Becoming an online printer: Considering my options

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Photography, RLC Design 3 Comments

This morning I was spurred to consider a lot more web work in the coming weeks.  Go figure, my thought process got going again after reading Scott Kelby’s blog.  Every time I go there I feel like the guy gives me extra work, extra research, and extra reading.

Thanks Scott!

While reading about Scott’s latest adventure, and his new camera that he had to purchase after a series of mishaps I noticed an advertisement on his site.  APC, Artistic Photo Canvas.  It’s a website where you can get your photos put on to canvas.  Hey, I know a guy who does that.  I know a gallery that specializes in reproduction work for photographers, painters, sketch artists, etc.  Heck, I work there.  Best part……I’m a former engineer who is also crazy about color matching and satisfying his clients.

It’s at this point I should say that I don’t just do canvas.  I also do glossy, matt, water color papers (many types), photo rag, tyvek, and more.  And I know that all of my stuff is archival, which is important to artists reselling their images in galleries.

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Everybody's Hometown #'s 1 & 2. Printed as 16x24 gallery wraps

So, after reading Scott’s two articles this morning I jumped over to this Artistic Photo Canvas website.  Very cool.  Nice web cart.  And the prices…..ah yes, pricing is always important.  Amazingly enough, these guys are on par with my pricing.  It was shocking.  The first “giclee’ reproduction” house that prices like I do.  Normally everyone is anywhere from 25-50% higher than my prices.  So, I’ve got a real competitor out there.  And they’re taking orders online.

The entire thing has spurred me.  Sure, business has been amazing the past few months.  Clients have been wowed, customers who purchase my work and Ian’s work have been wowed, and we’re all pretty much having fun.  But, we could have more fun!

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be working on web cart concepts, file upload options, etc.  People have sent me their images to work on, but now I’m going to make it fully official online.  Online ordering will become a new feature for RL Charpentier Photography.  It has to be a feature.  And given the market place, I’m sure there’s room for one more high quality reproduction shop online.  There are plenty of bad ones out there, so getting around them shouldn’t be too difficult.  The big issue is just more web design and dealing with a cart management system….. Easy enough, right?  🙂

P.S.

To my current clients…..I’d love it if you’d leave some comments on the work you’ve had done with us.  I’ll be popping a testimonials page together when I revamp the website to do online ordering.  I know how happy you’ve been with the work we’ve produced for you and appreciate everything you’ve said when we visit.  It would be great if you could jot a few notes about it as well….that would really help!  Thanks all!

Comments 3

  1. Rich,

    For your regular customers and for new customers who might like the service, I suggest you keep a repository of client files ready to print on demand. Perhaps some uniform file labeling would be helpful. Then, you could also serve as a gallery for your clients, taking a cut on orders. To do this, you might permit clients to post say 5-10 images for sale in various sizes and media. Visitors could place the order on your site and you could handle all the mechanics of collection, payment, delivery, etc. for a fee or percentage. Paperwork, I know, but you already have the tools to make this efficient. There may be other amateurs like myself who would appreciate a way of displaying our wares and the opportunity to make a few coins along the way to support our habit.

  2. Post
    Author

    Ah Mike….you’re thinking about the print you had at my gallery that a client asked about buying??? 🙂

    I do keep a database of all client files and once files are on hand, can print them on demand. Next day turn around on the print. I’ve now gotten to the point where I have an inventory of all “common” stretcher bars we use. Last week I did multiple 24 hour turnaround gallery wraps. The largest was a 28 x 34 (yes, odd size, but that’s how they cropped it).

    I’m currently investigating shopping cart systems (the one web thing I hate doing), and we’ll see what I come up with. 🙂 This is going to be a mult-month process getting everything setup appropriately.

    With that said, it is absolutely my newest project. The business is growing, and there’s no reason to limit myself!

  3. Take a look at what Dave Siegel has to say about creating different portals or layers on a web site to accommodate different categories of users and customers. Prescient stuff and helpful to boot. It’s in the “Futurizing Your Enterprise” book. More work initially and perhaps more maintenance along the way that could be handled part-time by a good geek. Must be a few locally.

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