Selling Fine Art Photography: A 4 Step Strategy

are you a fine art photographer with the

portfolio of inspiring photography that

deserves a place on someone's wall but

can't make enough sales have you tried

to sell your work online with that much

success if so you're in the right place

Nigel Merrick here from the prime focus

lab a life talked to many photographers

just like you over the last 10 years

about the challenges they've experienced

when it comes to selling fine art

photography online one of the obvious

problems I hear from photographers is

that their sales have dried up or never

took off to begin with maybe they

managed to sell a few prints here and

there from their websites or through one

of the many online outlets such as Etsy

or fine art America but the results

aren't enough to feel like a serious

business at best photographers resign

themselves to seeing it as simply a

sideline income with no expire

expectations' attached to it at worst

it's a nightmare of hard work with zero

sales that causes a lot of stress and

worry if you like most photographers I

expect your situation fall somewhere

between these two extremes but why does

it have to be so hard after all

everyone tells you how wonderful your

work is and how talented you are with

the camera they just won't buy it and

hang it on their wall for some

hard-to-understand reason to figure out

why this happens we should take an

objective look at the selling system

most photographers follow the same

system probably because it seems like

the most obvious thing to do they build

a website with galleries slideshows and

image pages where people can see their

work and order prints in various sizes

and finishes or purchase other related

products it certainly sounds reasonable

enough and it's easy to think it's the

best strategy as shown by the abundance

of template based websites designed for

e-commerce such as those offered by

Zenfolio SmugMug or PhotoShelter for

example all of those make good say

platforms by the way there's nothing

wrong with them and you could see

consistent sales with any of them but it

fails to work for the vast majority of

photographers we could blame the market

the high level of competition or that

people simply don't place the same value

on fine art photography that they once

did maybe there's some element of truth

in those but it's not the whole picture

far from it the real problem lies in

where the website is in the

photographer's marketing system and the

role it plays in the overall marketing

and sales process plus is important to

understand the dynamics of the fine art

photography sales process itself in real

world brick-and-mortar galleries people

visit because they want to invest in

artwork for their home or office at the

very least they're interested in the

type of work represented by the gallery

usually they'll speak with the gallery

owner or sales staff about what they're

looking for

or what inspires them they can also

learn more about the photographer's

story and form an opinion about who they

are and why they created the artwork on

display successful real world's

galleries rely on this simple strategy

to make more sales which is why any good

gallery owner asks they're represented

artists for detailed background

information for example their backstory

motivations inspirations of what they

aim to express through their work

typical photography websites on the

other hand they usually focus on the

images rather than on the photographer

story or the stories behind individual

images in reality selling fine art

photography is no different to selling

wedding or portrait photography or any

other non-essential or luxury purchase

for that matter it all boils down to

building a relationship between the

photographer and the buyer the buyer

must first get to know and like the


be inspired by their work and then feel

a connection with the photographer that

goes much deeper than just liking the


opening nights at galleries are great

for this because the artist is usually

present to meet and converse with

potential buyers beyond that the gallery

sales staff act as a bridge between the

buyer and the photographer but online as

a whole of the world and websites based

purely around sales can't hope to build

the kinds of relationships needed for

consistently good sales but you can

build an online system that mimics the

way real world galleries work I've

broken this process down into four

strategic steps step one is to separate

the sales process from the relationship

building process if you have a mainly

sales based website already like those I

already mentioned you can set up a blog

and website where you can focus on the

non-commercial side of things the

website can hold in-depth articles about

the types of subjects or places you'd

like to photograph but the blog is the

real workhorse here it's where you give

people a window into your world as a

photographer by sharing images one at a

time and the stories that go with them

talk about the subject the place what

inspired you to take the image and why

it's important to you over time your

artist personality and your story will

take shape and build a connection with

the people who are interested in your

work by all means link to where people

can buy your prints but the main focus

should be on turning your website

visitors into leads you can follow up

with next develop an email marketing

system to keep the relationships with

your buyers alive and growing email is

widely recognized as one of the most

powerful marketing strategies so don't

skip this step every page and blog post

should have an email signup form where

visitors can opt in to your email list

in exchange for an attractive incentive

such as a free pdf with the stories

behind your ten favorite or most

successful images for an example

then each week send your subscribers an

email that puts a specific image into

the spotlight with a link to the

appropriate blog post on your website

for that photograph step 3

use your separate sales website or at

least distinctly separated on the same

website to take all the friction out of

the sales process the key here is that

buyers will land more often on the sales

website when they're interested in

purchasing a specific image because they

will have arrived there from a link on

your blog website or from an email

because they're likely to be in buying

mode at this point you're far more

likely to see a sale as a result with

all the pieces in place the last step is

to promote your relationship building

web pages and blog posts through social

media SEO that's search engine

optimization and paid advertising to

attract the right people the more people

you can attract to your website and blog

not the sales website directly the more

people you'll add to your email list

which will then help to grow your fine

art photography sales organically over

time I go into this topic in a lot more

detail that the prime focus lab and

there's a link below to the full article

you can also get my book selling fine

art photography from Amazon as a Kindle

eBook or in paperback you can find out

more about that from the website as well

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marketing thanks so much for watching

please do add your own thoughts and

comments to the discussion below and I

wish you lots of success in your

photography adventures