If you're a photographer, learning how to sell photos in WooCommerce gives you a simple, affordable way to connect with customers and potential clients and grow your online revenue. Having your own online store makes you look more professional and ensures you don't have to pay a commission to a third-party just to sell your photos.
WooCommerce is a great solution for selling photography because it includes all the features you need to manage, display, and deliver your photos. However, while the core WooCommerce plugin includes all the basics, you'll want to use some add-ons to more effectively sell photos on WooCommerce, which is a big part of what we'll cover in this post.
Specifically, you'll learn how to more effectively display your photos in an easy-to-browse table layout, and you'll also learn how to restrict access to your photography, which is especially important if you're doing any kind of client-specific work.
Here's an example of what you'll be able to create by the end of this post:
Two plugins to help you sell photos in WooCommerce
In this tutorial on how to sell photos on WooCommerce, you'll see two plugins play big roles on your photography WordPress site.
WooCommerce Product Table
First, there's the WooCommerce Product Table plugin. This plugin lets you display your photos in an SEO-friendly, customizable table layout, rather than the default WooCommerce shop layout. You can control exactly which product details to display, and also add other helpful features, like sort and filter options.
This table approach has a few big benefits for WooCommerce photography websites:
- Larger images - rather than relying on tiny thumbnails, a table photo gallery layout lets you display larger images without forcing people to click through to the single product page or open a lightbox gallery. This creates a much more efficient experience for people to browse lots of photos.
- More details - you can display relevant photo details - like resolution or file format - without forcing people to visit the single product page. You can also let customers choose their preferred variation.
- Bulk add to cart - shoppers can use checkboxes to select all the photos they want and bulk add them to their cart for an easier checkout or client proofing process.
WooCommerce Product Table works with physical products, digital products, and any WordPress photography theme.
WooCommerce Protected Categories
Second, there's the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin, which lets you restrict access to categories of photos. This is great for professional photographers who don't want the public to have access to some or all of their photos. Some of the benefits here are that you can...
- Use passwords to restrict access, which means you don't have to force people to create a WordPress account just to browse photos.
- Create different passwords for different categories, which lets you create a private area for each individual client.
- Automatically redirect shoppers to different categories of photos based on the password they enter.
What kinds of photos can you sell on WooCommerce?
There are a lot of different types of photos you can sell on WooCommerce, and the exact approach that you use to set up your store should depend on what type of photos you want to sell.
For example, if you want to sell event photos, you might want to keep your photos private and only for people who attended the event. On the other hand, if you're selling stock photos, you probably want to keep your store public.
Here are some common types of photos and the best way to approach how to sell photos on WooCommerce for each type:
- Stock photos - you can use WooCommerce Product Table to create easily-browsable lists of images. You'll also want to use filters to help shoppers find the stock photos they need.
- Editorial images - you could either create a public store or restrict access to specific clients with WooCommerce Protected Categories.
- Client-specific photos - if you're selling any type of client-specific photos (events, portraits, school photos, etc.), you'll want to pair WooCommerce Product Table with WooCommerce Protected Categories to create private client areas.
- Digital art prints - you can use WooCommerce Product Table's features to display variations right in your table. For example, you can let people choose different image resolutions.
How to sell photos on WooCommerce: Step-by-step guide
Next, let's get into how to sell photos on WooCommerce using the methods we've discussed above.
First, you'll learn how to use WooCommerce Product Table to display your photos in a customizable list view. If you want to sell photos publicly, that might be the only WooCommerce extension you need.
Second, if you have a use case where you need to make some or all of your photos private, you'll also learn how to use WooCommerce Protected Categories to restrict access to your photos on a category-by-category basis.
Finally, we'll also share some general tips for selling photos on WooCommerce, including how to add sidebar filters, add a product quick view feature, and bulk upload images as WooCommerce products.
1. Set up WooCommerce and add photos as products
If you haven't already, you'll want to start by installing the free WooCommerce plugin from WordPress.org and running through the setup wizard. Then, go to Products → Add New to add the first photo that you want to sell.
Fill in all the details, paying special attention to the Product data box (like marking your photos as digital downloads). Also, make sure to use the featured image uploader to add your photo:
If you want to sell variable photos - like different resolutions or file formats - you can choose Variable Product from the drop-down. You'll be able to display these variations in your table layout in the next step.
Make sure to repeat the process for all your photos. If you have hundreds or thousands of photos that you want to sell, we'll share a method to bulk upload photos as products later on.
2. Display photos as a shopper-friendly table
Once you've added your photos as WooCommerce products, you're ready to display them with WooCommerce Product Table. Here's an example of what you'll be building:
If you haven't already, purchase the plugin and then install and activate it at your store.
