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How to Sell Photography Prints: Part 2

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How to Sell Photography Prints: Part 2

There are many ways to sell prints online. In the last article of this series, we already looked at one of them that was free and easy to set up. But it might not be the right way to sell prints professionally. If branding and customer relations are important to you, a customized online store might be a better solution. In this article, I share how to set one up.

First of all, you must decide which platform to use. With services like Squarespace, Smugmug, Photoshelter, and Shopify, to name just a few, it’s up to you to pick and choose. But not so quickly. Those platforms are not cheap. If you require e-commerce support, Squarespace, for example, will cost you at least $25 per month plus a 3% fee for every sale you make. If you want options like customizable delivery or discounts, you will pay more than $50. With Smugmug and Shopify, you’ll pay between $30 and $50. Photoshelter might look a lot cheaper at first glance, but they charge between 8% and 10% transactional fee for every sale you make. So, based on the sales volume, you might pay even more than when using the other platforms.

Contrast those prices with a typical web hosting solution from services like GoDaddy or Ionos, which I use. For around $6, you get a solid base to self-host your e-commerce homepage, with nothing missing but the website itself. 

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If we do the math and compare this to Squarespace, you save $228 per year compared to their basic e-commerce offering. If you don’t plan on changing the look of your homepage every one or two years, which is simple with platforms like Squarespace, this can add up. 

Now, you know your budget for paying somebody to create a homepage for you or buying a WordPress theme plus a few plugins and hooking everything up yourself. It’s certainly not for everyone, and you might value your time much higher than those $228 per year you can save by self-hosting. But again, as soon as you need more features, the $228 can quickly turn into $500 or more. 

Below, I will first go through a general checklist of things you need to create an online print store. This checklist will be relevant for both self-hosted websites and when using the mentioned platforms. 

Afterward, I show you an example of how to self-host an e-commerce website.

E-Commerce Checklist

Before I moved from using Redbubble to a fully customized e-commerce solution, there were some things I had to do.

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Privacy Policy

I already had a privacy policy long before starting the transition because I live in the EU. But even if you don’t, if you want to sell your prints to European customers, you better include a privacy policy on your homepage.

To fulfill orders, you must process customer data and most likely pass it on to a print provider unless you print yourself. Such uses must be transparent to your customers. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to add a legal notice and disclaimer to your homepage.

Terms of Service and Cancellation Policy

Those two are required once you turn your homepage into an e-commerce platform. And it’s a pain to create those. You could use one of the many available generators and templates, for example, Shopify’s terms of service template. But those are very generic, and you’ll spend much time adjusting them.

The alternative is to use an external service that provides customized legal documents for your website. Here, you can plan another $10 a month for a subscription.

E-commerce solutions usually store information on the customer’s device in the form of cookies. You should inform a user of your website about it through a cookie consent form. Those are the annoying popups you see on many websites today.

There are many solutions available which you will find via Google. If you fancy integrating one yourself, I have a tutorial on that topic.

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Payment Gateway

How are you planning to charge your customers? If you select one of the mentioned platforms, you must understand which integrations they offer and know you will have to get additional accounts for those.

A typical payment gateway is PayPal. By creating a business account, you can not only use it to accept payment via PayPal itself but also via credit card. Other options are Stripe, which I used for several years to offer credit card payments to people buying my tutorials.

Setting up an e-commerce platform is one thing, but getting the goods produced and delivered to your customers is something you must handle separately. If you plan on printing yourself, you only have to figure out the packaging and logistics for shipping. But even if you don’t want to print, there are solutions.

One is to automate the whole process by integrating a service like CreativeHub. They offer integrations for Squarespace, Woocommerce, Shopify, and some others. Printing and drop-shipping are done by thePrintSpace, the company behind CreativeHub. You can even use them to sell limited edition prints, and their free tier allows you to store up to 30 GB of data. If you expect a high sales volume, then such an automated service might be a requirement for you. It’s something to consider when selecting your e-commerce platform because not all allow its integration.

Alternatively, you will have to do some manual order processing. Once an order arrives in your system, you can forward it to the print provider of your choice for fulfillment. It is the option I’ve now chosen for my shop. I use Whitewall for that. If you live in the US, you’d use their US website to order customer prints. If you live in the EU, you can use their EU website.

Tax

An important part of selling your art is to consider tax requirements. The regulations are different based on the location of your business and the types of sales you make. Ask yourself questions like:

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  • Do you want to sell internationally? If so, which countries do you want to target?
  • Do you want to only sell to private customers (B2C) or as well to other businesses (B2B)?
  • What volume of sales do you expect over one year?

The answers to those questions will, for example, tell you, if you need a VAT id. Even if you fall under special regulations in your own country and are not required to get one, selling internationally might still require it in some cases. An excellent resource to educate yourself on this topic is Quaderno. In addition to that, you might also want to seek professional counsel.

