Zenfolio is our favourite online gallery and portfolio tool – while it’s focus has always been photography, it actually works well for any type of visual art. And whilst there are flashier sites out there, Zenfolio offers a really solid & well proven set of tools for setting up and maintaining your site, as well as doing print sales and sharing galleries.
For a reasonable fee you can store an unlimited number of photos at Zenfolio (so it makes an excellent backup tool as well!). I personally have more than 4000 images stored there. It’s a very flexible system very popular with professional photographers – but there’s no per-se reason it has to be limited to photography – a portfolio site is something pretty much every visual artist should have!
Zenfolio have partnered with NuShots (aka NuLab) for day to day photo printing – your everyday chemistry 6 by 4s, basically. Which is handy if you have some pedestrian print needs…but the real beauty of Zenfolio is that it’s very easy to set up ‘self fulfilled’ products – meaning you can have it accept payments for any product you will produce, and Zenfolio will simply collect the orders and payment, and email you the orders for fulfilment. You can define any products you like, and thus can use a service like ours to offer much more interesting fine art products (that you can sell for much more interesting prices!).
First things first you need a premium plan to do self fulfilled products…but considering this is unlimited storage and all the other features, it’s very reasonably priced really:
Once you’ve got that, you start uploading your images to the back end, and set up your templates and galleries. Zenfolio offer some good free templates, but you can also design (or have designed) pretty much any template you like.
Once you’ve got your images in, it’s time to set up your products. Go to the Zenfolio selling section:
And scroll down to the section…where you will note that for passing orders on, Zenfolio do not charge a fee!
Now on the left head over to the Self Fulfilled Products section and create your product:
First, you actually have to create a shipping method. The best advice here is to make things really easy for your customer – set a single worldwide flat rate so everyone can very easily see their final price. You’re just sending a tube, basically, so shipping even overseas will not be that expensive.
Next comes payment methods. Paypal is the obvious choice here – pretty much anyone can use Paypal and feels safe doing so. It’s easy to set up:
Then, create you actual product. It’s very simple, here’s an example:
Note the cost you are putting in is actually the Image Science print price (i.e. your cost) – it’s just used in reports, you can leave it at zero if you like but putting in your actual cost means you’ll get better reports later on how much you’ve made. But it’s not the sales price!
Add some pictures – ideally of framed up, finished examples hanging on someone’s wall – this gives people a real sense of the finished product (but note in the description that the print is supplied unframed of course!).
Save your product.
OK – almost there. The final step is to tie it all together with a price list:
Create a new price list, e.g. Fine Art Prints, and add you products – you can now see how your cost price is used. Set any final price you like.
The final step is to go into your gallery and attach your price list to the gallery. You do this over on the right hand side:
And that’s it! Rinse, and repeat for other products. And note you can do different lists for different galleries. Zenfolio works on a galleries heirachy, so you can have a ‘personal’ section with a price list that offers boring NuLab prints for your family and friends photos, and a ‘public’ section that has galleries of your proper photo work offered as fine art prints. All from one easy to administer account!
Test it out on the front end. I like to create a dummy $1 product so I can test the full process end to end including payment.
Zenfolio will collect your orders – offering a very easy to use cart interface at the front end – and will email you the orders. You then just pass these on to us – we can even store a library of your files here so basically you flick across a copy of the Zenfolio order and we work straight from that (you can even set it up so the emails are auto-forwarded to us if you want to get really fancy!).
So now you’re done – beautiful fine art prints gallery & ordering system – tick!