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Selling prints online

Milvus 11 168 2 United Kingdom
7 Nov 2011 4:31PM
I am looking to get some advice on selling prints online.

I'll get the orders printed by a pro lab but am not sure whether to:
Have them sent back to me for checking.
Send straight to the customer.

The second option is obviously most profitable but the first is the ideal.

However as I am not intending to sell high priced fine art prints so cost is an important factor. For example I was thinking no higher than £15 inc P & P for an A4 print.

For those of you selling prints and having them printed by a lab any advice would be much appreciated!

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ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
7 Nov 2011 4:34PM
I've had a duff canvas delivered direct to a customer... that was a bad day.

For £15 delivered, is it worth the hassle ?

If you're selling them for a decent price, it may be.

I've used and trust Pro Am in Bradford and occasionally get them to deliver direct - though with it being local, I usually call in, it's a nice trip out if its sunny -Smile
User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
7 Nov 2011 4:47PM

Until you have established that there is a market for them and have experience of the quality and reliability of your chosen printer, then I think your first option is the one to go for. That way you can monitor quality.

Also, a Lab might not want a print and despatch to customer arrangement unless you can guarantee quantity. They'd get pretty pee'd off if you told them to expect 20 prints a week and it turned out to be one a month.

If you are setting up a website, be sure to include a Paypal payment option. More and more online buyers (of everything) are now deserting suppliers who don't offer it. So be sure to take account of the small Paypal commission when setting your prices.
igknight 6 30 United States
7 Nov 2011 5:06PM
I use Smugmug to do my online selling and use BayPhoto to print. I have ordered many pictures myself directly from BayPhoto and off my site. I have very pleased with what I have seen and have no issues with sending directly to my customer. I offer multiple ways to contact me if something is wrong, Smugmug offers way to contact them if something is wrong, and BayPhoto offers ways to contact them if something is wrong.

Both Smugmug and BayPhoto know that you are likely selling photos and shipping direct and work with either you or your customer to fix any issues they might have.
Milvus 11 168 2 United Kingdom
7 Nov 2011 5:09PM

For £15 delivered, is it worth the hassle ?

Thanks Ade, The photos are already up on my website so no extra work in that respect. I already have an 'e-commerce' function I just haven't activated it yet. My thinking is that whilst it won't be a large income stream....something is better than nothing.
At the moment if someone wants a print they need to send me an email via the contact me form. I'm not sure that's very customer friendly or efficient.

Thanks for the tip on Pro-Am. I usually use DS Colour Labs.

LeftForum and igknight- Thanks for the advice!
Eastlands 7 760 4 Northern Ireland
7 Nov 2011 5:37PM
Through my website ( link on my portfolio main page ) I charge £10 for an unmounted A4 Print and £20 for a mounted A4 Print with framed prints available on a price per application basis depending on the type of frame wanted. Printing is done by myself on a HP Printer.Not a big money earner but a steady stream comes in and the customers feedback is good.
damienvc 7 28 2 Belgium
5 Dec 2011 6:00PM
DS Colour labs have an option to deliver direct to the customer with blank packaging. I've had prints done there and then proofed them myself (as I can't soft proof with the computer software I have) and when I know they look ok then I just re-order the same file with the same options for delivery direct to the customer. It took a bit of trial and error as the first lot I had printed were way too dark, but now I've got that sorted out it works really well.
BigRick 12 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
5 Dec 2011 8:07PM
+1 for dscl
If your only selling A4 prints I would have thought it cheaper to print your own. If selling online and outsourcing your printing You should expect to be only ordering one or two prints at a time, customers won't want to wait until you have enough orders to request a print run of 20 or more. Which means postage costs for a single print would make it expensive to outsource. So printing your own as and when you need it would be much cheaper. A canon A4 printer cost about £60 and gives pro results if you stick to useing canon inks and paper. The cost per single A4 print is about £2.50 which would be much cheaper than having a lab do it then post it out. Printing your own would give you complete control over image and print quality and you can print as and when you need especially if it's a small print run.
I would also like to add, I once added the facility to sell prints online and to be honest its not he most effective way to sell. I mainly sell through shops and galleries and get a lot of repeat business. A lot of people look at my website or contact me to request viewing more images. However most like to see the print in real life before buying. At the end of the day what we are selling is art and seeing with your own eyes is the preferred way to buy art for the majority of people.
I hope it goes well but don't expect to make a fortune.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
20 Jan 2012 12:25PM
We found that in-house production with a wide-format giclée printer is only really economic with the larger prints - like 30x24 inches. 8x6 prints are much cheaper when out-sourced.
True, usually outsourcing small print is cheaper but if your final retail price is only £15.00 and that needs to include the printers postage and your own postage costs to the customer then home printing would be quicker and cheaper.
pathfinder 9 17 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 1:11AM
Home printing is rarely cheaper unless you're costing your time at minimum wage!

779HOB 6 1.2k United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 7:19AM
I let the lab post direct to the customer most of the time. I don't see a problem in letting the customer know for sure that the printing has been done by a pro lab and not me. I have been working with them for about 3 years now and have a good relationship with them and know that what I see on my screen is what they will produce so have no worries about quality.

The cheapest I sell for is £20 so I want as little to do as possible with these orders and getting the prints sent to me and then forwarding them on to the customer just seems like extra and unnecessary work. Larger prints I might want to see but only because I want to see how they work as large prints not for fear of quality.

I also tend to save up orders a little if the customer is happy with this. I try not to send of an order of less than 5 small prints (10x8 approx).

I have my site setup to take payments but find that all orders still come through email. The only benefit (for me) of having the payments enabled on my site is that it clearly shows that images are for sale.
danielwaters 10 93 4 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 10:22PM
You need to control the whole sales process by doing it all in person - including delivery. Project your photos when you first show them to your clients so you automatically present your work as wall portraits, which is where the money is. So many people put all their photos on a password protected area of their website and spin the wheel of misfortune hoping the client will place a big order. Take control of the sales process, show the value of your work and remember that you need to create emotion. When they cry they buy! Wink
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
16 Feb 2012 10:38AM
...unless you're a killer salesman, tell them the prices up front, before you even have the shoot.... in the early I had shoots where I was convinced I'd get several hundred quid... they chose quite a few shots... then I showed them the price, totted it up, only to hear it was like 5 times their budget... so they just bought a couple...

and that was with projection...

on their huge white wall, the pics were probably 10 feet wide when they saw them!

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