If you've ever wondered how to sell photography prints, you aren't alone. As a photographer, nothing is more rewarding than seeing your work appropriately printed and hung in a gallery. Whether you want to sell photography prints online, in your store, or at art fairs, a lot of research and business planning is required to make it work for you.
All types of photography prints can be sold as a physical product. The products with the broadest audience are usually landscape, nature, or fine art photography prints. But that isn't to say that street photographers, architectural works, or even fashion and portraiture won't sell.
Here's how to sell your photography prints:
Printing Your Work
The first step to selling photography prints is to find a printer that you're happy with and who provides photography printing services. You can look locally or online. The quality of online print shops varies substantially, so you'll want to get some samples and test out their product. You'll also want to follow their color matching and screen calibration recommendations precisely.
Many photographers who put their photography prints for sale, sell them as a finished product. This may be a traditional photograph that has been nicely matted and framed. Another popular product is the gallery wrap. These images are printed on canvas and stretched over a wooden frame. They have a very high-end artistic look and give your photography art prints another dimension of interest. For a newer option that produces stunning results, consider a metal print. The digital photography print is made on aluminum sheets and feature spectacular colors and depth. They come with a variety of mounting options.
Of course, another option is to do it yourself. While standard desktop printers can produce impressive results, truthfully you will want something of even higher quality to meet customers expectations. For one thing, professionally printed photographs should be of archival quality. Inkjet prints often fade quickly, especially when framed and exposed to light. If you're considering printing your images, you'll need an archival quality printer capable of printing large wall pieces and the best supplies you can find for it. Equipment and supplies for that equipment can quickly diminish your profits! For this reason, it makes the most sense to go with a professional printer.
Sell photography prints through your personal website.
Selling through your personal website has its advantages. You have full control over the features you put in it and the way you sell your images. And in most of the website builders like Pixpa, you don't have to pay any commission on the sale.
There are two ways you can sell photography art prints on Pixpa:
Through client galleries: When you create a gallery to showcase your work, this can be used to sell the photos as well. It can be done without setting up the e-commerce store. This way, you will get the gallery layout as well as the e-commerce facility.
Through an e-commerce store: You would set up an e-commerce section on your website to sell your products as an online store. An e-commerce store would not interfere with the gallery you have created to display your images.
You can also try innovative mediums to sell your photography prints to clients, like photo magnets.
When an order comes in, you would then order the print and have it shipped to the customer. If you are printing your own works or doing your own framing, this works well because you are shipping the works out directly. You'll also have to come up with a payment processor for your website and make sure all the bits and pieces work as they should.
You would have to go into some trouble setting it all up if you choose a website builder like WordPress, but with Pixpa, everything can be done easily. As Pixpa is a platform dedicated to artists, everything has been thought from their perspective. With themes for photographers, e-commerce to sell prints as well as digital images, and automated printing services, you don't have to worry about anything. Signup for a 15 days trial and find out yourself.
Another way of how to sell photography prints is to outsource fulfillment. Instead of building your website from scratch, there are many sites that you can link to your webpage and then let them do most of the work. Sites like Pixpa offer this service. You will have uploaded the photos for sale to the printer already, and when a customer order comes in the printer automatically collects payment, print the artwork, and then ships it to the customer. This frees up the photographer's time for other activities, like shooting more photos for future sales! Of course, fulfillment services collect a fee for their services, so you will have to crunch the numbers to make sure it works for your photography business.
There are also several online gallery sites that you can use to sell photography prints online. With this type of site, you have no control over what printer they use or how your work is presented. The benefit, on the other hand, is that there is far less work for you to do. You upload your work and enter descriptive and keywording details. The photos get added to their catalog, and you get a percentage of sales. It's easy, but it may not get you the best results possible.
Picking Your Photos to Sell
Once you've picked the type of prints you want to sell, you can get down to choosing the actual photos. While you can sell anything, you want in your store, focusing on your core strengths as a photographer is a winning strategy. Photographers shoot many subjects throughout their careers, but chances are one particular set of your photos will work best to put fine art photography prints for sale.
As discussed in more detail below, choices like this should be covered by your business plan. Look at things like what photographs produce the most interest among your customers and what the best niche you can fill successfully. If you're going to sell your photos locally, which ones make the most sense? This isn't a choice about which photos are your favorites; it is a choice about which ones have the best market. Of course, your favorite photographs are probably your best photographs, so sometimes you might get lucky and get an order of a single print as a photo collage. But as a general rule, all choices made in your business should be made analytically, with a targeted market and good placement plan.
Marketing in the Digital Age
For online retailers, the social media age is a boon for business and a helpful tool for selling photo prints. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook give you the ability to target your advertising like no other medium ever has before. Imagine, you can advertise directly to people in your geographic location who are interested in "fine art," "landscape photography," or "nature." The social media companies know more about us than we know ourselves, and they sell this information to business owners every day. The cost is usually meager, with a very high probability that you will get website hits and walk-in traffic. In short, if used correctly, social media can boost your business as nothing else can.
