The market for photography is $10 billion dollars in the United States and is expect to grow at a rate of 1.8 percent annually.
Still images and video are needed more than ever in the digital age in portraits, business promotion, product photography, food photography, event photography and editorial photography to illustrate articles, news sources and websites. While the costs of photographer and the fees paid to photographers have decreased due to easier to use and process digital photography the need for images is always increasing.
The Photography industry has experienced several changes as digital cameras and post-production technologies have increasingly affected operators. While photographers are benefiting from the changes by increasing their efficiency and availability, consumers are now able to take professional-quality images without the need of a specialist.
Revenue is expected to improve slightly in the next five years as photographer focus on niche markets, such as events, sports and church directory photography.
Common industry services include school and family portraits, special events photography and sports’ photography. As consumers make up the largest buyers of these services, photography studios tend to be concentrated in densely populated areas.
Cities, in addition to being densely populated, have the largest amount of business activity. This leads industry establishments that focus on commercial and industrial photography to also concentrate in densely populated areas although the web allows photographers to find International and Domestic markets.
Fine art photographs are not always suitable for stock images and conversely not all stock images make great fine art photographs.
Stock photographs need to be useful for the business buyers/designers. They need copyspace, they need images that will illustrate the products and services they are selling or support the editorial in a magazine or on a blog.
A stock portfolio needs to be diverse, constantly updated and have a very large number of unique images to get noticed. If you think you’ll upload 40 images and then kick back and watch the money flow in, you will be disappointed.
3 – Event Photography – Capturing images for an event such as a wedding, party, club, or special occasion is a great way to make money with your camera. Even though everyone has a camera these days on their smart phone, smart people and people with money to spend on the good things in life know that it better to leave important things like capturing the event in pictures to the pros with the good equipment. The pro might be the only one not drunk and certainly the only one in the room fully concentrated on getting the job done.
4. Portraits – From Headshots to Mugshots – the ability to photograph people well is the ticket to success. Landscapes are for the hobbyists and amateurs. Professionally produced portaits are money in the bank for the professional photographer. Learn how to make people look good and you will have a successful photography business.
Advice on selling artwork online by successful artist/fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding – www.edwardfielding.com
In order to buy art, collectors must first see it so the can fall in love with it. In the brick and mortar world this means putting your wall art up in places frequented by potential collectors such as galleries, cafes and exhibits.
Selling art online requires putting your artwork in online galleries but mainly creating content that will be collected and indexed by the major search engines.
When someone is in the mood to search for art to buy, you want your artwork or photography to pop to the top of search. That is what the term “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” means. Making your content (in this case your artwork) optimally positioned to be first found by the search engines and then ranked as high as it can be the search results.
Search engine results are the result of a constantly tweaked formula or algorithm. A behind the scenes math equation that weights all sorts of variables to bring about the final result. Elements such as popularity, readability, length of time people spend on the page, number of links going to the page, how many ads are on the page etc etc. All of these measurements go into the formula to create the final page ranking.
While search engines such as Google and Bing won’t actually reveal the methods they use to rank websites on their search results, those responsible for the practice of SEO have a pretty good idea which tactics are most effective – and research repeatedly confirms it comes down to just a handful of factors.
Relevant Content Creation
RCC or Relevant Content Creation is considered the most important way to achieve SEO. You have to think of the search engine as a product. The goal of any search engine is to be the best product in its class. It does this by satisfying the customers need for fast and relevant results.
The better job the search engine does of bringing you the results you want, the better the product. So the search engine strives to bring up results that have actual useful information and it does this partly by measuring the amount of time the users spends on the page and the number of links from other sites that lead to this page.
You can’t really fake good content. In the old days, you might just fill up a page with keywords and the search engines would send customers to that page. But now all kinds of other factors are considered such as readability, time spent on the page, other links to the page, social media interaction etc.
Relevant content creation, of course, is what SEO’s most often believe is the most effective SEO tactic. Recent research from Ascend2, in fact, found that 57 percent of respondents say relevant content creation is a highly effective SEO tactic. Other top tactics mentioned in the study include keyword/phrase research (49% cite as highly effective), social media integration (39%), and external/internal linking (36%).
