Have You Ever Made Money From Your Photography?

Have You Ever Made Money From Your Photography?


DPS has a lot of readers who aspire to make money from their photography so I thought it’d be interesting to run a poll to see how many of us have done it and how.

You may vote in more than one category – choose as many as apply to you.

Have You Ever Made Money From Your Photography?

View Results

Due to limitations of space – I’ve only included a few options below to classify the ‘yes’ answers – but if you’d like to fill us in on how you’ve made money from your photography (if you have) please do so in comments below.

Discuss making money with your photography in the Earning with Photography section of our forum.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Harold March 8, 2011 04:21 am

    This is awesome! I love photography and have wished for making a career out of it.. I even looked up for graduate jobs in photography to consider taking up a course. I like landscape and person photography.

    I shall start working on a website now and see how things unfold!
    Thanks a ton for sharing! :)

  • May Baird April 16, 2010 08:58 am

    Hi, I have over 30 years sales experience selling directly to the housewife door to door on behalf of several financial companies, the financial crisis in this country effected many peoples income, including mine.

    As recently as last May I replied to a job advertisment placed by a portrait photographer looking for a door to door sales person/canvasser to organise her working diary by getting qualified appointments for photo shoots for family portraits and got the job. I took the photographs back to the customer as well to hopefully secure the sale, and the photographer delivered the finished product on an agreed day and got paid at the same time and I was paid commission (Sounds easy yeah) It was not a well paying job but I continued to work in this way for the following 6 months, during this time I bought a camera, background, flashgun tripod etc all secondhand, but did'nt have a clue what I was going to do with them and knew little about photography so started taking family photos, then picked the brains of an aquantance who is a part time landscape photographer plus a few mags and of course the camera instructions, I must admit I was a long way off from becoming a supposed photographer, untill I got the push I needed.

    One of the appointed customers who had 9 kids postponed her photoshoot due to a sick child but the photographer requested I dont reappoint as she thought it was too large a group. (I was rather miffed at this but quickly forgot all about it) until I got a call a few days later from the lady requesting I put her in the diary for the following week, I did so but the photographer asked me to phone back to cancel. My selling instinct kicked in and I was not about to let a potential sale go down the tubes. In the few short days before the day approached I honestly felt sick, but soon found myself on the ladys doorstep and made an excuse why the photographer was unable to attend and I would do this 1 myself, to my relief there was only 2 kids at home as the older ones refused to pose. I sat down on the floor and spoke to these 2 kids for a few moments before I set about getting everything ready, the kids were as good as gold and sat well, on leaving that house that afternoon I felt good but worried how the photo would turn out, I mean it's one thing taking family pics and quite another doing it for money.

    I knew little of cropping, resolution, and pixels per inch was alien as well. I had previously downloaded a free software to edit but sat up to 3 and 4 in the morning getting the hang of it. A trip to a printer put me right and got two 8 x 10s and a contact sheet to let the customer make a selection which she promptly did and ordered the biggest package and I made my 1st sale with no training whatsoever, I gave up my job and started to fill my own diary but must admit it's hard work juggling all the tasks from appointment to sale. I would love to speak with someone in a similar situation and cant wait to learn photoshop.

    Incidentially I never did tell my boss what I am doing even although we occasionally speak on the phone and she has assumed I went back to my old job. I consider myself a sales person who can use a camera but not a photographer. Thanks for listening.

    Regards May

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  • Cynthia June 16, 2009 10:58 am

    I have sold a couple of photos this year. I had no idea what to charge for them. Is there some way to get some sort of pricing guide? Or is it just a hit and miss. I have been doing photography for the last 20 years but just really started looking at selling some of my photos this year.

  • Zack Jones June 4, 2009 03:17 am

    I've made money selling photos from a motorcycle accident to an insurance company (the accident was at a race track and involved a motorcycle and an ambulance) as well as selling photos from sporting events I've shot. I wish I could make a living at it but I've yet to recover anywhere near the money I have invested in my equipment.

