This post looks at the topic of selling prints online as a way to generate an income from your images. This comes on top of recent articles which looked at building financial success through photography. Those posts are here:
- Succeed in photography business
- My take on microstock photography
- Getting started in your photography business
There are a range of e-business opportunities available to photographers today. I have contributed to microstock agencies since 2008 as a key way to generate income from my images. That has been productive and financially successful for me. Since mid 2013, I have also been selling prints online through Fine Art America. This post covers my experience and lessons learned. (Follow this link to see my portfolio on Fine Art America)
How does it work?
Fine Art America’s website is very easy to use. After setting up your account, you upload your images, add titles, add descriptions, and add key words. These are so that your image (or artwork) can be found by users of the site. One key element that is different from microstock is that you get to set your own prices – which effectively means you set your own margins. Nice. This is also a straightforward process and is done quickly and easily. Set your prices high to make higher margins but likely low sales volumes. And set your prices lower to make lower margins but likely higher sales volumes.
What do users do?
Rather than downloading an image for use, users of Fine Art America order a product made with your image. While I have titled this post Selling Prints Online, users can order a range of different products with your images on them – not just prints (smart phone covers are one clever use and is a large, emerging market). In short, rather than receiving your image electronically, the end user receives a physical product with your image on it.
Why does this work?
Selling prints online works well for photographers who want someone else to find customers for them. In this case Fine Art America generates traffic to the site, to buy prints of your images. This is ideal for photographers who are busy shooting or working another job. All the photographer has to do is upload the image, add details, and leave the sales process to Fine Art America.
What has my experience been?
I have 200 of my wildlife images available on Fine Art America. That’s not many, and is dwarfed by the 6000+ I have available through iStockphoto.
While I have outlined above that the upload process is straightforward, my sales have not been very successful. It may be both the type of content I have uploaded, and also the relatively small number of images. Overall, the sales generated through selling prints online has generated very small income. Again, it is dwarfed by my microstock sales, and hence I continue to focus on microstock while online adding images to Fine Art America from time to time (generally on really cold, rainy winter days!!)
While selling prints online has not been very successful for me – I note other photographers and artists selling artwork regularly. My observations are that they either have:
- very unique imagery, or
- are a well known name, or both
For example, Anne Geddes sells her images on Fine Art America. She is very well known for her unique images of new born babies. If you would like to check out her work, go to Fine Art America and put her name in the search field.
Selling prints online has not been very financially successful for me so far. I’d suggest using an outlet like this to generate an income from your images if you have very unique content or a very “arty” bias in your work.
Do you sell prints online? What has your experience been?