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Advice? Stock Photo Site Software
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Salty
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Oct 15, 2014, 08:34 PM
 
Hey guys, I know I haven't been on here in forever. But I thought some of you might like sharing your opinions on the best tools for something I want to do.

I'm looking at creating a subscription website for a fairly specific niche, Church Worship Graphics.

Now I don't want to debate the validity of the market. I'm not planning on making a multi-milion dollar company or anything. I'm mostly wanting to help make some cash to help pay my way through the school program I'm in.

So what I want to let people see watermarked images if they haven't paid, non-water marked ones if they have. A system to create accounts and let people sign up for a subscription. Right now I'm thinking of using Beanstream for taking payments. (I'm Canadian, though I wonder if that then only lets me take payments from Canadians? If so that'd probably be a bad idea.)

I imagine somebody has already made some sort of software that already does this, especially for photographers. So I'm hoping somebody might have an idea of some preexisting tools I could leverage.
     
Phileas
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Oct 15, 2014, 09:17 PM
 
There is little to no money in stock images unless you're dealing in volume.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 15, 2014, 09:22 PM
 
Setting up your own stock website may be a huge deal. What is the artist payment like for submitting your photos to something that already exists, like istockphoto.com?
     
Salty  (op)
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Oct 15, 2014, 09:57 PM
 
At this point i'm looking at Expression Engine, I THINK It does everything I want, plus there's an open source payment management system. I have a friend from work who's really competent at coding. And this wouldn't be a stock photo website, this would be custom artwork for Church purposes, similar to the stuff at Portfolio / graphics (Granted all that stuff is several years old and apparently I'm better now.

I'm in a diaconal ministry program for the UCCan. I keep having fellow students say, "Wow those are so good! I wish my Church could have graphics like that to go along with our music." And in most Church budgets a $100 a year charge would be a footnote. And every other competitor in the market is mostly focusing on motion graphics (which look pretty but are very distracting) or are simply "inspirational photos" which, you're right are a dime a dozen.

This however would allow churches to have artwork that looks more at place with their buildings, goes well with the lyrics of their songs, and is in a consistent style. Plus I would only need to get 300 churches signed up for 100 a year to make what I currently make. (Yes I'm kinda poor)
     
Salty  (op)
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Oct 15, 2014, 11:10 PM
 
Also what moderator decided to rename my thread? Seriously, not helpful.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 17, 2014, 11:36 AM
 
Your initial title was not very descriptive, and what you've described is a photo service. A specialized photo service, but a photo service.
     
Salty  (op)
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Oct 18, 2014, 11:10 PM
 
They won't be photos.

Also thankfully it turns out a coworker I work with is willing to code it from scratch (and apparently prefers to do so). So I think right now the only thing we're uncertain on is who to use for credit card processing and merchant account stuff. (I have no idea about that stuff but we'll see.)
     
besson3c
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Oct 19, 2014, 12:40 AM
 
My advice has somebody who builds tech startups for a living: don't think of this as just a little hobbyist project that might make you a little money on the side. You are underestimating the amount of work it takes to build a business like this (this is at least a 5 digit project), and chances are pretty high that it won't succeed the way you want it to without a more serious commitment. To give you an idea, it usually takes 4-6 years before a startup is making a significant amount of money with a very serious commitment, and it is very hard to build and sustain a business like this without a plan to seek investment. Otherwise, it might make a few dollars for a while, but it will fizzle as technology and/or your competition evolves, your cofounders move on, you run out of money, etc. and you might regret not really seeing what you could have made out of this.

I think you're either all in on something like this, or else look at some other way to sell your photos without building a business from scratch.

If you really think that a project like this could thrive, there is much more that I could say to (hopefully) help you. I'm sure others could do the same.
     
besson3c
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Oct 19, 2014, 12:42 AM
 
As far as tech stack goes, it's kind of hard to recommend PHP for building something new, it's generally considered pretty outdated these days.
     
Salty  (op)
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Oct 20, 2014, 01:39 AM
 
How many users would you say a php website could support?

Also I'm not treating this like a hobbyist project. But at the same time, I'm not going to treat it like something that I need an enormous staff and a data centre for.

As far as what needs to be done, we need to design the website (which I've done a fair bit of work on the layout concepts tonight, should be done that shortly) build the actual template and back end. (My friend will mostly be handling that) We'll need to get a merchant account and use a credit card processing system. (Which I confess I don't know much about at all, but we'll see how that goes.) And then I need to draw a ton.

As far as getting the word out. This is a niche product. This isn't "generic inspirational stock photos" this is, content designed for Church projector systems. I'm in a ministry program with the United Church of Canada, and thus have ins with people affiliated with Churches all over the country. I also had my BA from another institute and thus know people in ministry in different places in the US and in Canada. So I already have a wide range of people who will help spread the word for me. Though I'm also aware that as a gay person, a large number of American Churches would refuse to use my art, and that's fine by me

Anything over 30 grand a year that I can pull in will be gravy
     
besson3c
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Oct 20, 2014, 07:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by Salty View Post
How many users would you say a php website could support?
That's not the best way to think about this. The question is, how many talented developers are going to want to work with PHP code and/or PHP frameworks? There are still a lot of PHP projects out there, but many of them have really old code and developers that have been working with the project since its early days (several are working on porting the legacy code to something more modern). Go to angelist.co and see many job openings there are for PHP projects. Compared to Python, Node.js, Rails, and Go you'd probably be surprised. Building your marketing site in WordPress would be okay since WordPress is pretty SEO friendly, and your marketing site doesn't really need much in the way of technology. I would not build a new app in PHP though.

Also I'm not treating this like a hobbyist project. But at the same time, I'm not going to treat it like something that I need an enormous staff and a data centre for.

