What I Learned From Holding My First Print Sale
Selling my images for the first time
Last year, I decided it was finally time to follow through on hosting my first print sale. Selling prints was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and for various reasons never executed on. In December, I completed my first sale and shipped out my prints in time for Christmas. In hopes of helping anyone looking to do the same, here are my biggest learnings from my first time selling prints.
Selling Prints Takes Work
One of my biggest takeaways from this for print sale was the amount of work that went in to making it happen. Since it was my first sale, there was a lot of up front work that needed to be done to get to the point where I could sell a print. This included figuring out where to source the prints, building out my online store, setting up payment processing, determining how to handle shipping and so forth.
I wanted my prints to be signed, so drop shipping was not an option for me at the time. As a result hosting this sale required me to figure out all of the logistics that would be required to actually sell a product. Hosting future sales, I won’t have to repeat some of this work. Tasks like setting up my online store won’t have to be repeated. So while the upfront effort was substantial, I can utilize that work and the learnings I got from it moving forward
The Process is Incredibly Rewarding
One of the biggest drivers for me in selling prints was the idea of my work hanging in someone’s home. The idea of having someone use some of their wall space to hang my art was touching, and a big driving factor in pursuing this first print sale.
Having now held the sale, it turns out my initial idea was correct. Getting to see the photos of people hanging the prints was amazing, and I felt honored that someone would want something I created to be something they look at everyday.
The Next One Will Be Easier
As I touched on previously, holding my first print sale required me to do a lot of work upfront that I won’t have to do moving forward. The process was also a learning process, there are mistakes I made this first go around that I won’t make a second time. These things mean that it will be easier to go from idea to shipping next sale.
Test Prints are Important
One investment I made for this print sale was getting various papers and sizes for the print I intended to sell. This was a huge win, as it allowed me to see what my image looked like in different aspect ratios and sizes, and let me determine what type of paper was most fitting for the product I was trying to create.
If you’re thinking of selling prints, this is a corner you cannot cut. If you want to deliver something you are proud of and can stand behind, you need to test it first. Since I had made one off prints in the past, I knew what printer I wanted to use, but was still unsure on paper, or whether I wanted a matte. Getting test prints allowed me to make some decisions I could not have made from reading descriptions online, and in turn lead me to creating a better product.
Have a Plan in Place for Shipping
If there was a part of this print sale that I need to figure out in the future, it was the shipping. One major misstep I made was not figuring out what boxes I intended to ship my prints in before starting the sale. My test print had come in a box from the printer, and I presumed when ordering a multitude of the prints they would come in individual boxes. I could not have been more wrong. All of the prints came in one single box.
This resulted in me having to run around town looking for boxes that I felt comfortable shipping my prints in. Additionally, I had not factored the cost of these extra boxes into my cost for each print, which ate into my profits. So if you intend to sell prints, I implore you to figure out every detail you can about shipping before your prints go live. It will save you boat loads of stress and headache if those details are ironed out before you even have your first sale.
This print sale was one of, if not the, most rewarding projects I have undertaken in photography. Seeing my work in physical form and getting to see the joy it brings other people was immensely satisfying. Seeing the prints go from ideation to final shipment was rewarding and fulfilling. While there are things I will do differently moving forward, I gained insights into the process I wouldn’t have gotten until actually executing my own sale.
At the end of the day, I was stoked to finish this sale. And I can’t wait for the next.
I hope this article helps you in your ventures ahead! If you want more content from me, follow me on Instagram, checkout my website and subscribe to Vagabond Cove (my weekly mailing list on photography and adventure)!