There are many ways to sell giclée prints online. As a photographer sometimes you can feel overwhelmed with all the choices available and it is important to weigh up the options so that you know how much time to invest and how much it will cost you. As a creative you spend a lot of time learning the tools of your craft and it takes time to create each piece of work, taking into account all the preparation and in some cases, travel, accommodation, meals etc. so you want something that works with you and gives you the creative freedom and saves time.
Unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all, as some platforms work well for some creatives and not so well for others. It pays to do your research as you assess what you need as an online platform and what you want from it and what you can afford both in the short and long term.
So now you are a creative business, and part of building your business is building an identity. This helps your customers recognise your business, understand who you are, what you do and what you sell. Before you can begin to sell giclée prints online you should consider the look and feel of your creative business. You are not just showing what it is that you do creatively, but you also want to make sales.
I am Unique
Unless you have a lot of financial support, it will take time to develop a brand and is probably better once you have an understanding of what your interests are or theme of photography. Selling anything and everything is not the way to go as you don’t stand out in a crowd. So, how are you unique? Is it your technique, unusual materials, unusual subject matter or perhaps have a distinctive style? Be true to who you are and don’t try and copy what you think is successful. Enjoy creating, otherwise it just becomes a chore.
Aspects of Branding
In terms of logos, neutral colouring in my opinion is best so as not to detract from your images particularly if you use a watermark. But you could also go with colour for a logo and then use black or white logos for your watermark. It makes more work for you in the end.
You will need a short bio and this should outline a little about you, why you create, how you create and what it is that you hope to achieve with your photography.
People don’t just buy from the image they love, they will come back again and buy from the person behind the creativity. Wouldn’t you like to know who created the image that you like so much and want to know more about them. Most photographers have a great story to tell as stories will be in their DNA, it’s why photography found them in the first place. They wish to tell a story through their imagery. So think about how you wish to connect with your audience.
A contentious issue as you will need to research and test what works for you. There are paid and free advertising platforms and you can go through a budget very quickly on advertising before you get there but research online and see what others have done so that at least you’re somewhat informed. I have for example spent a load on Facebook advertising and for me, it’s a waste of time and money; I did not get the ROI I expected.
There are many opportunities for advertising in magazines, local papers and online magazines and they will inevitably promise you a large readership. Weigh up the costs involved and whether it is worth it and check if anyone else has done the same and speak to them about the return on investment. People will need to see your advert more than once before they feel comfortable with clicking on your ad and possibly making a purchase.
If possible, it may be best to get free editorial from publications first. You may have an interesting story about your creativity or an event or exhibition you’re attending that could be newsworthy. Publications are always on the lookout for interesting stories so give it some consideration before making any expenditure.
As already mentioned, you could do advertising on social media and through Google Adwords and it takes time to build a strategy and a lot of effort. It really can consume you to the point where you struggle to find the time to create. So you need to put a structure and plan of action together before choosing this route.
Again, contentious. This depends on you and the opportunity but be wary of free exposure for your photos. You should ultimately be paid for any work or products irrespective. If someone values something then they will be willing to pay for it. Normally it’s large companies that can afford it that offer free exposure for free work. Creatives really need to learn the value of their effort and accept nothing less than payment and the more that stand up to this behaviour, the less likely it will continue.
Enquire whether any other photographers have done the same thing and then reach out to them and see if they benefited from the relationship. Never give up your time or work for free for the promise of work in the future; it most never plays out and probably will never hear from them again as they move on to the next photographer.
Creating Your Collection
People like to buy sets — look at calendar sales for example. It’s rare that someone will make a one-off purchase of one image unless they are a collector or have an emotional tie to the subject in the image. So it makes sense to put your prints into collections and in this way you have the potential to increase your sales. And to turn a buyer into a collector, it may be an option to offer a collection with a discount for multi-purchase; an added incentive for your buyers to feel rewarded for being a collector of your work.
Limited Editions work well and limiting an offer to either the first ten of a collection or a time limit of availability, can incentivise buyers to make a purchase and can be promoted as an investment. An investment increases (and decreases) in value as your brand gains more exposure and this strategy only works if you constantly promote it. Make it clear what you are offering and promote it to as larger an audience as you can.
Deciding if you’ll have open or limited editions.
It is assumed that most photographers images are open edition unless stated that they are limited. If you choose to sell Limited Edition prints, you need to consider the print run size and usually these are priced higher than Open Edition prints as they are limited in run. You may also wish to create a Certificate of Authenticity to accompany your Limited Edition print; this adds value and providence.
Platforms to sell giclée prints online
- Not on the High Street
…plus many more.
Again, these platforms will require promotion as you risk being lost in the crowd. Don’t expect to just be found.
Selling Giclée Prints online with your own Ecommerce Website
Having your own website can be a huge asset as you grow your creative business and should be considered an option irrespective. There are many different platforms you can choose from, all offering various options with varied price structures. Below are a few options of the most well known providers.
You could choose a website company that designs and controls your website on your behalf and can save you a lot of hassle, especially if you’re not technically minded. However, this could be quite costly and you may get pulled into contractual agreements with licensing and hosting that you later can’t get out of without penalty. Importantly, anything you need done will come at a cost from uploading imagery to changing content and adding features. Choose wisely and ask for referrals and testimonials from clients before you make this decision. You might also consider platforms like Upwork or People per Hour where you can hire freelancers and may be a cheaper option.
Create your own E-commerce Website
Below are some examples of the better known platforms that you may wish to consider.
- WordPress — I’ve tried and tested and find that uploaded imagery is generally of low quality on the site.
- Wix — it starts adding up when you factor monthly costs.
- Smugmug — overall a slick platform but again, if you’re not selling daily, it starts adding up.
wfolio — full disclosure, I use these guys. The costs are very reasonable and the themes very slick but does not include ecommerce so I use Ecwid as a plugin to handle everything. You can use my referral link open.ecwid.com/6n87bH . For wfolio here is my referral link to get 35% off your first purchase and give it a test https://wfolio.com/r/ramonfritz
Importantly, your website is the online source of all your creativity. It should contain more detail and information about you, your creativity, how you work, what you create and what you are selling, than any other platform. It should encompass everything you show and talk about on all your social media platforms and ensure that you use your website link on every platform.
Good hunting :)