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What Are the Recommended Photo Delivery Methods for Real Estate Photographers?

Published: 29/11/2018
By: larry

DeliveryBill in Virginia recently asked the question:

I have been experiencing some issues in sending clients their photos and videos. What are some recommended photo delivery services to use?

First of all, I would not send video files to Realtors. Most Realtors won't have a clue what to do with a large video file. Host the video someplace like YouTube, Vimeo, or iPlayerHD, and then send your client a link to the hosted video.

Here are the typical alternatives for real estate photo delivery:

  • Physical delivery of a CD or USB drive: Many agents would just love to have you deliver a CD or USB 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 drives 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 some 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 delivery is via your personal branded site. However, this means you must have 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.
  • 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.comPixOasis.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 two different sized photos. I use this feature all the time.
  • 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 getting started service, but it doesn't look as professional as other alternatives.
  • Google Docs: Google Docs is very similar to DropBox.com and can easily be used to send files to clients.

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.

14 comments on “What Are the Recommended Photo Delivery Methods for Real Estate Photographers?”

  1. A good topic!

    I have a 1T Dropbox account - aprox $10. / month. I shared a folder with each client but have been phasing it out for all but my most
    regular clients. They all want to leave our shoots in the DB folder - hard to say no when they say 'is so great having the shared
    folder. 1T can fill up fast.

    I've started using wetransfer.com and like it a lot - I can send them their web sized copies and print sized copies in one shot - you
    get confirmation that your files were downloaded and up to 2gig per transfer is free. I'm thinking of taking a paid pro account and
    using dropbox only for myself and my son (he does my editing) and for builders/developers/commercial jobs as they take their work
    out of dropbox and don't try to use it as storage. Only downside is some clients have said wetransfer is complicated - it's not - think i'll
    make screen captures as a guide.

    A friend uses - or used to use photo shelter and smug mug as it has or had 'unlimited' storage and as written above, having clients log
    into your branded site is a good thing.

  2. I use a FREE service FromSmash.com You can get a Pro service from them but there is no need. I started working with these guys a couple of years ago. They contacted me while in beta test mode. They were a group of French artist that just wanted a platform to transfer files between other artists, videographers and musicians.

    There is no other service easier to use for anyone including our clients. There are no client aps to run on your PC. There are no ads. There are no fees. There are no limits and file size. Just go to the site, drag and drop the zipped files and folders, type in your email and the clients email and push send.

    On the client's end they get an emailed link that the files are ready for them to download all at once or review on line and download one at a time including videos. This is perfect if the agent wants to review what images to use with the seller. They can do it on their phones!

    On your end you are notified via email the files are uploaded as well as when the client downloads them.

    The files stay available for 12 days and then they are deleted. If you want the Pro service you can brand the user interface and the files stay much longer and they provide an on line history.

    When all you want is a way to transfer unlimited files at no cost with the simplest interface possible without any management required at all on your end not even a password, then this is it. You don't sign over any copyrights, your files are secure, they are shared with no one, they are not stored. Easy Peasy.

    Furthermore if you ever receive files from clients they will find it easy to use this service. I have it built into my site as a popup. So when a client needs to send me files they just click on my site and drag and drop the files, type in the email addresses and away they go. I even have an online video showing how its done.

    https://yourpittsburghhomes.com/send-us-your-stuff/

    Please don't send me your stuff though... I've got enough of my own.

  3. I have been using wetransfer.com for some years now, first with the free account, but I quickly burned through that and now have the paid version that I have branded with my own photos and logo. I am not sure why realtors have problems with trying how to download the files when there is a very clear hyperlink for that purpose right in the body copy of the email sent to clients. Hyper links have been part of websites since the beginning of websites back in the 1990's. So for new clients I paste in a set of instructions (all one line and one sentence) to help them. Younger realtors don't seem to have any problem. So I have been very happy with this delivery system. And recently they seem to have changed the default of erasing the files after a month or so but allowing you to change the erase date to a default of just leaving them in place. I have too many clients who download the files, then loose them or forget that they have downloaded them already. Better not to remind them and just send the link again. No one wants to look stupid.

