Is it all a total waste of time?

In an effort to make some money from my photography, I have:

  • set up this blog, which apparently hardly anyone ever looks at, or if they do they think my photos are sh!tful, as only a couple of lovely regulars ever comment (you know who you are).  I don’t think my work is any worse than a lot of stuff I see blogged, and I comment on other folks blogs, and put links to them from mine, it would be really nice to get the compliment returned.
  • set up a RedBubble account and shop.  I get a quite few features there in the various groups, lost of folk say they like my work, and I have sold exactly one calendar (to someone who’s cat was featured in it).  How the hell do you sell stuff on RedBubble?
  • set up a Zenfolio gallery (long standing).  You guessed it, not one sale.

So:

  1. Is my work substandard – so awful no one would ever want to buy it?
  2. How do others market their works?
  3. How do you get sales?
  4. What am I doing wrong?

If anyone has advice, please, before I go spare and the men in white coats come for me – share it!

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5 thoughts on “Is it all a total waste of time?”

  1. Hi Odille,
    No, your photos are very good and I enjoy looking at them. And this might be the issue. As a photographer I like to look at other people’s pictures and sell my own.
    I was speaking to a photographer during her exhibition at a gallery in Sydney recently. She is exhibiting both in Australia and Germany, has taken courses in the US and been seriously involved for 15 years. She can’t live of her sales. They are few and far between. People that seem to sell are big names, mainly. I am thinking of art photography.
    I feel that the only way to sell is to treat it as a small business and market yourself; set up a stand at markets, talk to cafes, restaurants, etc and places where they have space to hang pictures; target businesses that deal with the topic on your pictures, etc. I guess you have to be out there peddling your wares.
    When I look at photographers websites I notice that most of them offer training courses and how-to books.
    I am convinced it’s not the quality of your work which is great.
    Cheers Christoph

  2. Hello Odille, sorry to hear of the situation at the moment. Its a tough world out there in photo land with every second person buying a camera from Harvey Norman and calling them selves a professional photographer.

    When I started wedding 15 years ago there were 2 guys in town, a full time pro and another part timer that had been into it for years. Lucky for me when I was just a teenager he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. So there were 3 of us in a town of about 20,000. Great odds for wedding season, never missed out.

    Then another full time pro came to town, arguably one of the best in the business, he came and introduced himself to me. All good. He was up there, us down there. I talk to him often he has his clients, I have mine.

    Today there are so many “photographers” in town its a worry. About 3 full pages of adds in the local directory and I would say maybe 30 or 40 having a go. Less weddings this year than last…… just forked out over seven grand on new body and lens, I bet most of these other are using crap kit lens stuff. Creates a poor image for photographers.

    The local Camera House guy who just sold up has been around for ever. His web site is full of great images including stunners from Antarctica. After about 4 or 5 years he just sold his first one the other day from the web site. So I am sketchy that web sites work with thousands of them around.

    In answering your questions.

    No your work is great. You have some fantastic gear make use of the medium format and wow them with pixels.

    Here is some advise that works for me in marketing.
    Stuff you pay for:
    I have an add by weekly in the local newspaper for my weddings.
    I advertise in the local phone book.

    Free stuff
    Blog, web site, facebook all work well for me.
    I shoot all my friends and family for free and they always buy prints for their walls and they get seen by their friends and bookings come.
    I do local markets. Sales are OK, but it reenforces your name to the public.
    Word of mouth. I shoot weddings for sisters,brother and the like.
    Look professional. I ALWAYS were a suit at weddings with a name badge. Once again my name is out there. Have your Blad with you.

    I don’t think your doing anything wrong. It is a bit hard out there for sure, but although a fair bit of my income comes from this, I do it because I love it. I love the gear, my blog and getting out into nature chasing stupid little birds of sport or whatever. I recently spent a bout 6 weekend in a row shooting kids soccer free for the school and club. I had fun and maybe something might come of it.

    Holy cow I have rambled! Keep your chin up, and your shutter button clicking. Gee I am about to post a photo of a peg! But like one of my bloggies Michael Laim says “I shoot what I like, and some times people like what I shoot”

    Cheers

  3. Thanks for taking the time to reply, David, and the reassurance. I am my own worst critic, never quite satisfied with what I achieve. I was worried I was looking at my work through rose coloured glasses.

    I’d wondered about local markets, I may give that a try, there is one that is quite well attended where I could get a stall for $25 incl. insurance. There are some bigger ones but they are more costly. I have some pre-cut mounts here so could get some stuff printed up and mounted. And I ordered some calendars for presents but I could take them along and either sell or take orders.

    Maybe I should go round to local schools and offer my services. I have the time and it doesn’t cost anything but that. I have one flash unit and some reflectors, and the local school has nice shaded areas outside where I could shoot under the trees.

    Once again, thanks for being a stalwart supporter, I do appreciate it. When I next get over your way I hope we can meet up.

  4. Yes go to those markets. see if there is one before Christmas. Your calendars will sell. Ideal gifts!

    Not only that I guarantee you will get praise for all that look at your photos. Gives me a kick each time!

    Cheers

  5. Hi Odille. I think David has pretty well covered it , everyones a photographer. For me, I do sport shooting and a couple of other things just to help cover costs because i like photography.

    I suspect even the better guys are finding it a bit hard to sell prints because of the competition and that is why they all seem to be running workshops, to to boost income. Unless you have a name , landscape sales are few and far between.Find a niche for your area , maybe shooting pets, and work on that.

    Good luck and keep it up.

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