Setup

Once you selected a platform and went through the checklist, you’re ready to set up your shop. And as I already mentioned, I will go through the self-hosting option, for which I use WooCommerce. If you decide to also do it like this, you should either have some basic knowledge about web development or get help. Otherwise, you can end up with a slow website that might not look or work as you want.

WordPress

Step one is to install WordPress on your server. Download the latest version from here and follow the instructions on how to install WordPress. If this part already bothers you, hire a web developer or use one of the platforms mentioned in the beginning, and don’t self-host.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is open-source and free. It’s available as a plugin for WordPress, and installing it can be done via the WordPress dashboard. It offers a lot of settings, and you should take your time to study and configure each one of them. You would do the same with a platform like Shopify.

Some essential parts of the setup are, linking your legal documents, configuring emails, setting up shipping zones, creating print variations, selecting prices, and adding a payment gateway. For PayPal, you can install another plugin and connect it to your business account.

Test Product

Once the basic setup is complete, test it by creating a first product and making a test purchase to ensure everything works smoothly. To not spend too much on this test product, use a dummy that costs just one dollar. Such a test order should trigger emails to your business and the customer’s mail address and initiate the money transfer.

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Theming

To adjust the look of a WordPress homepage, you need custom themes. If you don’t want to develop one yourself or pay a web developer for it, you can buy one online. There are countless photography-specific themes available, starting at around $50 for an e-commerce-enabled theme. The alternative that involves some more work is using a builder like Oxygen. Unfortunately, it will soon move to a subscription-based license, taking away the appeal of using it for a single website.

I did the whole theming myself, and I have to say, it’s a bit painful. If you are not careful and don’t know what you are doing, you can end up with an unmaintainable mess. Even some of the commercial themes look a bit messy.

If you made it this far, it’s finally time to turn your photos into products. To compete with other stores, you should create mockups of how your photos will look as wall art in different environments. An affordable resource for such mockups is freepik. It’s a subscription-based service through which you can download PSD files for different room settings.

And don’t worry about having to pay a continuous subscription. You get a license file for each download you make during your subscription allowing you to use the images even after you cancel it.

Descriptions

If you spend so much time and effort to set up your storefront, you surely also want people to find it. That’s why you have to think about SEO. This way, you make your store discoverable through Google and other search engines. To do so, add tags and custom descriptions to all your products.

It is where ChatGPT and Grammarly are a great help. Use ChatGPT to create a first description, then bring it to Grammarly and refine it. Avoid using the texts from ChatGPT as is. They usually need some attention, and it also doesn’t hurt to add a personal note, for example, by sharing behind-the-scenes information.

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Conclusion

Creating a personalized print shop that you host yourself takes a significant amount of effort. But once you’re finished, the reward is having a storefront over which you have full control. You can even take all your data and head to another provider if new terms or prices are imposed or you are not satisfied with some aspect of the offering. I have done this once in the past.

With platforms like Squarespace, you can’t simply migrate your website. But most likely, you don’t have to. It’s just something to be aware of. And although those platforms offer countless configurations, you can run into limitations if you have special requirements. That’s why the final tip I want to give you here is: write down specific requirements for your website and print shop. Take your time for this task, look at similar offerings by other photographers, and figure out what you need. Those requirements will help you not regret your choice of platform later on.



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Our CloudFest Hackathon Report – WordPress.com News

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Our CloudFest Hackathon Report – WordPress.com News

With WordPress today you need to use custom code or a plugin to create a custom post type like “Book” or “Member.” This is a popular need, and there are a variety of approaches; however, one challenge is that the end-user experience can be confusing and non-standardized.

A few weeks ago, some Automatticians and I went to the 7th CloudFest Hackathon in Rust, Germany to explore a solution for this. We started hacking on a deeply nerdy project, JSON Schema forms and fields, and ended up with a fascinating approach to an age-old question: What if you could register custom post types and custom fields directly in the WordPress admin?

Forty-eight hours turns an idea into reality

The CloudFest Hackathon is an event that allows developers from around the globe to take ideas and turn them into realities.

During the Hackathon, teams of developers from various content management systems and hosting companies come together to contribute to projects that align with the core principles of the event: the projects must be not-for-profit, interoperable, and open source.

Last year, we worked on a project that allowed us to embed WordPress directly in VS Code. We built the WordPress Playground VS Code extension on top of WordPress Playground. It uses WebAssembly to run WordPress entirely within the browser, and it turned out pretty darn slick

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This year, we focused on a JSON Schema Field/Form Renderer. While most of us explored using JSON Schema to dynamically register admin forms and fields, Dennis Snell and Adam Zieliński decided to take the project one step further! They hacked together a plugin that introduced the ability to register custom post types and custom fields directly from the WordPress admin. More notably, everything happens within the block editor—you have to see it to believe it:

This work poses some interesting possibilities for custom post type and custom field implementation because it could fundamentally change the way low- to no-code WordPress users modify their sites.

