WooCommerce for Photographers: The Complete Guide to WooCommerce Photography Plugins, Client-Specific Categories & More
This is the ultimate guide to WooCommerce for photographers. WooCommerce offers some fantastic opportunities to sell photos online, whether this is to the general public or specific clients. I’ll walk you through the best WooCommerce photography plugins and provide tips on how to sell more photos on your WordPress website.
Not all photographers want to sell their images to the general public. If you provide bespoke photography services, you’ll want to sell photos in secure areas of your website that only certain clients can access. Fortunately, you can achieve this in WooCommerce. And if you’re not a photographer, don’t worry! These solutions are suitable for anyone wanting to create client-specific products or categories in WooCommerce.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to choose the best WooCommerce photography plugins and set them up:
- Why should a photographer use WordPress & WooCommerce?
- Why sell client-specific products in WooCommerce?
- Create a password protected category for each client
- Sell physical photo prints, downloadable digital photos & other types of product
- Use product variations to provide multiple options
- Use WooCommerce Product Table to list more photos per page
- Sell personalised photo frames or engravings with Product Add-Ons
- Bulk import photo products to WooCommerce
Skip straight to the section you’re interested in for detailed written instructions. To bring it all together, we’ve also created this video tutorial on how to create a complete WooCommerce photography website. It covers all the features you need including quick bulk upload, photo order form pages with variations, plus a password protected category for each client:
Why should a photographer use WordPress & WooCommerce?
A huge number of photographers have WordPress websites. It’s hardly surprising given that WordPress powers over 1/4 of all websites. A huge number of WordPress photography themes and plugins are available. This makes it easy for photographers to create professional websites using flexible but off-the-shelf solutions.
WooCommerce is the world’s biggest e-commerce platform. As well as powering a huge 94.3% of all WordPress e-commerce websites, it’s used by over 41% of all e-commerce sites worldwide. Wow.
While popularity isn’t everything, WooCommerce is obviously not going anywhere. It’s well supported with a huge ecosystem of WooCommerce experts behind it. With so many plugins and add-ons available, there are plenty of options for selling client-specific products in WooCommerce. Not to mention all the other great plugins and features for displaying photos in WooCommerce.
Why sell client-specific products in WooCommerce?
There are lots of reasons why a photographer might want a WooCommerce photography plugin to sell client-specific products.
Event or wedding photography
Wedding photographers take photos of a specific event such as a wedding. Afterwards, they need to upload the photos of the event for the couple to view.
A wedding photographer will typically charge a fixed fee for the event itself, with perhaps a photo album included in the price. They may earn extra revenue from the wedding by selling extra options to the couple and their guests. For example, the photos can be bought individually (either as photo prints with different framing options, or as digital prints for download) via the photographer’s website. The photographer might also sell packages via their website, such as additional albums or photo montages.
The images must be uploaded to a secure area of the WooCommerce photography website that only the couple – and possibly their guests – can access. People with access to the photos should be able to buy them online.
A family photographer is similar to a wedding or event photographer in that they’re commissioned to do a photoshoot of a specific family. They might do the photoshoot for free, with the family just paying for the photos they actually want.
After the photoshoot, the photos need uploading to a private area on their website. The family can login, choose their photos and buy online.
School photographers take individual and class photos of school children. After visiting the school (which they typically won’t charge for), they earn money by selling the photos to parents. The same often happens in nurseries, pre-schools and kindergardens.
Traditionally, school photographers would print a preview of each photo which the school would distribute to parents. This still happens, but parents are typically directed to the school photographer’s website where they can view all the images of the class and buy online. The website often sells many options such as different packs and framing choices, and even other objects printed with the photo (e.g. mugs or mouse mats).
Given the confidentiality around photos of children, it’s important that school photography is uploaded to a secure area. Only the individual parents – or perhaps the parents for the whole class – can access the photos.
How photographers can sell client-specific products in WooCommerce
There’s an excellent plugin to sell client-specific products to photography clients. It involves creating hidden areas of your WordPress WooCommerce website that only the appropriate client can access. It does this by password protecting a category so that only people with the correct password can view and buy the hidden photos.
