Real World Numbers About Freelancing

We all hear the complaint, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth, the disbelief. Why the high prices? Why do I have to pay so much for your work? Well, sir/madam, I am an independent business owner, not an employee. With the work I perform, the services I provide, I must make a living. Simply put, I must be able to provide for my home and all that comes with it, my business and all that comes with it, and protections for me and you in the form of insurance and other measures.

Myself.

I’m not a small part of a larger organization. The documents I filed with the Secretary of State and the IRS list me as the owner/manager/CEO. No one else.

But that’s not the primary reason you may think my fees are too high. Sure, I account for the value I bring to your project in the creative fee I include in my project estimate. Wouldn’t you? My creativity, my problem-solving skills, my efficiency, my professionalism, my ability to provide you with the thing you need has value; this is what you’re hiring me for, isn’t it? Otherwise, you could ask anyone to fulfill your request. You probably have a staff person who’s handy with a camera and who might be able to figure out how to accomplish the task. Do you have time for that? Do they have the equipment or facilities ready at hand? Can you spare them from their normal duties? What will it cost you in actual time and salary to shift them from their regular job to this project? What will it cost if you have to do it all over again with a professional? But, that’s another discussion.

Here’s the primary reason you think my fees are too high. This refers back to that single word following the first paragraph and the fact that my business is mostly a Business of One. Kind of like the Army, except without all the support. Here’s a breakdown of real world numbers showing both the actual cost of being self-employed and the assistance provided by an employer. When you look at these numbers, imagine if your employer suddenly decided to stop its sponsored benefits and you had to provide them on your own. That’s me.

If you’re just starting out as as a self-employed person, or considering the jump, look at these numbers and halt your leap for a moment. Have you considered all your costs and expenses and factored them into your fee structure? If you haven’t calculated your cost of doing business, have a look at this online calculator. It doesn’t have all the fields you may need and it may have more than you need, but it will get you started. You can create your own calculator in a spreadsheet using these fields and make it as extensive and inclusive as you need for the independent needs of your own business. Have a look: NPPA Cost of Doing Business (CODB) Calculator

Here are the numbers I was talking about (these are amounts from 2015 employer rewards statement data, your specific numbers will vary). I’ve rounded the figures for visual clarity and ease of calculation:

Let’s begin with a base employee annual salary of $46,000
This is the amount you earn before taxes, whether it’s through an hourly wage or salary. It includes other compensation like paid holidays and sick leave. This is the amount you enter into the CODB calculator as your desired annual salary (or whatever amount you’d like).

If you are an employee, your employer pays for some things and you pay for some things. These are “voluntary” benefits. Your company could take these away:

Employer Sponsored Benefits
Medical Insurance
Employer pays: $9800
Employee pays: $2450
Dental Insurance
Employer pays: $500
Employee pays: $275
Vision Insurance
Employer pays: $0
Employee pays: $160
Life Insurance
Employer pays: $110
Employee pays: $0
Long Term Disability Insurance
Employer pays: $224
Employee pays: $0
Business Travel Insurance
Employer pays: $2
Employee pays: $0
Employee Assistance Program
Employer pays: $20
Employee pays: $0
401K (matching and deferral)
Employer pays: $1400
Employee pays: $3200
401K Contribution
Employer pays: $2300
Employee pays: $0

Total Employer Contribution: $14,356
Total Employee Contribution: $6,085
Total Contribution: $20,441

The government also mandates that employers provide some benefits (these your company can’t take away):

Government Mandated Benefits
Social Security
Employer pays: $2900
Employee pays: $2900
Medicare
Employer pays: $670
Employee pays: $670
Worker’s Compensation
Employer pays: $350
Employee pays: $0
Unemployment Insurance
Employer pays: $260
Employee pays: $0

Total Employer Contribution: $4,180
Total Employee Contribution: $3,570
Total Contribution: $7,750

So, to tally the numbers, for an employee with an annual salary of $46,000, an employer will pay $46,000 for the salary, $14,356 in employee sponsored benefits, and $4,180 in government mandated benefits. The employer actually pays for their employee a total of $64,536.

The employee will pay $6,085 for their share of employer sponsored benefits and $3,570 for their share of the government mandated benefits, for a total of $9,655.

