By David Gewirtz
Last week, we ran an interview with Web designer and photographer Kelly Thomas. In that installment, we talked about taking 360 degree real estate photos. In this installment, we continue to talk with the fascinating Kelly, but about how to make money. As topics go, you gotta like that!David:
How do you make your money off your site?Kelly:
This is the best part. I read online about photographers who can't seem to make a buck doing virtual tours and it's not been a problem for our group.
"There is nothing like repeat business."
I presume that most photographers shoot a property, burn a CD and hand over the images to the agent. The problem then is that the agent has to figure out what to do with the images. Many real estate agents are not exactly tech savvy and even sending an email is way to much for them to deal with. As a sales agent, their time is best spent with people anyway, not messing around with computers. You'll often see top producers hiring their own assistant to answer the phone and do paperwork.
So, we make it a hands off process for the agent and upload the images to our Virtual Tour Machine Web site, creating the consumer listings you see at SIHomeTours.com. We've streamlined the process and it's possible for us to shoot a large number of properties in one day and have them all online that evening.
My photographer shot nine properties last Friday and probably 25 last week total. We shot in one week what most other virtual tour photographers shoot in a month. In Cape Girardeau, MO, they routinely shoot 8 to 18 properties a day, every day of the week. We'll probably make between $100 and $300 for each property.
Working full-time and developing your market, you can now understand how we've seen operations gross over $200,000 a year with one photographer. Net from a mature operation like that is well over $120,000. I work part-time at my site and I'm not at that level but I gross more in a year than many people make working a full-time job. It's great part-time income.
And the expenses are very low. Once you have paid off your camera, just about all you have as expenses are a small hosting fee, the gas in your car and your time. I personally do very little paid advertising and I've never spent more than $40 a month on keywords.
We usually have over 70,000 unique visitors every month who generate over 500,000 pageviews. Other operators will spend more buying billboards and print advertising to promote their site to consumers.
Real estate agents are our customers. We accept no FSBO (For Sale By Owner) property. This helps to make the agents happy. Most FSBO's are not going be buying or selling a house again for more than several years. FSBO's are not professionals and can be a lot of trouble.