Password protected categories are better than creating a separate login for each user and giving them access to specific photos in WooCommerce. This is because:
- You don’t have to spend time creating a separate user login for each client.
- You can easily give multiple clients access to a hidden category of photos. For example, wedding photographers can give a shared password to the bride and groom, and all their wedding guests. Everyone can access the protected category and buy the photos, resulting in more sales for you! (Tip: You can create multiple passwords for each customer, if you want to. This is still easier to manage than creating a full WordPress user login for each person who accesses your protected photos.)
Create a password protected category for each client
WooCommerce Password Protected Categories is the easiest plugin to sell client-specific products on a WooCommerce photography website.
To use the plugin, photographers can create a separate product category for each client in WooCommerce. You can then upload all the photos for that client to the relevant category. For regular clients, you can create sub-categories – one for each event or photoshoot.
How to create client-specific WooCommerce password protected categories
- Create a WordPress website with WooCommerce and WooCommerce Password Protected Categories installed.
- In Pages > Add New, create a page called ‘Client Login’ (or similar). Leave this blank and Publish the page.
- Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Password Protected Categories. De-select the options to show protected categories and products in the public areas of the site. This will hide your client-specific products so no one else will know they exist. Change any other settings as needed, for example to customise the text on the WooCommerce category login form.
- Go to Products > Categories and create a category (plus any sub-categories) for each photography client. In the ‘Visibility’ section, choose ‘Password protected’ and enter 1 or more passwords. (Tip: Don’t password protect any sub-categories – they will automatically inherit the same password as the parent category.)
- Upload the photos that you want to sell to each client by creating products in WooCommerce and assigning them to the correct category. (If you’ve already added your photos products for the client, go to the main Products list in WordPress. Use Quick Edit to categorise them quickly.)
- Finally, go to Appearance Menus and add your Client Login page to the menu. Or if you prefer, link to this page from the header, footer or anywhere else on your site. (Or just keep it hidden from your public website and send the link to your clients.) You can also add a login form to a text widget using the shortcode: [category_login].
And that’s it!
That’s all you need to do to sell client-specific products and categories for a WooCommerce photography website. When a client visits your website, they can click on the ‘Client login’ link to view the login page. On entering the correct password, they will be automatically directed to their own category. They won’t be able to see your other clients’ categories – just their own.
The plugin is simple but secure. Visitors will be prompted for a password whether they try to access the login page, the category page, a sub-category or a specific product page. Once they’ve unlocked their client-specific category, they can navigate anywhere within that category without having to re-enter the password.
It’s the perfect way for any photographer to securely sell customer-specific products in WooCommerce.
Bonus! Tips on using WooCommerce for a photography website
So far, you’ve discovered an easy way for photographers to use WooCommerce to sell photos to specific clients. Next, I’ll provide some general advice on how photographers can use WooCommerce more effectively.
Sell physical photo prints, downloadable digital photos & other types of product
- Standard products. This is a traditional ‘physical’ product which you will ship to the customer. With this product type, you can add postage costs.
- Downloadable products. You can also use WooCommerce to sell downloadable products. These don’t have a shipping cost. When you create a downloadable product, you can upload the digital image file of the photo. Once a client has purchased the digital version of a photo, they will be given access to a secure link where they can download it.
By combining simple and downloadable products, you can design a WooCommerce photography website where you can sell photo prints and digital versions. If you only want to sell one of these product types (e.g. some photographers refuse to sell digital versions of their photos), that’s fine too!
Use product variations or add-ons to provide multiple options
WooCommerce photography websites often need to sell products with several options. For example, you might sell a photo print in multiple sizes. You might offer a choice of framing options. You could offer different file formats for your photos.
Use variable products in WooCommerce to add extra options. Customers can select the combination of variations they need and see the updated price before adding photos to the cart.
If you need extra flexibility (e.g. multi-select checkboxes or space for the customer to add a personal message), then you can use the WooCommerce Product Add-Ons plugin instead. The add-on options will appear in the add to cart column of your product table. Customers can select them before adding to the cart.
Use WooCommerce Product Table to list more photos per page
Most themes have a fairly typical WooCommerce category layout, which may or may not be suitable for selling client-specific photography products. This tends to have big images with the product name, price and add to cart button.
