Starting an online business

  flick 23:36 12 Oct 2004

My husband retired recently and has been has been spending his newly liberated time expanding his already extensive photo collection.
He has always freely given up images to anyone who asked - friends, small businesses, schools, charities etc. - but now wonders if perhaps there's potential for generating some extra income from them.

It seems to me that there are two ways to approach this: 1. Upload them to an image bank and see if anyone is interested. 2. Set up a website and offer them directly.

There are obviously costs and benefits to both approaches. The first is relatively risk free but the rewards are similarly diluted. The second may involve some hard work, research and investment but he's not afraid of that having spent his working life doing just that.

I am aware of the basics of domain names, web hosting, payment methods and so on, but am not technically competent about web design (willing to learn).

So, assuming we follow route 2. we would appreciate your advice, links to helpful websites, pitfalls to be aware of and anything else really.

F.E. If this is too broadbrush a question, please let me know and I'll come back with more specific questions

  Forum Editor 00:15 13 Oct 2004

isn't always as straightforward as many people think. To begin with, the best imagebanks (Like The ImageBank and Corbis) are very choosy - they don't accept images unless they meet strict criteria. You have to be very good to make anything at all out of it.

Starting your own image site is an option of course, and we'll provide as much help as you need. This whole question of images is fraught with problems - there are literally tens of thousands of people with websites trying to sell their images. It's very much a saturated market. I'm certainly not trying to discourage you, but it's as well to know what lies ahead. The pitfalls are many, but the main one is that people will simply take your images and use them without paying. There are ways of trying to prevent this of course, but all of them can be overcome by someone who's determined enough.

I suggest that you spend a good deal of time looking at Corbis
click here
and ImageBank
click here

to get an idea of what they do and how they do it. The perhaps you can come back here with some more specific questions. Do you have a web-design program already, or something in mind?

  TomJerry 00:47 13 Oct 2004

It may not be difficult. You just need to set up a web site with all available images in LOW qulity to let people know what on offer, when they pay it a higher quality one can be downloaded (or sent by email).

There are some on-line shop package offerd by some web hosting copmanies or banks. Those package can set up a secure site with credit card payment facility.

As I said in the begining, it is my inexperienced view. But, make sure you only put LOW quality (unuseable) images on-line and also sort out copyright issues. Maybe you can put some copyright watermarks on images as well.

  Forum Editor 19:11 13 Oct 2004

sounds eminently sensible to me.

  flick 22:26 13 Oct 2004

I too like the idea of starting it out more as a show case than an online business, not least because getting to grips with web design, online payment/delivery and customer service all at once might be taking on a bit too much.

The image banks that FE pointed me to seem to rely on a combination of watermarks/low resolution images to discourage shoplifting so I presume the customer has to rely on the professionalism of the sites to only accept images that are of high standard.

So any suggestions for web design software that I can try my hand at?

  Forum Editor 23:05 13 Oct 2004

click here

It's an ideal program for someone starting out in web design, and once you begin to feel more confident you'll find it keeps pace with you in terms of features and power. You would be pushed to find a program that deserves the title "All-rounder" more than NOF, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Microsoft's FrontPage 2003 is another superb program - more powerful than NOF in terms of its ability to create dynamic, data driven sites, and capable of pretty much anything you care to name in the web-design area. Many professional designers (including me) wouldn't be without FP, and again I recommend it highly.

If you asked me to pick one program, in view of your comment that you are a beginner in terms of web design It would have to be NOF.

  spuds 10:20 14 Oct 2004

If you wish to consider the FE's suggestion regarding NetObjects Fusion.You could try phoning 01789 490215 [Dennis Publications back issues]and try to obtain a 2002/03 back issue cover disk DVD copy of this product.Quote reference PCPDVD303,and for about a £pound sterling they will send you a copy,if still available. If you do obtain a copy, and you like what you see, you can then perhaps upgrade to the latest version.Just a suggestion!.

  flick 22:49 15 Oct 2004

Thanks once again, FE and Spuds. It's always more helpful to get advice on these things from someone who knows what to look for. I'm looking forward to having your expert eyes cast over my first attempts.

  slysy 19:53 20 Oct 2004

I know that you dont have your site up and running yet, but I would like ot give a small bit advice that would help overall.

Having just setup a new website and a new business venture myself, I would recommend that you sould also have a think about how you will advertise your site.

Things like the use of meta tags, site submissions, also you should be able to register your site with some photographic, craft, image rings that would help bring traffic to your site.
There are various tools available that we also prevent your images from being saved by the viewer, if you want to prevent it.

Good luck.
You have come to the right place for the right advice, this place serves the best advise that I have come across on any forum, hats off to FE and the regular advice givers.


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