Six months ago, designer Susan Serra began sending invitations to her clients to view her work at an online photo site. "I use it as a 'hook' that I know very few other people, if any, are using," she says. It also helps her clients determine their favorite styles and details, which makes for a smoother design process.
Serra researched several online photo sites to determine the best one for her. She found a site that helped her compare the different online services ( www.andromeda.com/people/ddyer/photo/albums.html).
She chose the $25 per year www.fototime.com site. "It is the most commercial-free photo storage Web site that I found," she says. "There are many others, but they often have big ads on all the pages." She uses a digital camera and takes the photos herself.
Serra keeps track of who views the album and how many times. "If I feel too much time has passed without hearing back, I will rescind the invitation," she says. One woman viewed the album 14 times but did not return Serra's phone calls. "I took her off the list, so she could only view my design studio album. I didn't want her to copy my photos for use with another designer," Serra says. "Once I have the design retainer, I'm not as security conscious in terms of copying photos," she says.