awareness of how the photos are delivered can affect how professional you appear to your clients.

Here are some alternatives for real estate photo delivery:

  1. Physical delivery of a CD: Many agents would just love to have you deliver a CD to their office. While this is certainly a customer service opportunity it just doesn’t make economic sense and it doesn’t scale to large volumes of clients. Besides, most modern laptops don’t even have CD players anymore! Also, in some states (like WA I believe) there are sales tax implications when you deliver a tangible product. So this is an alternative that is dying out.
  2. Client log in to your site: This approach is a very professional approach for online delivery because delivery is via your personal branded site. However, this means you have to have a site that has this capability. Photoshelter.com is one example. There are many others. Basically each client has their own account on your website where they can log in and download their photos.
  3. File/photo delivery sites: A few years ago there used  to be a few of these, now it seems like there are hundreds. A few of the popular ones are Box.net,  YouSendIt.comPixoasis.com, Shootproof.com and Pixieset.com. All of these are professional ways to deliver photos and other large files. Many like shotproof.com are tailored for photographers. They are all in the area of $10 USD/month. With Pass.us you can deliver under 100 photos for free
  4. Tourbuzz.net: If you use Tourbuzz.net for tours, it has a great built-in photo delivery feature that delivers two different sized photos. I use this feature all the time.
  5. DropBox.com: I put DropBox in a separate alternative because of it’s wide usage and the fact that you can get 2 gig of storage for free. You can send anyone a download link to Dropbox files. This maybe a good free getting started service, but it doesn’t look as professional as other alternatives.

Think of photo delivery as a promotion and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to present yourself professionally. For most of these delivery sites for around $10 USD/month they provide a very professional delivery process. One issue that you avoid is sending ZIP files of the whole photoshoot. Many Realtors are not sophisticated enough to unzip files.

So what are everyone’s favorite delivery method?

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27 Responses to “Real Estate Photo Delivery – A Way To Provide Great Customer Service And Look Professional”

  • YouSendIt.com is now Hightail.com and I’ve been using it for over 6 years. Since I don’t have the need for over 200 jobs a year, it only cost me $29 per year. I find it easier to use than DropBox and it’s been very dependable.

  • I like to go and “hand deliver” the first set I do for an agent. I want to make sure they know how to use dropbox, Billing I do with square, and have them open the e-mail I pre-sent to them that has links and iframes for hosted videos (I use Sprout, Tourbuzz and RTV… I also discuss their social networking options… especially getting them to at least think about using G+ and Youtube it they are not already using them. I am in the St. George, Utah in the Southwest USA so I always show them an agent in Arizona that has over 200 million Views to her G+ page. I want to make sure they know how to use the images, files, their MLS platform etc. So far I have found not every agent is completely schooled in at least a couple of these areas.

  • A standard website has the capability of hosting picture files with no problem. I have a directory where I upload the photo archives and send the customer a link via email that they can click to download the files. The customer cannot view the directory, so they cannot download another customer’s files. This obviates the need for setting up accounts that customers have to sign into to retrieve their images.

    I prefer this method as it doesn’t require the customer to download and install any software such as DropBox. All they have to do is click on the link that I send them.

    I don’t see why others suggest third party services. Any professional photographer should have their own web site so why pay more money for a service they already have?

  • @Ken Brown

    DropBox (and most of the big name file sites) don’t require any software installation for photo/file download…..it works the same as an what you are doing, upload files, provide link to client, they click to view photos and/or download. Any system out there requires the use of a .zip file if multiple images are to be downloaded.

    Personally I just use my server as its alot faster speeds than dropbox (since its dedicated) and there is no point in spending money for something I already have.

  • I initially used Dropbox but ran into problems as clients rarely removed photos from dropbox, despite coaching, and kept hitting the max. Put me in the position of having to remove older deliveries (6+ months prior) and occasionally “where did my photos go”? That is when I switched to Zenfolio as it’s annual cost was the same as what Dropbox wanted for their ‘unlimited.’ Created on a non-RE website so can use for other purposes (events, occasional wedding, etc and personal storage), as I re-work my RE website (currently redirected) will have a direct client portal for seamless delivery. What I dislike is the rather convoluted delivery, but with some handholding the first time, they get it. Likes – no ‘right click’ download/copy, unlimited storage, soft watermark display option (for events – eliminates iPhone screen shot “good enough for me”), default download is simple but uploaded size only, forcing me to make a “price list” and use the shopping cart download process. $0 for the 2 download options and added prints and books, with download requiring acceptance of licensing agreement to proceed in the checkout where a special link is emailed to them for a .zip file. Many set-up options as well.