Selling Artwork With Context
To attract search engines to your work you need to surround the work with words. Visual images can be searched but usually its by people looking to grab a photo for a school report or presentation or something. Art buyers are going to be searching within an online art gallery or via a search engine. You need to surround your visual artwork with relevant words or in other words put it in context.
Context – the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
In the SEO world, context is king. Context can be keywords, a description of an artwork, the biography of the artist, the process behind the artwork, a description of the framing process etc.
In other words tell the story of the artwork for the potential buyer and the search engines. Give the buyer and the search engine bots that index the Internet, multiple reasons to find, index, discover and learn about your artwork. Provide interesting details about the work that will entice others to share and link to your work.
The more context you place around your artwork, the more likely it will be found and purchased.
About the Author
Before returning to fine art photography and art, Edward M. Fielding had a career in the high tech computer magazine and online content provider world including being the Director of Market Research at BYTE Magazine.
Currently Fielding’s work can be seen on bestselling book covers and in magazine’s around the world as well as in galleries and in the home’s of private collectors.
Selling Artwork – Christmas 2017 Art Selling Season Starts Now
Sell More Artwork By Planning Ahead – One of my families favorite Christmas season movies is “Elf” and there is a scene at the end where Santa tells the elves “congratulations for a great Christmas”. They all cheer and then get back to work on next year’s Christmas! No rest for the weary at the North Pole.
A friend of mine is a product designer for the electronics industry. Early January he is always crushed with business producing mock ups for the February trade shows.
All across the toy industry, designers are finalizing their designs for next year’s toys which will be manufactured all summer. Cooking magazine art directors are putting the final touches on their Halloween photoshoots right now. Book publishers are meeting with Christmas themed book writers in late winter.
The point is that the Christmas selling season starts now – not in December 2017.
Missed Out On The Christmas Buying Spree? What Are You Going To Do About It
Ok, many of you are not experiencing a jump in sales this Christmas season and perhaps are discouraged by hearing about other artists enjoying increased sales this season. Let’s face it the moment after you congratulate someone on a sale, the first thought is what do they have that I ain’t got?
So what are you going to do about it to build your business up to be ready to take advantage of more sales next Holiday season? Are you just going to droop your head down and say whoa is me? Or are you going to make a plan? How about a real business plan? For many of us this is a business, its time to start acting as such.
1. Are you going to analysis your offerings and offer more of what people want to buy and less of what only you like?
2. Are you going to increase your social networking efforts?
3. Are you going to get an artist website and blog?
4. Are you going to increase the number of markets you participate in?
5. Are you going to improve your skills and offer better work?
6. Create more places where people can buy your work?
7. Communicate with potential buyers?
8. Stop spending valuable time commiserating with others who are not selling?
9. Stop blaming your lack of sales on things like the economy, or slow networks, or Amazon, or the world that is conspiring against you?
10. Are you going to DO SOMETHING about it?
How about it? Anyone got any action plans for 2017? You better because your competition does and they working hard to create great art and marketing for the upcoming Christmas season that starts today.
About the Author
Artist Edward M. Fielding is a successful artist/designer/photographer on Fine Art America, Pixels and other POD sites as well as an International stock image supplier whose work has been featured in magazines and on book covers around the globe. His whimsical books of dog photos can be found on Amazon.com.
Getting more people to see your artwork and hopefully purchase it
Art does not sell within a vacuum. And art can’t be purchase without first being seen. The more people who see your work, the more potential your artwork as to being sold. How do you get more people to see your work? Are all viewers equal? How do you generate organic traffic? What is organic traffic?
In totality there are lots of ways for people to see your work:
On the street
On the Internet
Online there are two main ways to generate “traffic” the generic and cold term for web site visitors (i.e. people who might buy your work). Offline at retail space this “traffic” might be referred to as foot traffic.
The presence and movement of people walking around in a particular space. Foot traffic is important to many types of businesses, particularly retail establishments, as higher foot traffic can lead to higher sales. Strategies businesses can use to increase their foot traffic include holding grand openings and other promotional events such as demonstrations, giveaways, sales and charitable fundraisers.
