Selling prints on ebay

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kjsphoto

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Do you think that if you sell your work on eBay it will undervalue you and your work?

I am trying to find a way to get myself out in front of the public and was thinking of maybe trying the eBay route but hesitant at the same time.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks,

Kev
 

doughowk

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I don't know about an individual, but I've thought about a regional or even local co-op ( if area has alot of name recognition) as an eBay storefront. Also, like the Contact Printers Guild, a group based around a particular photo technique (eg, alt processes) may also work.
 

jovo

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kjsphoto said:
Do you think that if you sell your work on eBay it will undervalue you and your work?

Good question. Ebay is such a new marketplace that it's hard to know what its long term impact might be. It may depend on your ambitions as much as anything else. If you want to become known as the darling of the gallery world....well....you probably won't get there on ebay. But even at that, would you be the darling of the gallery world of NYC or a smaller 'market' in which case would that devalue your work and reputation? The ingredients in the magic brew that makes one a star in the art world may well lie as much with the social skills and personality of the artist and with his 'hook' (read...originiality) as an artist as with any substantial quality in his work.

If you want to hedge your bets though, you could market photographs on ebay under a psuedonym and use another moniker for your other outlets. Most flattering of all thought, I think, is to have people actually willing to pay their hard earned cash for what you've produced. Online is as good and contemporary a mode as any other.
 
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Kev, it's a really tempting thought, but have you looked at the "Artists (Self-Representing)" section of e-bay? Works on offer for as little as $10 and 99% attracting no bids! How much (or rather, little) do you feel you could sell a picture for? My own answer would be at least $200 to make any meaningful profit. E-bay is the electronic equivalent of what we in the UK call a car boot sale (yard sale). You just might make sales which would cover your material costs plus a dollar or two, but I don't think much more than that is possible (unless you are selling vintage Ansel Adams prints or other work by big names).

Regards,

David
 

mark

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I was just thinking about this this morning. I know there was a thread where people talked about it just before the holiday season. I hope Callow, Brian and Jorge will pop in with their thoughts on the subject.
 
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No it won't undervalue you. Will it undervalue your work? Geezzz... I don't know... what's it worth now?

Know that on ebay a great many auction for very fine prints go bid-less. If they do get bids, they are (usually) extremely low with just one or two bids. You're not going to see bids by the dozen. High starting bid points will ensure NO bids either.

I have bought a good number of contact prints (silver and platinum) and paid as low as $40 but never more than $60. That is dirt cheap and a bargain (for me, not the seller). Are you OK with that kind of return?

Another issue with selling on ebay is that if your auctions end in the $50 range (if they sell at all), it is difficult for you to ask, say, $200 on your website, galleries or even "buy it now" on ebay. You have kind of lost credibility then. Folks in-the-know will not shell out that $200. They'll just wait for that auction and they will get it for $50. You may also get stifled and stigmatized by your ebay "record" in the long run. Hard to say.

Jorge, Francesco (and others here who sell on ebay) can confirm/deny this as they would know first hand.
 

jd callow

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Most of the images I have sold to date were going to the bin. I have changed direction since the prints were made so the money made was 'found money.' Of late, I have been creating portfolios of my various interests and have made extra prints solely for ebay sales. These prints are small (10" on the short edge) and intended to be used for review or evaluation. My final prints are larger (20" on the short edge). Therefore, I don't see the prints or the ebay sales as conflicting with my larger ambitions (fantasies).


Cost for products produced solely for ebay:
Cost per colour 8x10 prints,
Chemistry: >.50
paper: ~.25
electricity: ~.01 (WAG)
water: ~.01 (WAG)
time: 5min
waste: 2-5%

.87 x 3%(waste) + 4.17 (a wage of 50.00 per hour) = 5.07

I average about 10% sales and a listing charge of.30 and avg. sale price of 10.50

100 photos cost 53.70 sales equal 105.00 creating a net of 51.30.
 

Nick Zentena

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Daniel Grenier said:
Know that on ebay a great many auction for very fine prints go bid-less. If they do get bids, they are (usually) extremely low with just one or two bids. You're not going to see bids by the dozen. High starting bid points will ensure NO bids either.


Most of the prints hanging in a gallery are no bid to. That's why they're still on the wall. Walk into most shops and much of the inventory has been there long enough to need a dusting.

It would seem the advantage of something like Ebay is you can have a virtual inventory. If somebody buys print #3 you print it up. No need to print up stuff that never sells.
 
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I think a clear picture is emerging here! Mrcallow's figures do not even include equipment write-down. No disrespect, but you need a very good reason (and a complete disregard for normal business practise) to make 100 prints for a net profit of $51.30.

