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Wade Penner's picture

How do you prepare prints for sale?

I’m struggling to decide on the best way to deliver prints once I start selling them. Should I stock up on prints and matte them, or dropship them as orders come in...etc? Not sure if this is the best spot to post the question, but I thought it was worth a shot! Thanks!

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12 Comments

Joe Svelnys's picture

I'm still learning as a new photographer myself. and would also be interested in now others do prints/sales. I do have a background in production... Just not in this exact area.

The internet is packed full of information, "do it this way", "do it that way"... Some use "FineArtAmerica" (either directly, or linked their their own site), while others print, matte and frame themselves.

I'd suggest against printing, matting, and framing a "stockpile" then hoping they sell; that is, unless you are going to an event where people can buy on the spot. I'm only thinking this, as people will want different frames or matting, it's inevitable. This frame is black, can I get it in white? Ect.. But if they can see your work then custom order their size, matte, and frame, all the better. Then it becomes a question if you want to do all that work or have a 3rd party do it including shipping (and dealing with damage caused by shipping issues, when it happens).

It is not an easy question.. As i said, I'd love to hear how others do it as well. Good question.

Wade Penner's picture

Definitely a lot of options to consider. I'm starting to like the idea of a white mat on all photos. And then there's the question of signing it.. I went through some forums and it's funny how strongly some feel about where/how to sign the photo.

Joe Svelnys's picture

Heh True, true.. I'd imagine if you polled ten people you'd get ten different answers about signatures; paralleling the grand watermark debate.

David Pavlich's picture

Have you tried finding a gallery that will put some of your prints on display? Or, you could look at art/craft fairs or like I do, a local farmer's market. This will at least give you an idea what the buying public likes.

I tried selling on Etsy and while I made a few sales, it wasn't worth the time, effort, and cost.

With a market, you have to have a fair selection of print types and sizes. I have a small selection of 5X7, 8X10, and 11X14 mounted on foam board. I have the same done in standard frames that I make, and I have a pretty good selection of 16X24 done in the way you see with the attached photo.

You also have to consider your customers. I price differently for the market (lower) than I do for a gallery.

If you're doing everything online, I wouldn't do too many in advance, no need for that. It's fun, but there's some work trying to figure out what will sell consistently.

Wade Penner's picture

That makes sense, thanks. I'll probably start with a small amount and a gauge interest as you said. I need to do some more homework on local spots to hang artwork, but I do have a couple in mind to reach out to. Thanks! That one you posted looks nice! Out of curiosity do you sign your prints?

David Pavlich's picture

I sign all of my prints except for those going into an exhibit that is also a competition. Typically, the organizers don't want a signature on the print for obvious reasons.

Chris Jablonski's picture

I'm wondering about the same question, Wade, when I'm ready to look at it seriously. I have no experience to guide you, except that even with people I know well, I've no prior idea who will like what, so "the market" will be diverse in its tastes. Stockpiling, apart from prints, is expensive. And once you have a print-ready file, running off copies should be easy. I've done this, in different sizes at different times, and carry no "stock" except a few A4 prints I fold into cards to use for birthdays, etc.

What I really wanted to say, though, is that this is a fine image! I like your composition, and the autumn colours speak for themselves. Wish you well in your ventures. This image and your portfolio show quality will not be a problem.

Wade Penner's picture

Thank you. I need to get mine "print ready". There have been a couple times I've printed images only to notice a dust spot or two that I didn't notice on my screen. Thanks for the feedback!

Mike Young's picture

Purely from a business perspective, I would look at the closest to just in time for an online business, that is to do your costing and then offer options that leave you with the desired margin. This could be self printed and framed or using a business partner, one wraps up your time so you can't be out there producing and the other may cost more. For a direct sale you may, I assume, need one or more copies in a gallery, you could test the market using one channel then apply that learning to another. For a local market you need to prejudge what you want to sell and have sufficient stock for a direct sale or have a backup of taking a deposit and orders. The last model involves greater risk and a sunk cost of production. Clearly of all the models the internet gives greatest reach but keep in mind things like local interest and possible tourist trade. Hope this helps, nice Autumn/Fall shot.

Wade Penner's picture

Very informative answer, thanks Mike! I'll look in to the different matting options (Michaels, online print lab, doing it myself.) and compare the costs. I'll start looking further in to the different sales channels, thanks!

Marcia Jolley's picture

Beautiful fall image!