First the terms: organic traffic vs. paid traffic:
Organic traffic generally refers to non-paid traffic, so includes traffic from:
Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Referral traffic from other sites – visitors arriving at your site after clicking on a link on another website.
Direct traffic – someone typing in your URL into a browser.
Blogs – links from blogs describing your process or artwork
News – links from press releases, news articles and other press about your work.
YouTube – referrals and links from your YouTube or Vimeo videos.
Such traffic is all achievedorganically, rather than through a source of advertising or paid promotion of some kind.
On the other hand…
Paid traffic is where you are spending money to attract those visitors to your website. This might include:
Using paid listings on search engines.
Paying to promote your content/link on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and give it a much wider audience.
Showing ads on other sites around the net, usually using an ad network like Google’s Display Ads within Adwords.
Visitors arriving at your site because of an affiliate program you run, i.e. incentives others to link through to your site in return for monetary compensation of some kind, usually either on a sale or some other user action after they arrive.
Ninety percent of selling is conviction, and 10 per cent is persuasion. – Shiv Khera
Not All Traffic Is Created Equal
Of course not all traffic is created equal. Consider the value of a targeted mailing to active art buyers vs. a mailing to the general public. Or the value of a person walking into a high end gallery in NYC vs. someone walk into the decor section at Pier One. Two different buyers with vastly different sales potential and people who will most likely be attuned to a different sale pitch.
The expectations of the person walking into a high end art gallery are different than the Pier One customer. The gallery patron is expecting artwork of a certain quality and price point, as is the random Pier One customer. The Pier One customer is not expecting one of a kind work or a one of a kind artwork price point. While the gallery patron is looking for something exclusive and perhaps something that will be of investment grade artwork.
But compare this to someone who simply wandered into each store randomly as they were looking to have their shoes shined. They weren’t looking for artwork to buy and they might not even appreciate artwork. And besides they only have $20 in their pocket to get their shoes shined and perhaps pick up a newspaper and cup of coffee.
It would take a heck of a lot more salesmanship to sell some art to this random person.
Creating Targeted Traffic
This is why you want to create targeted traffic to your artwork. Targeted means you are messaging people who are in the market for what you are selling. You can do this in two ways. One – push messages at people who have been identified as members of your target market – usually this can only be done via demographics such as sex, age, income etc.
Art magazines are a good example of an advertising environment that includes a rich targeted audience for artwork messaging. But you will also get a lot of people within that audience who are other artists trying to sell their own stuff. In the magazine world they call this “concentration” and sell advertising based on this concentrated audience. For example they might show audience stats to a gallery showing that “30 percent of readers have purchased art in the past year” or something.
But this type of traffic has several drawbacks:
It costs money
It depends on the effectiveness of your advertising material
You never really know if traffic you are paying for matches your artwork.
There is a lot of fake traffic – bots, third world country click farms.
Salesmanship is limitless. Our very living is selling. We are all salespeople. James Cash Penney
Organic Traffic: Striking Gold
Self-selected, organic traffic is the gold standard of web traffic. People who discover your artwork on their own, from their own explorations.
Your job as an artist, small business person, entrepreneur, art marketer and art salesperson is to create material that will attract people and potential buyers to your artwork.
Ideas for generating organic traffic to your artwork:
Create YouTube videos showing your process
Describe your process, motivation,
Announce shows, openings, new series, sales
Use social media – everything and anything – Facebook, Google+, Instagram – engage your audience and build a following.
Teach and give workshops
Send out postcards and news articles.
Write blog entries and promote your ideas.
“If you take a print magazine with a million person circulation, and a blog with a devout readership of 1 million, for the purpose of selling anything that can be sold online, the blog is infinitely more powerful, because it’s only a click away.” – Timothy Ferriss
Build a funnel to channel organic traffic to your artwork
The goal is to use every avenue you can think of to attract potential customers to your artwork where hopefully they will fall in love with it and purchase a print or product.
