Ask James – Income From Print Sales

Hi James,

My name is Marcello, I am currently undergoing my studies in a diploma of photo imaging. I finally made the plunge and started my studies after a love of photography for 30 years. My question is what is the best way to setup an online store to sell your photographs, what platform do you recommend and is this a reliable income?

Thanks in advance.

Cheers Marcello 

There are plenty of places online to sell your photos, it really just depends on the market you’re trying to reach. I decided to go with SmugMug a long time ago and haven’t found any reason to change yet.

Here’s what you probably didn’t want to hear: Print sales for probably 99.99% of photographers is pretty underwhelming to say the least. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it’s just much more complicated than most think. I know photographers with millions upon millions of followers who sell maybe 3-4 prints a year. Then there are others I know with just thousands of followers who can post a single image that gets some traction and sell 5-10 prints.

It also depends on the type of photographer you are. I’m talking primarily from a landscape photographers perspective. But if you’re a wedding/portrait photographer with clients, obviously you’re going to sell prints to just about every client. That’s totally different.

So it just depends on who you market to and who follows you really. I don’t really market my prints for sale. Sure, you can go to my SmugMug page and order any of the prints there, but I don’t really advertise it anywhere. I probably sell around $1,000-$2,000/year from prints between SmugMug and people who just email me and create a custom order. It’s minimal.