Sell your Photos from your OWN Niche Site

For most photographers, selling images has always meant going through a middleman. That could be an agent who sets up assignments or a stock company that handles the sales and passes back a share of the price. The advantage is that the photographer can focus on the picture-making while the company handles the deals, but there’s a disadvantage too: the middleman takes a big cut of the income.

Put up your own photography website though and you can, in theory at least, cut out the middleman altogether.

Create a Niche Site, Not a Stock Site
The challenge for a photographer selling images directly is that you have to compete with the big boys. Stock sites will always be able to offer more photos than an independent photographer can but while that means lots of choice, it also brings a problem for the buyer: looking for the right photo to buy.

Yuri Arcurs, for example, told us that half the photos he sells go to people who have bought from him in the past. Buyers don’t want to waste time trawling through hundreds of images on a stock site, so they go directly to his portfolio where they know they’ll find the sort of quality they need.

A photographer hoping to sell from a website then has to be able to offer the same sort of reliable service: he or she has to supply niched, high-quality images.

Those niches don’t have to be tiny. They can be as broad as “business” photos or “car” photos. The market would be smaller than that of a stock site offering images on every topic imaginable, but the marketing would be easier and a photographer only needs to conquer one niche to develop a steady source of income.

From a Niche Site to a Nice Little Business
Once you’ve picked your niche, building the site shouldn’t be difficult either. Although you can certainly hire a programmer to do all the codework for you — which would give you a unique look, a relatively large bill but only a small headache — these days there’s a plethora of tools that can help any photographer put up a commercial image site in a snap.

ImageDisplayWorks, for example, offers a bunch of different templates, and while it’s really set up for event photography, there’s no reason why it couldn’t handle any sort of images for any sort of market.

PixSmart is an Australian business that also lets photographers put their images online ready to sell. Although many of its customers are also event photographers, other specialists are using the software to market their photos too.

And SlideShowPro isn’t a website template, but it can be a very useful and creative way to show off your images on your own unique site. You’ll have to build the ecommerce section around the gallery but you’ll get a much more attractive look.

Charge Stock Prices, Not Micro-Stock Prices
Once you’ve built the site and uploaded your images, don’t undervalue them. Just because some companies hand out images for a buck a piece or less, doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing to compete.

The price of an image depends on its use and its perceived value. Someone buying an image directly from a photographer has already saved the time spent searching on a stock site. He can also keep some of the middleman’s take. But the rest should end up in your pocket.

Check out Corey Pearce’s image store built with PixSmart and Kevin Kubota’s store built with ImageDispayWorks tell us how you market images on your website.

[tags] imagedisplayworks, pixsmart, slideshopro, sell photos from niche sites [/tags]

3 comments for this post.

  1. Chris Said:

    Cool! Thanks for this. I've been movingthis direction over the past couple of years and didn't realize what I was doing. This will help me refocus on what I need to accomplish!

  2. Extreme Skiing Photos Said:

    I've been running a niche site like this for my skiing images. It's been getting decent traffic, but no sales yet. Thanks for the tips!

  3. bicycleimages Said:

    the challenge with niche stock sites is to ensure that the trust the user needs (when licencing a commercial image) is maintained. He/she needs to know that he's buying the same quality, not just image quality but licencing quality as if he were going to the big boys.
    We've been running a bike stock site for some months now and this focus has been really important in converting sales.

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