Increase awareness of you, your brand, your artwork. Make sure potential buyers understand that your work is for sale.
Create interest in your work by letting your follows behind the scenes so they can see how you create your work. Show our process.
Help potential buyers purchase our work by explaining the various products available so they can make a decision.
Lastly have an easy to use method of completing the sales transactions.
How I became a successful selling artist
I sell regularly on Fine Art America but it took me many years of building up an audience and filling the funnel to get to this point. Filling the funnel can take years before it starts paying off. The good news is most people give up after a few months so for those who stick to it, you’ll reap the benefits.
As a successful seller on Fine Art America and Pixels, I’m often asked for advice from other artists trying to get an online business off the ground.
Art is Business
First of all the key word is “business”. My career in the arts started about 35 years ago when I first fell in love with photography at a summer camp. We shot film and developed it in a dark bag on a picnic table. Later in high school I got my first SLR and darkroom experience. Practicality took me to Boston Universities business school but I still shot film and developed prints in my closet darkroom as I studied the great photographers in BUs extensive library of photography books.
So I ended up with a business degree and a career in the publishing industry. Later when I left the publishing world to dedicate my time to my fine art career, I brought the knowledge of the business world and market research world with me. After all – Art is Business.
As an artist, one can not pretend that art is all about self-expression, freedom and ignorant bliss. You have to recognize that art is a marketplace like any other. There are needs that need to be fulfilled. There are buyers and sellers. There is an exchange of money for a product. The artist is in a sense a factory that produces a product just like any other product and the collector is a buyer of that product. If you produce items that have no market, you won’t be successful.
And you have to consider the over all market size for your art/product. It could be that there are thousands of people out their clamoring for your specific type of artwork. Or there might only be one person in the world who wants exactly what you have to offer.
Price accordingly. If the there are thousands of people looking for your art than you can sell them items with low mark up. Maybe mugs are the way to go. Maybe there are thousands of people looking for your art on a mug so you can make $1 on each one and net $1,000 for your effort and you can sell out in a day.
Or maybe there is only one elusive person on the planet who “gets” your work. Now to find this person will take considerable time and effort. You will have to spend a lot of money (in the form of time and maybe advertising) to find this buyer. You will need to cut through all of the clutter and grab their attention at the right time. Hopefully not just after they’ve spent all of their money on a different artist.
So after years of searching for this buyer and after convincing them that your work is worthy of their attention and money, what are you going to sell them? A coffee mug?
Sell The Gallery Not The Gift Shop
I see a lot of my fellow artists on Fine Art America clamoring for the site to sell things like calendars or coaster or some other low end product. I think it comes about for a few reasons:
They aren’t currently selling the products offered at the moment
They always dreamed about seeing their art on X,Y,Z
They think the addition of another product might be just the thing for their art to start selling
My strategy has always been to take the high road. Low end products can be there, in the gift shop so to speak, but my main goal is to sell prints.
I work with the idea that my work is going to hang on someone’s wall. This is how I approach my work. This is what motivates me to get up in the morning on a cold snowy day and hike out to an old red barn in rural Vermont to capture a winter landscape.
This is why I spend thousands of dollars on travel expenses and equipment and put in the hours of processing time. I’m doing this work to create art prints which have a decent profit built in to pay for my time and effort.
I’m not doing this to sell a greeting card, mug or beach towel. If those gift shop items happen to sell then so be it but that is not my focus. This is what I mean buy selling the gallery not the gift shop.
You sell the movie not the popcorn. Sell the main event not the side card. Sell the candidate not the red trucker hats. Sell the car not the fuzzy dice.
I license my work to greeting card companies, book publishers, magazine editors etc. This is the way to get your work on these products, created in the 10s of thousands. If your work is up to industry standards then there is a market for it on consumer products. This is different than self publishing in a vanity site. If your work is puzzle quality then seek out a puzzle publisher and license your work to them. They know the market, they know the buyers. Far too many artist try to reinvent the wheel by going it alone and trying handle every aspect of the various markets, many of them not having any understanding of how that market works.