However, the employee’s share ($9,655) comes out of their earnings, reducing their annual salary from $46,000 to $36,345, before taxes, which will take out another chunk for the federal government, state government and, in some cases, local or city government.

But, the self-employed person would actually need a gross income closer to $74,000 (the employer contribution of $64,536 plus employee contribution of $9,655) to cover all the listed benefits and deductions, just to cover the $46,000 ($36,345) annual salary. And that doesn’t account for the higher costs for individual business owners for things like insurance and taxes, and additional overhead expenses like studio rental, equipment, continuing education/training, marketing and promotion/advertising, etc. And this is where the pain resides.

A large company can distribute costs across its operation, especially if it provides multiple services or products. The self-employed creative individual has limited options because they have limited resources of time and individuals. It would be great if I could split myself into three or four pieces, each handling a separate aspect of my business while I concentrated on the most important task. But, because I am a Business of One, I have to set aside time for making calls, preparing marketing materials, preparing estimates, quotes, and invoices, bookkeeping, meeting with attorneys or accountant (which is a cost), chasing down late invoices, researching and chasing down copyright infringement, registering images with the copyright office, researching and developing new products or services, web designing, social media engaging, networking, learning, researching and purchasing/replacing equipment, eating and sleeping (hopefully at least twice a week), all of which take time and are not usually billable to a client. I don’t get paid for the day to day administrative upkeep of my business. If I did, if I wanted to be paid every day of the week, like an employee, I would need to charge you, the client, even more than you don’t want to pay now.

So, when you see the fees listed for the photographer, don’t freak out. It’s ok to ask questions and for the photographer to explain all this, if necessary. Just remember, we don’t have an employer, we’re not a small part of a large company. We have to provide all our own benefits, our own incentive bonuses, our own Christmas party, our own marketing, our own company vehicle and office space, our own existence.

If you like what we do, if you appreciate the value our work brings to your project, all we request is your understanding and that you look beyond price. Because, we provide more than a necessary cost of operations (an aspect of your own cost of doing business), and while we are able to negotiate and hopefully reach a win-win situation, and while we would do the work for free if we could survive doing it (I think I speak for many creative business owners with that thought), we can’t lose money every time we take on a project. We can’t stay in business if we’re essentially paying you to do the work you request.

Don’t Be A Dilettante

There has been and continues to be talk about how the professional photography industry has been “overrun” with amateurs, flooding the market with photographs and driving down photographer income. This is only one part of the phenomenon. Three main elements are 1) technology which allows nearly anyone to make a well-exposed and, if they are competent, a well-composed photograph, 2) the capability to distribute photographs worldwide for almost no cost, and 3) buyers who enjoy increased profits from lower fees paid to individuals who have very little or no knowledge of the photography industry or how to price their work accordingly to make a reasonable profit.

You could distinguish amateur from professional based on a wide range of criteria. Some amateurs are very competent and in many ways operate similar to a professional while others have really no clue or care what they are doing.

One critical factor that separates amateur from pro is commitment. Commitment to stick it through the tough times, to understand the industry, to build relationships with clients, to maintain a certain level of technical and creative skill, to use ethical and moral business practices, to help others become better professionals.

Another term for an amateur who isn’t committed is dilettante, an Italian word which in its first usage referred to a person who loved art. But today, the term is more negative, describing a person who engages in non-serious dabbling within a presumably serious field and is ill-equipped (or actually has no intention or desire) to meet the minimum standards of that field, study, or practice. One of my pet peeves is hearing someone tell me “I don’t want to be a professional” when we’re talking about pricing work. That’s the sign of a dilettante. They’re happy to make a little money from their efforts, but not committed enough to take it further – to learn about the business side of things, to help themselves make more money, for one thing. You don’t have to be a “professional” to act like one and just because you don’t intend photography to be your career doesn’t mean you must give away your work for free (or nearly so) or not understand copyright or how contracts work. Meeting the minimum standards (and in photography, the minimums are fairly reasonable to meet) would help boost the industry, help raise the “standard of living” of photographers across the board.

I wouldn’t presume to call myself an auto mechanic because I have a complete set of tools and know how to replace an alternator belt, and if I did I’m sure auto mechanics across the nation would scoff. I might make a decent pizza dough or cornbread, but I’m no baker. I painted landscapes and abstracts a lot when I was younger, but I don’t claim to be a painter.

