The new Symbiostock – trying again with my own stock agency!

Talk about being a glutton for punishment…

I put many, many hours into creating my own stock site at BackyardStockPhotos using the first Symbiostock wordpress theme written by Leo. We had lots of issues along the way, with Leo battling bravely through each one and constantly listening to the endless demands of the stock photographers and illustrators that were using the theme. As often happens with internet based forums, the whole thing degenerated into name calling and a very antagonistic environment and Leo decided to go his own way in the end. I must say that I found him continually helpful as I worked through issues on my own site, and eventually I got everything up and running and it has been stable ever since. To get the sort of page load performance I wanted, I decided to host it on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) which ended up being $49 a month on my current month to month plan. My earnings have not been very good, with the monthly earnings this year being $20, $20, $0, $0, $20, $45 in each of the months so far. A loss maker to be sure, but good for my ego to be able to sell my own photos directly to buyers…

I have other sites as well, including this one, and my own Fine Art site, and those were hosted elsewhere – with 1and1 mainly. I decided I should try and consolidate my hosting and reduce my costs and so started to investigate the new Symbiostock, which is now developed by Robin and has a much less vibrant, but polite forum community. The demo site looked good, I found that one of my colleagues in stock had created his own site at Franky242 Photography, and his feedback was good both in terms of support of the plugin itself, the ease of customization of the look and feel of the site and the simple way it absorbed all the images from the old legacy site together with keywords, titles, descriptions and categories.

So, I took the plunge with a new hosting company that will be the ultimate location for all my sites. First issue – I found that Inmotion hosting did not support Image Magick – the preferred image processing application in their shared hosting, but they do in their VPS product, so I upgraded myself to that – a $29.95 a month value as they say. I transferred Backyard Image, my fine art site without issues, and have now created the makings of my new stock agency site. I decided to create a parallel site – BackyardStockPhotos.net – for a couple of reasons. One was that I needed the storage for about 30G of images in my new site and I also needed to maintain the old one for a time as I start to get the new one indexed by Google and others. So some short term costs, but I think that will be OK.

I’ll write more about this later, but so far, everything has been pretty smooth. Some hosting issues mainly to do with all the control you have over a virtual server, but Robin has been on the issues with speed and commitment and is feeding back any lessons learned about various hosting companies back into the design of the plugin. The transfer is going smoothly with about 150 of my 3500 image transferred. I’m tidying up the categories during the transfer so I don’t want to get too behind on that change.

I’ll update you on progress as I go along with this new adventure in self hosting stock sites. Here is the second installment.

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