Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 130 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
This week’s episode comes to you courtesy of Paul Paldus. He was the first person, who wasn’t a family member, to join the Facebook group back in June 2021.
There were only 9 podcast episodes available then, and I remember thinking I was running out of stuff to talk about.
Anyway, Paul was asking about photo labs that specialized in printing books. He told me what he was going to do and then I remembered a great way to use photobooks to get more sales.
Paul intends to use his photos of the Niagara region in his book. He wants to give a copy to the local library and possibly City Hall. That is something I have never considered, putting your book into public spaces.
He will also be selling his books at the local market where he has a stall. I think that could make him some money if he does it in time for Christmas.
Landscape photographers, especially the big names on YouTube, sell books and calendars. These guys have big audiences and only need to sell to a small fraction of their subscribers to make big bucks.
Now if you don’t have an audience, selling your book might be tough.
So, if you don’t have an audience …
Who can you sell to?
This is where you need to tailor your services to a group that would want a book.
So, let’s take a look at who you could sell a book to.
People in a village, town, or City
This is Paul’s approach, he has photos of the Niagara area. Now he needs to let as many people know about his book as possible.
The market he sells at is good, but I think he needs a page on his website dedicated to his book. On that page, he needs a “Buy Now” button. I’ll talk about how he will get the books to the customers a little later.
Now he has a page dedicated to the book on his website he needs to tell the local population about it. To do that he needs to join as many Facebook groups that serve his area, as possible.
Ask the members of these groups which photo should be on the cover. Get people involved and I think you’ll get more buyers.
Contact the Admin if it is okay to promote your book in their group.
If you really want to sell some copies of your book, contact the local radio station and newspaper. You might be able to get interviewed, and that would get the news of your book to a bigger audience.
So if you don’t have your own audience, introduce yourself to someone else’s audience. Just make sure you ask permission in the Facebook groups.
Sports Teams and Clubs
Years ago I sold calendars to figure skating clubs, and you could do the same thing with books.
Think of it as a yearbook, but instead of headshots, you take action shots. The club or team could make extra money selling ads to local businesses.
You could make books for individual athletes. A book with around 20 pages showing the best photos you captured of them during the season.
I’m sure you can come up with more ideas for sports.
Now this is the method I mentioned at the start, and it is aimed at …
I heard this in a podcast interview with Caitlin McColl, who is an Australian Pet Photographer.
She teams up with a local charity, like an animal rescue, and helps raise money for the charity by making a book.
Now when I tell you the numbers involved here you won’t be impressed, but hang on and I’ll explain.
So her aim is to make a book with up to 50 dog portraits. The charity and photographer use social media to announce the opportunity to get your dog’s portrait in a book to help raise money for the charity. It will cost $100 if your dog is picked to be in the book.
If you try this and only get 30 dogs or less it will still work.
The $100 fee is split 50/50 between the photographer and the charity. So if they get 50 dogs they will take in $5000, that’s $2500 each.
This is where you are thinking, “$2500 for 50 photo sessions”.
I agree, but Caitlin uses these bookings as a way to offer her services. She asks each person if they would be interested in extending the session so they can get more photos of their dog. If they say no, she takes a few photos to make sure she has a good shot for the book and is done in 5 minutes.
When they say yes, she extends the session and treats it like a normal shoot. She said that only a small percentage wanted only a photo of their dog in the book, and the majority wanted wall art.
So now look at what you get from 50 sessions. Let’s say 5 out of 50 wanted only the photo in the book, 45 of them wanted more wall art of their precious pup, and they averaged out at $800 spent.
That’s 45 x 800 = $36,000 plus the $2,500 book fee equals $38,500
Just think about getting 45 regular bookings. If you did 3 or 4 sessions a week it would take you around 12 weeks to do them.
The initial $100 fee only gets their dog in the book, if they want a copy of the book they have to buy one. Any extra book sale money could go to the charity or you could work out another split. Which could give you a nice trickle of extra income.
Okay, so how do you manage buying the books and shipping them out? Well, I have heard quite a few horror stories of photographers getting say 100 books printed and only selling 25.
You don’t want to put yourself in that position. The cost of getting a book printed isn’t cheap. So you need to use a company like …
I’m not saying they are your only option, there are others out there. But Blurb offers a storefront for your book. After uploading your book you can set a price and sell it to the public.
But wait, there’s more, they also link to Amazon.
This is from the Blurb website
“Your Photo Book can reach Amazon’s global audience with our one-click setup and seamless integration.”
Blurb is perfect for Caitlin’s framework. In fact, Blurb will be perfect for Paul’s book too.
Now Blurb offers so many options such as Soft cover, Hard cover, Image Wrapped cover, Dust covers, Magazines, Trade books, Wall Art, and a PDF version for only $4.99.
Go to Blurb.com and if you are outside the US choose your country in the top right corner of the home page.
Okay, I think I covered everything. I’m sure there are other ways to make money with books, so think about how you can use them to your advantage.
If you need help with anything you can post in the Facebook group. You can also use Messenger to contact me and get an opinion or help to solve a problem.
Right, I’ll be back next week with a hardback book full of waffle.
Talk to you soon, bye.