Let’s be realistic.
Making a decent amount of money from your street photography is going to be difficult. And if you do manage it, it’s not going to be by selling prints.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your street photography available for sale if you want to; especially when it’s never been easier to do so.
So whether to upload or not is a simple equation for me.
Uploading your work > than not uploading your work.
I can elaborate. Let me elaborate. Let me tell you why you should sell your street photography on print-on-demand websites.
To build your blogging income potential
Let’s back up a little.
Selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites isn’t actually something you can control. All you can do is upload it and hope someone buys it.
Having a bigger, more rabid audience will help. But you still can’t be sure exactly how much you’ll sell.
That might not sound very optimistic, because it isn’t. I’m still being realistic here.
Selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites isn’t about making yourself rich overnight, because you won’t.
What you’re doing instead is adding another piece to your potential photography / blogging income, which you should be looking at as a long game anyway.
It slots in alongside the work you have available on stock photography sites and the affiliate links on your blog itself. It’s in that same maybe I’ll make a sale today and maybe I won’t category.
Setting these things up takes time but once they’re done, they can run kind of passively.
And that’s one reason I think selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites is worth it, despite the low chance of making a lot of money; because once it’s there, it has the potential to give you a nice little bonus, every day, forever more.
Because you already have a product to sell
Whenever you read about how to make money from your blog, there’s always the suggestion to create a product to sell.
It’s usually in amongst running ads on your site, affiliate marketing, and selling services.
For lots of blogging niches, creating a product means having to actually create a new product. As a photography blogger, you’re creating potential products every time you make a good photograph.
So you may as well use that to your advantage. Making the photograph was the difficult bit. Making it available on a print-on-demand website is easy.
You have countless.
You might be romantic about your street photography and think it should be hanging in a gallery. You might think printing it on a coffee mug is devaluing it.
That’s completely up to you.
My view is to not say no for the other person. If someone wants your street photography on a cup or a laptop case or a bag, make sure it’s available for them to buy.
I do draw the line at apparel, though.
To get satisfaction and motivation
You can make money from selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites, but money isn’t the only thing you’ll get when you make a sale.
The idea of someone deeming your work good enough to buy, whether to hang on the wall or decorate a coffee cup, will give you both satisfaction and the motivation to shoot more.
It did for me, anyway.
And to reiterate what was mentioned earlier, you’ll probably need to value intangible things like satisfaction and motivation to make this all worthwhile.
In the short term especially, you might think the money wasn’t worth the time you put into uploading your work.
I was going to use validation in this sub-heading too but decided against it.
Satisfaction and motivation are more accurate, for me. I don’t really need validation from other people for the street photography I’ve already made.
Motivation for what I’ll make in the future is always welcome, though.
Know what kind of street photography to sell
The idea of uploading and subsequently selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites is nice, but there is a caveat.
If it’s going to sell, it has to be something that someone would want to buy.
There’s also the issue of legality. Can you sell a candid street photograph of someone without their permission?
I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I don’t even know where you’re reading this from, much less know the laws there.
But I will say two things that tie together and may help you decide which of your photographs you might want to upload.
First is that some countries make a distinction between selling photographs as art and selling them as commercial work.
Second is that a lot of people don’t want to buy a print prominently featuring a complete stranger’s face.
I certainly don’t.
The images I’ve included in this post are all available on RedBubble. None of them rely on anyone’s face to tell their story. They’re all photographs that have a more arty composition than a candid moment one.
I think that when selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites, the kind of photographs that can keep you safer from any laws are also the type that are more likely to sell.
Go less with street portrait and more with urban landscape. Also use some common sense and empathy.
Nobody wants to buy your unflattering image of someone biting into a hot-dog, and the person biting into a hot-dog doesn’t want the unflattering image of them being sold.
A nicely composed photograph that uses the shape of someone without showing their face, especially not too prominently, is better for all concerned.
Selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites
You can go from having nothing on there to having something up in under an hour.
The steps look something like this:
- make an account
- upload your work
- title and keyword it well
- promote it to your audience
The first two points are self-explanatory.
Titling and keywording your work will then help make it more visible when people search on the platform it’s on.
However, if you want people to find your work via Google, you can’t rely on the platform to do well in search results.
Take matters into your own hands instead and write some pieces on your own blog targeting the keywords that people will be using to find your work.
This then becomes part of the final step; promoting your work to your audience. How else you do this is up to you. On social media. To your email list. Leaving voicemails. I don’t know.
Don’t expect to sell anything though; just let people know it’s there if they want it. Again, don’t say no for them.
Selling your street photography on print-on-demand websites is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll never be able to rely on it for cash.
It is something I believe you should do though, just with the attitude that you’re putting out more nets that could catch some fish somewhere down the line.
Take the couple of hours you spend watching television each night and use it to build up a portfolio of work available instead.
You might have hundreds of photographs. Choose your best and chip away at them.
Upload them slowly but consistently and you’ll soon have a decent collection you can then promote.
It’s most likely not going to make you a fortune.
But not doing it is sure to mean making no sales.