Naturally, I took the idea to Twitter/X:

I got quite a range of responses, ranging from “Heck Yes! It should have already been a core feature now. Such an integral part of every other site” to “Admin should only be for content and user management. Everything else should be configured in code and version controllable.”

So why the range in responses? Let’s discuss.

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It turned out to be pretty simple

Dennis and Adam built our prototype using the following conventions:

  • A custom post type wp_data_type holds templates for user-defined data types.
  • The title of a post in the wp_data_type defines the name of the new data type. The post itself is the rendering template and comprises any set of normal blocks. Names are given to select block attributes within the post, and these names are mapped into the data type.
  • When creating new posts for the given data type, the locked template is copied from the wp_data_type template, and the block attribute annotations are preserved.
  • Finally, when rendering the wp_data_type template, the attributes are pulled from the individual post of the given data type and spliced into the template.

The fascinating idea is that we don’t have to think about form fields; blocks already provide a rendering view and a modal editing experience. We can rely on the fundamental way blocks work and use the very same user experience to create custom data types in a way that users are already familiar with when editing a post or a site.

We can provide JSON-LD markup properties to the block editor using our Custom Fields Names block settings.

Custom post types define custom data types, so we use a template to not only define the data type, but also to provide a default rendering template. Each data attribute within a post type has a field where it’s possible to define that field with its JSON-LD property. 

For example, say you had a “Book” custom post type. A few JSON-LD properties you could define using custom fields are:

  • description
  • copyrightYear
  • author
  • bookEdition
  • bookFormat
  • isbn
  • numberOfPages

We also chose to store a copy of each block attribute in the JSON attributes for that block. Since WordPress can now provide a post-to-JSON function, which merges the extracted attributes with the names assigned in the custom post type template, that template may have changed since the custom post was created. This means that no database migrations are necessary to render an updated version of a post.

The best part? The WordPress infrastructure that already exists (aka Gutenberg!) defines the data type. Because these custom posts are normal posts, and because they adopt the locked template for the data type definition, they are, in fact, renderable on their own! Even if the template has been updated and only the post itself is rendered, it will still display a meaningful representation of the data type as it was when it was created.

While our original Hackathon project was tailored towards developers and UX designers who would love to see a forms and fields API in WordPress, this prototype puts more power in the hands of low- to no-code WordPress users.

It also opens up a world of possibilities for providing a rendering view for any structured data. Imagine uploading a CSV and mapping the column names to block attributes, or connecting to a database or JSON API to map the records in the same way. 

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For example, if you had a CSV with business names, addresses, a rating, and a description, we could take that template post and insert a map block, a heading block, a star rating block, and a paragraph block and set the attributes to map to the CSV columns. It’s essentially an instant structured data renderer!

But even if we can define custom post types and fields in the editor, should we, as a WordPress community, consider adding it to core?

The existential question: Should it exist?

Adding this kind of functionality into WordPress core could open up a ton of opportunities for the average WordPress user. Instead of needing to get a developer involved to add a custom post type to their site, a user could simply do it themselves and define the necessary fields and structured data attributes. 

On the other hand, allowing everyday users, who may not have a full grasp of how custom post types and structured data should work, free reign to create these data types themselves could have detrimental effects on the user experience of their websites. Clunky or incorrect implementation of structured data markup could also cause issues with how search engines crawl these sites, causing unintended negative impacts to search traffic.

Not only that, but as of right now, if a custom post type is accidentally deleted, all of the content posted to that custom post type will no longer be accessible through the admin (even though it will still be stored in the database). The user could think they “lost” their data.

Let’s talk about it

What do you think? Are you in favor of giving website owners the ability to change and customize their custom post types and attributes? Or are there some website features that should always require a more technical hand and implementer? 

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We’d love to chat with you about your thoughts in the comments below.

For another interesting exploration on a related idea, check out this discussion on GitHub with the core team.


Thanks to Lars Gersmann for leading the JSON Schema project with me and to everyone on the Syntax Errors team: Adam Zieliński, Dennis Snell, Julian Haupt, Michael Schmitz, Anja Lang, Thomas Rose, Marko Feldmann, Fabian Genes, Michael Schmitz, Jan Vogt, Lucisu, Maximilian Andre, Marcel Schmitz, and Milana Cap.


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Turkish startup ikas attracts $20M for its e-commerce platform designed for small businesses

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Turkish startup ikas attracts $20M for its e-commerce platform designed for small businesses

It’s easy to assume the e-commerce ship has sailed when you consider we have giant outfits like Shopify, WooCommerce and Wix dominating the sector. But the opportunity for e-commerce platforms that cater to brands remain vast and fertile, since so many smaller businesses continue foraying into the internet in the wake of the pandemic.

