Jim recently asked the question:
I've recently started using my realtor as my test dummy while I refine my photography and editing skills, and learn what he needs as a customer. He made the suggestion to use box.com for getting him the pictures, because that's what he used with someone else in the past. He recently asked if I know of any other sites, since box.com is very slow to download, after which he must upload to his MLS. Do experienced RE photographers use sites that realtors can download directly to their MLS? If not, how is it typically done, and do you have a list of commonly used websites?
First of all, typically, only Realtors or their assistants can log in to upload photos to the MLS so real estate photographers deliver photos to the Realtor and the Realtors must do the MLS uploading. Many times, there are assistants in a real estate office that do much of the uploading to the MLS for all of the agents.
Here are the typical alternatives for real estate photo delivery:
- 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 and CA) there are sales tax implications when you deliver a tangible product. If you deliver a physical product in these and other states, the whole shoot is subject to sales tax. So this is an alternative that is dying out.
- Client logs into your site: This is a very professional approach for online delivery because it is via your personal branded website. However, this means your website must have 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.
- File/photo delivery services: 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.com, Pixoasis.com, Shootproof.com, WeTransfer.com, and Pixieset.com. All of these are professional ways to deliver photos and other large files. Many, like Shootproof.com are tailored for photographers. They are all in the area of $10USD per month. With Pass.us, you can deliver under 100 photos for free.
- Tourbuzz.net: If you use Tourbuzz.net for tours, it has a great built-in photo delivery feature that delivers four different sized photos. I use this feature all the time.
- MLS-Delivery: A cloud-based solution proving time-saving tools that real estate photographers need to deliver professional media.
- DropBox.com: I put DropBox in as a separate alternative because of its wide usage and the fact that you can get 2Gb of storage for free. You can send anyone a download link to Dropbox files. This may be a good, free service to get started with, but it doesn't look as professional as the other alternatives.
- Google Docs: Google Docs is very similar to DropBox.com and can easily be used to send files to clients.
- PaySnap: There are several new services like PaySnap where the client must pay before the photos can be downloaded. Most of these services allow the client to download a watermarked version so they can see the photos but have to pay before they can get a version that is not watermarked.
- Photo Invoice: Similar to PaySnap
Think of photo delivery as a promotion and customer service opportunity. Use delivery to present yourself professionally. For most of these delivery sites at around $10USD/month, they provide a very professional delivery process. One thing to avoid is sending .zip files of the whole photoshoot. Some Realtors are not technically proficient enough to deal with .zip files.