Regards,

David
 

jd callow

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David H. Bebbington said:
I think a clear picture is emerging here! Mrcallow's figures do not even include equipment write-down. No disrespect, but you need a very good reason (and a complete disregard for normal business practise) to make 100 prints for a net profit of $51.30.

Regards,

David

I would never recommend ebay as a way to make a living off of your photography nor would I recommend to anyone that they should buy equipment and build a darkroom for the purposes of selling on ebay. I would recommend it as a way to clear inventory or, in the instance of my portfolio prints, a way to recover some costs. It is also important to realize that about 40.00 of my cost is my 'wage' which means I clear about 90.00 after material costs. Ebay is certainly not a huge profit center, but it can be an effective sales channel if you keep your effort and expectations in perspective.

A warm and fuzzy side effect of ebay is that I have met some very good people and it is nice to be able to sell prints to people who are genuinely thrilled to buy them and who normally would not have been able to afford original work.
 

Jim Moore

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Daniel Grenier said:
Another issue with selling on ebay is that if your auctions end in the $50 range (if they sell at all), it is difficult for you to ask, say, $200 on your website, galleries or even "buy it now" on ebay. You have kind of lost credibility then. Folks in-the-know will not shell out that $200. They'll just wait for that auction and they will get it for $50.

This could work to your advantage if you are happy with getting $40-$75 for your prints.

If you list prints with a buy-it-now of $200 or list them for sale on your web site for $200 and someone bids/buys @ $40-$75 from one of your auctions the buyer gets a "good deal" and the seller makes some money.

Jim
 

Jorge

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Daniel Grenier said:
No it won't undervalue you. Will it undervalue your work? Geezzz... I don't know... what's it worth now?

Know that on ebay a great many auction for very fine prints go bid-less. If they do get bids, they are (usually) extremely low with just one or two bids. You're not going to see bids by the dozen. High starting bid points will ensure NO bids either.

I have bought a good number of contact prints (silver and platinum) and paid as low as $40 but never more than $60. That is dirt cheap and a bargain (for me, not the seller). Are you OK with that kind of return?

Another issue with selling on ebay is that if your auctions end in the $50 range (if they sell at all), it is difficult for you to ask, say, $200 on your website, galleries or even "buy it now" on ebay. You have kind of lost credibility then. Folks in-the-know will not shell out that $200. They'll just wait for that auction and they will get it for $50. You may also get stifled and stigmatized by your ebay "record" in the long run. Hard to say.

Jorge, Francesco (and others here who sell on ebay) can confirm/deny this as they would know first hand.

E bay is a strange place. I have seen prints start at $21 and end at values greater than $300 and I have seen beautiful prints go unsold.

E bay is a good place for those who want exposure and are beguinning to market their work. If you have good work, and I mean really good work. Your prints will go for anywhere between $50 and $125. At least that was my experience when I was with the guild.

If you think about it, this is about the same as what you would get from a gallery once all the commisions are paid. A print selling on e bay for $125 would mean it would have to be sold at a gallery for at least $250. That is within the price range for a beguinning unknown photographer. The difference is that if your work is good enough, you might sell 10 prints....at a gallery maybe 4 or 5 if you are lucky.

I disagree with Daniel on the "loosing credibility" aspect. It is better to sell your print fo $50 than not sell your print priced a $300.....no? At least you are having your work seen, and getting a little back to keep on photographing. Which are the two reasons I am doing it.

OTOH, you can not rest on your laurels on e bay. I repeatedly see the same work being offered, over, and over, and over.....eventually people get tired of seeing the same old prints, no matter how beautiful they seem to be. For example I am more "aware" of what is going on in the pt/pd section, Luca Paradisi, does some awesome work with flowers, but he keeps offering the same prints, no new work. Consequently he has been getting less and less bids...at least from what I have seen.

Another point is that you have to keep at it, you cannot do infrequent auctions and expect people to keep you in mind. I will cite our own member William Blunt for this example. I have been wanting to buy one of his prints for the last 2 months, but the print I wanted only appeared once and I never saw it again, he usually does 3 or 4 prints every 3 weeks....so many times I miss his auctions or they happen to be when I am strapped for cash.

Bottom line, as with every bussiness you have to have a marketing strategy. E bay should be a first step and a way for you to get some money to support your habit, but by no means it should be your "final" goal. You need to use the income from e bay to keep producing work and to promote yourself. Once you have some income comming in, you should use it for adevrtising, for producing more work and to promote your work in other avenues. For example, in my case 6 months ago it was a hardship for me to make 10 prints for my portfolio and 10 prints to send to publications. Now, thanks to the support of people who bought my prints on e bay I not only have a much better portfolio, but have enough extra prints to send to magazines. WHat I am trying to say is that you have to look for alternative avenues to give you exposure and eventually let you move out of e bay.