I’ve been making photographs since I was young. I don’t have an art degree, but I’ve been a full-time photographer for 15 years and part-time for 6 years before that. I study copyright law and business methods even though it’s not my favorite thing. I’d much rather be out photographing. I’m a member of professional organizations and become involved in their operation, though I’d much rather be out photographing. I spend hours on the computer processing photographs, keywording, uploading to galleries, creating marketing materials, creating invoices, chasing invoices, calling and emailing clients, even though I would really much rather be out photographing. I attend professional education programs and continue to learn online and from others so I can maintain and improve my skill level (this I enjoy, even though I would still rather be out photographing).

I have a college degree and graduate education in wildlife biology and ecology. I worked in that field for over 10 years. I still mention that in my bio and casual conversation because it helps inform others about my background, but I don’t call myself a wildlife biologist anymore because my commitment to that field is much less than it was when I was actively conducting research, working in that field and getting paid for it according to the standards in that industry.

When I was working as a wildlife biologist, people would be envious of my job when I mentioned what I did. They had a romantic ideal of what it was like to be a biologist, imagining how beautiful it was to be “in Nature”, sitting beside gurgling streams or contemplating existence on a mountain top, handling cuddly animals, or having the pick of hunting and fishing spots. Sure, those times happened and it was incredible when it did. But, that was in between days of fighting off mosquito attacks, avoiding sunstroke or hypothermia, getting drenched in freezing downpours, digging a stuck vehicle out of the mud, dealing with the politics of government and private agencies and organizations, egos of co-workers and supervisors, writing reports, writing grants, filling out job applications, packing and unpacking.

The same applies when I tell people I’m a photographer. They imagine the romantic National Geographic travel photographer roaming the world seeing beautiful places, meeting new people, having an ongoing vacation. Yes, that happens, and when it does it’s magical (I’m not a National Geographic photographer – but for an ideao f what it’s like check out this short video about NatGeo photographer Joel Sartore, and his full length video called “At Close Range”). Most of the time, it’s simply work, background stuff. Especially these days when I’m doing all my own marketing, image processing, accounting, doing shows, in addition to being in the field shooting.

Being a professional is not about how much you spent on equipment. It’s not about your level of education, how much you charge, whether you are full time or part time, if you have a studio or work out of your house, although these things can contribute to the appearance of professionalism. It’s the level of commitment you choose which meets or exceeds the minimum standards for whatever industry/career you’re in.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s Break Barriers

Let’s break barriers together. There are many barriers to creative vision, from the seemingly impossible variety of cameras and equipment, to software, missing skills and knowledge, and your fears. I offer a wide variety of photography instruction in a classroom setting, one-on-one, or workshop. You can take a full class or mix and match the things you would like specific assistance with, like aperture’s control of depth of field, basic image processing and corrections in Elements or Photoshop (which also applies to Lightroom users), long exposure, or the business of photography, among others. Gift certificates are also available in nearly any amount if you know a friend or loved one who would like to have more control over their photographs. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Visit blueplanetphoto.com for details and to register and purchase gift certificates.

Let's break barriers together. Photography classes, workshops, and one-on-one instruction.

Let’s break barriers together. Photography classes, workshops, and one-on-one instruction.

Why complain about low fees?

I can understand (a little) when a new photographer or a photographer not educated in the industry complains about being hassled about the low fees they charge or accept from clients. I get it. Being in business is difficult. It’s not like your “hobby days” when you could shoot whenever and wherever you liked, and if you sold a print to a friend or someone at a show for a few bucks it offset some of the cost for equipment or gas, or whatever. It’s actual work, believe it or not. More work than the typical 40-hr-per-week worker puts in because self-employed persons aren’t just working on one or two or three tasks, but 10 or 20 covering a broad range of skill sets from accounting, management, design, interpersonal relationships and networking, to marketing, computer science and other technology, industry trend monitoring and Oh yeah, photography. It takes a lot out of a person who basically relies on their own knowledge and skill to get through the hoops and barriers blocking the way to a paycheck. So, I can understand how it can be easier to simply accept what’s offered and go a merry way on to the next project without spending too much time or effort worrying about price. Who needs yet another hassle to deal with, right?

