5 Surprising Places to Sell your Photos




Photography: edwinsail

You know all the old standards. You know that you can walk into a bookstore and see calendars filled with photos of fluffy kittens and baby Dobermans. You know that you can browse a gallery and – assuming you don’t die of envy first – see beautiful photographs, framed, matted and available for sale at eyewatering sums. And you know that you can browse a stock site and see image after image of jumping families and headset-wearing backroom staff.

You might even know that with a well-managed Flickr stream, you could be selling licenses and offloading prints to the buyers who cruise the site.

But here are five places you probably didn’t know that you could sell your pictures:

Etsy

The trouble with handicraft sites like Zazzle and Etsy is that they don’t really do any marketing. Instead, they supply the shop window and the selling infrastructure, and rely on the sellers to bring in the buyers themselves.

Often then, they don’t work.

In part, that’s because when anyone can open a store, the quality of the site as a whole tends to suffer, putting buyers off. And in part, it’s because marketing a Zazzle page requires special skills and knowledge that only a few handicrafters possess.

Etsy though does things a little differently. It charges sellers a fee, which puts off chancers, and it enables buyers and sellers to browse and chat. We’ve come across at least one amateur who made her first photography sale on the site. Market carefully and it might just happen to you too.

Subscription Sites

Most photographers are accustomed to selling one image at one price at one time. Stock companies though try to chain their clients to their outlets by selling subscriptions. In effect, they give their buyers a large discount in return for advance payment, ensuring that they won’t go anywhere else in the future.

It’s a model that some artists are using to sell their works directly too.
Vlad Gerasimov, a Russian designer, makes high quality versions of his wallpapers available for $19.99 a year or $29.99 for life. These include his photographic series of Siberian wooden houses.

He told us that he’s sold more than 11,000 subscriptions, and that’s without spending a penny on advertising.

You’d need to create good, original images to do this, and you’ll have to network like mad to become well-known. But if your photos are interesting enough, you could find that you’re locking in plenty of buyers and packing away lots of money too.

Twitter

Twitter might be a lot of fun and a great place to network, but it’s also becoming a valuable marketing tool. That’s especially true of each Twitter page’s background which allows twitterers to create a sidebar packed with URLs and product information.

Designer Natalie Jost is cashing in on that opportunity by allowing twitterers to use her textures as their background designs for free. If they want to use them for any other purpose though, they have to pay.

That’s a clever marketing ploy that photographer can learn from, even if they don’t want to give away their images for nothing. Create a series of images formatted for Twitter – complete with space for sidebar – and you’ll have a new product line.

You’ll also have the ideal marketing tool to spread the word too.

Tourist Stops

Postcards can be as tricky a sale as calendars and posters. Stores tend to buy from their regular suppliers, the profits from each are tiny and the competition is fierce. Some places though are easier to break into and sell from than others.

We’ve spoken to at least one amateur photographer who was able to place his photos at tourist sites that he visited frequently. If there are places near you that have a steady stream of visitors – and especially if it’s the kind of place that tourists bring their own cameras to – then there’s an opportunity waiting to be plucked.

Again, you’ll need great images of course, and you’ll have to be able to persuade the sellers that that your images really will sell but the fact that you’re local gives you a big advantage. You know the best places to shoot, the times of day that have the best light and the times of year that produce the best colors.

You’ll also be able to update your collection frequently, and offer a complete range of site-oriented products that could range from postcards to posters, and from books to t-shirts.

All you need is the right images and the right places.

Colleges

One career choice chosen by many photographers looking for the security of a regular salary while still keeping their hands on their camera is to teach. The top photographers teach at universities and on professional courses but there are plenty of further education centers which demand few qualifications and while they won’t pay very much, they will give you an audience of eager photography enthusiasts.

You won’t be able to sell directly to your students – colleges tend to look down on teachers hawking their goods in class – but it’s likely that many of your students will want to see your images and buy your Blurb books, if only to get a feel for the sort of images you take.

Strictly speaking, it might be against the rules but if someone is going to buy your book anyway out of curiosity, is it really so bad if you order it yourself and give them a discount?

Those are just five unusual ways of selling images that we know of. Put them into practice, and you might find that they become the new standard.


16 comments for this post.

  1. Emily Said:

    How about POD - Print on demand sites such as zazzle.com and redbubble.com where your photos get turned into gift items including cards and posters.

  2. Viaggi Africa Said:

    Thanks always useful post. In hard times we need new fresh ideas for our business.