  • GARY PARHAM March 20, 2009 02:09 am


  • Tony March 15, 2009 02:42 pm

    For 16 years I was a staff wedding photographer for small studio in the S.F. Bay Areas East Bay. I also worked at a color lab owned by the same studio owner. My last wedding was in 1995. I'm an old "film photographer" so now, I've turned the front formal room in my home into a studio, bought a 10mp Canon and have been practicing on anyone that will sit in front of my camera , so that I can hopefully get to the point with my Canon as I did with my Hassleblad ELX. I still can't seem to replicate the results I got from my Hassy.and I use Photoshop to help improve my images.I hope to get "there" before I 'm dead and yes I want this investment to pay for itself, but for the time being I realize that there's a learning curve that I must get thru. I know I can shoot weddings, but I'd rather capture portraits...they're a little less stressful!! And even if I don't hit "pay dirt" photography was always something that I loved since I was a 7th grader!! It will always be with me.

  • Stephen H. March 9, 2009 08:05 am

    I work for Lifetouch School Studios, and when I checked the box professional photographer, I hated it because I really only consider myself as an amateur photographer with a job as a photographer. I feel pretty confident in my work but when someone says they are a professional I think they have quite a bit more experience than I do. I've also made a small sum of money doing a few family portraits for my church to put in the church directory.

  • Karen March 8, 2009 02:31 am

    Never made a dime but I have had my photos published in a local paper and in Redbook magazine (current issue, March, p. 14 if you care to take a look). Not my best work, but submitted for a story. Anyway, big thrill for me even w/o being paid!

  • Jess March 7, 2009 05:28 pm

    Yes, I'm only just starting selling photos from horse events.

  • betty March 6, 2009 12:21 pm

    I have done some shots that people also have told me that I should enter into contests or sell, but like what was mentioned above, I don't have the confidence yet to go that far. I would like to but feel I need more training.

  • Matt March 6, 2009 12:17 pm

    I have made money by doing weddings for friends, selling photos at local art shows (and winning some prizes also!) and also selling photos on dreamstime's website. I prefer landscape photography and am setting up my site to sell my landscape photos on this year.

  • paul costin March 6, 2009 12:03 pm

    Started when I was 10, and at 17 wrote a letter to every photo studio in my area asking for a part-time job. Received one reply, from the most prestigious portrait/commercial studio and was hired as a printer in the darkroom. Finishing school, i was hired as a full time photographer. After many years, I went on to photojournalism and then into a career in hands-on management in graphics, film and photography in the production division of the television industry. After 43 years, I retired and continue a keen everyday interest in making and enjoying imaging. Can't believe I was paid to enjoy myself all those years.

  • Bill Turley March 6, 2009 11:23 am

    I currently ama Retired Educator. I have worked as a pro photog several times during my life, I have worked on a newspaper, done Medical Photography for 10 years and worked for a Portrait chain for 3 years interspersed with this I have done Wedding, Real Estate, Pets, Babies and whatever presented itself over the years.

  • Walt March 6, 2009 11:09 am

    I have been shooting high school football and basketball for the last couple of years and have been approached to sell my photos. So far I have done these gratis, my pay is getting into the events and also seeing the responses from the student athletes. I am getting to the point where I will start supplying stock photos and contract for sports photography.

  • Morgana Creely March 6, 2009 10:20 am

    I've sold prints through my website and done commission work. :)

  • Bruce March 6, 2009 09:47 am

    Most of my saies have come from a gallery that carries my photography. I used to do a lot of shows, but have retired from that.

  • TJ March 6, 2009 09:35 am

    Does food count?

  • Holly March 6, 2009 09:14 am

    Yes, through family/pet photography and food photography. I started with istock, and still have my original images online there but have not uploaded anything for a very long time.

  • Crysta March 2, 2009 11:31 am

    It not really a photo job.

    I took some food pictures for my brother's food outlet new sign board. Turn out that the production house doing the adver likes the pictures i have taken and bought the lot from me.

  • Lorenzo March 1, 2009 08:49 pm

    I still haven't, maybe in the future I will try to! By the way, it could be a great idea to write a post of advices to the ones who are trying to start with it... Just an idea, anyway I think it will be helpful to have some advices from those who already have experience in!

