Wouldn’t it be amazing to share your images with the world — and make money from them? With the connectivity of the Internet and social media, anyone has a shot at selling their photography prints online.
Of course, it’s going to take a bit of work to get started. Let’s look at what you need to do.
Pick Your Print Company
Fine art photography prints and cheap printing DON’T mix. You need to choose a high-quality print company to ensure your customers receive a quality product. Customers are not going to be happy if they buy your prints only to discover they were printed with cheap materials and fade within a few months.
Decide how you want to handle the printing. Will you buy the prints yourself and keep your own inventory? This is typically what artists do when they sell prints at local art shows or fairs.
However, when you’re selling online, you also have the option of having the print shipped directly to the customer. This is handy because you don’t have to carry an inventory or buy the pieces up front. However, the production price per piece is typically higher.
Investigate high-quality print companies like Millers Labs and WHCC (White House Custom Colour). They will have photography print pricing lists available for all their products that will help you figure out your production costs.
Pick Your Products
Narrow down the types of prints you would like to sell. Simple prints on quality paper are nice. However, if you really want to make money in the fine art world, you’ve got to aim for higher-profit products. These include the following.
A print by itself is nice but when you stick a frame around it, suddenly it becomes fine art. At least that’s the way many people perceive it.
This is especially true when you use a high-quality frame with a mat around it. A high-end presentation makes your images worth more in the minds of your customers.
Gallery Wrapped Canvases
A gallery-wrapped canvas is a more upscale version of a standard canvas print. The image continues around the edges of the stretcher bars.
No frame is needed and the presentation feels high-end, though the production costs are relatively low.
People are loving metal photo prints because of the combination of durability and affordability. You can expect metal prints to outlast paper or canvas prints.
Unfortunately, the print process for metal prints creates a somewhat softer image. However, it is a great option for outdoor areas or simply the novelty of a metal print. It’s just very important to choose a high-quality print company for the best results.
If you want to appeal to a higher-end audience, acrylic is the way to go. These prints are sharp and vibrant and the material is scratch-resistant and UV-blocking.
Not sure what acrylic is? Have you ever heard of Plexiglass? Acrylic is the generic name for this hard plastic.
The material reflects light beautifully, making prints seem back-lit. Acrylic prints come with a larger price tag, but many people are more than willing to pay for the quality of the fine art they will receive.
Choose the Sizes
The next step is to pick the sizes you will sell. This is trickier than it seems and there are various factors you need to consider.
Offer Only a Few Options
First, you want to stick to only a few options. Three options of Small, Medium, and Large are best for most people. Good sizes to start with are 16×24, 20×30, and 30×40.
Don’t overwhelm your customer by making your prints available in every size the print company offers. If you give your customer too many decisions to make, they are more likely to get frustrated and go away without making a sale.
Bigger Is (Generally) Better
Second, in the art world, size matters. People perceive bigger pictures as better and higher quality even if they are printed exactly the same as a smaller image.
However, you also have to choose sizes that your image files can support. It varies a little depending on the printing method used, but the typical standard for printing high-quality images is 300 DPI. This means that to print a large print, you need a high-resolution file that is big enough to meet that standard.
Finally, another thing to consider is the price. Larger prints have higher production costs. Typically, the higher price you can charge for a larger print will more than cover the production costs, but you have to be aware of it.
Pick Your Price Point
Now comes the fun part, it’s time to pick your price point. There are generally two types of photographers when it comes to selling prints.
Some photographers are nervous about their images and don’t see their own value. They end up pricing their products too low. And while they might sell a lot, they aren’t earning what their prints are actually worth.
The other type of photographer is overconfident. They’ll charge premium prices for not-so-premium images and wonder why nobody is buying them.
So the first step is to try to look at your images with a non-biased eye. If you saw this image at a street fair, how much would you be willing to pay for it?
It can be hard to think critically about your own work like this. Try asking an honest friend what they would pay for it — and try not to get offended if you don’t get the answer you want.
Honest feedback is invaluable to your success. Take their feedback and apply it to improve your images until you have something that will wow your audience.
Basic Price Points
Once you’ve figured out which print company you’ll use and the type and size of your prints, you’ll have your production cost. Use this to figure out your selling price.
Assuming you have a solid product, let’s look at the ballpark figures you can use to determine your price points.
When you are just starting out, begin with a moderate price point. About 2 to 3 times your production cost is a customary starting point. So if the print costs you $10 to produce, you can try selling it for $20-$30.
Once you’ve been in it for a while and established a median-level audience, you can bump this up. Around 4 to 6 times your production cost is good for this level.
If you’re marketing to a high-end audience, you can price your prints between 7 and 10 times your production costs. You should also consider limiting your prints to create exclusivity and make your images more desirable.
Pick Your Platform
Finally, you need a place to sell your photography prints.
There are many sites where you can display your photography prints portfolio. For a monthly fee, you can create a gorgeous portfolio website to display your images.
Many sites offer a connection with print companies. For automatic fulfillment, choose a platform that works with the print company you want to use.
If that is not possible, you can always self-fulfill your orders with your preferred vendor.
Generally, you can also manage clients and publish blogs, which allows you to market more than one aspect of your photography business.
A few examples include: