When we talked to Jason Niedle about his photography, we also discussed one way in which photographers can make money out of their pictures: by creating calendars. In addition to taking photos, Jason also runs TheCalendarFactory.com, an offshoot of his printing business that focuses solely on picture-based, monthly wallcharts.
Jason says that he gets a lot of enquiries from photographers looking to sell their photos as calendars but few have realistic expectations. “Most of them expect that because they have some good images, they’ll get picked up by a major retailer and their work will sell by itself,” he said. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it just doesn’t happen that way.”
The problem, Jason explains, is that the big retailers like Barnes & Noble have less than 100 slots to fill with calendars. A large number are already taken by animal calendars and most of the rest go to well-known brand like Sports Illustrated. “So what does that leave open for experimentation on B&N’s part? Pretty much nothing,” Jason told us.
That doesn’t mean that calendars aren’t a good way for photographers to advertise their work. They certainly are. Businesses use them to put images of their products on a customer’s wall for twelve months and photographers can do the same thing. They can either create calendars with their samples and give them free to clients as promotional material, or they can build calendars for a highly targeted market — such as the local college football team or origami enthusiasts — and market them themselves.
The challenge though, has always been the expense. According to Jason, few photographers can afford the sheetfed, printed calendars that require a run of at least 1000 units and provide the sort of quality that photographers need. The only options have been either to stump up and hope for the best, or to produce shorter run calendars and put up with the lower quality.
Jason’s company though is about to offer high-quality calendars that he says are cost-effective in runs of 25-500. We haven’t seen them and can’t say how good they are, but if you’re thinking of selling to a local niche market, they might be worth checking out.
[tags] photo calendars [/tags]