A recent question from Phil in Texas made me realize it's been a long time since I've talked about photo delivery. Phil says, "I have been delivering a disk to the agents but am looking at doing the upload (to the MLS) myself to save time and aggravation with realtors who can't figure it out."
Yes, you need to be sensitive to your clients needs an abilities but I don't recommend uploading your clients photos to their MLS because this violates most MLS password sharing rules. Let the client, or someone in the clients office setup their listings. Photographers shouldn't be doing that. Most brokers have someone in the office that can setup listings and upload photos for any agent in the office.
Here are several popular alternatives for real estate photo delivery:
- Physical delivery of a CD: Most agents are not that technically adept so having a CD with the photos on it can be a 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. If you are doing serious amount of business in a large metro area there just isn't time to physically deliver photos although if you aren't doing many shoots, physically going to the agent's office is a marketing opportunity. Beware that in most states that have sales tax, delivering a physical product requires you collect sales tax yet if you deliver an electronic product you don't need to collect sales tax. Check your local tax law. This could be a big reason NOT to deliver photos in physical form.
- Client logon to your site then download: This approach creates a professional feel 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).
- Tourbuzz.net and PFREtour.com: (the popular independent tour hosting sites) both have photo delivery features that allow you to deliver photos as well as supply tours. Tourbuzz.net allows delivery even if you are not supplying a tour.
- 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.
- 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 full service is $9.99/mo for 50 Gig of online storage.
- 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.
- Pixoasis.com: Pixoasis is a professional looking delivery service available for $11.95/month.
There are literally hundreds of file delivery/sharing sites these days. Here's a review of what someone considers the top 14 file delivery/sharing sites. Photo delivery as a marketing and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to keep in contact with your client and present yourself professionally.
What is your favorite way to deliver photos?