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Blog / Style & trends / How to Sell Photography Prints Like a Pro [Expert Tips]

Style & trends

How to Sell Photography Prints Like a Pro [Expert Tips]

How to Sell Photography Prints Like a Pro [Expert Tips]
Karlina Rozkalne

By Karlina Rozkalne

14 min read

Are you a professional photographer, an enthusiastic hobbyist, or a talented phone camera user? That means you can create an income stream by selling prints online with print-on-demand.

The global photo printing market is steadily growing, showing a large customer base wanting to purchase prints.

a graph of growth in a marketSource: Tech Navio

If you’re ready (or considering) to turn digital images into physical prints, you’ve found the right place. In this blog post, we’ll cover:

  • The niches you can choose from

  • Guidelines for photos to be print-perfect

  • Picking your print partners

  • Where to display your pieces

  • How to sell photography prints online

Selling photos online can be worthwhile if you know how to do it right. Read on to find out!

Can you make money selling photography prints?

Yes, you can make money selling photography prints online. Here’s how:

  • Have high-quality images

  • Choose your platform

  • Set strategic pricing

  • Use marketing and SEO 

  • Build relationships with customers

How to sell photography prints online

Now, it’s time for the nitty-gritty stuff. Follow these 7 steps to turn your creativity into income by starting your photography business. 

Step 1: Pick a specific photography niche

Choosing your photography niche is a crucial first step to selling photos online. A niche helps you target a specific audience and hone in on the right marketing strategies to get better results. Here are some popular photography niches you might consider:

  • Landscape photography. Capturing expansive and scenic views, from rolling hills and forests to urban skylines.

  • Nature photography. Focusing on displaying natural elements such as landscapes, plants, close-ups of natural textures, animals in their natural habitats, and aerial photography.

  • Fashion photography. Highlighting clothing and other fashion items, often involving collaborations with designers and models.

  • Portrait photography. Specializing in capturing the personality and mood of individuals or groups.

  • Street photography. Documenting everyday life and society on the streets, capturing spontaneous and candid moments.

  • Architectural photography. Concentrating on buildings and other architectural structures, emphasizing forms, lines, and shapes.

  • Event photography. Covering weddings, concerts, or parties, capturing planned moments and candid reactions.

  • Fine art photography. Creating photographs primarily for aesthetic and conceptual purposes, often sold as limited-edition prints.

  • Sports photography. Catching the intensity and motion of action-packed sports events.

  • Food photography. Making appealing images of food, often used in menus, cookbooks, or advertising.

a person taking a picture of foodFood photographer at work. Source: Pexels

Here are some practical tips to help you choose a niche that suits you best:

  1. Assess your interests. Start by considering what subjects you’re passionate about or frequently photograph. Your enthusiasm for a subject will reflect in your work and can sustain your interest over time.

  2. Evaluate your skills. Look at your current skills and determine which niche best suits your style and technique. For example, macro photography might be a good fit if you have a keen eye for detail.

  3. Research market demand. Investigate which types of photography are in demand using platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. Determine your intended niche’s competition level and audience size.

  4. Consider your access. Some niches might be more accessible based on your location or resources. For instance, beach or marine photography could be a viable niche if you live near the coast.

  5. Analyze profitability. Different niches can be significantly profitable. For example, fine art and event photography often fetch higher profits but may require more initial investment in marketing and equipment.

  6. Experiment and analyze. Try your hand at different niches and share your work on social media or with peers to get feedback. This can help you understand where your strengths lie and what the market responds to.

  7. Look at long-term viability. Choose a niche that interests you now and will continue to inspire you in the future. Sustainability is crucial for building a long-term business.

  8. Professional alignment. If you’re transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional, consider how your chosen niche aligns with professional opportunities. For example, real estate photography has clear commercial applications.

Once you’ve analyzed and chosen the niche you’ll target with your photography prints, it’s time to prepare your files for printing.

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Step 2: Prepare your photos for printing

The quality of your files will determine the quality of the prints. So what should you do to get ​​high-quality prints? Visit our print file guidelines page to learn the most common mistakes, receive tips, and get your questions answered. The video below explains how to create the perfect design file for wall art.

preview play-button
  • Shoot in high resolution. Whether you’re using a DSLR camera or a smartphone, set the resolution as high as possible to capture the most detail.

  • Check image quality. Look over your photos for issues like blurriness or unwanted shadows.

  • Use editing tools. Even basic photo editing software can enhance your photos. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and colors to bring out the best in your images. Remember—the better the photo looks on your screen, the better it will look when printed.

  • Select the right format. Save your photos in a format that preserves quality. We recommend PNG or JPEG (PNG for designs with transparency or detailed graphics and JPEG for all other designs).

To ensure the best quality, use high-resolution images (at least 300 DPI) to avoid pixelation at bigger sizes.

Here’s a selection of the top 3 photo editing software options, each chosen for excelling in a specific area.

Adobe Photoshop: Best for professional editing

a cat with green eyesSource: Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop remains the gold standard of photo editing software. Its depth of features is unrivaled, making it the top choice for expert photographers and graphic designers. This software offers detailed image editing, complex layering, and retouching, allowing users to achieve creative freedom and precise control over their photographs.

