Seller Beware!


As a "newbie" to photo sales, I have a few words of caution to those of you attempting to sell your work. This is not a lesson in knowing your clientele, or how to market, rather a warning about pricing, producing and shipping your product.

1. Price your work competitively. In other words don't sell yourself short. If you've gotten to the point where people are willing to pay you for your prints, you are obviously talented enough to make a go of it. Research photo websites in your field or your area and price accordingly. One rule of thumb is to charge three times your cost. In other words if your costs are $50 for a 16X24 including shipping, charge $150. I charge a little less since I'm not a "known" photographer. My prints are also signed and numbered in a limited edition. I could charge an extra $50 for that premium, but since I'm new I don't.  

2. Check printing prices regularly. They change almost annually. And they never go down! Imagine that. Never use a discount service. Yeah, I've heard that some people are really happy with their Walgreen's or other discount "kiosk" printing service. If you are going to sell your work as art, treat it as such. I know someone personally who has worked in a discount store processing photography and she would gladly tell you that they are not experts in photography nor printing. They have had just enough training to enter data into a computer and look for obvious flaws. At a full service camera/print processing store they  not only know printing but also cameras, photo editing, and photo processing. I used to use a photo lab service in California, but have had to switch because they cannot give any advice about the editing/post-production process. This process is crucial to printing. Ratio aspect, paper grade and finish choices are all important, and a print service can only give limited advice in these areas. I am a huge fan of Mike's Camera with two outlets here in Denver and one in Boulder. Have your image saved on a flash drive at full-size, post produced and ready to upload. A jpg image is preferred. Don't take in a RAW or TIFF image as they cannot upload these. ALWAYS check your prints for correct finish and any damage from printing machines in front of the clerk who hands you your prints. I have had problems with both of these.

3. Shipping costs are also going up. I use either fedex or UPS. They are about the same price and have comparable service. I won't even mention USPS except to say emphatically "STAY AWAY" unless long lines and surly attitudes are to your liking. I recommend using a roll tube shipping container with a sheet of tissue around the rolled print and inserted into the tube. Make sure the length of the tube matches the rolled print size and use packing material to take up any room so that the print does not slide back and forth risking damage. Also make sure that the end caps are not just taped, but sealed around the cap. Forward the tracking number to your client if your website does not automatically do this. Mine does not, but it only takes a moment. Another method is to place the print flat between two tissues and layer two sheets of heavy duty cardboard on either side and tape it with shipping tape to seal it. I prefer the tube because I know from an engineering standpoint that these are the least susceptible to damage during shipping.

4. Know beforehand what charges you will incur during this process. Most places have prices posted online. At least Mike's Camera and fedex both do. And like I said earlier, keep checking prices. Don't assume that anything is going to cost what it did last month.

These are all hard learned lessons, and I hope I have saved someone a future headache. 

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