I suggest seeking out the experts in the various sales channels, people who have years experience in that industry. Concentrate on selling high end products of your work, leave the gift shop items to themselves or the experts in those areas.
When it comes to selling your artwork, concentrate on the high end, not the low end. Be professional and value your work.
Print On Demand sites like Fine Art America, Red Bubble, Pixels and Society6 among others allows the buyer to choose from hundreds of thousands of photographs, drawings, paintings and other artwork in all shapes and sizes from framed and matted to canvas prints to metal prints and more plus you can buy the artwork on products such as cell phone covers, tote bags, throw pillows and more.
How Does Print On Demand Work For Artists?
Selling on Print On Demand sites – For artists, POD companies is like handing off all of the order processing, printing and shipping to the POD company. The POD sites provide a platform and database for the artist to upload their high quality photograph and artwork image files. The POD platform allows them a selling platform to offer their work for sale.
The POD site then accepts orders from buyers, handles the credit card processing, arranges to print the items, shipping the items and deals with any returns or customer problems. Then the artist receives a profit margin or commission depending on the site. Commission can run from small site set commission to other sites that allow the artist to set their own profit margins.
The amount of marketing and selling the artist has to do in order for their work to be seen among the sea of other sellers varies from site to site but the majority of the selling is expected to be done by the artist. The site might promote itself but they are unlikely to promote individual artists or at least you will be waiting for a long time before they get around to promoting your work unless you are already well know and have a following.
Some sites do a lot of promoting. They might run regular sales and free shipping offers to promote the site. But there is a relationship between the amount of promoting and they artists profit. Typically the site that spend a lot of money on promotion end up offering the artists lower profit margins. Someone has to pay for all that promotion after all.
Other sites seem to promote the system itself to more and more sellers than trying to bring in more buyers. They figure that enough artists end up buying some of their own work and every new excited seller will be spreading the word among their friends and family. All of this excitement brings in more potential buyers, even if they might end up going to the more established print on demand sellers.
Downfalls of Selling Via Print On Demand Sites
Print on demand sites provide a lot of convenience to artists. Simply upload your artwork and photographs and the POD site does all the work if you get a sale.
But there are some downfalls of selling on POD sites. There are as follows:
Every potential buyer you bring in via marketing might end up buying from your competitor.
Every buyers is a new customer of the POD, you as the artist never know who purchased your work.
The POD is taking a cut of your profit.
Increase competition of selling among thousands of other artists, many whom are hobbyists and retirees who are just in it for an ego boost who would be happy with $1 profit on their work.
The built in profit of the POD sites is not as large as the commissions of 40% to 50% taken by traditional galleries but you also don’t get the services of a traditional gallery like access to their high end buyer’s list and the salesmanship of the gallery workers. Plus the added prestige of your work hanging in a beautiful gallery.
Understanding Print On Demand – Part Three – Buying
How do I price my artwork is one of the top questions asked by beginning artists and is usually followed by how do I sell my artwork.
How to price your artwork
How do you priceyour paintings and artwork? Artist Stefan Baumann’s YouTube video does a good job explaining how to price your fine art paintings including dealing with galleries and even the IRS.
He recommends that painters start by using a price by square inch method and start with a price of $2 per square inch. The square inch is calculated by multiplying the length by the width. So for example a 16 x 20 inch painting would be 320 square inches. 320 x $2 would give you a base price of $640 for your painting.
Additional costs might include market up on the frame (double the frame price) and gallery fees or extras such as brass name plates.
Stefan also discusses the ethical concerns of price consistency with your gallery prices and the need for your prices to rise over time.
Some other times is to create a pricing strategy and stick to it. Even your favorites should follow the pricing strategy.
Secrets to selling your art:
Have great art (quality)
Have a website
Have a blog (living website that can be updated)
Collect emails and connect info
Have a way to collect money.
More Resources for pricing and selling your artwork:
A recent question came up on the Fine Art America forum asking if “specializing” is better for selling artwork vs. generalizing. First off the question confused the idea of style and a niche.
A niche and style are two different things. One is based on subject, the other is a look.
A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.
