There are many ways to use screen savers to profit from your photography, both directly and indirectly. Of course, the most obvious way is to create a screen saver of your images and sell them. And creating a screen saver from images has never been easier than it is now. There are numerous programs that will compile your images into screen saver format. From very simple programs, where that is all they do, to more advanced ones that will automatically create a shareware version, with unlock codes and time or image limitation, to ones that will create interactive slide show catalogs. Go to any search engine and put in screen saver creation and you will get many pages of possible programs to use.
First let us look at just the screen saver. As mentioned above you can sell this using a shareware version when registered it will unlock all the images, or contain a time limited trial period. For me I actually use both methods above. I show the first 5 to 10 images with a 15 day trial period. After this time an order screen is shown and they need to register the software to continue using it and unlock the remaining images. The screen saver market is tough competition though. For this reason I price my screen savers pretty low, from $5 to $15, depending on the amount of images in them.
You could also create totally freeware screen savers just to get your name and images out there when you are starting out. I am working on a freeware screen saver myself. Mine will contain roughly 10 images, but, every so often it will contain a separate image that points them to my web site and the shareware versions of the full screen savers. This will put my images and contact information in the hands of lots of people who, in the future, may need my services.
Another use is to create a slide show style catalog of your images. On each image you would want a URL to your web site and ordering page. Some of the programs will let you create slide shows that change on a mouse click, letting the user look at the image longer. Others will even allow you to link the image to your web site. This can be useful if you have separate order pages for each image, or a gallery site with ordering on them. When they click a particular image it will take them to that page and allow them to select the size and other ordering options.
By distributing your screen saver or slide show on the Internet you have the potential to put your images and contact information in the hands of hundreds, or even thousands of people who would normally not see your work. You could even use the slide shows as a presentation to potential clients, showing some of your best work for portraits, landscapes, and macro or wildlife photography. And, if you have experience in creating flash animation you can take this even further. Flash would allow you to create fully interactive catalogs, slide shows and screen savers adding a new dimension and giving you an advantage above the many plain photo screen savers out there.
Using screen savers has the potential to increase both your profits and exposure of your photography business. But by no means should you rely on it as a source of income. Screen savers are a tough business to break into on its own, but seem to look very good as a supplement to a photography business as both a source of income and a very good way to promote your work.
I thought I would touch just a little on the programs I use or have tried out.
Power ScreenSaver Builder: A good program that is fairly easy to use and creates a shareware version with limiting the view to the first number of images which the user can set. Can also limit the time frame and have it expire or both time and image limitation. Also can use video and flash animation and is very customizable. Professional version is $39.95, for the price one of the best ones I have seen.
!ScreenSaver Designer: A very good program but expensive if you plan to resell your screen savers, and unlike the Power ScreenSaver you are limited to what your screen saver can include. You have to chose either a image based or flash and movie based one at the start. By far the biggest advantage with !ScreenSaver Builder is, as far as I know, it's the only one that will create screen savers for both windows and Mac at the same time. But, you pay the price. Different licenses range from $29 for a personal license to just under $700 for an unlimited license.
2Flyer ScreenSaver Builder: I briefly tried this one as I didn't care for the user layout. It seems like it may be a fair program, all licenses costing under $100. It will also play flash, video and even web pages in the screen saver, but not all at once.
Dreamity: A very interesting little program. Though it can't include flash animation it can do animation of the image or text and includes particle effects. It can also link to web pages, possibly making it good for catalog style savers. I also didn't care for the user interface, but at $25 dollars it is worth a look.