Sell your best shots to the public as artwork!
Selling prints often seems the simplest way to start making money from your images, but it needs a bit of planning. You need to consider how the prints are made, mounted and framed; and then you have to find a venue for the sales. There are two options for making the prints: you can do it yourself or pay someone else to do it.
Printing at home means you can offer a quick turnaround, but using a professional lab means you can produce larger prints on a greater range of media. WhiteWall and Loxley Colour, for example, offer a huge range of media for prints, including all the usual papers as well as canvas and acrylic, and prints can also be mounted on aluminium so they don’t need to be framed; you can have cards and calendars made too.
If you are planning to frame your prints, look at a range of styles and select something simple and neutral; you want something that will fit into the average person’s house, and you don’t want anything too ornate that distracts from your image.
Where to sell your photos
When it comes to finding the right venue there are lots of places to consider, from a local gallery to the town library, village hall or a popular tea shop or restaurant. Pop into your local gallery, and take a look at the type of work it normally sells.
Find out if there are any resident photographers selling work there and consider whether your photographs complement, clash with or effectively duplicate theirs. If a resident photographer regularly displays black and white landscapes of the local area, for example, your monochrome landscapes may not be welcome; a series of toned still life images, however, will add a bit of variety and may draw in a wider audience.
Ask about how the gallery works and makes its money. Do you have to pay for the display space, or does the gallery take a cut from any sales? Some galleries require that frames are fixed on the wall rather than hung, so ask whether you’re required to supply fixings or hang the work. Cafés, restaurants and tea shops are also popular places for selling prints, cards and calendars. In some cases the owners will let you display your pictures and sell them for free because they are happy to have something interesting on their walls, but others may expect some form of payment, perhaps a cut of your sales.
Whereas a gallery is likely to take payment on your behalf and then pass the money on to you, a café owner is more likely to want to refer the potential buyer to you. If they do not offer you a contract, draw one up that you both sign. The contract should stipulate how many prints are being hung and for how long, as well as any payment arrangements.
Unless you have a huge following you are probably not going to get rich selling prints via the internet, but it is a very convenient method. If you intend to market your prints from your own website make it clear exactly what you are offering, detailing the size and type of prints available, what they are printed on, whether they are mounted or framed and how they will be delivered.
Some website hosts offer an ordering service template for you to add to your website, or you can ask visitors to email with their requirements. Online labs such as Photobox Pro Galleries (www.photoboxgallery.com) and Loxley Colour (www.loxleycolour.com) offer a service that allows photographers to upload images that can then be displayed ready for clients to order prints directly.
10 Top tips for making money from photo art
If you have shoddy presentation your photos will look shoddy too. Shop around for a good deal on printing and framing; many printing companies will provide you with samples so that you can see how your work will look.
Do it yourself
Fancy making the prints yourself? Invest in top-quality kit, including a photo printer capable of producing archival prints to at least A3 size. A printer that can use a variety of media will broaden the range you can offer for sale.
Approach local art galleries to see if they will display your prints. Venues like cafés, hotels and gift shops can be good places to try too. Galleries usually ask for a commission, so check it’s cost-effective to have them sell your work.
Small local craft fairs can be a good way of finding out if people are interested in your work without you making a huge outlay. A selection of 20 images produced as mounted prints and cards is a good starting point.
Do not stop taking photos
Maximising your sales is important, but don’t spend all your time hawking your prints. Make sure you keep updating your portfolio with new work, and look for seasonal additions to add to your collection.
Set up a website for your print business, with an option for buyers to purchase via PayPal. Template-based sites such as Clikpic (www. clikpic.com) are really useful for advertising your business and increasing sales, but don’t expect to make a fortune overnight.
Follow the seasons
Make sure you’re selling prints that are appropriate for your audience. In a tourist town, for example, local landmark shots will always sell well. Don’t underestimate the power of Christmas, either – prints make easy and attractive presents.
Do not just stick prints
Be as varied with what you offer as possible. Greetings cards will sell more readily in gift shops, galleries, post offices and bookshops, while calendars can do very well at Christmas. Try novelty items too, such as paperweights and table mats.
Vary the prices
Offer items at a range of prices. Give customers a choice between framed prints and mounted ones they can frame themselves. Postcards let customers buy your photos without the expense of a framed print, and firms like Moo.com let you print these via their website.
Hold a lauch evening
If you’ve managed to get your prints featured in a local art gallery, make an event of it. Organise a viewing evening, send out a press release to local newspapers and magazines, and use Facebook and Twitter to generate interest.