A niche give you something to promote. Its easier to find a group to market the niche. The problem comes if your niche is too small. Like all the people who buy a macro lens and start taking bug pictures. Turns out only 10 people in the world want a bug picture in their living room and 9 out of 10 of those already have a macro lens.
While a niche is focusing on a particular subject or theme, style is the aesthetic or a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement. You style might be documentary, it might be black and white with deep depth of field, it might be bold, colorful and graphic, it might dark, somber, and moody. It might be crowded with lots of detail or minimalist with simple shapes.
In the visual arts, style is a “…distinctive manner which permits the grouping of works into related categories.” or “…any distinctive, and therefore recognizable, way in which an act is performed or an artifact made or ought to be performed and made.”
In the end you want to focus your work on your interests. Subjects and themes that your personal vision of the world draws you too. From working on capturing your interests, your style will emerge. In the beginning you might try copying past great photographers that you admire but eventually you will stop looking at others work and start producing something uniquely yours.
This video blog from The Art of Photography covers this topic by describing “interpretations” by various photographers.
Work in Series
Anyone serious about a career in the artwork should be thinking in terms of series or in developing a body of work that could fit in a gallery show or book under a specific theme.
If you just want to sell random things then be all over the place. Shotgun approach. Just have lots and lots of images.
Consider that when you look at the recently sold page on Fine Art America it might seem as if buyers are choosing artwork at random but the individual buyer does not pick something at random. They have a deep affinity to the artwork they choose to spend their hard earned money on. The recently sold page shows the results of thousands of individual purchases, not some collective hive mind. The images might appear all over the place because the buyer’s interests are all over the place. You only have to satisfy the need of a single buyer, not all of them.
With over 8,500 sales of my artwork through online art marketplaces, I’ve learned a few thing about selling artwork directly from artist to buyer. Offering artwork for sale online has never been easier. But competing with millions of other artists from around the world trying to sell their own artwork, the challenges of actually selling your work is extremely difficult.
Here are a few tips of what not to do:
Don’t upload and wait for sales to pour in.
Don’t think a small number of artwork will be noticed.
Don’t create for a limited audience (like yourself).
Don’t assume the website will be showing your work.
Don’t lose touch with your audience.
Don’t upload and wait for sales to pour in
Unless you have an established name and following, you can’t expect to just upload your artwork and head for the beach. Art buyers are not just sitting their waiting at the end of a hose with a bucket waiting for your work to pour out.
Don’t think a small number of artwork will be noticed.
Every hour thousands of new images are uploaded to stock sites, online art site, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and social network sites. The Internet is a numbers game. To be noticed you have to have good work and a lot of it. Don’t think you’ll be noticed in a sea of great artwork with a few drops. The Internet is long tail – lots and lots of niche products that appeal to few but the sales add up. If you only cover a certain niche with your work, be sure that its large enough to substain the sales that you desire.
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Don’t create for a limited audience
Art for art’s sakes is noble and all but limited in the ability to sell it. This type of artwork is usually sold to the investor market and is backed by auction results. If your art has a very limited market then you might want to stick to the traditional galleries and sell originals. Much better to find that one buyer out there who appreciates your work and pays big bucks for it then try to sell something on a mass scale to people who don’t get it. If your work has a mass appeal and you can see it selling multiple times, then by all means, sell it online.
Don’t assume the website will actually show your work
The only guarantee that an art web site will actually show your work to visitors is if you start making sales. Work that doesn’t get anointed as something special by the staff or sells will be hidden way down in the bottom of search. Every art sales web sites has their own way of controlling this so the visitors see the very best and the most sellable work. If you are lucky, you’ll move up in search when you sell or be highlighted in their store or collections. Or maybe even make it into one of their promotional emails or ads. But the only way to insure that your work is being seen is to market it yourself. Take control of your own marketing and don’t worry about what the site is doing.
Don’t lose touch with your audience
The unsuccessful artist will upload, wait, fail to sell and then move on to something else. The successful artist will engage with the community at large by consistently uploading new work and announcing it via social media. They will blog about their process. They will send out press releases. They will attend shows. They will show their work in shows. Stay active, stay in the game.