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July 19, 2014
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How To Sell Products From Your Website

Selling products from your website is a great way to add another revenue stream to your business. You can sell physical products and downloads with ease. On my site I sell ebooks, greeting cards, stock photos and prints with ease. But to do this, you do need to take credit card payments and have a shopping cart.

There are two ways to accept credit card payments:

  • Have your own merchant account
  • Use another business’ merchant account

To create your own merchant account, you need to set up a business checking account at your bank. Then set up a merchant account with them. When approved, you will pay a monthly fee and a fee per transaction. The transaction fee us usually a percentage of the sale, plus a flat fee per transaction.

Having your own merchant account is fine for larger businesses, but can be expensive for one or two person businesses. In that case it’s better to just use someone else’s merchant account.

There are a lot of companies that let you do this, including: PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net and ClickBank. When deciding which one to go with, don’t only compare their fees and price per transaction, but what other features they offer.

For example, PayPal offers Buy buttons, printing of invoices and mailing labels and more. Also, go online and do a search for “Complaint” and the company name. All of these companies have complaint sites about them; just see if what people say is something you can live with.

Next you need a shopping cart, and possibly a fulfillment service. Fulfillment is when a company sends out the purchased items for you. Some of the merchant account companies offer this, or there are other companies that specialize in this service. I found that E-junkie worked great for me because they could deliver purchased ebooks without me having to lift a finger.

There are website companies that offer shopping carts built into the websites they provide, like Photoshelter, PhotoDeck and Zenfolio. Other companies offer stand-alone shopping carts, like E-junkie and RedCart.

With places like RedCart you pay once, unlike companies like Photoshelter, where you pay a monthly fee. Some of these places include additional features, like a pricing module. So if a client wants to buy a stock photograph from you, they put in the usage they want, and a price is automatically calculated so they can buy instantly.

Which way you go depends on your needs. It’s best to make a list of the features you need to automate and not automate with these services, and then find the company that best meets those needs at your price point. Keep in mind that online sales are usually pretty low, so don’t spend a lot of money until your online income justifies it. You can always add features as your sales increase.

So what do I do? I mainly sell ebooks and prints from my website. While I wanted my ebooks sales to be automated, I didn’t want print delivery done that way. With prints, I feel it’s necessary to examine them before shipping to a client to be sure they meet my standards. While this can also be automated, I didn’t want to run the risk of a bad print being sent out.

I set up a PayPal account to handle my credit card sales. Then I created an account on E-junkie for fulfillment. I started out using PayPal for my Buy buttons, but I’m switching over to E-junkie because their buttons let me offer coupons, discounts for high volume sales and more.

E-junkie is linked to my PayPal account, so when someone buys an ebook:

  1. E-junkie sends the sales request to PayPal.
  2. PayPal tells E-junkie when the sale is complete.
  3. E-junkie sends an email to the buyer with a unique link where they can download the ebook(s).
  4. E-junkie sends me a copy of the email that the client received.
  5. E-junkie and PayPal send me emails telling me what was sold.
  6. E-junkie deposits the money into my PayPal account where PayPal takes its transaction fee. E-junkie takes a flat monthly fee out of my PayPal account. I can sell one copy of an ebook a month, or 10,000 copies, and it’s still the same flat fee through E-junkie. Their monthly fee is based on how many different products you sell.

All of this happens in the blink of an eye. I just check my emails once a day and see how much money I’ve made in the past 24 hours.

For prints, I use a Buy button and complete the order manually. It takes a little more work for the client, which may cost me sales, but the volume is so low that there’s no reason to automate the process.

This system works well for me, it may not work well for you. Only you can decide.

Do keep one thing in mind. When you use a website like Photoshelter you’re pretty well locked into them. If you decide to move to a different provider, like Zenfolio, you will need to upload all of your photographs again, put them in their proper folders, add titles, keywords and more. That’s a lot of work.

Your options for making sales online are anywhere from almost free to expensive, so choose well and balance your needs with the costs. Happy sales.

Have Fun,
Jeff

July 12, 2014
by admin
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Monsoon Lightning Photographs

It’s monsoon season in Arizona, and so far we’ve had some some storms. A storm with a lot of lightning came through on July 5th, and I caught these lightning bolts.

Yesterday my Lightning Bug lightning trigger arrived in the mail. With this, I should be able to capture even more lightning. All I need now is a lightning storm.

If you want to try your hand at lightning photography, check out my article, How To Photograph Lightning, And Live To Tell About It. And be very careful.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Lightning0160
7 seconds at f 11, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 24mm

 

Lightning0162
9 seconds at f 11, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 24mm

 

Lightning0163
5 seconds at f 11, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 24mm

 

Lightning0164
8 seconds at f 11, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 24mm

July 7, 2014
by admin
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Press Releases: Including Photographs Is Vital

As I do with every one of my new projects, I sent out a press release which included a link to several photographs. A few days later, I received a call.

“Mr. Colburn? This is Mr. Wood. I’m a reporter with the Cottonwood Journal Extra newspaper. I just saw your press release covering your new ebook about Jerome and I want to interview you. A photographer will also contact you to get some photographs for the article.”

That conversation led to a half page article about me and my new ebook.

Press releases are a powerful promotional tool for both large and small businesses. I’ve used them for years with great success. My press releases have appeared in newspapers, magazines, websites and more. On several occasions they have also resulted in me being interviewed for articles in magazines and newspapers.

There are millions of press releases out there right now, and you need to find a way to make yours stand out so that it will be published. The first step is to be sure the press release contains all the information the recipient may need. This includes:

  • All contact information
  • A title with a hook
  • Quotes
  • Location information

Once this is done, you need photographs. There are two types of photographs you need:

  1. A photograph of yourself. This puts a face on the news of your press release and makes it more personable.
  2. One or more photographs of your product or event.