  • Dawna M March 1, 2009 02:53 am

    I didn't go looking for a "paying" job. A friend in a west coast state asked me to do a photo tour of her new home so her family back in my midwestern state could see it. I did it because she was a friend & I love shooting & seeing what I could come up with. I even designed a coffee table book. I was pleasantly surprised at what she paid me.
    Then the two weddings were last minute affairs for me! I had a week's notice on each one! Stress! You bet! But, I also liked doing it, too. I did it because they were close friends. They "blessed" me by paying me.
    Doing those two weddings made me decide to upgrade to a DSLR. I used my two Sonys: H1 with a wide angle conversion lens & my H9. I call them glorified point & shoots.
    But, those situations have given me an appetite to do more. Maybe not for pay, but if I can do a little bit to buy more camera accessories, I wouldn't mind! Oh & to learn more!

  • Mark Greenmantle February 28, 2009 07:47 am

    I'm a commercial photographer and mostly cover the music industry but also do editorial, event photography, portraiture and do agency retouching as a sideline.

  • Mike February 28, 2009 01:41 am

    This past winter my wife started taking team and individual sports photos and assembling packages. But that is fairly small-time. She has held a few contests with public exhibition, made a little $ from that. But what I wanted to share was at one of the exhibitions a little girl from Texas (the show was in Kansas) had entered a picture of a cat. The lady who owns and runs the hotel where the pictures were on display loves cats. Through my wife the lady contacted the little girl from Texas and made arrangements to purchase (?) at least a print (16x20 ?) that she could frame and permanently display in the lobby of the hotel. I hear the little girl was ecstatic to learn of the interest in her picture. I thought it was a cute story.


  • Gail Peck February 28, 2009 01:07 am

    I've been selling my photography since March of 2007 at our local weekly Farmers market. It doesn't sound like much of a place to sell art but somehow last year I managed to sell $21,000+. That figure includes several art shows, along with some others from real estate stagings etc. For the person above who doesn't believe his things are good enough for people to buy, my advice is that you never know until you try. It was my husbands idea that I try it and it has been a good one. Just remember that it is not about technical expertise but more about your vision. and the mood you create with your photos.

  • Jeffrey Kontur February 27, 2009 11:48 pm

    Over the course of 20+ years I have shot fashion, commercial, sports fine art and a handful of other genres. All taught me valuable lessons. Sometimes as much for what I don't like as for what I do. I also did insurance photography for a while. (Cataloguing people's assets as well as documenting the destruction after they filed a claim.) I also write a lot so I started doing some travel writing. Photography comes as part of the package and I sold several magazine pieces in a very short time.

    My "big break" came when I started teaching photography workshops near my home in northern Delaware. Very quickly I found myself overwhelmed with demand. (I currently have eleven different workshop topics which I present at more than a dozen different locations with more of both on the way!) I took some of my notes from the workshops and wrote a book, which came out last year. I then followed that up with a second book, due out next month. Now I'm working on a line of instructional videos.

    I also have a web site (www.MoreSatisfyingPhotos.com) where I promote all these things as well as publish a free weekly email newsletter with a photographic tip of the week. (Please feel free to sign up.)

    Oh yeah, and I've written two guest articles (so far) for DPS!

  • David February 27, 2009 11:19 pm

    I have some prints for sale on deviantArt, but that was more of an experiment to see if anyone would even be willing purchase prints than any real attempt to sell my work. Other than that, I haven't really had any interest in selling my photos; it's just fun to take them.

  • Peter February 27, 2009 01:54 pm

    Did a photo shoot for a mate whilst he was filming a in house safety video. He wrote a magazine article to go along with the video which was published in a video editing magazine. Never really got paid for the pictures which appeared in the magazine with his article but the bottle of JIM BEAM, he gave me, certainly hit the spot.

  • Ben Jamieson February 27, 2009 12:28 pm

    I could only pick one, but I've actually sold stock photos, sold one image at an exhibition, shot a number of photography jobs/events/wedding and sold some shots to a publication.

    But still class my self as an amateur if that's allowed!

  • April February 27, 2009 11:57 am

    I worked at Picture People for a year.

  • Luca Guidi February 27, 2009 10:19 am

    Proud to say Everywhere Magazine published on last printed issue, a photo by me, taken in Barcelona :)

  • DelBoy February 27, 2009 08:00 am

    I haven't actually made any cash as such, but the few weddings that I have done have bought me my Photoshop software and some other photo equipment. Photography is a hobby for me.

  • Sarah February 27, 2009 07:53 am

    I worked at a Sears Portrait for a while.