  3. Angelina F Said:

    Another great way to see your photographs is to turn them into oil paintings. Photography is a great idea for capturing the moment, a memory, a millstone and better yet turning a beautiful painstaking photograph into an oil painting to hand down from generation to generation. Image one of your photographs made into an oil painting with your specific instructions. And you determine when the painting is done. The talent at our gallery is outstanding, please visit our site to review our previous work.
    If you are interested and would like to feature an article here at your site. Please contact me at the above e-mail address.

    Thank you so much for your time.
    Angelina

  4. Justin Said:

    The crystal-ball will tell you the truth! http://www.dreamstime.com/crystal-ball-image1582363

  5. Phil Wessells Said:

    You should try QOOP.com if you're looking at Zazzle and Redbubble. We handle the photo prints and products for LIFE Magazine photo library, flickr, and photobucket. We've recently turned on our store tools at QOOP for photographers so you can easily upload and create listings for sale. Products range from stock downloads to prints and framed prints, and many gift items. We also have design tools so you can create calendars, photobooks, and complex posters from your content. We step up the marketing a bit by feeding all listings to Google image search and offer sharing and linking from the listings to any site. It's free so give it a try and let us know what you think.

  6. Arthur Roberts Said:

    I have a couple of friends that are photographers that have begun to sell their work on a new website called Artmo | Art Market Online (http://www.artmo.com). They were all invited, but I'm sure there's an email address or a place on the site that you could submit a portfolio for review.

  7. Richard wilde Said:

    I agree that print on demand sites are useful, you do have to do a bit of marketing yourself though which is a pain at times.

    I recently joined a new print on demand site at http://www.artybuzz.com, it's free like many of the others but they market work on their website themselves as well which I think helps when it comes to increasing sales for site members.

  8. Portrait Studios Said:

    You have a fantastic idea with photographers giving away their photos as Twitter backgrounds. If you don't know how to format the photo for twitter, have a web graphic designer help you.

  9. John Boy Said:

    Print on demand sites are definately the way forward.

    The guys at http://www.pimpartworks.com dont charge any subscriptions and only make money when they sell your work, so you can rest assured they'll do everything they can

  10. Catherine Jacob Said:

    Some great ideas above... I also use print on demand sites and have had some good success with them. http://www.artybuzz.com is a good one, and also http://www.muralswallpaper.co.uk is something to consider if you want something a bit different, as they print mural wallpaper on demand

  11. Denver Photographer Said:

    Those are for sure some interesting Ideas, I think that breaking into the tourist shot market might be hard where I live, because I'm sure shops are inandated with local's trying to sell their shots, but interesting nonetheless.

  12. Photography Art Cafe Said:

    I've tapped into the tourist stop option quite well. I distribute to about 30 places at the beginning of summer and the takings come Autumn are pretty decent. It's also a great marketing idea in itself - my cards have my website address on the back so people can follow up postcard purchases with print and canvases purchases!

  13. Lisa Anderson Said:

    Sell your models or stock photos / images on The3dStudio.com!
    Earn 60% - 70% on every sale. Royalties are paid monthly with no minimum payout. Uploading and adding your products to The3dStudio.com is fast and easy. Our multi-file uploader and automated product creation tools (that support IPTC metadata for stock photos/images) allow you to create products in seconds. No waiting for product approvals. Best watermarking around. No upload limits. Real-time sales reports. 5% lifetime commission on referrals.
    The3dStudio.com is still new in the stock photo area—we began offering stock photos in July 2009, but we are well-established in the 3D community—over 13 years. We are one of the oldest, largest, and most respected 3D and 2D resource sites. We provide excellent, fast, and personal customer service seven days a week; you will never receive an automatic or canned response from us.
    We are already changing the way stock photos and images are bought and sold: We don’t use a goofy ‘credit’ payment system; we don’t require a minimum purchase from our customers; and we don’t sell your photos for pennies.
    There are no set-up, membership, hosting, monthly, or other fees of any kind at The3dStudio.com—we only make money if you make money.
    [email protected]

  14. Carlos Thomas Said:

    You guys have a very good base of articles here, I've been browsing for almost an hour here and still have more to read. I've been tweeting this useful info as well. Surprised I've only just NOW learned of you guys' web presence. Market MORE! I'll help where I can.

    Thanks!

  15. Matthew Bamberg Said:

    Imagekind and FineartAmerica are good too.

  16. ashley Beolens Said:

    Interesteing article. The biggest problem for photographers (that I have found) is the choice that is out there of places to sell. With print on demand there are so many places open to you that picking one and sticking to it might be most sensible (from a marketing point of view) but prostituting yourself around them all might get sales you would not have got otherwise. The same is tru of Stock sites, with thousands of them around you need to make sure they suit you. I've got hundreds of each listed on my site http://www.fatphotographer.net so finding the right one might be easier (they are all listed in one place then) but it is still a nightmare for photographers.

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