Selling photographs is a major achievement for most photographers. But it can be an intimidating challenge, one that most don’t know how to address. We’ve put together this short guide to help you break into the online selling environment. You might already be familiar with some of the info, but you’ll surely find new stuff worth trying.
The first step you need to take is decide to sell your work and figure out what direction is best.
If you like to photograph things and places more than people, micro stock agencies might be the option for you. If you are into fine art photography, there are also other sites that can help you.
On your quest to selling your photography online, it is vital to get noticed in the first place. On any site you post your work for sale, you need to categorize it as best you can. Use the appropriate tags so that whoever is interested in your kind of work will find it.
(Success Tip:Take better photos with this simple deck of cards)
Promoting is also vital. No matter what website you upload your work on, you still need to have your own webpage containing the best of your portfolio. Networking is essential too, but I will assume you are already aware of that. Use Facebook and Twitter as much as you can but do not base your hopes entirely on them.
Micro stock agencies
There are countless agencies you can turn to and they are one of the most popular ways of selling photographs. Before you choose an agency to work with, be sure to read all the details in the agreements and the fine print. You need to understand what their commission is and what rules they have.
Turn to the most popular agencies for a start: Shutterstock, DreamsTime, iStockPhoto and Fotolia.
Shutterstock is one of the best known agencies. It offers a potentially huge volume of sales. Be advised though, your images have to be flawless because the acceptance criteria is stringent
Fotolia is another big agency. The income you get from them is directly linked to your ranking and image exclusivity.
DreamsTime is a good option if you haven’t got too much experience with stock agencies. Their vetting process is a little more permissive than elsewhere.
IStockPhoto has some of the highest earnings for photographers, but the acceptance criteria are also very strict.
Creative and artsy websites
If your preferences are more on the creative side, there is a category of websites that could help you sell your work to the right people who value creativity, aesthetic appeal and originality.
Just as with stock agencies, you need to keep your portfolio constantly updated and be very selective with what you post. You shouldn’t expose anything less than your best work.
Etsy is one of the cool sites to sell your work to the right audience. One thing to remember about this and other creative sites is that unlike stock agencies, where you only sell the digital file, you have to make prints and send them. That automatically means adding a cost of production that will increase the final cost, not to mention the extra work involved.
SmugMug offers some very cool portfolio options, besides the selling part. It’s very popular among photographers and it gives you a fair amount of flexibility in organizing your stuff.
Fine Art America is also a viable option. It’s best to start free accounts with these websites and enjoy the benefits of pro accounts later on, after you get a hang of how they work.
Red Bubble is another well designed site suitable for showing and selling your work.