Throughout the years I have sold a few prints. Not as many, of course, as I would’ve liked. I have tried a variety of venues: print ads, gallery shows, online sites, through my own site, and a wide variety of other methods.
As I talk to other photographers, the same question invariably pops up: how much do you charge? That is another area of great contention and consternation. I have priced my images high, and I have priced them low. It really doesn’t seem to make any difference. The sales numbers remain pretty close.
I recently ran across a blog site (photopreneur), that addresses this very topic. The blogger (Dean) espouses that you first have to create the demand, and then (with fingers crossed) the sales may follow. It’s kind of like, “build the park, they will come.” Dean uses the site, “Fine Art America,” (below) as an example.
“If you’re looking to sell your photographic art online, there’s no shortage of options. From Zazzle and Cafepress to RedBubble and even Etsy and Ebay, artists, including photographers, are spoilt for choice.” he says. “All of those choices though share the same problems. Stuffed with other artists all selling similar items, marketing your own work on the site means delivering potential customers directly to your competitors. And because the difficulty of standing out on a platform as large as Zazzle makes the marketing even harder while the size of the site attracts plenty of visitors, many users do no more than create a store and hope that enough buyers flow through to generate some income. It rarely happens.”
As a print-on-demand art site, Fine Art America seems to be ahead of the pack for a very simple reason: marketing comes first. You may be experiencing the same challenge as me, in that most of your marketing is “to the choir.” You send out notices and emails, mostly, to your friends and family, with minimal effort going into cultivating collectors.
I have visited several of the sites mentioned above, and for the most part, I get lost in the over-proliferation of graphics, and become confused about what it is I am doing on that particular site. I think I may have to take a closer look at Fine Art America, because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that you can’t sell anything that isn’t visible to a wide audience.
In the article on photoprenuer, the founder of Fine Art America, Sean Broihier, explains it as follows: “… while sites like Zazzle and Cafepress see themselves as the center of the sales process — a kind of giant mall to which shoppers have to flock in order to buy artworks — Fine Art America is really more of a fulfillment center that provides a way for artists to deliver their work easily. The real benefit of the site is in its marketing tools, which include a second website that carries the artist’s name. Create a profile at Fine Art America and you’ll receive two URLs: http://yourname.fineartamerica.com and http://yourname.artistwebsites.com. Update the content on one site and the other is updated automatically.
“The advantage, other than a doubling of the chances of picking up passing traffic, is that the personalized site is a walled garden. Visitors aren’t going to be attracted to the contents of someone else’s store, turning a lead into a competitor’s customer.”
Aside from working on selling my prints (above, Bethany #9157) , there a few other items on my to-do list, one of which includes the bi-weekly e-newsletter, Red Dog News, and another e-newsletter, Coyote Red, while also maintaining a handful of WordPress sites.
But Fine Art America may be worth a try for you and I. Let me know what you have tried, and how successful (or not) you have been at selling your prints.