  4. I do send large video files to realtors via Dropbox. They can then upload them to their own accounts - vimeo, youtube, or directly into a Facebook post, and the advantage to them is that is keeps whomever is viewing it on the realtor's feed - instead of switching their browser to my feed. It keeps the buyer focused on the realtor's offerings. My feed has 60-70 realtors on it... it's not in my client's interests to introduce the buyer to the competition, is it? 🙂

    Then I upload the video to Zillow for them, since right now only photographers can upload to Zillow. I think they do that because they have strict specs that need to be followed for submissions.

    Sometimes you have to coach your realtors how to do all this stuff, but they feel better about the control they have.

  5. I use MLS-Delivery.com it's made for Real Estate so the delivery is professional. I just upload and it zips it up, sends out text and email notifications. The client delivery page is made for agents and is really easy
    for my clients to use it, meaning zero confusion. Dropbox (and the like) don't offer things that save time. It hosts my videos for no extra cost. Simple CMS and group delivery. virtual tours actually work with 360s. Optional tours metadata help my seo.

    Been using it for a year: no problems.

  6. I recently discovered that I can export files directly from Lightroom into my Dropbox folder, then right click to copy or e-mail the link. No need to even open Dropbox online. I think this is going to be quicker using WeTransfer. Time will tell!

  7. I've been using Hightail (Now OpenText) for many years
    $12 a month for Pro service
    file size limit 25GB
    Unlimited storage space
    Unlimited Recipient downloads

    Delivery notifications - Double check to see that your file has been delivered, and track who has downloaded, when, and how many times.

    Send Tracking - Double check to see that your file has been delivered, and track who has downloaded, when, and how many times.

    Password protection
    Sync's with Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive

    They have a free service as well that would probably service most here

  8. I would be very hesitant to use any free services for photo delivery—who knows what kind of business model some of these free sites use. Where do the images live? Who owns them? Does the free site bombard your client with ads or sign them up for a spammy mailing list? What do they do with the emails they aquire? How secure are they? Are they compatible with every major internet browser, including on phones? I would be very concerned about image rights on free sites... Social media sites, for example, often include stipulations in their terms that allow them to use your images for their marketing if they choose to.

    I use Dropbox myself. I create two folders, one for MLS & web, the other with high-res images. I create folder links and email those to the clients. If you append the last digit of a dropbox folder link with a 1 instead of a 0, it becomes a direct download for them. What could be easier?

    For video, I upload to YouTube to share it with them, but will often upload the video file to dropbox if they want to post it on their own account.

  9. Since I'm already paying for web hosting that includes a substantial amount of storage, I have simply created a folder where I upload zipped galleries and provide the customer a link via email. The way the backend is set up, they can't view that directory so they can only download their files from the link I provide. No other vendor to pay. The client retrieves image galleries from my domain and there is nothing for the customer to sign up for or log into. All they have to do is click the links I send, one for web galleries and one for the print gallery, and it downloads automatically to their device. I've never had an issue.

  10. I am with Ken. I just zip the photos up and upload them to my website, send the links to the customer to download. My hosting service has "unlimited" storage, but there is a limit in the number of files. I have only made a small dent in that limit. Easy and free for me, easy for the customer to just click and download.

  11. I use Dropbox Business with unlimited storage mixed with shootproof. Shootproof is used for my customers who do not frequent our services but use us maybe twice a month. They have their photos placed in Shootproof and we ask for payment when they wish to download them. This is more automated.

    My clients who use us several times a week we post into Dropbox and they simply download the photos and videos once we upload them to Dropbox. We then cut them an invoice from within shootproof every other week and they can simply pay online with credit card.

    All our clients have unlimited storage with our Dropbox Business account. We store all of their photos and videos for free. They have access to them at anytime via a download link in Dropbox. We store all of our photos and Raw footage on Dropbox as well keeping our hard drives clean and if we need to we can reference or re-edit a listing photo as needed from the raw files.

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