  • Chris Cross February 27, 2009 06:45 am

    Yes, I have sold 2 pictures in the last 3 months. I had a few of my pictures at a local Starbucks for a month and had one person who saw them there buy one, and I had a friend from work buy one. So far I have made about $225 between the 2 pictures which both required me to do a custom matting.

    I have had other friends tell me that they would buy from me in the future. and I will be showing my pictures at another Starbucks for another month in the summer :D

  • Massimo Belloni February 27, 2009 06:33 am

    I have sold (very little) by stock photography. First good thing was when my first image was accepted to be ion their library (it's a great satisfaction), but it was even better and made me proud when the first was downloaded by a customer. Very, very satisfying!

  • Jared February 27, 2009 06:17 am

    It depends on your definition of made money. I have been paid for my photos, nine of them where in a book about the city I was living in at the time. I got that oppurtunity by posting on Flickr. The guy in charge of the book searched that site for good quality photos from the city. Many of the photos that were published in the book by other people on flickr were from snap shooters with one or two really good photos. He liked my work though and asked me to go out get more needed shots and paid me their professional rate.

    I have also done a few weddings for friends or family that would sometimes send a couple of hundred dollars my way.

    However, all of that together doesn't compare to my equipment investment. DSLR Body, memory cards, photo editing software, f2.8 lenses, etc.....

  • Greg February 27, 2009 04:48 am

    I have sold photos through a gallery and art show. I have been hired for portraits for professional use. I have also sold my images to publications. I avoid weddings.

    FYI, if you have a poll and only allow one choice, you should be using radio buttons. Sorry, I am a UI designer and get picky sometimes.

  • Teewinot February 27, 2009 03:05 am

    I've just started doing portrait photography jobs and it's been great! I'm working on getting a website set up so I can advertise better. In the meantime I also sell photo art greeting cards and occasional prints of my nature photography. I probably still consider myself an "amateur" but I feel like "professional" status is just around the corner. :)

    P.S. The poll only let me check one box.

  • kimrose February 27, 2009 02:59 am

    I've sold one image so far through etsy, KimberlyRose.etsy.com and try everyday to sell another! I promote online in every way that I can think of... flickr, etsy, facebook, twitter, forums, etc...

    Other than that I've been more successful in the real world (success = 2 sold). I've had 4 images in a charity auction where only one sold, but it was great exposure and experience. It sold for way over what I would have ever thought! The other sale was from my mom passing out my business cards, she actually sold a poster sized print to a framer at Micheal's craft store. :) One thing I've learned, my mom is my best promoter... she hands my business card out to everyone, and can go on and on and on about my photos.

    I've passed out a ton of business cards though, and right now I'm working on filling up my portfolio so I can go around to different shops/cafes and see if they'd like to display my images, see if I can get a sale that way! I'm also always on the hunt for another amateur type of show or charity like show because that was such a fun rush to see my art, framed, on a wall next to other amazing pieces... and being able to stand a couple feet away and watch people look and talk about MY image! wow! It was fun :P

  • bashveank February 27, 2009 02:58 am

    Yup, I'm a student photojournalist for the campus newspaper

  • scott February 27, 2009 02:28 am

    I made about ten grand last year doing photography, but I obviously have a day job. I chose "yes in some other way." Professional photographer implies full-time status, and none of the other options were fitting either.

  • Will February 27, 2009 02:25 am

    Most non-professionals who make money with photography will probably be able to tick more than one of those boxes. In fact I found that not focusing on a single revenue stream has been the most successful technique.

    I make most money through my website by:
    1. Licensing images (for use in ads, websites, publications etc)
    2. Selling prints
    3. Selling advertising on my site

    Of course, if nobody visits your website then it is impossible to do any of the above so in order to get traffic do the following:
    1. Concentrate on SEO (ie make your website search engine friendly).
    2. Start a blog which people are going to want to subscribe to.
    3. Use social media sites such as flickr and twitter.
    4. Offline exposure such as appearing in magazines and photo competitions can also help a lot.

  • Bill February 27, 2009 02:10 am

    I submit photos to microstock sites. Those along with my vector illustrations brings me a nice little chunk of change ever month.

