How to Sell Your Photography and Artwork Online
It's All About Networking!
So you're a budding photographer and want to know the best way in which to get yourself noticed, and make a few dollars from your work?
Below are some tips on how to earn yourself a bit of spare cash, plus advice on what to avoid when promoting your work online.
Be prepared to accept that you won't make a fortune by selling your images online. If you are looking to retire from your day job and become an internet entrepreneur, then think again. It is hard work from the get-go, and you will spend most of your spare time networking, promoting, advertising - and receiving little compensation in return. Saying that, however, the longer you stick at it, the more attention you will receive, and obviously, the more people that are made aware of you, the more chance you have of being successful in your photography sales business.
- Zazzle.com: A great site to join (completely free) if you would like to have your artwork printed onto things like mugs, t-shirts, aprons, greetings cards, bumper stickers, etc, etc. You set your commission rate, and the Zazzle team deals with all of the post-purchase processing. Zazzle has the ingenious function which allows you to do a mass upload, immediately transforming your artwork/photographs onto 100 different products at once. You can also create templates for others to use in their creations.
- Red Bubble: Exactly the same concept as Zazzle, Red Bubble deals with all the purchases made, and again, you set your commission rate. Free to join and quite high traffic on images views.
- Etsy: This is like an online craft fair. You create a free account, and then you list your items for sale, and are charged a listing fee by Etsy. The huge difference between Etsy and the sites I've listed above, is that all processing work is your responsibility. If you want to sell one of your photographs, or other art/craft, as a framed print, for instance, then you would have to actually have it framed, and mail it to the buyer yourself. Etsy is ideal for those of you that have already got items ready for sale - photos/paintings already framed, dolls/teddy bears already made - this makes it much easier to gauge things like postage costs, the cost of framing, etc. Definitely worth joining and selling on if you can find a niche in the market for originality.
- FineArtAmerica.com: This is by far one of the best methods of selling your photography (and other artwork) online. You can opt for a free membership account, but this only allows you to upload 25 images at any given time, so it's definitely worth paying the $30.00 annual subscription fee which enables you unlimited uploads. FineArtAmerica is not just for those living in the USA - both artists and buyers from all over the world use the site.
Once you have uploaded good quality images that you wish to sell, you are able to set your own commission rate for each image sold, and once you've done that, that's it! That's all you have to do. When a buyer purchases one of your images, FineArtAmerica do all the processing work; greetings cards, framed/unframed prints, various canvases - plus they ship your work out to the buyer, so you literally don't have to worry about any of the post-purchase stuff!
Included with your subscription is: your own personal gallery/website link, a 'shop' icon for Facebook, a blog, personalized email campaigns, plus a multitude of other gadgets designed to help you promote and advertise your work.
- Ebay and Amazon: Pretty much everyone has heard of one or both of these auction/sales sites, but have you considered selling your photographs on there? Like Etsy, you would have to determine whether you wish to sell original photographs, larger (custom) prints, and whether they'll be framed or not. You'll always draw a larger audience by listing items as 'customizable', for instance, giving the buyer a choice of size, frame color/frame type. Just do your homework first with regards to the cost of shipping, as it's easy to get carried away and end up charging less than it cost you to print/frame/ship your photograph.
- Stock Photo Sites: Avoid these. For one thing, there are too many of them to throw a stick at, and unless you are a highly skilled, professional photographer, then it's unlikely you'll make anything from uploading your images to one. The standards they require are extremely high, as the majority of the customers that use stock photo sites tend to be corporations and high-end businesses (online and off). You'll find that the best selling images are those that have been created solely in editing programs, such as Photoshop, and these are known as 'vectors'. Actual photographs are two a penny, and the stock sites' rules are extremely tight when it comes to things like model releases (even if your photo shows the back of someone's head from a distance, they will reject it unless you have a signed model release by that person!) and some even reject photographs of recognizable buildings and landmarks, unless you have gained authorization from the owner to photograph their property, and then use it for commercial purposes. Some examples of stock photo sites are: Fotolia, Shutterstock, BigStockPhoto.
Remember, no matter which site you register with, the job of networking and promoting is entirely up to you - the more time you put into it, the better your chance of results/sales. One way of doing this is by search engine optimization (SEO), and here are some sites that enable you to submit your website link to a multitude of search engines all in one go: Free Website Submission, FreeWebSubmission, Evrsoft.
Utilize Facebook, Myspace, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, DIGG, ChimeIn, and Google+ - all are fantastic tools which you can use to share new items for sale, links to your personal website, and announce upcoming events, sales and discounts.