How to Sell Your Photography Online and Off

Now that everyone and their Grandma (and sometimes even their tech-savvy Great Grandma) has a smartphone with a camera in their pocket, everyone thinks they’re a photographer nowadays. Figuring out how to sell your photography online and offline in a world where there’s a seemingly unlimited amount of free photography is tricky. But don’t worry! There are many ways to get your photography noticed and sold – it just takes a little extra creativity. Here are 11 ways to sell your photography online and off.

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1: Get your photography published on blogs and in *publications

All publications need photos! Working Artist said that when doing a gallery show featuring bird images, they contacted the Audobon society – a bird conservation group – to do a fundraiser with them. You don’t have to do a fundraiser, of course, but reach out to blogs that your photography might appeal to (photography blogs (The Modern Tog), comic con photos for a geek or entertainment blog, etc.) As far as bigger magazines and publications, chances are you won’t get straight through to the head honcho. Try working up the ladder by contacting the editorial assistant or features editor. They’re more likely to see your stuff and get back to you! (Female Creatives Association)

Most publications have a photographer already working for them, so when you can offer them something different – photography that would be a pain for them to go out and get, photography that applies to a story they’ve published and don’t have the best photography for, (Female Creatives Association) etc. If just selling your photos to publications doesn’t work, give them a little something extra, liiike…

2: Write a guest post

…selling them an article to feature your work in (Photo Secrets)! It saves the publication the effort of creating a piece around your photography when you have it done for them! Offering a post that uses or tells a story about your photography can be a great way of getting your work out there. You can make it as simple as a “How to Make a Gallery Wall” post, featuring a gallery wall made up of your photography (a photo of a bunch of your photos…photoception.) With Threadless Artist Shops, you can even order prints of your photography at the base fee, so you don’t break the bank trying to make a gallery wall out of your own photos! Find out more here.

3: Content market with your OWN blog

Having a portfolio and online store for your photography is important. But having a blog to connect to them not only boosts SEO; it helps people get to know you, and is a great opportunity to post shareable content featuring your photography, or “content marketing.” Sprouting Photographer says that 75% of your blog posts should not be directly about selling your photography, but rather shareable, fun posts. You can write about the story behind certain photos or albums you have, advice pieces like “What Filters Make Your Photography Look Best on Instagram” that people can share, or that people in your photography realm will appreciate (ex. “How to Plan Great Engagement Photos” for wedding photographers (Improve Photography)). Get creative!


4: Sell your photography as prints 

Make your photography accessible to the people – sell your photography online as photo prints! You can mix it up by selling limited editions of your photography (only offering certain images available for a set amount of time before it’s gone), sell it framed at a slightly higher price, etc. Starting an photography_nicholas_bruno_2online shop is a great way to sell to a wide audience.

With Threadless Artist Shops, you can sell your photography as high quality photo prints (framed and un-framed) or stretched over a canvas! And if something doesn’t sell? Not a problem! Threadless takes care of all the shipping and on-demand manufacturing, so you have zero un-sold inventory to deal with, which allows you to spend your time taking photos rather than dealing with trying to get rid of them! Find out more here (this print is from Nicholas Bruno’s Artist Shop – check it out!)

5: Art fairs and festivals

Art fairs and festivals are a great art hub to sell your photography prints at, as well as to get some visibility and to get your name/business cards out there. 

6. Think Local

Offer to shoot a local charity event for free and hand out business cards or leave them on tables (Improve Photography). This could get you some visibility and maybe get you hired for future events, or buyers for your photos! 

The same goes for getting your photography published in publications (Digital Photography School) – don’t be afraid to start local. It’s not National Geographic, but getting your photography in publications is a ladder climb, and starting local is a great way to build a resume of magazines and newspapers you’ve been featured in.

7: Apparel

It may not be the first canvas that comes to mind when thinking about the best ways to sell photography. But photography on apparel looks pretty dang cool and acts as a walking Billboard for your work in a way that wall art can’t. Corporate Vampire (NSFW) sells their photography on apparel in their Artist Shop, as does Nicholas Bruno and Sasa and Colin with some pretty rad results.

Top left: “The Chauffeur” – Corporate Vampire | Top right: “NIGHTWATCH” – Nicolas Bruno | Bottom left: “Colin Christian Lipsex Tee!” – Sasa and Colin | Bottom right: “Inhale” – Tommy Nease

8: Display your work at local businesses

Just like every publication needs images, every wall needs art! Getting your art on the walls at local coffee shops, restaurants, offices, etc. is a great way to show off your work (and maybe make some sales) IRL. Stick your card in the corner of the frame so that people know how to contact you. And hint: offering pre-framed art when asking businesses if they’d be interested in displaying and selling your work makes it easier for them and gives them less of a decision! (Craftsy)

With Artist Shops, you can order your prints, framed, at base fee!

9: Instagram and quality hashtags!

Instagram is a great tool for your photography. And if you hashtag smart and choose hashtag quality over quantity, it’ll help you get your photos noticed. Improve Photography suggests including the following hashtag types in your IG photos:

  • Location of the photo
  • Type of photography (nature, wedding, portrait, etc.)
  • Type of photo
  • The equipment you used
  • Your brand name
  • Details of the photo (ex. #WeddingBouquet, #EngagementPhoto, #ActorHeadshot, etc.)
  • Tag clients or subjects in photo
  • Include “link in profile” in any photo descriptions so people know where to find more info about you and your work)

Also, jumping on hashtag trends like #TBT never hurts!

10: Takeaways when you sell your stuff IRL

When you sell your photography prints art art fairs, festivals, etc., it’s always good to have some nice takeaways. Business cards, postcard-sized photo cards with your information on them, maybe a custom stamp that you can stamp onto bags, or stickers with your info; Branding yourself across any stickers, stamps, and business cards you had out is a worth it investment.

11: Sell stock photography

Doing a few photoshoots for the purpose of creating stock photography is a great way to polish your own photography skills, but is also a great way to create custom content for your own blog (do it!), as well as a way to create content that bloggers, publications, and ad companies might be interested in purchasing.

Look for what kind of stock photography is in highest demand or is trending (Graph Paper Press). If you don’t want to split commission with larger sites like istockphoto, sell stock photography through your own site. Wordpress, for example, has a plug-in you can use (Graph Paper Press).

Here are some sites to sell your stock photography on.

*Note on publications: Sometimes the only payment offered is “for photographer credit,” at which point it’s up to you to judge whether you think it’s a worth it site to give your work to for free for exposure or not! Here’s more information on getting published in magazines.

Don’t have a shop to fill with your photography? Start one now!
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We’re an artist community built on the power of helping each other succeed — if you’re reading this and have tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments! Thank you!

Illustrations done by the amazing Katie Lukes

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