There are, honestly, a lot of professional photographers complaining about other photographers accepting low fees from clients. Why is that? Is it because those photographers have been used to receiving the cream and now have to fight over the hind teat with someone who doesn’t know an aperture from a lens opening? Are they jealous of newbies getting work without any effort when they’ve been slogging their bones for decades? Are they afraid of losing their lofty position as “The Photographer”, soon to be referred to only as “photographer”? Maybe. But I think it’s really about the lack of industry understanding on the part of the up-and-coming-new-camera-acquiring population of photographers who have a romantic notion of what it’s like to be a professional photographer (i.e. business owner), but little knowledge of what’s actually at stake when taking that “one-hour” $200 job that actually takes three days to complete.

So, here are some hard numbers to ponder when you’re considering what fee to accept when that potential client calls and they claim poverty or no budget when they tell you what they will pay (take it or leave it).

PricewaterhouseCoopers, in their 2013 – 2017 Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report, says global spending for media and entertainment will reach $2.2 TRILLION in 2017, compared with $1.6 TRILLION in 2012. That includes such things as digital media (cable and satellite television, online movies, games, news, etc.). Related to that, and of the most importance to photographers (especially those in the commercial or editorial side of the industry), is that advertising revenue just in the United States is expected to grow 4.1% to $204 BILLION by 2017 compared to $167 billion in 2012 and internet advertising is expected to outperform traditional print advertising with annual gains of about 14%. Print advertising revenues have been declining, with 2012 seeing less than $5 billion in ad revenue. However, the business-to-business market continues to use about 30% of print advertising.

eMarketer estimated that online marketers would spend over $37 BILLION to advertise online in 2012, with Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, AOL, and Microsoft combined receiving $24 Billion of that total. Growth in online ad spending is expected to be in the double digits through 2014.

Granted, not every company that calls will be a Google or Facebook, but they are paying designers, marketers, illustrators (sometimes), publishers, printers, delivery drivers, copywriters, editors, salespeople, art directors, etc. etc. and photography is being used more than ever in all sorts of ways to be the “face” of a product, company, story. The fee you charge should be appropriate to the value the photographs you provide will give to the company using them. Put ego aside and get out the calculator.

When you contemplate the numbers, the BILLIONS and TRILLIONS of dollars spent in the U.S. and globally on advertising, compared to the effort you put in to develop your skills, purchase your equipment, receive a salary for your work, pay your living expenses and all your other business-related costs and expenses, doesn’t it seem a little unfair that those BILLIONS and TRILLIONS in revenue going into someone’s pocket other than yours, is riding on the backs of $200 and $400 and $1000 photography fees?

Think about it.

references:

http://www.pwc.com/us/en/industry/entertainment-media/publications/global-entertainment-media-outlook.jhtml

http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/pr-060313


http://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/digital-ad-spending-top-37-billion-2012-market-consolidates/

http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/newspapers-stabilizing-but-still-threatened/2-print-ad-revenue-continues-to-decline-copy/

http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/print/b2b-print-advertising-revenues-failing-to-keep-pace-with-2011-levels-24589/

Maria Piscopo comes to Boise, August 16 – 17, 2013

Maria Piscopo, Photographer's Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion

Maria Piscopo ASMP program, August 16 – 17, 2013

Register Today

Marketing is one of the more difficult tasks we face as creatives. Making contacts and establishing relationships can be intimidating. Luckily, we have just the program for you! Join us for a presentation on Friday evening and portfolio reviews on Saturday by artist rep, author, lecturer, and instructor Maria Piscopo.

Based on her recent book, 4th edition, The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion, this program has been updated for today’s commercial photography client. Maria’s new marketplace overview will give you the information you need to find and keep clients. Her techniques are specific, efficient and cost-effective for every area of photography.

Topics include: identifying your direction and updating your marketing message, improving responses to your ad and direct mail, email and web marketing tips and techniques, reducing rejection when calling clients, dealing better with voice mail, “no-fail” selling scripts, planning different presentations to get your work in the door and using new follow-up techniques to give you an unbeatable edge over your competition. Even experienced professionals will get new ideas!

Maria Piscopo (www.mpiscopo.com) is the author of the 4th edition Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion and Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Guide to Marketing and Promotion — both published by Allworth Press — and she has been an art/photo rep for twenty five years. She writes magazine articles for industry publications such as Shutterbug Magazine and Communication Arts and teaches marketing classes at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Maria’s topics have been successfully presented to industry associations such as AIGA, ASMP, APA, ICON, CAPIC and PPA.

