Mentioned in this Episode

Fair Licensing

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Two days ago, we experienced the Aurora Borealis here in North America—well, most people did. I forgot about it until I noticed everyone posting incredible photos, and that was three hours after it had started. The photos I got were okay, but the colors were not as saturated. Last night, there was cloud cover, so I’m hoping to get one more try tonight. That’s if I don’t forget.

This week’s episode is ** Ways to Sell Your Work. It came about because I was chatting with another photographer about licensing unique photos.

So, I started thinking about all the ways you can sell your work.

Let’s start off with …

Digital Files
Now, the chances are you are already giving your images away for a fixed fee. In fact, I would guess that 99% of photographers started off doing this. That is since the advent of digital cameras.

When you are just starting out, it’s fine. If you shoot headshots or real estate, you are expected to give the customer the files. But wedding, portrait, and event photographers can make much more money with …

Print Sales
You can sell physical prints of your work through online galleries or directly to clients using in-person sales techniques (IPS).

When you sell your work as prints, you can’t offer prints side-by-side with the digital files option. You have to sell one or the other. The only way a customer can get their hands on your digital files is if they spend over, let’s say, $800 on prints, and then they can buy them for $300. Or, you could give them the digital file used for each print they buy.

So many photographers want to sell prints but say no one is interested in buying them. The customer doesn’t buy the prints because they can get the files.

You must draw a line in the sand and switch to prints only. Your website should make it obvious that you sell prints. It’s the only way to do it.

If you shoot weddings, portraits, landscapes, or street photography, you can sell through your website using an online gallery. The simplest way is to use packages aimed at photographers, like SmugMug, Pixieset, and others. They have everything covered, including links to photo labs where they print your order and mail it directly to the customer.

Local Markets and Craft Fairs
Setting up booths at local markets, craft fairs, or art festivals is a great way to sell prints and interact directly with potential customers.

Members of our Facebook group sell at craft fairs and markets.

A few years ago, I chatted with a photographer at a cottage and home show. He sold landscapes, waterscapes, and, in fact, anything that someone would want on the wall of their home or cottage. Most of his income came from people visiting this type of event.

So, put as much effort into choosing where you sell as you do into picking a genre. That photographer could have just posted his work on his website and made a handful of sales. But he got a booth at a cottage show, where visitors expected to buy things for their cottage.

Stock Photography Websites
The days when you could make good money selling licenses for businesses to use your photos on their website or print media are over. 20 years ago, the top microstock photographers made $1,000,000 plus a year from posting over 25,000 photos on stock websites.

Income from these sites has dropped massively. One of the sites I used was CanStock, and my commission for each photo sold was 25 cents. Yes, 25 cents! They closed down last year, and I’m sure more will follow.

The market is so oversaturated now that it’s not worth considering.

Online Marketplaces
Selling prints or digital downloads through online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon Handmade. I find these websites are a race to the bottom regarding prices. You can only get sales by undercutting everyone else’s prices.

Fine Art Prints
Selling limited edition or signed prints as fine art pieces through galleries, art shows, or specialized fine art websites.

To get into this market, you need to produce images that are up there with the best. If you can, you can make a very good living from it.

Commercial Licensing
As I said at the beginning of this episode, I was chatting with another photographer about licensing unique images. This came about because of the Aurora on Friday night. She took a photo of a business sign during the light show. It looked fantastic, and it got me thinking.

Aurora events don’t happen very often, and capturing the lights and a business sign makes the image unique. It’s so unique that business owners would pay good money to use it on their website, social media, advertising, or any other project.

When you license an image to someone, they pay you for the right to use it in different formats. So you could license it for website and social media use, or it could be reproduced in a book. The more they want to use the image, the more they pay.

If you look at a stock photo company like iStock, they sell generic photos to as many people as possible. So that is one photo that could sell to many.

If your image is unique, like the business sign during the Aurora light show, you have one image that would interest only one buyer. In this case, it is one photo that can’t easily be reproduced anytime soon.

For this reason, you could get way more money licensing it.

Product photographers at the top end of the industry use licensing. Huge corporations like Nike, Apple, etc, pay massive amounts of money to use images in advertising worldwide.

I came across, which answers all the questions about licensing photos and getting paid if someone uses your photo illegally. I’ll put the link in the show notes and over at

Creating merchandise such as calendars, postcards, or photo books featuring your images.

Photobooks are a great starting point. Suzanne Hawken, who was on the podcast in March, used a photobook to get more bookings. If you haven’t listened to it, you should.

Art Rentals
This is new to me. There are companies out there that lease artwork to individuals and businesses for a specified period of time.

So, if you shoot landscapes, consider contacting one of these companies. I’m unsure if they buy the prints from you or they look after them and give you a percentage.

It’s worth looking into, though, and maybe consider leasing them out to businesses yourself.

Corporate Art Sales
Selling photographs to businesses for use in offices, hotels, restaurants, or other commercial spaces.

You could sell the prints directly to businesses instead of leasing them through a third party.

Set up a website showing all your work and give them a choice of buying or leasing.

When big companies update or move into new offices, they splash the money around. Why shouldn’t you be the one helping them spend it.

Right, that is it for episode 157.

If you need help with anything, you can find me in the Facebook group. I’ll put a link in the show notes and over at, and while you are there, you can support the show and buy me a coffee.

I’ll be back next week with a memory card full of waffle. Talk to you soon, bye.