Here’s how much it costs.

a screenshot of a web pageSource: Photoshop

Adobe Lightroom: Best for photo management and editing 

a bridge over a body of water with a city in the backgroundSource: Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is excellent for photographers who need to manage large photo libraries and prefer efficient workflow capabilities. It excels in batch processing and non-destructive editing, making it handy to adjust light, colors, and shadows across multiple photos quickly.

Since Adobe owns both Photoshop and Lightroom, you can buy a plan that includes both tools.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Lightroom

Canva: Best for simplicity and basic editing 

a screenshot of a web pageSource: Canva

Canva is the easiest to use for beginners and non-professionals who need to make basic edits. This includes adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness, as well as applying filters to enhance the overall look of their images.

Here are Canva’s pricing plans.

screens screenshot of a screenshot of a productSource: Canva

Evaluate which software or program best suits you based on the tools and features you need and the price point that makes sense to you. It’s unnecessary to pick the most expensive option if you don’t need its capabilities.

Once you have your photo files ready, it’s time to decide who will print them.

Step 3: Pick a printing partner

When choosing a printing partner for your photography prints, you have 2 primary options: a company that prints in bulk or a print-on-demand company. We recommend dropshipping your prints, and here’s why:

Aspect

Printing in bulk

Printing on demand

Inventory

You need to buy and store inventory, requiring upfront investment and space

No inventory needed—prints are made only after an order is placed

Shipping

You handle packaging and shipping

The partner handles all shipping logistics (often getting better rates due to their huge sales volumes)

Financial risk

Higher due to the initial costs of bulk printing and storage, and there’s the risk of being stuck with unsold inventory

Very little because you only pay for what you sell

Flexibility

Less flexible—can’t change products once printed, and adding new products to your lineup is costly

More flexible—update or change your product offerings quickly and easily

Workload

You have to wear all the hats and handle everything from taking photos to shipping out orders

Reduced workload as the partner manages production and fulfillment

If you want to focus your energy on taking photos and growing your brand and audience, dropshipping prints with the on-demand model is the right way to go. With a print-on-demand company like Printful, you can outsource everything related to the production process. After you connect your online store or personal website to Printful, we automatically receive and fulfill your orders and ship out the products directly to your customer.

Your chosen printing company will also dictate the materials available for your photo prints. For example, with Printful, you get the following wall art options:

a screenshot of a computerSource: Printful

You can also add your photos to best-selling print-on-demand products like tees, sweatshirts, or home & living products. That way, you give your customers an option to enjoy your artwork in various forms and styles, personalizing their space or wardrobe.

Back to prints. Let’s talk materials!

Step 4: Decide on the material

The medium you choose will greatly impact the final product because each type highlights different aspects of your photos. For instance, canvas prints give a textured, artistic feel, glossy paper makes colors pop and shine, and metal adds a sleek, modern look with vibrant contrasts.

Pricing prints is another aspect affected by the material. The more premium your material, the more you can charge.

Here’s all you need to know about each material to make an informed decision.

Posters

Posters are an excellent option for selling photography because they’re affordable and can showcase vibrant images on a larger scale.

Valuable read: What is a Giclée Print? All You Need to Know about Giclée Printing

With Printful, you get 4 options for posters without frames. Prices for these posters range from $7.56 to $43.26.

a screenshot of a screen shot of a white posterSource: Printful

You can also choose from 4 framed poster options. The prices for these vary from $22.69 to $111.26. a hand holding a picture frameSource: Printful

Here are some of our favorite poster designs made by our customers.

Valuable read: 29 Poster Ideas + Tips to Create Your Own Poster Design

Canvas

The textured canvas surface will give your photos extra depth. This material is best suited for artistic, aerial, and wildlife photography.

Prices for these range from $19.06 to $98. Here are the framed canvases you can sell with Printful.

a hand holding a picture frameSource: Printful

To give your shoppers a way to gauge the quality of your canvas prints, we recommend adding closeups to your photo lineup. 

Metal prints

Metal prints are lightweight, durable, and eye-catching. The shiny surface reflects light in a way that instantly draws attention to your photo. Plus, the material is rather unique, adding to the perceived value of your product and allowing you to set a premium price.

Prices range from $45.92 to $247.99.

Plus, these prints are easy to care for. In most cases, a damp microfiber cloth will be enough to clean the artwork. But the metal print can also be washed with lukewarm, soapy water. This can be especially important if your target customers include businesses like cafes and restaurants.

a hand with a sponge cleaning a pictureSource: Printful

Valuable read: Ultimate Guide to Canvas vs. Metal Prints

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Printful logo
Create and sell custom products online
Let’s go

Step 5: Choose where to sell your photography prints

You can sell online (through your own website or choose a marketplace) or sell in real life (like art fairs, art stores, or galleries).

If you want lower upfront costs and a less hands-on approach, we recommend selling physical prints online. We’ll also focus on that in this article.

Let’s go through the main ways you can sell images on the internet.

