In this series, Selling Photography, I began with a basic question that over the weeks has morphed into an examination of my experiences, successes and challenges. It’s my hope that by writing this, I’ll be able to come to some insightful moment where the bell rings and I’ve come to a conclusion about my direction.
As part of the intent to sell my photography online, Etsy seemed like a natural for me. I had already been a buyer and was familiar with the format and expectations. Selling my photography on eBay was a new thing for me. I met someone at a friend’s birthday party who sold on eBay in enough quantity to derive a substantial part of her income there. My husband had made purchases on eBay and was interested in trying to sell a few collectibles he had inherited. Because of his interest, I got him a few books at Christmas; like Ebay for Dummies by Marsha Collier and How to Buy, Sell & Profit on eBay by Adam Ginsberg and started reading them. Ginsberg’s book was especially helpful for me because of the advice to start small . . . list and see what happens. So that’s what I did. Rankings are important on eBay, as they serve to build trust in the buying and selling community. Treat people right and they’ll reciprocate. Makes sense right? Having a good history is what will make someone choose you over another seller with similar products. That said, buying counts, too, in your rankings so the advice I got from the woman I met at the party was to buy some stuff before you list. I don’t mean spending a lot of money, just buy the stuff you normally would, but buy it on eBay.
I bought stuff – a dress, a postal scale, some books – and then I sold stuff. I started with stuff around the house. Eventually I had a couple dozen gold stars and felt ready to take on more. At that point I already had a couple of months of Etsy experience and was feeling all powerful. I created a few listings to sell my photographic prints. I listed them in the “Art” section, for sale by the artist, described the image, told the story of how it came to be, uploaded low res files of the images for sale and set them free.
Looking at the number of times the images were viewed compared to the other items I had listed, it was clear that the prints were not getting any action. I kept relisting them when they expired and tried switching up the categories, but even though I had a dozen of my best selling prints, all priced competitively – cheap even – I sold a total of 2, and even at that, the buyer tried to negotiate on the shipping.
My experience selling photography on eBay taught me a few things. One is that at the time I was doing this, people were not looking for my type of art on eBay. Another thing I learned is that it’s a much different clientele. Ebay shoppers are looking for a bargain. Etsy shoppers are looking for unique and artistic. Though I was on a roll there for a while with used clothing and home goods, my photography did not sell well on eBay. Perhaps this was a reflection of the economy, but my feeling is that photo buyers are not apt to think of eBay as a source for fine art photography.
The series “Selling Photography” continues with the next post. It will be a discussion about the online gallery resources available and what I’ve learned using them.
If you’ve missed any of the posts, there are links to them below.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about Selling Photography and my experiences, successes, and the challenges in doing so.
It started out with the basic question: Should I continue selling my photography products at art and craft shows?
To recap, part 1 was a discussion (a one sided discussion, yes) about what I have been doing to sell my work at shows, how I’ve been doing it, and what I’ve been selling (or not selling in some cases) and some resources I’ve used to create products.
Part 2 what have I done so far? What do I have invested in this? What have I learned?
Part 3 a continuation of “what I’ve learned” and a pros and cons list about continuing.
Part 4 dealt with some options for selling locally, with wholesale and consignment arrangements explained. By local I mean the old fashioned face to face relationships with your area’s retailers. You know, the kind of selling that has been around forever and is currently regaining favor in our “Buy Local” movements.
Part 5.25 steps away from the “local” scene, refocusing on global selling through online resources and marketplaces.
In Part 5.75 I will be discussing other online options like selling through your own website using gallery hosts like SmugMug and Photoshelter.com.
As a bonus for your patience, use this coupon code 15OFFCARD to get 15% off your purchase at my Etsy shop www.ccotaphotocraft.etsy.com. Generous of me huh?
Part 6: The bottom line – it’s not sustainable unless you make money.