Private portfolio reviews with Maria are available on Saturday, August 17, for a separate fee of $150.

Friday, August 16, we will begin at 6pm with a social and networking hour at the MK Nature Center Auditorium. The program begins at 7pm. Refreshments and door prizes.
Saturday, August 17, portfolio reviews are scheduled in 30-minute sessions from 8am – 6pm.

Admission:
Program Only
ASMP Member: Free
IMP Member (Idaho Media Professionals): $10
Non-Member: $15
Student: $5

Portfolio Review:
ASMP Member: $75
Non-Member: $150

Register Today

Again With The Watermarks

In response to the ongoing debate of “To Watermark or Not To Watermark?”:

If a photographer is a photographer because that’s their chosen profession, career, and livelihood, their desire to protect their work should not be lessened by this debate. Why not also decry people who lock the doors of their homes or their cars? I don’t know of any restaurants, doctors or auto mechanics who “brand” their services and products then allow free use (theft) without pursuing some recompense if it does happen. If they do offer free stuff, it’s on their own terms, just as it should be with photographers and other artists. We shouldn’t be “required” to give up or give in just because people love our work so much they’d rather not pay to have it. While I also agree art is an important component of a healthy society, why are artists compelled to “gift” their livelihood to that society and others are not? Honestly, I (and other artists, probably) would do this for free if I could live without money. Perhaps artists should be exempt from paying for anything in return for gifting their work to the world. I’d go for that.

I know this is an old, old debate, and there are photographers and artists who are consumed by it, which impacts their ability to do their work, blunts their creativity, and generally makes them grumpy. I do watermark my images so people know who the maker is, not really for theft avoidance because, as you say, if they want it they’ll take it. Just like locking your doors when you go out doesn’t deter the determined thief. I do agree that obnoxious watermarks are overkill (Would you like a photograph with that watermark, sir?). During a workshop I attended in 2001 led by Jay Maisel, during an image review session I showed some images with watermarks (during a workshop, yes) and Jay stopped and told everyone he didn’t know why anyone who posted their work online would not watermark their work, simply for the ability to be able to identify the owner, if nothing else. So, I see no downside and I don’t really care if someone doesn’t like it. It’s my work and if they want to purchase a photo for themselves I’m happy to provide them with one minus the watermark. The watermark also becomes the only identifying, traceable, means to find the owner when embedded metadata is removed (by services like Facebook, for example).

There is the distinction between professional and amateur photographers as it relates to watermarks and interest in copyright protection. But more often these days companies are approaching amateurs, using their work, for the very inexpensive fees (if any at all) amateurs are willing to accept (because they are uninformed).

I’ve also wrestled with the “clients hate watermarks” issue. Some art buyers hate to see them (just like they hate websites with black backgrounds). Again, if the mark is obnoxious, I understand. But I feel less inclined to remove them from my website display. If they want comps they can have a watermark-free image via the download process.

There will always be two groups in this debate. I prefer to be identified for my work when the purpose of my posting work is to easily identify the work as belonging to me. Watermarking might afford some small amount of theft protection, but even if the photo is used and the watermark retained, I am still identified as the owner of that image and that is more important than “sharing”.

Real World Client Relationships

It’s not just a photography thing, creatives all over experience this at one time or another, some more than others. The client who wants to “make a deal”. Here is a very well done video illustrating some of the pitches creatives get from clients. A “friendlier” variation of the Harlan Ellison video.

Justifying low prices — uhh, What?

In an industry suffering from a “race to the bottom” in terms of lower fees and other pricing I find it disturbing to come across an essay by a (part-time) photographer to justify his low prices. Especially, when he outlines the exact factors that define the value inherent in reasonably-priced photographic prints and services.

I’ve grabbed the essay in its entirety and you can read it below. Apologies to the photographer if you happen to stumble across this. Take the criticism as constructive and use it to change your policies and prices. When you charge a pittance for your skill and use of equipment “most people can’t afford” you are cheating yourself and your fellow photographers by creating a demand for low prices that are not enough to live on, much less enough to purchase or upgrade that expensive equipment. And your customers and the industry will take advantage of it.

I’ve left the photographer’s name out of it because this is not an attack on this particular photographer, but an illustration of the lack of education many amateur photographers have when it comes to the business of photography.