Then, go to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Product tables to configure the plugin's settings.
While it's good to consider all the settings, there are a few key choices to make when using the plugin to sell photos on WooCommerce.
Configure columns and image sizes
First, use the Columns settings to control what information to display for each photo in your table. You have a range of options, but a good starting point for a WooCommerce photography store is something like:
If you want to display additional information about each product, you can add columns for categories, tags, attributes, and even custom fields.
Below that, choose the image size that you want to use, as well as whether or not to open an image in a lightbox. You can either enter exact dimensions in pixels or choose from the default WordPress theme thumbnail sizes:
Configure add to cart settings
Further down, you can use the Add to cart column settings to control:
- Bulk add to cart functionality.
- How to handle product variations. For example, you could add a drop-down selector to let shoppers choose a variation.
Add search and filter options
Below that, you can use the Table controls section to add product filters. For example, you could let visitors filter by a photo's categories or tags. You can also add a search box if desired:
The filters that come with WooCommerce Product Table are pretty useful for selling photos online. For even more advanced filtering, you can use it with the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin. This adds a wider range of filters, including image-based filters, color swatches, and more.
Display front-end table
Then, to create your front-end table layout, you can add the
[product_table] shortcode anywhere on your site:
By default, the plugin will display all your photos, but you can use include and exclude rules to select specific photos if desired. For example:
You can use the shortcode multiple times with different include rules, which lets you create separate tables for different types of photos.
Finally, if you want to add more filter options, WooCommerce Product Table also includes dedicated Ajax filter widgets that you can add to your sidebar to let visitors filter the table by price or product attributes:
You can add these widgets by going to Appearance → Widgets.
3. Hide photos/create client-specific areas
If you want to restrict access to certain photos and/or create client-specific areas, you can use the WooCommerce Protected Categories plugin to privately sell photos on WooCommerce.
Once you install and activate the plugin, go to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Protected categories to configure its settings.
Here, you can choose whether or not to still display hidden photos in your public-facing store. If you're selling client-specific photos, you probably want to disable this because you don't want private image thumbnails appearing on your main store page.
You can also control the password entry page, which is where shoppers will log in:
Then, go to Products → Categories and either...
- Edit an existing category that you want to restrict access to.
- Create a new category that you want to restrict access to.
For example, if you just photographed a wedding, you could create a dedicated category just for that wedding party.
Then, use the Visibility settings at the bottom to restrict access. You can either add a password or restrict access to specific users or user roles:
Once a visitor enters the password, they'll be taken straight to the associated category of photos, which creates a great user experience.
More tips for how to sell photos on WooCommerce
Beyond WooCommerce Product Table and WooCommerce Product Categories, there are also some other helpful WooCommerce photography plugins to help you sell photos on WooCommerce.
Add a product quick view
If you want to display more product details and even larger images without forcing visitors to go to the single product page, you can consider adding a product quick view to your photos' table layouts.
The WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin integrates with WooCommerce Product Table to let you create a user-friendly quick view feature complete with product details, gallery images, variations, and more:
Use Feed Them Gallery for bulk photo uploads to WooCommerce
If you need to upload hundreds or thousands of photos as individual WooCommerce products, the Feed Them Gallery plugin is a great way to save time. It'll let you bulk upload photos as WooCommerce products and configure the proper product details (like adding all the photos from a wedding to that wedding party's dedicated category).
Automatically add an image watermark
If you're concerned about image theft, you can use the YITH WooCommerce Watermark WordPress plugin to automatically add a watermark to your product featured image. To remove the watermark, visitors will need to purchase the image.
Case study on how to sell photos on WooCommerce: Photo Studio TNK
Photo Study TNK is a wedding photography studio run by Thierry in Paris, France. Thierry uses WooCommerce to sell photos directly to his clients by using WooCommerce Product Table to display his photos in a list view.
He also adds each client's photos to a dedicated category and then uses WooCommerce Protected Categories to ensure that clients can only see their own photos.
Finally, because Thierry often uploads 500+ images for each client, he uses the aforementioned Feed Them Gallery plugin to help with bulk uploading his images and assigning them to the right client category.
Get started with selling photos on WooCommerce today
With WooCommerce Product Table and WooCommerce Protected Categories, it's easier than ever to sell photos on WooCommerce.
You can create a more user-friendly way for people to browse your photos via WooCommerce Product Table's table layout. And if you need to restrict access to photos on your WordPress website, you can use WooCommerce Protected Categories to create different protected categories and automatically send visitors to the right category after they enter the password.
Pick the approach that works best for you and you're ready to sell photos on WooCommerce today!