You gotta remember that the e bay mind set is that of "looking for a bargain." Many of the collectors are gambling on you and hoping that you become somewhat well known. As such, print prices rarely go beyond $130 or $150 dollars. At the moment there is a couple of prints, one from Kenro Izu, which have not sold even though by gallery "standards" they could the thought of as a good deal, but nobody wants to pay $800 or $1000 dollars on e bay, at least not for photographic art.

So my advice is for you to give it a shot, have fun with it and dont take it personally if your prints do not sell the first few times. If your work is good enough, eventually someone will buy it. Focus on offering more than they are paying for and people will keep comming back to check what you are offering.
 
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What Jorge says makes a lot of sense in terms of using e-bay as a medium to get your work seen, which as far as I am concerned is THE main factor in building a reputation as an art photographer. I would not, however, agree that it is better to sell at $50 than not sell at $300. If you carry out accurate costing (materials, equipment write-down, ALL your time including making work, monitoring your e-bay account, packing work, taking it to the post office or whatever), you will find you are losing money on every $50 sale. This means that the more you sell, the more you lose. Selling a picture means more money-losing activity making another one!
It has been my strategy right from the time I started back into art photography 10 years ago (after 10 years as a professional photographer followed by 20 years out of the industry) to concentrate ONLY on corporate clients and galleries/consultancies serving these clients. The general public will always expect prints for the same price as they cost in the drugstore, and will do so all the more if certain photographers regard e-bay sales as a chance to scrape together a few cents from pictures they would otherwise have junked - an attitude which, quite frankly, takes my breath away!

Regards,

David
 

Jorge

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David H. Bebbington said:
What Jorge says makes a lot of sense in terms of using e-bay as a medium to get your work seen, which as far as I am concerned is THE main factor in building a reputation as an art photographer. I would not, however, agree that it is better to sell at $50 than not sell at $300. If you carry out accurate costing (materials, equipment write-down, ALL your time including making work, monitoring your e-bay account, packing work, taking it to the post office or whatever), you will find you are losing money on every $50 sale. This means that the more you sell, the more you lose. Selling a picture means more money-losing activity making another one!
It has been my strategy right from the time I started back into art photography 10 years ago (after 10 years as a professional photographer followed by 20 years out of the industry) to concentrate ONLY on corporate clients and galleries/consultancies serving these clients. The general public will always expect prints for the same price as they cost in the drugstore, and will do so all the more if certain photographers regard e-bay sales as a chance to scrape together a few cents from pictures they would otherwise have junked - an attitude which, quite frankly, takes my breath away!

Regards,

David

The problem I have with your reasoning is that you dont mention those same costs are also present in the $300 price tag, which many times for a beguinning photographer do not sell. Let me put it this way, in my brief stint with the cpg I made $2000 in 2 1/2 months. In 3 months at one of the best galleries in Mexico, I made $60.....which would you rather have?
Of course it is preferable to have your prints being marketed at a gallery which caters to collectors or corporate buyers, but then it is the same old catch 22, they will not touch you unless you are somewhat known and you cannot become known unless you put your work out there.

OTOH I am always surprised at photographers who think their time is so valuable that it should be paid at premium rates. Lets face it, unless you are Avedon, Dermachelier, or one of those guys, you are probably wasting your time answering APUG threads than making outrageous amounts of money with your time photographing. I would rather have $2000 in my pocket and spend my time photographing, making prints and yes, packing them and taking them to the post office, than sitting at home feeling proud of myself because I am being exhibited at a gallery and make $60.

As I said, for a beguinner trying to market their work just so that they can make enough to sustain themselves in photography, E bay can be a God send. But once it again, it should not be confused as the only way or the best way to market and profit from our work. Lets remember that none of the famous photographers started selling their work at $1500 per print. I remember when I saw some Kenna prints for $250 at a gallery. If I had had the money then, I would have told the gallery owner to close the shop as I was taking all the prints... :smile:

To each his own, if you have the time and money to keep marketing your work without any return so that eventually if your work is good enough and you are persitant enough you are taken by galleries, good for you!..me, I neither have the time nor the money, nor do I think my time is so valuable that I am supposed to get hundreds of dollars for my time right now. To tell you the truth I would much rather be mounting and packing a print I have sold than answering this thread... :smile:
 

bmac

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In my 6 month experiment with my eBay store (I just closed it) I found that only two "strangers" bought my work as opposed to 19 people I knew. The two reasons I opened the storefront on eBay were to 1) get eyeballs 2) have a place to drive people to from my website. The eyeballs were clearly there, as witnessed by my hit counters. But the wallets weren't. I'll probably experiment again with eBay, but for now I am taking a break. I see no reason why I need to spend money on eBay listings when I could just as easily (and cheaper) send people interested in my work to my website.
 
