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It is no secret that photography is an expensive hobby. With the price of some lenses being more than a mortgage payment and the cost of extra equipment and accessories draining our bank accounts, how are we supposed to afford the fun toys that we see in our favorite magazines and websites?
The obvious answer is to sell our pictures.
With so many options available to us and many markets tough to break into, what is the best way for a hobbyist to sell their work?
With a little bit of work and attention to a few details, you can sell prints of your favorite photographs. Not only can you cover the cost of your hobby with the sales, but you may even come out ahead.
As a hobbyist, you probably print your photographs on your home printer. This is okay when filling a family photo album or sharing pictures with your friends.
Printing your photographs at home is convenient, and it gives you the ability to print on demand as you make sales, but be critical of your printer.
Make sure that the print is of the highest quality. You will need to use high-end inks and papers to ensure that you get a long-lasting print with no imperfections.
It can be easier, and in some cases even cheaper, to use a professional printer. A professional printer will color correct your prints for their printers and use high-quality inks and papers for a professional-looking photographic print.
An internet search will yield a variety of printers you can use. Many of whom will offer competitive prices on prints.
It is very common in the fine dining industry for chefs to focus much of their attention on presentation. They say that you eat with your eyes first.
This is true in art as well. You want your work to appeal to the buyer. The subject matter is only the first step. You can sell just an 8 x 10 or an 11 x 17 print as it is, but why not give it a little more substance?
Photographs look best when matted and framed. Framing work for sale can be less than cost-effective for a hobbyist, but you do not have to take it that far.
Placing your print in a simple white matte with a backing will give your photograph a much nicer look. Search online for a wholesale art supplier.
You can find companies that will sell mattes for around $1.50 each. These mattes will also include a plastic sleeve to protect your finished product.
There are many options when it comes to places you can sell your work. What works best for you will depend on your location and the amount of time you have to put into the sales process.
Here are a few choices, but do not limit yourself. Always look for opportunities to show off your work and get it into the hands of customers.
In this digital age, there is no better place to reach massive amounts of customers than online. You can take the time to create a website with e-commerce capabilities, but that is not needed.
Look for sites such as Etsy that specialize in featuring artists and artisans.
Sites like these will allow you to create a customized storefront and take orders with little or no upfront cost.
Selling online does require a little more self-promotion to get people to see your work and ultimately buy it.
Fairs and shows
There are different types of fairs at which you can sell your work. Fine art fairs are dedicated to mediums such as painting, sculpture, and photography.
These are usually juried events, meaning that you must apply and will be accepted or rejected based on the quality of your work.
The cost to rent a space at a fine art fair can be as much as $300 or more, but the clientele that shop at these fairs tends to spend a higher average dollar amount than customers at an arts and crafts fair.
Arts and craft fairs are a more economical choice compared to fine art fairs. Arts and craft fairs are geared more toward artisans and craftsmen but welcome fine art as well.
Anyone willing to rent a space is usually allowed to sell, and spaces can cost as little as $25.
Check your local listings or do an internet search for consignment shops in your area that will sell artwork.
These are good because your work is in view of customers even when you are doing other things. It is sometimes a good idea to frame your work when selling in a consignment shop.
This makes your work stand out and appeal to more buyers since it may be displayed with other items. Keep in mind that a consignment shop charges a commission on anything that sells.
Pricing your work
Wondering what to charge for your work is common among new artists or hobbyists trying to sell part-time.
As a new artist, you will not be able to demand as high a price for your work, but do not fall into the trap of undervaluing your work.
People shopping for art understand the value of an artist’s work and are willing to pay for quality prints.
The first thing to do is to take into account the cost of the photograph you are selling.
If your printer charges you $1.99 for an 8 x 10 print and the matte it is mounted in costs $1.49, your total cost in materials is $3.48.
You could look at the cost of your materials and think, “I can charge $10 for this print and make over $6.00 profit.” Remember this; do not undervalue your work.
This is a work of art. Something you invested time, money, and creative energy into making.
The value of a photographic print may not be the same as an original oil painting, but the print still has value, and you can sell many copies of the same piece.
If your materials cost you $3.48, you can start your price between $20 to $30.
Also, consider your location, the demographics of your customers, and other costs such as commissions or fees when pricing your work.
Selling your work takes a little extra time and effort, but it is well worth it. Do not be afraid to think outside the box to find new ways to market your work and find new customers.
Photography is fun, and when you start making money with your hobby, it makes it even more exciting.