Further evidence of this has surfaced in the form of one of the largest fundraises by a startup in Turkey, given that the average Series A usually comes in at below $15 million. E-commerce platform ikas has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round as it seeks to expand its operations into new markets in Europe. The company currently operates in Turkey and Germany, and says its platform simplifies store management for companies that want to have a digital presence.

The investment was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) fund, a venture arm of the World Bank Group.

ikas’ co-founder and CEO Mustafa Namoğlu told TechCrunch that the company would be using the new funding for international expansion in Eastern Europe and the DaCH region.

“Most of Europe is predominantly neglected or underserved by those U.S.-based giants,” he said. “The global platforms lack customer service in local languages. It looks easy to start with, for example, a Shopify. But once you start, you need to add other plugins, and you may even need an agency to run it.”

Namoğlu said ikas can win customers against other platforms because it’s more of a “fire and forget” platform. “The first reason our merchants pick us over others is storefront speed, which gives them higher conversion rates. You get this out of the box, even if you pay us €30 per month. The second reason is customer service. Thirdly, we bundle the payments and the shipping labels into our core product, which means you don’t need to go and negotiate with payment providers or shipping labels. You’re immediately ready to go,” he said.

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Namoğlu previously founded MUGO, a fashion distribution and retail company, and launched ikas in 2017 with co-founders Tugay Karaçay, Ömercan Çelikler and Umut Ozan Yildirim.

The IFC invests directly in companies as well as through PE and VC funds.

Also investing in ikas is Re-Pie Asset Management, which has grocery delivery startup Getir in its portfolio. The round saw participation from ikas’ existing investor Revo Capital, best known as the first institutional investor in Getir, Param, Midas and Roamless.

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Introducing the Public Pattern Library  – WordPress.com News

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Introducing the Public Pattern Library  – WordPress.com News

When it comes to website-building, WordPress themes set your site up for success by providing stylish, preselected options for fonts, colors, and layouts. Even though themes provide the overall aesthetic, you still need to build out the posts, pages, and templates on your site. That’s where block patterns come in!

The WordPress.com Pattern Library is your new go-to resource for finding any kind of pattern for your beautiful WordPress website. With hundreds of pre-built patterns to choose from across over a dozen categories, you’ll be covered no matter your website’s specific needs. 

What are patterns?

Block patterns are collections of blocks made to work seamlessly with our modern themes. Need an “About” page? Check. A gallery? Check. A testimonial? Check. How about a newsletter? Check. We have just about anything you’ll need. 

Best of all: for each pattern, the fonts, colors, and spacing will adapt to your theme’s settings, making for a cohesive look. Still, patterns aren’t locked or static either—after you’ve added the pattern to your post, page, or template, you can tweak it however you like. 

A tour of the Pattern Library 

This new public Pattern Library allows you to browse, preview, and easily share or implement whichever design speaks your tastes. Let’s take a look around. 

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Browse all categories 

If you want to explore the Pattern Library and don’t have anything in particular that you’re looking for, click through each category to spark some ideas. 

Search for what you need 

At the top, you’ll find a fast and easy-to-use search box, allowing you to find exactly what you need. This is a great option if you don’t feel like browsing and want to jump right into a solution for your specific needs. 

Explore page layouts 

1712811362 362 Introducing the Public Pattern Library – WordPresscom News

Sometimes you just need the components of a post, page, or template: a header, a “Subscribe” box, a store module, etc. Other times, you want to be able to copy and paste an entire page into existence. Scroll down past the categories and you’ll find our full-page patterns for whole pages: About, Blog, Contact, Store, and more. 

Test the mobile responsiveness for each pattern

When looking through the library on a desktop or laptop device, you’ll see a gray vertical bar next to each pattern. That’s a nifty little slider that we’ve built into the library which allows you to see how each pattern responds to different screen sizes. Using your cursor to move the bar to the left, you’ll see what that design looks like on a mobile device; in the middle is where most tablets fall; and scroll back all the way to the right for the desktop/laptop version. 

Copy and paste to your website 

Like what you see? Simply click the blue “Copy pattern” button, open the WordPress.com editor to the post, page, or template you’re working on, and paste the design. It’s that easy. Once inserted, you can customize each block as needed using the right sidebar. 

Your new favorite page-building tool

The Pattern Library is especially useful if you build websites for clients. Each pattern is built to work with any theme that follows our technical standards, speeding up page-building not just for you but also for your clients—all while maintaining the overall style of your theme. 

In concrete terms, this means that our patterns take font, color, and spacing settings from the theme itself rather than using standard presets. This makes it far less likely for a site to break (or just look off) when you—or a client—experiment and make updates. 

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Our goal is always to make your life both easier and more beautiful. This new resource does just that. Check out the WordPress.com Pattern Library today to enhance your website-building experience! 


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