The key to success with online social media marketing campaigns is to find customers genuinely. It's based on showing who you are and what you are selling. Maintain active Facebook and Instagram account that blend business with personal. Allow your followers to connect with you. Keep it professional, but keep posting regularly and make your page enjoyable. Show off your work, where you're going to be showing your work, and give sneak peeks of what you're working on next.
If you are selling your photo prints through your website, then make sure it has SEO features. Through SEO, your website can be featured on the search engines. Pixpa offers excellent SEO features so that marketing yourself through a website becomes easy.
Selling Your Photography Locally
Selling your work in your local area makes a lot of sense if your work is regional. Landscape, nature, or street photographers can capitalize on this the most. If you work centers around one specific area, then selling your work in that area could be a great marketing tactic. Selling landscape photography prints would be easier than selling landscape photos with portrait and fashion.
Local stores and galleries who are interested in selling photo prints may want to host your work. It can't hurt to ask around. And of course, if you have a large body of work to pull from and the capital to invest in it, opening your gallery could be a good move. Maintaining a brick-and-mortar location is not for everyone and requires careful market analysis to ensure you will have a steady stream of traffic. Regardless, you can find photography galleries in many tourist areas throughout the world that are selling photography prints.
What about Art Fairs?
Another option to try is displaying your fine art prints at art shows. These are popular events held in nearly every area of the world, and they draw customers. Even if you don't make a lot of sales at the show, it's a great way to get your name out there and drive traffic to your website.
Art fairs are a lot of work, however. They usually have a reasonably hefty display fee. You'll also be required to be locally licensed and insured. If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront gallery, this won't be an issue. But if you work solely online, you might have to jump through some hoops. Also, you'll need to bring your booth set up to sell photography art prints. You'll need photo stands, tables, tablecloths and backgrounds, and some payment processing capabilities. Most importantly, you'll have to have a solid stock of photography art prints on hand. Be prepared to collect money and send home some artwork.
But be just as prepared to network, meet potential customers, and get them to your website and social media accounts. Put together something they can take with them like lovely color flyers and business cards. You want them to find it and remember your digital photography prints later, and then you want them to visit your website or your gallery.
How to Sell Photography Prints at the Right Price
When planning how to sell photography prints, the price you sell your photographs will be one of the harder choices. You will have two considerations to research. First, you need to know your actual costs so that you can break even plus make a comfortable profit margin. Since a lot of the time and energy that goes into taking and editing photos for print is probably not carefully tracked by most photographers, you may want to settle with a standard percentage.
To calculate your selling price, you'll need to track and know your operating expenses. Calculate all of your fixed costs, like the website, any office space, trade show visits or art fairs, and any equipment you use. Then don't forget about variable costs like percentage of sales your fulfillment service keeps, the costs of supplies and stock on hand, and things like your travel expenses. If this all sounds very boring and not at all like the fun photography job you signed up for, that's probably because it is. Once you decide selling photography prints is worth the effort, you are running a business.
After you've got an idea on how to price photography prints that will be profitable for you, you'll need to compare with the competition. A road trip to local galleries or art shows is in order. Tour around and analyze what other photographers are doing and how much they're charging. Hopefully, your work stands on its own with a different quality level or a different subject area. But knowing the prices at which other photographers are selling will give you an idea of what the market will bear. Are their photos selling enough to cover all of your expenses and make a profit? Of course, just because one photographer has priced their works at a certain level doesn't mean that they've done their homework or even that they've ever sold one at that price.
The final piece of the price equation is much harder to forecast. How many prints will you sell? The sale is so dependant on your marketing and variables like the price you are selling for and how you get your work in front of customers. It would be expected that the first year would be challenging as most of your time will be spent just getting your name out. The real test comes after that. Will a steady stream of customers continually discover your work and want it in their homes? While any forecast you make is far from certain, it's important to find out how pricing photography prints in the right way can improve your business. Once you get your feet on the ground and have sold a few prints, you can play around with pricing until you can find a level that both you and your customers are comfortable with.
Are Email Campaigns Worth the Trouble?
Despite what some say, email marketing is far from dead. But for it to work, you have to have an established group of people who you have connected with via your website. They must have opted in, and that's the key. People who are genuinely interested in your product will opt in, and they should and will be your best customers.
The key then is to keep them engaged. Produce an interesting and beautiful weekly newsletter. In some ways, you want to be the annoying jingle they can't get out of their minds. Each email should include a call to action. Perhaps you have a discount code that is only included in your emails, or maybe you have a deal on one of your most popular prints. Whatever it is, it's motivation to keep reading your emails and to keep your fine art photography prints in their minds!
Deciding how to sell photography prints online is not one to be taken lightly. Each photographer must make some very personal choices about the type of photography prints they want to sell, the people you want to sell to, how much you need to make to cover their expenses, and how they can effectively market and create more exposure for their work. Selling prints is one of the most rewarding paths a photographer can take, but it's undoubtedly not without hard work, lots of research, and careful planning. If you've always dreamed of seeing your photo prints hanging on gallery walls, it's worth giving a try!
Thinking of building a website to sell your prints? Pixpa offers a free trial to get you started. Signup today.