Congratulations! If you made it this far, you are about to create your first virtual tour! All of the steps above are only completed once – you should never have to revisit them unless your WordPress files change, etc!
Create a Virtual Tour
In the WordPress Dashboard, click on Revolution Slider at the bottom left. Click on the Create New Slider button.
Modify the settings to fit your needs. Here are my suggestions:
Slider Title: 123 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75023 (The full address of the property)
Slider Alias: 123MainStreetDallasTX75023 (Same as Title above, but without special characters/spaces)
Source Type: Gallery
Slider Layout: Full Screen
Offset Containers: <blank>
Min. Fullscreen Height: <blank>
FullScreen Align: Off
Force Full Width: Off
Grid Settings – Grid Width: 960, Grid Height: 350
General Settings->Delay: 4000
General Settings->Lazy Load: On
Appearance->Shadow Type: No Shadow
Navigation->Bullet Type: Thumb
Thumbnails->Thumb Amount: 10
Click the Create Slider button.
Upload Tour Photos
Find your tour that you just created in the list above, and click on Edit Slides, then New Slide.
Click the Upload Files tab at the top, and find/select your tour photos. By default all of the tour photos being uploaded will have a checkmark in the corner of each photo. Once all photos are uploaded, the Insert button will be enabled in the bottom right. Click Insert.
You’ll see all of your photos will be populated in your tour, one photo per slide. At this time you can use the arrow icon to the right of each slide to click and drag slides to re-order them as necessary.
Change Slide Transitions to Fade (Optional)
By default, all slide transitions between photos will be set to random. Revolution Slider has numerous transitions to select from. I personally like to keep it clean and easy and use only the fade transition. To set all slide transitions to fade:
Go to Revolution Slider, and click on the Settings button for the tour you just created. On the right-hand side click on Reset Options, and change the Reset Transitions option to Fade (or any other transition you would like). Hit the Execute settings on all slides button. Note: If you add additional slides to this tour at a later time, you’ll have to come back and perform this step as any new slide will default to the random transition type.
Add Blurred Photo Background (Optional)
Right now if you were to view your new tour, you would have white space to the left and right of your tour photos because of the settings we have chosen. To fill that space, I recommend using a background image. You could create a background that you use for all tours, or you could do it like me and create a blurred image of the property and use it as the background for that tour.
You can blur the front shot of the property in Photoshop by using the Filter->Gausian Blur function, or you can use Lightroom and paint an adjustment brush over the entire image, decreasing sharpness and clarity. I would also recommend decreasing the exposure by a full stop or so.
Upload the newly created blurred image to your Media Library in WordPress by clicking on Media->Add New. Once uploaded, click the Edit link and copy the File URL. If you set up Amazon S3 correctly, it should point to Amazon. If you aren’t using Amazon S3 to store your photos, it will point to the image on your website URL.
Click back to Revolution Slider on the left side of your WordPress Dashboard, and click on Settings for the tour you created. On the right-hand side, click on Appearance and select Yes for Show Background Image. Paste the URL you copied into the Background Image URL box, change Background Fit to Cover, and Background Position to center center. Hit the Save Settings button.
Create the Actual Tour Page
Almost done – one last step! Click on Pages->Add New. For the title of the page, enter the address of the property (123 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75023).
In the text editor button bar, to the right you should see a drop-down box for revslider. Select the drop-down box and click on the property of the tour you just created. It will populate the content of the page with the correct shortcode to display the tour.
Lastly, to the right under Page Attributes, click on the Template drop-down box and select Virtual Tour.
You should now have a working Virtual Tour of the property photos! (Click the View Page button within WordPress and pass along the link to your Realtor!)
I don’t actually use this method to host my own virtual tours for my real estate photography company – however I will be in the future. Therefore, I don’t have a concrete answer regarding costs using this method of hosting virtual tours. There is the one-time fixed cost of the $16 Revolution Slider plugin, but the remaining costs will come from Amazon which will depend on how many people view your tour. (And if you aren’t using Amazon, you have zero additional costs, so tours are pretty much free!)
Amazon has an S3 Calculator where you can enter in how much usage you expect them to deliver. Based on my estimates, it will cost a one-time fee of $0.03 to upload a virtual tour to Amazon. For as long as that tour exists on Amazon, you will be charged an additional $0.01/month.
Assuming an average virtual tour is viewed 150 times (in my area that is a pretty high average), Amazon will charge roughly $0.60 for the lifetime of that tour to deliver the content to viewers. Adding to the initial $0.03 charge, we are looking at about $0.63 per tour, with the stated $0.01/month additional fee for as long as we keep the files posted to Amazon. So less than a dollar per tour – CHEAP!
BONUS! Amazon has a Free Tier based off storage capacity and requests. So for your first chunk of tours, you won’t even have to pay the $0.60 above!
I’m going to monitor my example virtual tour to see how much Amazon bills me. So please view it so I can get as many views as possible to see how Amazon figures out the pricing. I will update this post as necessary with the results.
In the future we’ll look at enhancements to our tour such as Realtor branding and displaying Videos. Take some time to go through the right-hand list of settings when creating your tours. You can make adjustments to the way the thumbnails are displayed, if the loading bar at the top is displayed, etc.
Happy Virtual Touring!