As social network sites (like Facebook, Hyves, etc) are not an option for me, I wonder if building myself a website (in order to showcase/promote my work) is useful. As after all... I'll need to promote my website too and if I can't (because as said... Facebook, Hyves, etc is not an option for me) then I likely won't get any traffic and it's a waste of time.
By all means if you focus on attracting buyers rather than on showing off for peers. A buyer needs info quickly with no fuzz and your landing page should say it all. Avoid everything that looks like advertising. My site here. My site is Dreamstime-only since DT has the best referral program, but I don't use the ready-made buttons. Instead, all the photos are linking to DT with my referral code and so is my portfolio.
Technical info: I use Joomla as CMS (no programming needed) and a very cheap hoster (iPage for the moment: 40$/year).
I can see what you're saying about the advertisement and I fully agree when it comes to microstock. However, I also have a store on a POD site, where the forum is full of posts that scream things like "promote, promote, promote... your work should be 70% promoting, 30% designing" and it clearly shows that this is paying off for those that do it this way.
So, perhaps the trick is to just build an advertisement site for the POD site and another one that's more like yours (like yours very much btw!)
Will have to think about this some more (any more input is very much appreciated btw! :) )
@Fleyeing: Excellent site. I am wondering if I am going to create one myself. As I did from scratch since 1998 and abandoned since 2004. http://lybil.free.fr (sorry it is a french content ;) Joomla did not exist yet in that time if I am mistaken.
@Diavata: direct sales sites (like POD) are a different cup of tea. The content also might be different from microstock content : microstock for generic concepts, and POD for more artsy work like landscapes, renders, and things that are beautiful by themselves - not selling a product or service. It's better to separate that kind of content.
Of course, marketing is important but as an individual, you won't have a large budget for that. You can count on viral marketing (free) by your SEO (search engine optimization). No foul SEO tricks needed for that: a well-written focused site will enter the search engines within hours.
You should also add Google Analytics to whatever personal site you have. It's simple: just some code in the head and at the end of the body. This will allow you to track exits and keywords by which your site was found.
This is very important. A couple of years ago I found that my site was found for a large part by "asian", "model", "teen". Obviously by picture tourists that had other interests (you can guess which) than buying. After rewriting the content drastically, I get much higher quality visits now.
@Digikmer: well we all have been in the same boat I guess. I had HTML-only galleries too before 2004 on free sites, and they were powered by Arles from Digital Dutch (a pretty good flat HTML gallery generator for that time). That was before php and mySql and jQuery. As a client or desktop programmer/designer in the 90-ies, I had to recycle myself.
No need for that level of technicality if you just want a working and good-looking SEO-friendly site. There are many good CMS-es around that will do the SEO work for you. Joomla became SEO-friendly only half a year ago with 1.6. Wordpress is very easy to handle as a non-programmer and its SEO is fantastic.
If your site is mostly pictures-based, you can use one of their many gallery plugins, but the best is still to write simple articles illustrated with your photos and a clear link to your DT portfolio. Search Engine bots love frequently changing content and a well-kept blog (weekly or bi-weekly) gets a boost in the rankings.
Finally stay away from "free" sites and "domain included" sites. If things turn sour and you found a better deal, your "free" domain name will stay theirs and there go all your external links. Separate hosting (I use iPage at the moment) and domain registration (I always used namecheap.com, the best imho).
You really need your own domain as a way of self-branding, a point that Ellen Boughn always stresses. A site like myname.multiply.com will always stay linked to multiply, a long time after you left. Your own domain is forever and please prepay it for several years so domain sharks won't steal it when you forgot to pay once. I've learned my lesson ;-)
Hi! End of this month I will tell you if FB is waste of time.I being an experiment for this month with social network FB.Yet in the 6 days since the beginning of someone on FB bought me two pictures.Best regards,Lenuta:)