  • We use the paid version of dropbox. It allows me to save the files to my dropbox folder on my computer and then all team members have access to the files to edit flyers, etc. When I save to my dropbox file, it syncs to all our computers. I have files set up for each agent. I send them the link to their folder and then that gives them access to their photos and flyers at any time. At this point, it seems to work best for us and most agents are familiar with dropbox. I also have a vendor account with our local mls which allows me to upload the photos and tour links to the agents mls without them having to do anything. Most prefer that we do this for them.

  • I use Copy.com which is similar to Dropbox. The main difference between the two is that a free account on Copy gives you 15GB of space compared to only 2GB with Dropbox. They also have a referral program where you get an additional 5GB of space for everyone that’s uses your referral link to sign up. I am up to 40 or 45GB of space available and it doesn’t cost me a dime.

  • I’ve used DropBox and mostly it works fine.
    On occasion some agents have had difficulty downloading their files so for them I’ve used WeTransfer which seems to work fine.

  • http://www.wetransfer.com Have used this for a couple of years. Free version up to 2G. Very reliable.

  • I use Pixieset since it give the REALTORS a nice presentation on their photo to view their photo gallery of their listing and Pixieset gives them three size options for them to download along with a Pin and tells me when they download their gallery. They find it easy to use and like the fact that while they are busy with other clients, they can view the photos quickly on line or on their phone.

  • One way to look professional is to spell it correctly 🙂

  • I use my website, Smugmug. You can give each client there own gallery with a password or just make it unlisted and the photos stay there. Like others I use Dropbox when the client requests it, but I have them create the folder so it is only “shared” with me so so it is not attributed to my size limit. I useally delete the folder a month later but the realtor still has it in their dropbox. I am open to trying other methods but your website should have this basic functionality and when you get those “where are those pics you took 6 months ago” you can easily point them to the gallery. BTW this site and forum provides a wealth of knowledge and am grateful for it. I have learned so much from peoples responses.

  • All good information since I have not yet found the perfect method this topic cannot have enough discussion for me. I have been using http://www.wetransfer.com. It seems to make a fast and easy method sending an email with download link to as many email addresses that you want. I have yet to outgrow the 2gig free max but it only stays up for I think its a week or 10 days and sometimes I have clients who are slow on the uptake or receive the email on their smart phones and then forget to download when they get back to their computers. Am considering either going the client dedicated web page with download link or just paying for the wetransfer paid service that you can configure with your own brand, files stay there until you take them down and have much higher max server space. I have tripped over how to use DropBox myself and most of my clients still have problems with just dealing with email let alone working with DropBox. Many have a problem working their mind around an email with a hypertext link it them! And being an old git, my clients tend to be over the 40+ years of age who are not as adept as their junior agents in entering into the skill set of today’s modern devices. So the less they have to think, the simpler it is for them, the better.

  • @Jules – Yes, you are right! It doesn’t look very professional to have spelling errors, particularly in the post title. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • +1 drop box. Just free up some space when needed by removing files that have already been shared and downloaded by the agent.

  • For proofing mostly non-re stuff, I definitely use my website with a page password. I figure it gets you the extra traffic and it also looks better, so that’s a must.

    I have thought about this and if I was a wedding shooter or something I would definitely want to deliver a beautiful, physical album, never just digital. But for real estate and the time frames we are under I think it looks perfectly professional to deliver via cloud storage services. I use copy same as Kerry.