These two types of photographs will give publications a good selection of images to illustrate your press release.

What if you don’t have a product, but a service? You can always show photos of you at work, or your area. If you’re a tour guide, show photos of you giving a tour, stock photos of people taking a tour in your area, or beautiful scenic photographs of the area.

A few key points about the photographs are:

  • Have several photographs if possible. The more choices they have, the more likely they are to find one or two images they like.
  • Use big photographs. A publication or website can easily make a big picture small, but they can’t make a small picture big and still look good.
  • Make sure the photographs look great. They need to be properly composed, in sharp focus and have well saturated colors.

The easiest thing for everyone involved is to put these photographs on a web page. Here’s one of my photo pages I sent about the release of one of my ebooks, The Vanishing Old West Jerome. www.jeffcolburn.com/pr15.html

And this page was for an interview of me that appeared in Shutterbug magazine. www.jeffcolburn.com/pr13.html

Supplying photographs makes your press release more attractive to the people who may want to us it. And a photograph next to your press release in a publication or web page will draw a lot more attention than just text.

Have Fun,
Jeff

June 29, 2014
by admin
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July Computer Wallpaper Is Ready

I just put up the computer wallpaper for July. It shows a Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) at South Kaibab, Grand Canyon. This guy and several of his friends were running around one side of the parking lot for a few minutes. I was using my special moveable tripod technique when I photographed him. That is, my camera is on a tripod, but I don’t lock down the head. I was moving around the parking lot and pivoting the camera from one place to another trying to track them all. This technique gives me good stability while letting me shoot quickly in a lot of different directions.

Head on over and get your copy of this month’s wallpaper at www.jeffcolburn.com/wallpaper.html

Have Fun,
Jeff

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

June 22, 2014
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Inexpensive Day-pack for Photographers

Summer is here, and it’s a great time to go out hiking and get some great photographs.

There are a lot of great day-packs to choose from, but they can be pretty expensive. Check out my article on how I created an inexpensive day-pack to carry my camera gear, food, water, first aid supplies and more www.jeffcolburn.com/article-My-New-Ultra-Adaptable-And-Inexpensive-Camera-Daypack.html.

Have Fun,
Jeff

inexpensive day-pack

June 12, 2014
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Elk And Deer At The Grand Canyon

A couple weeks ago we took a trip to the Grand Canyon. Our first trip there in over a year. It was a beautiful day, and we had a new experience, as we often do. Starting at about 4:00 pm young elk came onto the Rim Trail.

I had no problem taking pictures of the elk when they were less than 20 feet away. The sound of the camera didn’t bother them at all. One small herd suddenly showed up on the sidewalk in front of us. Then a little further down was another small herd. At a shuttle stop was another small herd, and three mule deer. One of the elk was trying to drink at a (human) water station, and let a man press the water valve, just two feet away from the elk. It was amazing being so close to the elk.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Elk (Cervus elaphus Linnaeus) in the grand canyon

Elk (Cervus elaphus Linnaeus) on the path at Grand Canyon
1/80 second at f 6.3, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 70mm

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in the Grand Canyon

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) on the edge of the parking lot at South Kaibab
1/60 second at f 7.1, ISO 100, 70-200mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 200mm

 

June 5, 2014
by admin
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Monthly Newsletter Is Out

The latest issue of my Monthly-ish Newsletter is out. It’s full of photographs and interesting information.

Get your copy at http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=cda2f71af4379b379eb433c30&id=15dd61928f&e=

Don’t take the chance of missing an issue, subscribe at my site http://www.jeffcolburn.com or my blog http://www.thecreativescorner.com/

Have Fun,
Jeff

FireSlide0162   FireSlide0091

Photographs of the Slide Fire in Sedona, Arizona

May 31, 2014
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June Computer Wallpaper Is Ready

I just put up the computer wallpaper for June. It shows an old piece of equipment I found while wandering around Jerome. You can see more of my photographs of Jerome at www.jeffcolburn.com/photosJerome.html and the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town at www.jeffcolburn.com/photosGoldKingMine.html.

To see more photographs of Jerome, and learn about its amazing history, check out my ebook “The Vanishing Old West – Jerome” at http://www.creativecauldron.com/bookjerome.html

Head on over and get your copy of this month’s wallpaper at www.jeffcolburn.com/wallpaper.html

Have Fun,
Jeff

Wallpaper-2014-06

May 24, 2014
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Slide Fire, Sedona, Arizona

As most of you know, there’s a huge fire north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon that started on Tuesday, May 20th. As of today, over 8,500 acres have been burned, including the beautiful and popular hiking area of West Fork.

The amount of smoke being created is astounding. For the last two mornings, Sedona was blanked in smoke so thick that the Red Rocks were nothing but shadows in the haze. I’ve seen a huge wall of smoke in Flagstaff, and a giant column of smoke rising behind Sedona. And the worst part is that it’s only 5% contained.

I’ve seen fire crews driving into the canyon and helicopters dropping water. I want to thank all of the firefighters and support staff for the heroic work they are doing in an effort to preserve the beauty of this area.

FireSlide0062
A wall of smoke in Flagstaff.
Cellphone photo

 

FireSlide0091
This is what Sedona looks like in the mornings. The Red Rocks are nothing more than shadows.
1/400 second at f 8, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 70mm

 

FireSlide0162
A helicopter heads toward the fire to dump retardant.
1/50 second at f 11, ISO 100, 24-70mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 70mm

 

FireSlide0141
The fire as seen from Sedona.
1/80 second at f 11, ISO 100, 70-200mm f/4 L EF IS (USM) at 78mm