As far as what needs to be done, we need to design the website (which I've done a fair bit of work on the layout concepts tonight, should be done that shortly) build the actual template and back end. (My friend will mostly be handling that) We'll need to get a merchant account and use a credit card processing system. (Which I confess I don't know much about at all, but we'll see how that goes.) And then I need to draw a ton.
You need to:

- figure out your branding, messaging, tagline, naming, and how to reach your target audience
- figure out your tech stack, future proof it as best you can, evaluate all options carefully with technically minded people. You'll want a pretty long-term commitment to this tech stack, as switching part way is time consuming and costly. I've listed some popular backend languages, you'll also want to evaluate solutions such as Angular.JS, Ember.JS, MongoDB and other NoSQL implementation, in addition to all of the payment providers and other third-party APIs you might need
- figure out your hosting situation. A shared hosting provider is probably not going to cut it, you'll need a VPS or an app framework such as Heroku or Google App Framework, and an admin to setup your VPS if you go that route
- come up with a 1 minute, and 5 minute slide deck and practice pitching your product at local meetups, trade shows, and any other opportunities where you can. Refine your pitch
- get your company on Angel List and sites like it
- draw up an agreement with your co-founders that will keep them invested in this project up through at least your first round of seed funding
- come up with some wireframes of your app and marketing site
- figure out your mobile strategy
- figure out what should be in the scope of an MVP
- build your MVP/prototype
- start marketing your product to a sample of your target audience so that you can develop relationships with early adapters/testers
- fix/improve the product based on feedback
- establish enough customers to attract investors
- come up with some financial projections that make sense to investors. They'll also probably want an executive summary
- find your investor and commence your first round of seed funding (this will need to be a full-time effort with you and your co-founders)
- launch your next, less betay version
- start repaying your investors
- figure out how to scale your application
( Last edited by besson3c; Oct 20, 2014 at 07:53 AM. )
     
Phileas
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Oct 21, 2014, 02:57 PM
 
besson, you're overthinking this.

It's a niche product, advertised by word of mouth. Just set up a Wordpress site with an off-the-shelf shopping cart and be done with it. He can do that in a day or two.
     
besson3c
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Oct 21, 2014, 03:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
besson, you're overthinking this.

It's a niche product, advertised by word of mouth. Just set up a Wordpress site with an off-the-shelf shopping cart and be done with it. He can do that in a day or two.
With watermarks, subscriptions, account creation, etc.? I think you're under thinking this. This also doesn't get into the business strategizing part of this. How far do you expect word-of-mouth to take this?
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 21, 2014, 03:35 PM
 
I kind of agree with Besson, that done right, it's a large undertaking.

I suppose there are lower-tech options, ie, if he wants to post watermarked images, and manually email the unwatermarked hi-res to a few people who pay via paypal, etc?
     
Phileas
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Oct 21, 2014, 06:59 PM
 
The way to get this started is to send out an email to his network. You don't even need a shopping cart, or a site, a Flickr account with low res images will do. You sell via PayPal.

If there's a market, you scale up as needed.
     
Salty  (op)
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Oct 21, 2014, 07:26 PM
 
Okay so this is a little weird. Everyone seems to be on fairly extreme ends of the spectrum. I'm not going to post water marked ones to a Flickr account. I want an experience that feels similar to what you'd expect from a site like Getty or iStockphoto. At the same time, I don't think my traffic load is going to be all that heavy. If I have more than a thousand users a week that would be pretty amazing.

The plan is to post entries as entries into a database that will have various tags that will help users find them.

The content will be displayed mostly by search, but you'll also be able to browse content from updated entries added chronologically. So sorta bloggish but not. People who don't pay will see a water marked image. Those who do pay will see a non water marked one at multiple sizes.

People will be able to search by song title, key word, and major colours.

The name is going to be Project Many Colours. (And yes I registered domains with both spellings.)
     
besson3c
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Oct 21, 2014, 07:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
The way to get this started is to send out an email to his network. You don't even need a shopping cart, or a site, a Flickr account with low res images will do. You sell via PayPal.

If there's a market, you scale up as needed.

That would be a good idea, perhaps it was unwise of me to assume that his idea has already been fully validated. Since the whole purpose of building an MVP is to receive feedback and validation, if there are quicker ways to do this, absolutely.
     
besson3c
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Oct 21, 2014, 07:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salty View Post
Okay so this is a little weird. Everyone seems to be on fairly extreme ends of the spectrum. I'm not going to post water marked ones to a Flickr account. I want an experience that feels similar to what you'd expect from a site like Getty or iStockphoto. At the same time, I don't think my traffic load is going to be all that heavy. If I have more than a thousand users a week that would be pretty amazing.

The plan is to post entries as entries into a database that will have various tags that will help users find them.

The content will be displayed mostly by search, but you'll also be able to browse content from updated entries added chronologically. So sorta bloggish but not. People who don't pay will see a water marked image. Those who do pay will see a non water marked one at multiple sizes.

People will be able to search by song title, key word, and major colours.

The name is going to be Project Many Colours. (And yes I registered domains with both spellings.)

If this is the route you want to go, everything I said should apply, although Phileas does make a good point about seeking validation of your idea.
     
Phileas
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Oct 22, 2014, 06:29 AM
 
Agreed with besson. If you're talking thousands of visitors, and a site that looks like a stock site, then you need to follow his advice.

But I do think that it would be foolish in the extreme to build this without small scale market validation. Were this me, I'd put a quick online portfolio together, send out an email and say "hey, these are for sale what do you think?"

If you get sales, you know you've got an idea and you've got cash flow. If you don't get sales you haven't wasted time and energy on something that will fail.

Start small, fail fast, scale when needed.
     
   
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