Please read the essay and take away from this that your time and skill as a photographer have value, regardless whether you are trying to make it as a full-timer, if you work at Wal Mart, or if you have a $10 million trust fund. Do the research, it’s not that difficult. Talk to a local pro. Join a professional association (see my other posts on this under the Pro Assoc & Orgs category to the right or the post above this one). Read some books. Find information on the web.

Why My Work Costs Less than Other Photographer’s

If you believe that great art has to be expensive, then my work is not for you. The color, creativity and print quality are as good or better than what you would buy from a typical photographer, but at a price anyone can afford. Make no mistake, I sell my work at a profit, but I don’t have to rely on my work as my sole livelihood. I have other income that pays most of my bills and since I operate my studio from my home, I save on overhead. I could sell my work for several times the asking price, but I don’t think that’s necessary. This is what you’re paying for.

– The cost of processing good quality photography is not cheap, but it’s not as expensive as some would have you believe. I do a lot of my own processing at home, but some of the largest images are sent out for printing. I use the best equipment, which costs money to operate and maintain. I only use high quality paper, resisting damage from ultraviolet light to ensure decades of crisp, sharp color.

– There is considerable time spent working raw images into final projects that meet the standards I set for my work.

– It takes gasoline (which isn’t cheap) to get me to the trail heads I hike to take my nature shots, or to the locations of my portrait and wedding shoots.

Nevertheless, you’ll find my work affordable, especially if you compare it to similar works displayed by typical photographers that you’ll see displayed on the walls of various galleries. I don’t cater to the rich. Rather, my customers are normal people who desire quality photos to decorate their homes and businesses. Photography is my hobby, and your business merely provides me the ability to continue providing the beauty of God’s nature to the people of the world.

Finally, I don’t expect tips, but if you insist that the quality of my work is worth more than what I’m charging, then I’ll gladly accept.

Some other quotes from the site:

“Please note that the obnoxious copyright lables only appear on this website. When you order, you can specify a signed, numbered original with a certificate of authenticity (for when I become famous) or a completely unmarked print. All prints, up to 20×30, are printed with stunning 300 dpi resolution.”

“If you’re decorating with 8×10, you can snap your own, take them to the drug store and print them out yourself. If that’s what you want, then you don’t need me. I’m offering professionally edited photos using cameras, lenses, printers, paper, and software most people can’t afford. I’ve invested greatly in cameras, lenses, computer hardware and software to provide high-quality imagery even at large sizes.”

“Commercial shoots are often more time consuming than portrait photography, but since it’s irregular work, I generally charge the same prices.”

So, what are the prices?

Location fee: $20 + gas money

Studio fee: $20 with a $10.00 credit toward print purchase

8×12: $9

11×14: $11.50

12×18: $18.00

16×20: $20.50

20×30: $27.00

Oh yeah, he offers a CD “free of copyright restrictions” for $10. I wonder what the print prices are for, then?

Don’t sell yourself short, it’s a hole you will have a hard time digging yourself out of when it comes time.

Digital Railroad – another archive site

Another company specializing in digital file management, marketing, sales, distribution and archiving is Digital Railroad (went out of business in 2008).

Digital Railroad offers 20 GB storage for $49.95/month with a one-year contract and a $99 one-time setup fee. If you prepay for the year you save 10% (44.95/month) and the setup fee is waived.

Additional storage is 20 – 50GB $18, 500GB – 1TB $390/month and 1TB – 2TB $750/month.

Features are about the same as PhotoShelter (see next post), with searchable catalogs, sales and distribution, promotion.

I think these sites are going to be more popular because of all the background operations the service provides that the stock or fine art photographer doesn’t or shouldn’t need to do nor has time for. For photographers who are hiring website designers and paying premiums for hosting, the fees charged by the likes of Digital Railroad and PhotoShelter are about the same or even much less.

I’ve had a website since 1994 and have been doing the design work on it myself since the beginning. However, I’m not able to keep up with the technology in that area, so my website has begun to suffer in features, updates, design elements, etc. While I’ve considered hiring out the design and maintenance of the website, I prefer to be hands on with it as much as possible. These services are not only appealing to photographers without websites or the skill to create one on their own. They provide the ability to have offsite protected image storage, customizable features and templates, and a host of other components that make it more appealing to busy professional photographers who still like to tinker with their websites.