How to Sell Your Photography Online: Earn a part or full time income from your home.

How to Sell Your Photography Online: Strategies, tips and help from Wayne King!

 


How to Sell Your Photography Online
Strategies, tips and help from Wayne King.

More and more people are selling their photography online as a way to make some extra income. However, the number of people who are doing so successfully is a very small percentage of those who try. The difference between success and failure, more often than not, is patience. As I heard one hollywood star say recently, "it only took me 20 years to become an overnight success!"

If you've been thinking of trying your hand at selling online, a little bit of preparation and research will go a long way toward improving the prospects for your success. Notice that I did not say "assurring" your success because, when it comes to selling photography online there is no such thing as a "sure thing".

Start by taking stock of what you have to offer and where it might fit into the universe of websites that offer art and products built with your images. There are a lot of different websites offering a host of different services ranging from artist's websites to products created using photographic images on cards, posters, mugs, bath mats, ipad cases, phone cases and more.

Begin by asking yourself if your work falls more into the "art" category or the "stock" category. In other words, are people most likely to purchase your work because they want gaze at your beautiful work on their wall or send it to a friend in the form of a card; or, are they more likely to want to purchase the rights to use the image in a business publication, or to add color to blog or for a website? The answer to this question will help you to hone down the choices of sites that you are considering.

Art Photography

If your work falls into the art category then you need to research what are known in the business as "Online Art Marketplaces". These are websites that give you access to large numbers of potential customers who use the sites specifically to find art that appeals to them. This allows you to sell art to people who are seeking art for the sake of art - for example framed photographs, greeting cards or posters. Many of these marketplaces also offer your art custom printed on other products, such as phone cases, tablet cases, mugs, bath mats, shower curtains, tote bags, etc.

The best of these online marketplaces have hundreds of thousands or millions of regular monthly customers. Some of them charge a monthly or annual fee. Some sites have a free level and then offer additional options for a monthly or annual payment. Every site is different and is built around their own revenue model. Many of the most affordable ones, offer "Print on Demand" (POD) services. In other words, the customer finds and orders the art they want and the website fulfills the order, charging a fee for the printing and their profit. It's artist convenient because you merely post your image, determine your desired profit margin and provide the image's backstory. Be sure to carefully read the fine print with each site so that you don't get three fifths of the way down the road when you suddenly run into a "Paywall".

A good place to start is RedBubble.com. Their POD service offers prints on various quality papers and in various sizes, framed art, art on canvas and metal as well as phone cases, mugs, cards, posters and a host of other products. Second on my list of quality marketplace sites is FineArtAmerica.com, which goes by the name Pixels.com in Europe. FAA offers a commercial add-on that allows you to create news releases and coupon codes among other features.

Keep in mind that if you are looking to sell signed original prints at a premium price you will find that to be a challenge. These Art Marketplaces are a good place to sell unsigned open edition prints but they really have no way to offer signed originals. No one has yet come up with a way to allow you to reach through time and space to provide a real time signature demanded by folks who purchase original art. I do this by having a separate website where people who want original works can make a purchase and then wait patiently while you order the print, sign it and ship it to them. There are some folks working on an alternative that I am just testing out so I can't yet vouch for it. You can find their website at Spreesy.com. The alternative that would allow you to sell original work will require you to create a website with shopping cart services using one of the many websites like WIX.com or Squarespace.com.

One other website worth mentioning is Zazzle.com. Zazzle supersizes the POD paradigm by focusing on the product instead of the image. What draws customers to the Zazzle website is their desire for specific products from T-Shirts to skateboards, from cell phone cases to Zippo lighters and baggage tags. Zazzle allows you to create storefronts that focus on the products you wish to emphasize and then to use your images to brand them.

Stock Photography

If your work might best be used by businesses, bloggers and commercial enterprises, consider Stock Photography sites.

The major difference between websites that sell art and stock sites is that stock sites generally involve the customer digitally downloading the images that they wish to use. In most cases the stock website will require you to submit a specific number of images to determine whether your images meet the quality requirements of their site. Once you're approved you can begin loading images to the site. You'll receive royalties based on your monthly downloads.

Successfully selling on stock websites, like using the Art Marketplaces is a numbers game. The more customers that a website has the better your chances for generating income. Larger sites include iStock.com which was just purchased by the big dog in the field, Getty. My advice to newbies is to steer clear of Getty. They pay a lot more than the other sites but they require exclusivity which means that you can't test the waters anywhere else. iStock.com on the other hand does not require exclusivity and, if what I read is true, Getty will sometimes upgrade images from iStock to Getty giving you a boost in your download profits.

The other sites worth trying are Alamy.com which has one of the largest international customer bases and Shutterstock.com which has one of the largest bases of customers because their download costs are the least expensive of all the major players.

Plan to spend at least a portion of your "marketing" time each week digging around to determine what kinds of images are most in demand, especially if you are focusing on the Stock photography market. For example, right now media sources that specialize in photography indicate that there has been a subtle but notable shift toward images that are more genuine and less "stocky". There has also been real growth in the blog market where bloggers seek out affordable stock images to add color and character to their blog posts.

There is no doubt that as you get more advanced at selling your work online you will find yourself being led toward the holy grail . . . your own website. Eventually, any serious photographer will need to have their own website with a shopping cart feature but don't feel that you need to do this right away. In fact, in retrospect, most photographers will tell you that they wish they had spent more time learning about what works BEFORE they began crafting their own website. That is advice worth heeding.

Posted 8/4/18


 

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