How To Fail Selling Photography Prints Online

The Seven Step Approach To Failure | Selling Photography Prints Online

Selling your photography has never been an easy task. It takes a mixture of skill, talent, hustle and good old fashioned hard work. Every. Single. Day. Selling your photography online is even more of a challenge, where capturing your audiences attention is limited to first impressions, thumbnail sized images and about fifteen seconds if you're lucky.

Anyone who ever told you that selling photography, or any other type of artwork, required nothing more than "being good at marketing" has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. As much as their pride would like them to believe it, if people don't appreciate your work they aren't going to buy it. It's just that simple.

As an artist, work that provides real value, solves an inherent problem or enriches the lives of your customers can, and will sell. The approach you take, the level of service you provide and the amount of heart and soul you put into it matters. It all matters.

I have written previously about selling your work online and regularly mentor fellow photographers around the world on how to start an online business, build a brand and become successful selling photographic art. Today, I thought I would try something a little different and share some of the best ways to fail when setting out to sell your work.

A photo of a red Japanese maple tree with its branches spread out wide inside Portlands Japanese Garden in Oregon state.

A legendary Japanese maple tree located in Portland, Oregon and visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world each year. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

Step One: Try To Be Someone That You're Not

With a world full of artists all creating new and amazing work every day, it can certainly be a challenge to set yourself apart. Step one, in my seven step approach to failure, is to try to be someone that you're not. Authenticity cannot be bought and sharing from your heart is difficult to fake. When you create, present and express yourself and your work, be authentic. Be you. As cheesy as it sounds, there's no one quite like you.

The Vortex

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - This piece is currently over 30% Sold Out.

Step Two: Make Your Business Personal

While many people will want to get to know you on a more personal level, as an artist, it's important to know that some things are better left unsaid in business. Your inspiration to create, your personal journey and what drives your work in general are all pieces of the puzzle that make up you, the artist. With that being said, polarizing topics of conversation, controversial subjects and the condition of your digestive tract on any given day are probably stories you should leave to campfires in the woods among friends. You know who you are.

Smoke On The Water

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - The stunning views, redwood forests, hiking, beaches, and other recreational opportunities have made Big Sur a popular destination for about 7 million people who live within a day's drive and visitors from across the world.

Step Three: Sell Yourself Short

It is important to know your personal worth, the value of your work and the value of your time. These are metrics you will need to determine for yourself and these values may change over time. Wherever you find yourself, it is critical to stand your ground. Allowing yourself to be taken advantage of, compromising your principles or selling yourself short does damage in two ways. It hurts you now and it hurts you later. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. It isn't always easy to get back up.

A photograph of five short aspen trees with yellow and green leaves.

A small patch of aspen trees displaying beautiful autumn foliage with red undergrowth located near Tumwater Canyon in Leavenworth, Washington. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Step Four: Ignore Your Market

If art for art's sake is all that matters to you and you have no intention of selling your work, by all means, knock yourself out. Do what you enjoy, share what inspires you and nothing more. Your only measure of true success should be your own personal enjoyment.

On the other hand, if selling your work for real money and not just wooden nickels is your goal, you need to be aware of and to be able to speak to your market. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't mean you can't create what you want, when you want. It simply means that you need an understanding of what your customer needs and wants and how to catalog and share your work effectively.

Rollin On A River

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50

Step Five: Create Content For Everyone Else

When it comes to online marketing, there is absolutely no doubt that content is king. Google chooses the very best content to share with its customers. Their customers are your customers. Many photographers create valuable content, only to share it on platforms other than their own.

Guest blogging, creating content specifically for social media or other ways of "getting your work out there" benefits those channels far more than it benefits you. After one or two days of a traffic spike when your content is shared with their followers, all future SEO benefits go to them. People stop visiting your website. After sharing everything you have, you are left hungry and alone. Or is it naked and afraid? Oh wait, that was a bad television show.

Building a brand and developing a strong customer base requires having a place of your own to share your work. A place where the next Facebook or instagram algorithm doesn't tank your views. A place where you can voice your opinions without answering to anyone else. Where the work you produce and the effort you put in is rewarded with long term sustained traffic that continues to build upon itself over time. So where is this magical place? You guessed it! Your own personal website.


Elevate your home with Aaron Reed's limited edition photography print, Skyfire, from his Newest Work Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Step Six: Grow Roots & Get Comfortable

The world is in a constant state of change. The world of business is no different. No matter your level of success, allowing yourself to grow roots and remain stagnant is a tasty recipe for disaster. As the needs of your customers change, your solutions to their problems must change as well.

Growth requires risk but offers immense value potential and return on your investment. When you find yourself in a place where you feel true success, this is the time to push harder, not to kick back and relax. What's next? Where can I go from here? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

A large angel oak tree located in Charleston South Carolina with branches spread in every direction.

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed's limited edition photography print, The Web We Weave, from his Amazing Tree Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Step Seven: Waive The White Flag

There is a saying that some of you may be familiar with that is "don't leave five minutes before the miracle". This applies to all areas of your life. You will never know the opportunities that you lost, by giving up right before you would have succeeded. Face your challenges head on and never give up. If what you are doing isn't working, do something different. If you aren't sure what to do next, ask people you trust or ask your customers! There is no greater source of information to be gained in business, than by simply listening to your customers.

If you found this article inspiring and aren't sure if you have what it takes, or the next moves to make to build an online business of your own selling your photography, I offer a set of services that may be just what you need. I wish you all great success!

Silken Stone

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50

Posted in Inspiration.