5 mistakes to avoid when selling photography

5 mistakes to avoid when selling photography

Selling your photography is an exciting venture, but there are some important mistakes that you should avoid. Take note of these below, which in the long run will help you become more successful

Getting started with selling your photography is a rewarding and exciting venture, and there are lots of things that you can do to get yourself on the path to success (see our other guides on selling photography). However, there are also several things that you shouldn’t do, or at least avoid as much as you can when selling images.

Take note of these points below, which will ultimately help you become more successful.

1 Don’t price yourself out of a sale

To you, your photography is priceless. And it can be tempting to put a hefty price tag on your images to reflect that.

"...the photography industry is incredibly competitive, and as both company and household budgets continue to get smaller, customers will not likely pay excessive amounts for images."

But remember, the photography industry is incredibly competitive, and as both company and household budgets continue to get smaller, customers will not likely pay excessive amounts for images.

That doesn’t mean you should be undervaluing your work however, and sometimes photography should warrant a high price to reflect your hard work. Particularly if the image portrays a rare subject or if it was complex or challenging to photograph. But you should do some market research before deciding how to price your pictures. Look at photographers who shoot similar subjects to you and see what their prices are, to give you a good idea of the market rate. It also helps to think about the lowest amount you would be happy with for your shots and work your way up from that figure.

The photography world is ever-evolving and changing, so with this make sure you review your prices constantly too.

Make sure you do some thorough research before setting prices for your images - this help you get a good balance between the market rate and what you would be happy to receive for your images. Photo by Devin Lee Ainslie

2 Don’t be too precious with your images

It's natural to be protective of your photography, after all it's your passion. That’s fine, but you need to be willing to relinquish some control when you're selling your images.

"Giving customers the impression that they aren’t worthy of purchasing your work will do your photography business no good at all."

What we mean by that is you shouldn’t be telling buyers where or how they can use your images as they will often need to crop or edit your photos, within reason, to fit their project or house style. This is standard practice, and if you’re difficult with customers it will put them off buying from you.

Be flexible and friendly, understand your customer's needs and be willing to accommodate where you can. If there’s something you genuinely have an issue with when it comes to their plans for your photography, let them know, but do it in an approachable manner.

Also, do not be choosy over who can buy your images. Giving customers the impression that they aren’t worthy of purchasing your work will do your photography business no good at all.

Be flexible - if a customer needs to crop of edit your image to fit their project, let them, this can do attitude will help you get sales in the long run and build valuable relationships with buyers. Photo by Leon Puplett

3 Be knowledgable of the market and don’t take things personally

Over time you may find that some of your most commercially-successful images aren’t your favourites.

"If your favourite shots aren’t the most popular, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel... it doesn’t mean your photos  any less worthy of including in your portfolio."

Not everyone will share your taste for your photography, and that’s OK. If your favourite shots aren’t the most popular, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel - it doesn’t mean your photos are a failure or are any less worthy of including in your portfolio. That’s just how the market works.

It pays to do your market research; look at images similar to yours that are hanging on walls or used in articles and products. If you’ve got shots in your portfolio that fit this particular style. Make sure you include these in your store.

Keep an eye on what the market is doing (i.e. what's selling and what isn't) and if you're personal favourites aren't your most successful commercially - don't take it personally. Photo by Howard Double

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4 Don’t add personal watermarks or signatures that are hard to remove

When selling images in an online environment, it’s natural to want to be protective. Copyright infringement is real, and there will always be some risk - but for the vast majority of photographers, the chance of someone stealing your images and using them for significant commercial gain or passing them off as their own is very minimal.

To add a layer of protection, any good image hosting site or store builder should allow you to add a watermark feature to your images. These watermarks are easily removable following the purchase of an image (learn more about watermarks for Picfair Stores here).

With the above in mind, don’t try to take watermarking into your own hands by adding obstructive features to your images in post-production. Customers won’t be able to remove to watermark easily and you’ll likely find them asking for a refund, and put off from buying your images in the future.

The same goes for adding signatures to your images; while it may feel like a nice touch, buyers prefer a clean, text-free image and will only likely crop out any signature. If signing your work is essential to you, save it for physical prints you’re handling and sign them on the back.

Make sure your images are clean and clear of any added watermarks or signatures - customers much prefer this. If signing your work is important to you, save it for the physical prints you’re handling and sign them on the back. Photo by Jason Kessenich

5 Don’t let lousy image quality get in the way of a sale

Make sure your images are as technically perfect as they can be. Images that are too small or where the quality is compromised can significantly hinder the likelihood of an image sale.

"Images that are too small or where the quality is compromised can significantly hinder the likelihood of an image sale."

Save your photos at their best quality file version available, so if you’re saving them as JPEG, make sure to save them at the minimum compression possible. Also, make sure your image dimensions are as close to the original size as possible. A large image in pixels unlocks so much potential for it to be purchased, especially with commercial and editorial clients, but also prints too. For example, a small image will look pixellated and blurry when printed on a big canvas, so it could put off that customer from making the purchase.

Make sure you avoid scenarios like this as much as possible by checking quality and technical specifics before making them available for sale.

Make sure your images are as technically-perfect as they can be before listing them for sale on your store or site. Photo by Jason Kessenich