As he shared a constant stream of photos to the Vols’ 59,000 Twitter followers, he noticed a trend.
“There was a clear demand for people to hang the images we were taking on their walls,” Donald explained.
— Vol Photos (@Vol_Photos) October 3, 2015
Because of NCAA regulations, Donald knew outside vendors weren’t allowed to sell Vol photos, and that this would be up to his team.
“We saw not just a gap in the market, but a gap in providing for our fans,” Donald said. “You’re sitting on assets that are valuable – not just to your university but to other people who support your university.”
Donald set out to find an NCAA compliant photo store platform and found Libris by PhotoShelter. Now, Libris serves as Donald’s visual asset management system for 100,000 visual assets, as well as the platform for the Vol Photo Store.
Donald launched the photo store at the beginning of the season on social media. So far, its most popular images have been historical images, like the one below that celebrates 50 years of the Vols’ tradition of running through the T.
“Tennessee is a place full of rich history and tradition, and I think people enjoy the historic images showcasing those traditions,” said Donald.
Donald regularly promotes new photos added to the store on social media, and the photo store is steadily building a following.
“I think the brand recognition of our photo store has been necessary to get it in peoples minds where to go for the best fan prints,” said Donald.
— Vol Photos (@Vol_Photos) October 6, 2015
When universities build profitable photo stores, they can cover the cost of visual asset management and supplement department budgets.
“The ability to generate your own budget can’t be overstated,” said Donald, adding, “The ability to generate income out of something you’re already doing is worth the time to put in to make that happen.”
Libris by PhotoShelter made it easy and simple for Donald to add selling photos to his workflow and delight his fans by responding to their demand for images.
“A very small amount of work on my end has made it possible to provide a service to our fanbase that was not previously available,” he explained.
The Vol Photo Store shows us that great imagery can generate imagery for a school, engage fans, and provide another opportunity for a school to promote its brand.
Every university has something to celebrate and share with its community. Photo stores provide an opportunity for fans to take home a keepsake from the campus. At the same time, they help universities generate revenue and share their messaging through a new channel. And, when they sell vintage images like Tennessee’s running through the T image, photo stores help universities create and share their visual legacies.
Learn more in our post, Everything You Need to Know about Running a Successful NCAA Compliant Photo Store (complete with video tips from our university expert, Martin Vloet).
And check out the first two posts in our university photo store series to learn how to get started: