How to sell photos online

Business basics for creatives

If you are looking to sell photos online, or if you want to take your art to the world, the sea of online galleries and stores can make you feel like a tiny fish in a large pond. But the sheer number of online marketplaces is actually a testament to the fact your product is in high demand. That means any artist or photographer can learn how to successfully sell their work online.

Sell photos online through a marketplace

There are a lot of online marketplaces out there, each of which caters to slightly different clientele. With a little research and a solid understanding of your own niche, you can select the site(s) that serve your market. Most of these marketplace sites are pretty intuitive, and you can be set up to sell photos online or sell your art in just a couple of hours.

Zazzle, for example, is a print-on-demand giant that allows you to upload your art and instantly offer it for sale on everything from playing cards, to wall clocks, to leggings and more.

DeviantArt, while similarly a giant in the online art industry, features a different overall aesthetic. It functions primarily as a social network for artists through which you can also sell prints online (and originals). Quite a few artists have even been “discovered” for high-profile jobs and projects through DeviantArt.

If you want to sell photos online, then you have a world of options. There are many sites that sell images to brands, publications and other people and organisations looking for high-quality photos for commercial use. Two of the most popular are Getty Images and Shutterstock.

Pro tip: Use this helpful guide to navigate the Print-on-Demand world.

Sell photos and prints online from your own shop

Online marketplaces are an awesome place to get started, but you’re at a serious disadvantage if you don’t also have a personal website with sales functionality. As you build a name for yourself online, you want potential clients to be able to find you on your home turf. You’ll likely take home more of the profits if you sell photos online through your own website, rather than sharing royalties with a marketplace.

Starting your own website doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. You can create something elegant, functional and easy-to-use without ever writing a single line of code yourself. Just follow these simple steps.

  1. Search for a domain name.
  2. Build an easy-to-use online store.
  3. Add content and products to your shop.
  1. Search for a domain name

You’ll want something simple and easy to remember that will continue to serve you as your style and career evolve. The simplest solution is your first and last name (i.e., johnsmith.com). If you’re looking for something a little more unique, why not go for .art or .gallery or .photos or .photography? They’re newer, which means you have more opportunity for a domain name that truly aligns with your work.

  1. Build an easy-to-use online store

There are a few key elements required to successfully sell photos online from your own website:

A payment system: You’ll need to be set up with a payment gateway so you can accept payment directly on your site.

An SSL certificate: Since you’ll be accepting credit card payments directly on your site, you’ll need an SSL certificate to protect your customer’s credit card information from theft. Most eCommerce platforms will include the option to purchase and install an SSL certificate for your site.

A way to ‘ship’ products: Unless you’ll be exclusively selling prints through a service like Printful, your site will also need download functionality.

There’s no shortage of options available to you, depending on your level of experience with coding and web design. If you set up a WordPress website, for example, there are tons of plugins available that will easily add shopping cart functionality to your site.

One of the easiest options is GoDaddy’s new Website Builder Online Store. This is especially simple if you purchase your domain name through GoDaddy. You get 30 days to go in and play around with it. You don’t even need to provide a credit card to get started.

This is a great option for artists and photographers who want to focus on creating art and let someone else handle the back-end work. Choose a pre-built template you like, then customise it with your own colours, logo, words and images.

  1. Add content and products to your shop

This is the fun part – fill your website with text and photos. Be sure to include an About page, contact information and a portfolio section with photos. Add links to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. Then, fill your shop.

After you’ve added your products and set the pricing, be sure to set up a variety of payment options for your customers. Now that it’s up and running, learn how to attract art buyers with a visual-oriented platform like Pinterest.

You can make money selling prints online

If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be this: No matter what kind of art you create or how intimidated you feel by the online art sales industry, you can make money selling your work on the internet.

There are many different ways to approach it, but online art marketplaces and personal e-commerce websites, particularly when used simultaneously, are two of the most effective ways to sell prints and photos online. Good luck!

Image by: Winter photo created by freepic.diller - www.freepik.com

Stefano Maruzzi
Based in London, Stefano is leading GoDaddy’s expansion across EMEA as GoDaddy's VP of EMEA. He has an extensive background of building and leading global teams in technology and media organizations. A professional journalist and book author, Stefano is passionate about technology and innovation.