a Hobbyist wanting to sell their photos
this will be a 3 to 4 yr. guide for those in the US.
so if you have the camera listed in this link - http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1006&message=42257005
and a printer. you'll just need the printing link to understand how to print images for a larger printer.
1st thing to do is get out pencil and paper and write down everything you have bought to use for you to take photos. your chair, table everything you can think of. don't waste your writing down the time or gas you spend. in a few years you'll be writing these costs off come tax time.
2nd. save all receipts from here out.
3rd buy a mileage log book to record the mileage for every trip you take involving your photo hobby. all oil changes and repairs too. at tax time you'll be getting to write off .50 cents for every mile and writing off some of the repair costs.
4th you'll even write off the space in your home.
next you need to decide how much money you can spend on your hobby/business plan per month. say $20 to $30 is plenty to spend per month.
next we need to look at what you would like to try shooting. if its landscapes. you choose the hardest and most expensive project. barns and landscapes get the most money. but they take the longest and a lot more money and time.
you would need a map, gps, a voice recorder and spend a lot of time driving around your state looking for photos to take. marking them on a map and going back at the right times to get the best photo. record weather the sun is coming from the east of west so you can shoot at the right time of day.
my advise - even if your not going into the landscape area. as you drive around mark on a map the barns and pretty scenic areas where ever you drive. doing this will come in handy. about every 3 years or so you might get a snow storm or heavy frost. you will want to be able to run and take as many shots as you can before the scene changes. shot the Barns 1st.
copyrights on your photos last your life time and 50yrs after. (i'm going from memory on the copyrights.) so to start this hobby with your children can bring in extra income for yrs. and who knows where your hobby will end up.
say your in a city. setting up an area to shoot a set up shot of flowers in your home is a great starting point. spend the 20 bucks a month on flowers and shot a few hundred pictures learning the lighting and setting up the props. buy some string and suspend the flowers.
you can buy things of interest at an antique shop. old bottles, door knobs or anything of interest.
learn the angles the shadows. take hundreds of photos.
over the next few weeks review your images and save the best ones. don't print yet. wait for about 6 months and then go through all the photos you've taken. the object here is to have 5,000+ photos in 6 months. then its time to go through your best images and find those 125 great photos. next take the best of the best and you might have 50 that are just better then the other 75 when comparing them are to each other.
now would be a good time to print out these 50 images on cheap paper at one of the 3 sizes i mentioned in the printing thread. 11x14 are an in between photo but works great so start with.
retouch your full sized Tiffs. make a copy and crop a 8x10 or 11x14. Print them all out. Find 4 women that can buy and hang a $200 11x14 in their home. these 4 women will give you the best insight to know if you have a chance at making money. ask each one to give you 1 of 3 rating on each image. a check mark that they love the photo and would buy it. a Plus to say they might want to buy it. and a minus they would not buy it.
now as they go through the rating of each image. ASK them for their input. what is distracting. what color they like or don't like. as a retoucher you can change the colors later and reask them how they would rating it with the changes. if they don't like the image at all. ask if they think a better crop would help it out.
after you get all the ladies to rate your photos it's time to review their ratings. what you most likely will find is Colors then Subject is what matters most.
now say you have only 15 images they really really would like to buy. congratulate your self. you will make money at this hobby/business.
now its time to print those images out on the paper you know your local print shop has. put them in an Acid-free plastic bag. put a price of $35 to $45 dollars on each and show them off to friends and family. for 8x10's up a price of $20 to $25.
picking up any cash to help pay for you hobby is a plus.
now it time to post images online for sale.
here is site that you'll like. http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/all/all
spend some time looking over other artists work and what they are asking for their print sizes.
click on the image. and you pull up something like this.
next click on the image on the right that says Art Print.
then check the boxes to see what the asking price is.
this persons prices are way to low for an image like this. but he might not be making a lot of money so he has his prices marked down to sell.
this site is nice to bring is some money with very little effort.
now if you followed the printing thread you know what your images sizes will be. From your print outs you'll now if they will look great at 24x36.
now you might not make money yet. but its the start of building up your portfolio that is important. in the next couple of years your hoping to have 125 great images. then rate them all again. if you end up with 50 to 70 WOW look at that photo will ya. its time to spend the $1500 on getting a business going.
your targeted buyers are Galleries and High End Interior Decorators. these people will truly set your prices for you. each market is different. in a high end gallery will pay $600 for a 20x30 print. that's not matted and not framed. the gallery might try to selling the image for $2000 to $2400.
at a smaller city they might pay $200 and try selling it for $1000. they know what their market area can get better then you.
what you want is for them to want to keep you on the list to buy from.
so in 3 or 4 years and you have the $1500 to get things rolling with those 50 WOW images. you need to now print out 8-10 prints at different sizes from 16x20 to 24x36's WITH A 1 INCH white border. when you pick up the images take some acid-free tissue to put between them. now go the local framer and get some backing on them.
may sure you have an idea on the prices you would like to charge.
now take all the 11x14s you've got in plastic sleeves and these large prints.
make sure you have the URL of the site you have your pictures posted on so you can leave it with the Interior Decorators. now its time to go to a few Interior Decorators and get some practice down before you try a gallery.
the input from the Interior Decorators are going to let you know what they would pay for your images. this will tell you if its wroth spending the money to file for a Doing Business As license in your State. the cost is around $400. your business name should end in LLC. when ask what kind of business - make sure you put down wholesale. you don't need to charge your customs taxes. your not selling the end product. what Interior Decorators need is images they can frame to the room they are designing for. they also need to charge for their time and money spent on matting and framing.
look at it this way. your image you sell them for say a 11x14 is $65 to $75. the Interior Decorators will charger $175 to $195 to the end buyer.
your best buyers will be Interior Decorators then galleries. Art Shows or Fairs is your next step to make good money. but that will cost you a lot of money to set up. and its only a few months of the year.
Interior Decorators and galleries will need to have your URL to look at your images. BUT have them call you to buy prints locally without your website send a lesser quality image. what they are going to do is have a bunch of bookmarks and notes. then they need to check your photos Color and Subject.
now if they are willing to buy a few images the next step is setting up an online business with PayPal. this will cost $3000 to $5000 for a 3 year online store. price depends on how much you get involved in writing the web site. this will take about 1 months for you to learn web writing. and another Month too post your site. signing up with a online Host. they give you about 30 days before you go live. a 30 day learning curve. the hardest part will be figuring out the shipping side of things.
as small note - when i started getting that WOW feed back when showing my BEST prints to people at work. that's when i took it to the next step and asked for Student Time with the best photographer in the area. asking him to review what i had for 1hr of student time @ $25. when he say WOW too. i knew i had a good chance of making money off my hobby.
so if you can get the WOW from your family, friends and work buddies. your on your way.
yes it might take years to build up that portfolio. but look at all that quality time spent with your wife, husband or child instead of watching TV.
in the long run its all about the Color, Subject, Retouching skills and Printing. those are more important then buying the big camera and lens. the bad thing is you need to know Printing 1st. Retouching 2nd. Getting thee Shot 3rd to be able to make a few bucks.
if you've taken 10,000 shots already. go through them. pick out your best 50. print them out and start showing them to people. after all - if your reading this. you have the time to get busy printing.
i'll send you a bill John
Recently took took a photo course covering all of your points.