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Jorge said:
.....when I was with the guild.... QUOTE]

Somewhat off-topic, Jorge, but do you care to discuss your leaving the (Contact Printers) Guild and flying solo? Whatever your reasons, good luck to you as "alternative_view".

As a matter of interest, I just pulled all platinum prints now offered on ebay and there are now 58 listing with only 7 bids totalling perhaps a couple hundred bucks. Minimal enthusiasm all around. Sad to report.

As a buyer, I find ebay terrific. I mean, I now have a dozen or so prints bought on ebay which cost me less than $600 total. OTOH, I bought an 8x10 contact print this summer from a "well known" photographer for $750 not on ebay but directly from the Artist. Ten-twenty years from now, who knows what these will all be worth but I doubt very much my ebay prints will be anywhere near the other one or have increased proportionnally to it.

I don't know.... As a photographer/artist I'd be worried of getting "stuck" in ebay mode, i.e $50 a print, which is (IMO as a photographer) quite simply an unacceptable sale price.

I'd be curious to see how many "$50 ebay photographers" will rise (have risen) way past that and go on to sell their work 10-20-50 times that.

Selling on ebay may be a springboard. But a springboard to what? Fame? Oblivion? The poor house? I guess only time will tell the merits (or lack of) of selling on ebay.

Good discussion topic, though.
 

Tom Stanworth

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As we all know, there's a lot of work involved in producing a print, selling it, despatching it etc and for me, I have to make enough to bother. It may be flattering to sell it full stop, but the novelty might wear off when hours in the darkroom, successes, failures, emotional outbursts etc result in little to no profit. Personally, If that was the case, I would rather use the time to further my own 'art' rather than provide others with a steal....then make an entrance higher up the food chain at a later date (if one is ready to do so). I intend to buy photography in the near future and whoop with joy at the thought of buying a nice platinum print for $75, but wonder what motivates the seller to put that time in for such a return - they have my greatest respect and I wish them great success. If the seller does not print in batches (saves enormous time etc, but risks wastage of materials and time is unsold) then they have to print one here, as few more there each time one sells, probably without the ability to ever predict sales and print volumes. Working this way is ghastly.....but perhaps this is the difference between those who start with small steps and eventually make it and those who do not?

Tom
 

jd callow

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david said:
...to concentrate ONLY on corporate clients and galleries/consultancies serving these clients. The general public will always expect prints for the same price as they cost in the drugstore, and will do so all the more if certain photographers regard e-bay sales as a chance to scrape together a few cents from pictures they would otherwise have junked - an attitude which, quite frankly, takes my breath away!


Good for you!

In truth it is breath taking to sell perfectly good prints (that don't fit into the artist's future) for a 'few cents'. On the other hand for what is negligible physical effort and for a cost that has been, 'written off' or paid for, I gross between 1k and 1.4 per month. In addition I have been able to throw a few hundred bucks to APUG, create good will and make new friends.

In the future I'll be selling prints which essentially are the over runs of efforts that either have already been paid for or will be paid for via other channels. The time spent posting, packing and shipping is small and the financial return will create cash flow and more good will.

Although, for you, your aghast at my approach may be applicable, with all due respect, it would be ignorant to think it can be applied universally.
 

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I've just turned to selling prints on Ebay.
My attitude to the "credibility" aspect is simply this:credibility won't pay my credit card bill-selling prints WILL!
 

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Interesting thread..my take is how different is ebay from the art fairs every city - large or small, has each year? Is it really any different? Personally, I am looking forward to picking up some of Jorges work while I can still afford it (now that the holidays and porperty taxs are done)..I see a lot of photographers list there work in the high 3 digit plus range and I just don't think there are that many people out there that can afford those prices. Since, I collect prints that I like and not for investment that does make a difference. If something I own becomes worth something down the road that will be nice...I want to purchase a photograph because it appeals to me.

So, from my own view this is a good thing that the cpg and jorge are making their wonderful work available at prices most anyone can afford...not to mention their work is beautiful
 

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eagleowl said:
I've just turned to selling prints on Ebay.

