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Are your family and friends telling you that your pictures are so good you should try to sell them? Are you thinking that you should give it a try but you are not too sure how to get started?
The reality is that there has never been a better time to show your work to a wide audience, but there has never been a worse time to try to sell it… Don’t despair, keep reading!
On one hand, the possibilities to get exposure are endless and free. On the other hand, the market is saturated with photographers who want to sell their work for that same reason. The fine art market has always been a tough one to break into. Now that everyone owns a camera and thinks their work should be on your wall, it’s harder than ever to make a few bucks at it. Also, let’s face it, art is a luxury and not an easy sale in a tough economy.
Should you give up? Absolutely not! You may never get world wide recognition but if you’re good, there is probably a market for you at the local level. Here are a few things to consider to test your market and see if your work will sell:
1- First, put some of your best work online in a gallery with an e-store option (Fine Art America is free, Smugmug is reasonably priced and more professional looking. There are many more options available).
2- Print some business cards with your contact info, gallery and/or website links, etc.
3- Print 4 or 5 of your best images in a large format, matte and frame them. You can also order good quality canvas prints so you don’t have to worry about framing. Visit your local coffee shops and restaurants and ask if they would display your work for a few weeks (keep it under a month, no one will notice it after two or three weeks anyway). Most coffee shops welcome the free wall decoration and will not ask for a commission. If they do, figure it out in your price. You can also offer them a print of their choice to keep as a thank you. Make sure you leave plenty of business cards near your work so people can contact you if they are not ready to buy on the spot.
4- Unless you have fabulous images from your last trip to Italy that would be a great fit in your local Italian restaurant, think locally. People like to buy images of places they are familiar with. This is especially true if you photograph those familiar places with a unique vision that make them even more interesting. They also make great gift items for visiting guests.
5- Offer a framed print to a silent auction to benefit a good cause. You will help them with your contribution, get some exposure and feel really good about yourself for your donation!
6- Thinking about selling you work at art fairs? They are often expensive to join and photography is not the best seller. If you want to give it a try, make sure you have plenty of inexpensive ‘cash and carry’ items such as greeting cards, small matted prints, etc. Be prepared for a long day or weekend sitting around and not selling much (when you could be out there taking more pictures).
7- Have your own show at your house! Team up with two or three other artists (jewelry artists, painters, etc) for an evening. Share the cost of the beverages and snacks, combine your contact lists and have your own art show. Make sure to have a lot of ‘cash and carry’ items to sell, display some of your large prints as well. Those shows are great because the competition is minimal and people are here to shop and have a good time. Your guests will enjoy visiting with the artists and meet new friends. You can potentially make hundreds of dollars in a short period of time while having fun!
8- Greeting cards do sell! Since people are not using snail mail much anymore, a beautiful greeting card becomes even more special. Make sure you have cards for different occasions. I used to make my own cards and I sold hundreds of them. I remember going on ‘greeting card photo walks’ where I would photograph specific subjects for different occasions (flowers for Mother’s day cards, travel related subjects for ‘bon voyage’ or happy retirement cards, etc.)
The list could go on and on and I would love to hear your success stories.
You can make it happen if you remember to start small on a local scale and not set your expectations too high. It may not bring you fortune but making a few sales of your art is a wonderful feeling. Good luck!
Interested in learning more about making money from your photography? Check out dPS’s Going Pro Kit – for those looking to go full time or just make a few extra dollars from their photogrpahy.