  • Maria February 27, 2009 02:09 am

    I sell my best photos as stock on Istockphoto. I'm just an amateur, but I make enough to pay for new gear once in a while and pay a few bills, too.

  • christof.lapd February 27, 2009 01:59 am

    I need 3 checks to answer in an honest way, but only one allowed. What a pitty...

  • Ilya Chigirev February 27, 2009 01:56 am

    I used to walk around campus taking pictures of things that interested me, or general going ons and sell them to the school newspaper. after some time I worked full time as the photo editor (and so obviously photographer) for the paper. did not pay much but they payed me to play with cameras. what more could i ask for.
    Aside from the 'talking head' pictures and boring events it was a good time. Unfortunately photography does not pay great, so you can imagine how well a university newspaper payed its photography staff

  • egilje February 27, 2009 01:40 am

    I am very much an amateur working constantly on improving. I only have the Nikon D40 at the time, but happen to think it has exceptional capabilities as an entry level DSLR. I look at what I've taken so far, knowing I have so much room for improvement.

    My goals are not to be a professional photographer (though if I got there I'd reevaluate), but I would like to make a bit of money here and there. My main goal is to make enough over time to upgrade to a newer camera.

    I'm interested in hearing what suggestions anyone has for the best place to start selling images - is it stock websites, selling prints, etc?

  • Kate February 27, 2009 01:39 am

    I got very lucky last year and was presented with the opportunity to display and sell my smoke photography in a high-end wine bar in midtown Atlanta, GA. I had 10 pieces on display in varying sizes and prices. To my amazement I sold each and every one. To my knowledge it is the only sold out exhibit the cafe has ever hosted and to date the most talked about.

    I have since moved cities and have not located a site for another show. But I've managed to get a wedding gig as well as a year long contract photographing the newborn child of a friend.

  • Ilan February 27, 2009 01:35 am

    I was offered by Gettyimage/Flickr to participate in that co-project of theirs.
    I declined. Not full hearty, but declined.
    I don't want to give up my right on the photos, even I'm promised +-30% and exposure by Gettyimage. I just don't feel comfortable about it.
    I plan to TRY to sell my photos through etsy.com one day.
    I just don't feel my photos are good enough for people to spent money on...

    Just thinking out loud. Would you refuse Gettyimage proposal?

  • iffles February 27, 2009 01:29 am

    I'm kinda where dcclark is, where I've had friends/family members ask to buy my photos (and it always shocks me a bit because I don't think I'm that good), but instead I give them the full-size file for free.

    I've debated opening an etsy shop to see prints and cards made out of my photos, but have decided against it, because when I started getting into photography, I did it because I needed an outlet of my own, it was something for ME, and I've enjoyed it tremendously. I'm afraid that as soon as I start trying to sell my photos that it will become about that - I'll have to *work* to promote them, I'll have to *work* to get the prints made, ship them, etc. And I don't want a hobby that I enjoy so much to start turning into work.

    Plus, I take my photos for me, I like what I take pictures of, and I'm afraid that if I was selling my photos, I'd start changing my style to what sells the most, which means I might start losing myself, if that makes sense.

  • Mike February 27, 2009 01:28 am

    i havent sold any photos (yet) but im doing a wedding in may, my 1st gig.
    i have joined a site that i have posted my photos on-line but no luck there, i think its a site thats not well established. http://www.photo4me.com let me know what you think.

    I would like to know how to sell photos on-line and not have to submit money to every site, one site was saying "pay £5 a month and we will sell your photos" (WOW), ok but there selling these photos at 0.20p a go. not very profitable i think.

    If there are any sites out there thats worth it please let me know as im a keen photographer that would just love to make it a job not an expencive hobbie ;0)


  • Jim Poor February 27, 2009 01:23 am

    Yep. Sort of fell into it at first, but it taught me a lot of lessons that I use on a daily basis now.

    My first sale came on my first day out with my new 600mm lens on a D70. I was in a nature preserve and the gift shop manager saw the nice gear and just assumed that I knew what I was doing. He asked if I sold my work and I replied (what else was I to do, right?) sure!

    I wasn't ready, the images (looking back) really sucked by the standards I have today, and I knew nothing about sales or even how to follow through very well. Somehow, I managed to pull it off and all my angst was (I hope) transparent to the customer, but I really learned my lesson.