Join an ecommerce platform or marketplace

The simplest way to get started is to pick a platform or marketplace Printful connects to and build out your store there. You have 20+ options to choose from.

a screenshot of a website Source: Printful

Valuable read: Etsy SEO: 5 Must-Do Steps to Help You Get Found on Etsy

Here’s what you should consider:

  1. Features. Some platforms may provide marketing tools, analytics, and customer insights. Figure out what you want from a marketplace, and go from there.

  2. Audience fit. Choose platforms that align with your target audience. For example, Etsy is great for reaching buyers interested in unique, artisan goods, whereas Amazon may provide a bigger but less focused audience.

  3. Fees and other costs. Understand the fee structure of each platform. Some might charge a listing fee, a percentage of each sale, or monthly subscription fees. Balance these costs against the potential reach and profitability the platform offers.

  4. Control over branding. Some platforms allow more customization and branding than others. Choose a platform with the customization level you need to build a strong brand presence.

Valuable read: 

Build your own photography website

The benefit of having a standalone website is that you get complete control over the customer journey and experience. Plus, you don’t share the attention with anyone.

The downside is that getting people to your website is harder than if you have access to an established visitor flow (like well-known platforms provide).

Here’s how to build a website for selling photographs:

  • Choose a domain name. Use tools like Google Domains, NameMesh, or Lean Domain Search to select a memorable, relevant, and easy-to-spell domain name for your website.

  • Select a website-building platform. Use a website builder like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Wix that supports integration with print-on-demand services. If you don’t know which one is best for you, check out our ecommerce platform guide.

  • Build your website. Create a visually appealing website that showcases your prints. Ensure it’s user-friendly, with intuitive navigation and a secure checkout process.

  • Set up payment processing. Implement reliable payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, or the payment processors provided by your ecommerce platform to facilitate secure transactions.

  • Optimize for SEO. Use SEO strategies to improve your website’s visibility on search engines. Include relevant keywords, improve product descriptions, and use high-quality images.

  • Invest in marketing. Develop a marketing strategy that includes social media marketing, email marketing, and possibly content marketing (like blogging) to draw traffic to your site.

  • Monitor and adjust. After launching, continuously analyze the performance of your website and marketing efforts. Use tools like Google Analytics to track visitor behavior and sales. Adjust your strategies based on data to improve customer engagement and sales.

  • Provide solid customer service. Establish clear policies for returns, refunds, and customer queries. Providing excellent customer service is crucial for building trust and encouraging repeat business.

Sell digital photography

This approach is an alternative to selling physical prints of your photos, but you can also do both.

Here’s what to do if this is the road you want to take:

  • Select a platform. Options include stock photo websites like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock, your own website, or marketplaces like Etsy for more personalized sales.

  • Explore licensing terms. Decide how your photos can be used by purchasers. Offer different licensing options (e.g., royalty-free, rights-managed) at varying price points based on usage rights.

  • Perfect your files. Professionally edit photos with the tools we discussed in this article to enhance quality across devices, boosting customer satisfaction and professionalism.

Protect your work by watermarking your images or offering them in lower resolutions online to prevent theft. Always keep the original, high-resolution files secure.

Step 6: Post your products

To promote your brand and products, you’ll first need to have photos . . . of your photos. Here’s an example of an excellent Etsy listing for a photo print poster. See if you can figure out what makes it a prime example.

 So, here’s what makes this listing example-worthy:

  • The seller provides a range of photos

  • The buyer can imagine what the poster will look like in a home environment

  • The listing has a close-up of the print so the shopper can estimate its quality

You can use these 3 takeaways regardless of where you choose to start selling photos.

Step 7: Promote your brand and prints

Your marketing strategy will slightly change depending on where you sell photographs. But the main objective remains the same—increase visibility and attract potential customers. 

Use social media platforms, email newsletters, and personal networks to showcase your work and engage with your audience. Consider running targeted ads to reach a wider, more specific demographic. Participate in art fairs, exhibitions, and other events to gain direct exposure.

The more popular and distinctive you’ll get, the more you’ll be able to charge for your prints. Think of how you can set yourself apart from other print sellers. What makes you unique? 

To build credibility and popularity on social media, you can share photography-related posts, such as behind-the-scenes clips and the stories behind your photos.

Responding to comments from your followers will also boost your online presence. Hosting giveaways or contests can attract new followers to your online business. By consistently providing value and building a strong community, you’ll gain popularity and establish yourself as a credible and sought-after photographer, allowing you to set higher prices for your prints.

How much should you charge for photo prints?

For a healthy profit margin, aim for a 50–100% markup for your photo prints. For instance, if the total product and shipping cost is $15, consider setting the sale price between $22.50 and $30. This pricing strategy covers your expenses (product, shipping, website, or marketplace costs) and ensures a profitable return.

Photo, print, go!

If you’ve made it this far, you know enough to start selling prints online. Planning (or researching) too much and not using the knowledge is one of the most common mistakes people make when launching their business. So don’t get stuck—start taking the steps we’ve covered here today.

Read next: 

Frequently asked questions

 

author

By Karlina Rozkalne on May 13, 2024

Karlina Rozkalne

SEO Content Writer

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.