Seems to me, eBay is the one place you can have your cake and eat it too. I think the first question one would have to ask is "are the audiences the same" - in other words, are those shopping on eBay likely to be the same ones shopping at the galleries. I like mrcallow's approach; it seems that he is still able to satisfy his fine art clients, while selling the outtakes, extras, whatever for a modest return. One of the options I have been exploring is making posters of some of my prints, which can then be sold on eBay for a minimal cost - allowing people to own the work, without the high costs associated with purchasing the framed print.
 

georgep

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Making a living selling personal work, selling individual prints, one by one, is a difficult way to go no matter how you do it. Generally, the signature, not the print, determines prices. So for an unknown photographer it can be tough.

eBay is no longer something new and it is changing the way we do business. Over a hundred million people use eBay and it continues to grow. It provides great international exposure 24-hours per day, something no gallery can do. The CPG sold about 150 prints in the first two months and had over 100,000 views.

A problem with selling prints on line is that buyers take a risk buying a print based on a scan. I think most serious collectors want to see the actual print before buying, especially if the price is high. Even big names go for much less on eBay than they would in a gallery.

Daniel is correct: much way-under-priced work goes unsold. Will that situation continue? I don’t know. Bargains available now may not always be there.

I like the idea of people who are not wealthy and who generally cannot afford to buy expensive prints, to be able to buy original fine art photographs at prices they can afford. Brett Weston had a hard time selling limited edition portfolios where the per-print price was $10.00 or less. Edward Weston sold most of his prints at $25.00 or less before finally raising his price to $35.00.

Really, there are much more lucrative ways to make money at photography then selling original prints.

I’ve been selling my prints on eBay for over 2 years and I’ve sold about 900 finished, mounted and over-matted prints. Am I making a living? No. It is not a way to make money, or at least not yet. It is more about getting the work out. I’d rather have my prints out in the world where people can see them than stacking up in boxes in my darkroom, even if there is no profit. I am covering my expenses but not being paid for my time. Before I started selling on eBay I sold prints occasionally through galleries and exhibitions, but never covered expenses. So at least there is some improvement financially. I agree with everything Jorge wrote.

I think of it as an apprenticeship. You work hard and pay your dues but don’t get paid much. Finishing a large number of prints has helped me hone my skills at all stages of the process. And marketing was something I never enjoyed doing but I bit the bullet.

George
 

jd callow

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georgep said:
Finishing a large number of prints has helped me hone my skills at all stages of the process.

This is an excellent point -- ebay related or not. I started out as a painter which required constant practice. I carried that over to photography where I shoot a lot of film and make a ton of prints. With or without ebay I will continue making a ton of prints. Whilst I wait to become famous and if I'm smart, I'll find sales channels for these prints and or make prints to fit the available sales channels.
 

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Some of this stuff has been gone over before but I would like to address a couple of points with information I have from selling on ebay for a couple of years.

I do not sell extras or work prints, I sell the real ones.

Last year I asked the owner of a very well known gallery if my selling on ebay would hurt my future of ever being represented by a gallery. And second could any gallery ever touch my current sales on ebay with commission checks. His answer: If a gallery were to represent you, you would have to stop selling those prints on ebay. As an unknown artist no way were the sales going to match ebay $

Last summer I had a print collected by a major museum for their permanite collection, after seeing it on ebay.

Last week I sold 17 prints on ebay for around 1400.00. Although this may not be a big corporate salary, It is a fine wage for me. I am photographing what ever I want and printing negatives I feel like working on. It sure beats chasing kids around my studio, and any other commercial commission I ever had in the first 20 years of my career.

Last week I had one print that was looked at by over 3000 people. No gallery can touch that.

Jorge is right when he says the bottom line from a gallery sale in less not more than a direct sale on ebay.

I have not yet met a photographer who sells prints for 400.00 or more off of a website. I don't think it happens.


Ray Bidegain
 
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georgep said:
...... I’ve sold about 900 finished, mounted and over-matted prints. Am I making a living? No. ...... George

I now own 9 of George Provost's prints and they are stunningly beautiful. As a matter of fact, my first ever ebay purchase was one of his prints (for a lousy $40!). That very print (an 8x10 AZO contact) is now hanging right next to an 11x14 John Sexton (vintage 1984 worth well over $1000) and I have to say that George's print has far more pull, presence and "glows" more than Sexton's.

Am I glad George is selling on ebay? Of course. But, OTOH, how can George have his work raised to its proper (financial) level ($400 range - minimum) and attain a certain artistic stature and relevance in the art world by sticking around ebay??? What is next for him and others like him??? More ebay sales ? I think not.
 
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