This article was orginally published on Photopreneur. Take a look at their excellent website, it has some great articles for any photographer that wants to monetize their hobby.
Selling Photos On Your Own Website – How One Person Did It
It’s one thing to sell your work through a print on demand website like Imagekind or a photo library like Alamy. But what about selling your photos on your very own site? That way you not only get to keep all the profit but have the satisfaction of creating and growing your own business. That’s what Jason did with Fotoviva, an online company that sells high quality photo art prints in the UK.
He told me that he had started selling some of his images on istockphoto.com, and was looking for a way of selling his more artistic photos as canvas or poster prints which would suit the home market rather than stock. As he runs his own web design company he saw no need to sell his photos on another website and decided to create his own.
With any new business venture it’s important to stand out from the crowd in some way, to not only be different but better. One way that Fotoviva does this is through the beauty and professionalism of the site’s design.
Jason runs his own web design company, and his expertise shows in the site. A programming friend helped him build the shopping part of the site and it took around three months, working in his spare time, to get it up and running. Of course, not all of us are web professionals but these services can be hired, relatively cheaply, from sites like elance.com.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is also essential, so that a website can rank highly in search engines like Google. This takes time, especially in a competitive market like photography. Jason told me that he has been learning about SEO techniques and that Fotoviva is now performing well for it’s main keywords. As sales increase he can use some of the revenue to help promote and advertise the site.
Once Fotoviva was up and running the next step was to invite other photographers to sell their work there. Adding the work of more photographers means the site can grow exponentially. Not only are there more photos to choose from but as the photographers promote their work on Fotoviva this will bring more traffic and more customers. I asked Jason at what point he realised the potential of adding other photographer’s work to Fotoviva:
‘I realised there were some exceptional photographers out there who did not have the time or understanding of how to sell their images online. With a pre-built shop ready to sell their work it seemed like an ideal solution for them. It also helps to increase the collection with art being so subjective “one man’s gold is another man’s poison”.’
So, where is the business going? There’s a relatively small amount of photos on Fotoviva at the moment, but unlike a lot of websites that sell photography, all the images are high quality. Jason intends to keep expanding and developing. At the moment there are over 170 photos available to buy at Fotoviva, and he’s looking to add to the photo collection. He has the following advice for potential contributors:
‘We are always looking to expand the photo collection to help customers find the image they want. Prospective contributors need to think if their work can match or exceed the work we already have. It needs to be art for walls rather than stock photography. The general rule would be ‘would someone want this picture on their walls?’ Potential photographic contributors should use the contact form and supply a link to their portfolio.’
Fotoviva is a great example of someone setting up their own website to sell their photography. What ideas do you have? One of them could be a winner.