  • As much as I would like to use one method of delivery, I have to consider the various degrees technical savvy of my clients. Some can use email at best. I use. Combination of methods to deliver photographs. I make use of zenfolio, Dropbox, tour buzz and email depending on my clients needs. No some instances, I’m sending full resolution or enlarged images for clients and only drop box can handle images greater than 50 megpixels. To sum up, as much as I won’t to present a professional image, it is more important for me to cater to my clients needs. And ease of use speaks more that eye candy. At the end of the day, the photos usually equate to earning potential for a client. And making the process as transparent as possible goes much further in conveying professionalism.

  • I decided to deliver via DVD. It keeps me familiar with the different offices and they with me. I always do one DVD with the pictures named and sized for MLS. I do 4 additional DVD’s print ready which they can use for print advertising or give to potential buyers and some of the sellers also want one of those DVD’s. I also provide a address.com one page web site that has a ken burns type slideshow and a contact form to reach the broker. I guess it’s a little overkill but I shoot mainly million dollar and up listings and would like to concentrate on just those so I go a little extra. Also, I shoot maybe 3-5 per week so not as hectic as some here. I get to shoot/start a 13,500 sq ft abode tomorrow, that’s a few days work.

  • What could be easier (once you have it set up) than a download link sent via email? Click the link and a zip file is downloaded to the agents computer.

  • I have used the Dropbox free account with no problems. Very easy to use. Until a while back for no particular reason, I switched over to Google Drive. I didn’t even realize I had free storage on there so I decided to give it a try. Not much different from Dropbox from what I can remember but I have stayed with Google drive. Anyone with a Gmail account has a google drive in case you didn’t know. And of course, if you don’t have a gmail account, it’s very easy to open one then boom, you have a Google drive.

  • While this may vary in each State, the biggest problem with delivery by CD/DVD is the need to charge sales tax due to the delivery of a “physical” product. In Florida, electronic delivery is exempt – thanks to major streaming businesses like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon lobbying for the law, but if you deliver a physical product you have to collect tax with quarterly remission. Some States don’t make that distinction and charge for everything, so is a moot issue. As soon as I mention to the Realtor that I have to charge sales tax, they suddenly don’t want a DVD that they can create themselves off their computer. I also have a sigh of relief as I wouldn’t want to report for a couple of instances, coming to the attention of the State triggering an audit wondering where the rest is.

  • I use Cloudspot which has a great gallery presentation and e-mail templates included.

    Phil

  • I’m another who uses Smugmug. I don’t strictly need to even let my clients know that the photos are ready as they know if they log in to their own password protected page the morning after a job the photos will be there in high res and low res galleries.

  • For a few years now I’ve been using Microsoft’s OneDrive. Free, I get 15GB. Since I also subscribe to Office 365, I have an addition 1TB, per account user, as well. With their various bonuses, I have 1054GB right now.

    Similar to Dropbox and others, OneDrive syncs to my desktop (and any other device I use it on). I just create a folder specific to the customer and drop the files in it. I can even get the View-Only link right from within Explorer.

    Clients like retrieving the files from OneDrive. It has proven easy to use and they all seem to love the slideshow functionality. While I could password protect files, I find it works easier to simply create the view-only link and email it to the client. Then, whoever has the link can simply view/retrieve the files.

    My email informing clients their images are available also includes a note instructing them to retrieve their files within 30 days. Maybe every 30 days or so I clean out delivered folders. Since they’re only the delivery JPGs (large and small), I rarely consume more than ~25GB space between purges.

    Its straight-forward, solid, and clients are happy with it.

    I do plan to explore tourbuzz, but not because I need the delivery mechanism.

  • I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Pass! Pass is a great and professional way to deliver up to 100 photos per shoot for free! The interface is great for both clients and photographers.

    Though it was designed for wedding/portrait photography, the site will store the images for a guaranteed 10 Years (not really a benefit for real estate, but stil nice) Its a very professional and FREE way to deliver all of your real estate work!

  • This segment got me thinking a lot about a better way to transfer photos to clients. I have a few that have trouble with Dropbox and Google Drive. Not really sure what the problem is because I’ve never been on the receiving end.

    I started using WeTransfer that allows me to send up to 2GB for free. So far, no issues with even the most unskilled (computer) clients.

  • As an extra service we provide our customers with 3d files from Floorplanner. These are an extra service and potential buyers see exactly how the Realestate is designed.
    For bigger files we also use we transfer pro with our own design

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