The usual layout is pretty good for most WooCommerce photography websites due to the big images. However, it’s less appropriate for selling photography products that aren’t so visual. For example, a product category for framing options and photo bundles may not need big images. Instead, you might prefer to list as many products per possible, with extra information to make it easy to compare products such as size and colour.
If that applies to any of your products then WooCommerce Product Table offers a better photo gallery layout. It lists products in a searchable, sortable table or grid with filters.
You can make the product images as big or as small as you like (or hide them completely). This is better for less visual products such as frames or bundles, where you just want to list the options on a single page.
You can even use it as a one-page order form, where customers can select variations, quantities and add to cart directly from the product table. There are lots of ways to use product tables to increase your conversion rates and get more sales.
How to use WooCommerce Product Table to sell photos with password protected category for each client
WooCommerce Product Table is fully compatible with the Password Protected Categories plugin that I told you about earlier. To use the two plugins together, you just need to follow these instructions to automatically add the product table layout to your category template file.
When your photography clients log into their hidden password protected category, they will see their photos presented in a product table layout.
Check out our separate tutorial on selling more photos with a WooCommerce gallery layout.
Sell personalised photo frames or engravings with Product Add-Ons
Photographers can further monetise their WooCommerce website by selling personalised products. For example, you might want to sell photo prints in an engraved frame, or print an image onto a T-shirt with some custom text.
You can collect information for personalised WooCommerce products using the Product Add-Ons plugin. This WooCommerce extension adds extra fields to the product page where clients can add text or other information relating to their order.
Bulk import photo products to WooCommerce
Since publishing this tutorial, lots of you have asked how to bulk import photos to sell in WooCommerce. For example, a photographer might want to upload an entire photoshoot to their website and sell each image as a separate product. It would take too long to do this manually, so you need a WooCommerce import plugin that can import simple, variable and downloadable products.
Instructions – Product CSV Import Suite
- Get the plugin and install it on your WooCommerce site.
- Use FTP to upload all the photos to the /wp-content/uploads/ folder on your website. To keep your photos organized, add them under the current month. This is easy, as the uploads folder is already structured by month. (If you haven’t used FTP before, learn how here.)
- If you want to create a lower resolution version of each photo to use as the main product image, upload these too.
- Next, prepare a CSV file containing the product data that you wish to import. The easiest way to create a CSV file is to use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Numbers. When you’ve finished, use the Save As or Export option to save the file as CSV.
- Add all the product data using the column headers in the import plugin documentation.
- If you’re selling photos as downloadable products, use this section of the documentation to add the downloadable product data to the CSV file. This includes downloadable file URL (this will be the URL of the photo that you uploaded via FTP), download limit and expiry.
- When the CSV file is complete, upload it using the Product CSV Import Suite plugin. This will automatically import your photos as WooCommerce products, so you can start selling them.
Preparing your CSV file sounds a bit daunting. Stick with it, as the documentation is excellent and covers everything you need to know. WooCommerce.com also provide excellent live chat support to help with any problems. Once you’ve created your first CSV file, it will be much easier next time.
Instructions – Feed Them Gallery
Feed Them Gallery is a plugin designed for photographers and other image professionals. It provides a ridiculously easy way for photographers to mass upload photos to the Media Library and convert them into WooCommerce products. You can then display them using WooCommerce Product Table by following the instructions earlier in this tutorial.
- Install and activate Feed Them Gallery.
- Use the instructions on this page to create a gallery. (Note: You won’t actually be displaying your photos using Feed Them Gallery as you’ll be using WooCommerce Product Table for this. However, you need to create a gallery in order to convert them to WooCommerce products.)
- On the Gallery Settings, you’ll see a ‘WooCommerce’ tab. Click on this and follow the instructions on this page to convert each photo from the gallery into a separate WooCommerce product.
- Use the instructions above to list your WooCommerce photo products in a product table, complete with filters, buy buttons – everything you need to sell photos online.
It’s time to create your WooCommerce photography website!
I hope this guide has helped you to choose the best WooCommerce photography plugins for your WordPress website. I’d love to hear how you get on.
Which plugins do you think are best for photographers – are there any I’ve missed? Please add your comments below.