    Fast forward five years and a couple hundred thousand images, and I make my living behind the camera full time now.

  • Dave Kozlowski February 27, 2009 01:19 am

    I have been a freelance photographer for three years. The large majority of my business/sales comes to me via my Flickr account, and secondly through my website. The only marketing that I have done are through those two websites. I do not earn enough to purchase advertising. My business continues to grow. My niche(based on the types of images people purchase from me) is 'Commercial' photography. Since I began, I have been hired to shoot commercial work for Texas Tech University, Nike and many other smaller companies. I agree with having difficulty finding just the right pricing as it seems each situation differs, so I always feel like I'm re-inventing the wheel each time. Good luck to everyone with their photography sales...it is certainly an interesting time in the current economy.

  • Melissa King February 27, 2009 01:11 am

    Yes! I make money from my photos everyday...even when I sleep...lol I take photos and sell them on RF stock sites. I have been doing this since 2004 and I love it! If you want more information about there I sell my photos you can visit my site! www.melissaking.ca

  • Johannes Lochmann February 27, 2009 01:11 am

    I did some fine art nude shootings for friends they used to produce calendars.

  • dcclark February 27, 2009 01:02 am

    Oy -- my comment is stuck in moderation again. So I'm reposting, without links.

    I’m in a spot that I think a lot of advanced amateurs are in: people are telling me that I should sell my photos, but I don’t quite believe them yet.

    But, several people (friends of friends, largely) have approached me about buying prints of some of my photos. I still don’t quite know what to charge, or really believe that my stuff is worth charging for, so it’s lead to a bizarre sort of “reverse haggling” in which I quote them a low price, they say “you’re kidding me” and offer something higher, and then I work upwards and they work downwards until we agree.

    Yes, I know this isn’t a very good way to do things — I’m working on it!

    I have also found that my favorite photos are utterly different than the photos most others prefer (and want to buy). For example, my absolute favorites include "Doors", "Anachronisms", and "wind and light" (all of which you can see on my blog, linked to my name in this post -- I had links here but the comment's stuck in moderation), but others prefer… cute and touristy photos. Like my "Accidental Lift Bridge" photo which is very colorful, but it just reeks of the standard touristy photos we get around here. On the other hand, where I notice technical flaws and composition problems, other people love the subjects and don’t care at all about the technical details. It’s funny.

    I don’t exactly know what to do about that, except that I know what I like, so I’m mostly sticking to promoting those — but I’m offering the others for sale as well!

  • Alain February 27, 2009 12:56 am

    Yes and without even really trying! Send a few pictures to a contest and won for about 150$. Then some of the pictures ended up being published which awarded me some more money.

    I also have made some portrait shots for people who wanted nice picture for their online dating site profile. Very easy money. Only need a 50mm, nice background (outside) and an off camera flash. Charged 25$ per picture and I managed to do a lot of people in a 2 hours span.

    Finally, sold landscape / cityscape pictures for tourism guides at a very low price but I wanted to be published in something major :-)

    Now I am turning more toward videophotography with my 5D MrkII. People seem more inclined to pay for video than pictures now that everyone has a DSLR...

  • dcclark February 27, 2009 12:34 am

    Yes -- almost unintentionally!

    I'm in a spot that I think a lot of advanced amateurs are in: people are telling me that I should sell my photos, but I don't quite believe them yet.

    But, several people (friends of friends, largely) have approached me about buying prints of some of my photos. I still don't quite know what to charge, or really believe that my stuff is worth charging for, so it's lead to a bizarre sort of "reverse haggling" in which I quote them a low price, they say "you're kidding me" and offer something higher, and then I work upwards and they work downwards until we agree.

    Yes, I know this isn't a very good way to do things -- I'm working on it!

    I have also found that my favorite photos are utterly different than the photos most others prefer (and want to buy). For example, my absolute favorites include these doors, some anachronisms, and some wind and light, but others prefer... cute and touristy photos. Like my lift bridge photo which is very colorful, but it just reeks of the standard touristy photos we get around here. On the other hand, where I notice technical flaws and composition problems, other people love the subjects and don't care at all about the technical details. It's funny.

    I don't exactly know what to do about that, except that I know what I like, so I'm mostly sticking to promoting those -- but I'm offering the others for sale as well!