Being a photographer in today’s digital age mean much more than just shooting photos and printing them for your clients. Your marketing and branding are all such a big piece of your business and your brand really touches everything. From the little things like the envelopes you use to bigger things like your website and everything in between it all makes a huge difference in setting the tone of your business. One pretty big part of my business doing weddings and portraits is hosting my events online. You have to be able to showcase your work to your clients online and providing them with a website that matches the look and feel of your branding is key.
So today I am going to be doing a review on Collages.net. As a disclaimer they are a sponsor on this site, which has nothing to do with this review. As with all of my reviews I believe in bringing you all totally honest and straightforward feedback.
So first lets start with what Collages.net is and why I think a service like this is very important. At any event you can have hundreds of people who are all really your clients. The bridesmaids, groomsmen, aunts and uncles are all potential clients, not only to purchase photos but also for future business. So much of this business is word of mouth and you want to make sure that you WOW everyone during every step of the way. Most of the guests won’t see the beautiful album you create for your client or the amazing canvas you create for them, but they will look at the images online. So having a web provider that has a beautiful look and can incorporate your branding into is a very big part of your overall image.
So what exactly does Collages.net do? They really do more than just showcase a gallery of your photos. We can all do that ourselves fairly easy with Lightroom or many other products that let you put a quick web gallery up. Collages.net has a full shopping cart functionality so people can not only just order prints but at the same time customize them a bit by cropping the image or turning it to Black and White. And really one of the best part about their site is the order fulfillment.
For me I also like to have an online company that also can handle the printing and do a great job. When a order from a client is placed it can go directly to collages professional lab “Collages color” where they print and send everything off directly to your consumer. You can choose to have them sent to you if you need to re-package with your branded studio packaging but I always prefer to have them handle everything. That is part of what makes this service so great, you can be out doing what you should be… shooting more photos all while your event site is selling images and taking full control of the entire order from start to finish. You do pay for this service, a fee is charged per order but in my mind it is so worth it. One order that a client makes can take up a lot of your valuable time, you have to take the order, find the files and prep them, submit to your lab, get them back, invoice them, collect payment and then package and mail it off. All of this sometimes for a $30 order can be very time consuming. So why not just have collages.net do all of the fulfillment and save you a ton of time.
Collages.net also offers a wide spread range of products from proof books to album designs, so it makes their service really a one stop shop for you. Once your order is uploaded you have access to many different products like albums, books and cards. You also have access to the guest book for your event which will show you the email address for everyone that has logged into the event. This is good to have for your future marketing so you can continue a relationship with everyone from the wedding. They also have reporting you can do on the traffic of the event so you can get a view of how many people are visiting your events in certain timeframes.
Now that you know a little about Collages.net and the services they offer here are some of my other thoughts about their services. You can also view more info about their services online here: Collages.net services
- The upload process is very simple, they have a web tool that walks you through the entire process of uploading your images, categorizing them and customizing parts of the event page. Once you finish the process your site is created right away. I really loved this, its very quick and easy to setup events and to edit them once they have been submitted.
- Beautiful full screen images! This is one of my favorite parts about their sites, you can enter full screen mode and the images just pop. Also your clients can’t download the images. Since it’s a flash based site there is no way of them download your images. The only bummer is since it is Flash based, iPad’s are out of luck.
- You can customize parts of the event site and add your own logo. Also Collages.net doesn’t brand the sites with their info so it still feel like you are on your own website. For consistent branding this really is important.
- Custom event view page. This I think is really cool. You can create a custom webpage with your logo and color scheme that shows all of the current events you have online. That way you have a branded webpage to send your clients to in order to access their images.
- Social Networking built in! Your client can link their event up to Facebook, Myspace or a blog to get more exposure to your images.
- There are lots of other great features they have to view them all check out their website at: http://www.collages.net
They have a few different monthly plans that are very affordable and a yearly plan that really is your best option. With the yearly plan you pay $599 for the year and can upload as many events as you need. You also pay a smaller amount for your service fee (which is 9% of your online orders) and get a $250 product credit to use towards their products. Overall I definitely recommend them if you are looking for someone to host your weddings and portrait events online.