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Selling in an online world

Posted on September 17, 2020 by Rich under Photographers Websites

As a photographer and selling in an online world present a wide array of options. And the temptation is to spread your bets across all of them. As a retailer running a physical store selling photography-based products which is also online will present a different set of problems. Both business choices have the same challenge and that’s of visibility online.


The photographer selling their photography online via one of the many stock photography sites such Getty or Shutterstock will receive between 20-30% commission on their sales. They will also be buying into a certain level of visibility amongst a very large selection of photographers and images. Instagram provides one of the best and free options for self-promotion.

For an e-commerce store, the visibility question is based on what your resources are and there are many routes to the consumer. Using the promotional options that are available for free and focusing on your local community, and patiently building the traffic to your site are the steadiest. Also think like your customer. Where would look for a photography book or to find your local portrait photographer? Start from there and work backwards.

So perhaps one of your best options is to make your photos available direct to the consumer via your own site.


Starting out in photography means choosing a path which suits your style and building a niche style which works naturally for you. It will become your identity and calling card. Building this style and testing aspects of it to find what works with your audience and crucially what doesn’t will help you build a portfolio. Crucially working out what keywords are used within the style of your photography will define your profile online and enable you to be fond more easily.

As a retailer, building a niche can be a double-edged sword because it is great to be recognised as the go-to place for a certain thing. But on the other hand, a retailer needs to have a number of revenue streams in order to be successful. Relying on one thing can be a one-way journey to putting yourself out of business and high-risk. So, if you do establish a niche, build out that niche in as many forms as possible. At the same time, develop other product areas and place them alongside and in other marketplaces completely separate to your niche. Don’t get labelled, at least not for all time.


Regardless of whether you follow either of these routes as a photographer, take all opportunities to network, network and network (efficiently). Whether that is on your social channels or in your local business community. Using the power of these groups will spread your online presence by association. Integrate all your channels with one another, create a seamless digital profile and make it easier to sell photos or products anywhere via any channel.

Portfolio commerce

Wherever your portfolio lives, make sure there is the option to buy your prints right there. Almost every platform now has the option to include some sort of buying mechanism so to make it as easy as possible on your audience. Give them every option to support you financially.

This can also extend to books and any other extendable item such as mugs, coasters, calendars, etc. The key is to source those from sustainable operations and stick to your core message or passion, whatever that is.


You can learn the basics of SEO yourself. Or look into partnering with an SEO company which does not cost the earth. Even better if you can trade your services for theirs. A regular update of your online profile and an assessment of your company’s performance overall is a must. It is a constant process of updating and tweaking. Keeping up with SEO techniques never ends.

Selling in an online world is not easy, but get it right and it can be lucrative with your shop open 24/7. You’ll be surprised by the results.