Want to Sell Your Art? I Have a Proposition…


I’ve been testing the waters of the fine-art marketplace, and I’m finding that it’s probably more difficult to break into than stock photography. It’s not that I’m against doing stock photography (I do have some images in the PhotoShelter Collection), but I feel that my work is more suited for artistic prints rather than magazine ads.

I’ve been trying to make way with Auer PhotoWorks, but I think I’ve gone about it in the wrong way. For one, I don’t have the time or energy to spend on the design and marketing of the site. And for two, galleries don’t attract the amount of traffic that’s needed to make sales.


Well… I’m going to shut down Auer PhotoWorks at some point in the near future. But I’ll be replacing it with something else. I’m going to start a photoblog for fine art photography. Blogs naturally bring in great traffic because of their structure (and because WordPress is so awesome). The goal of the blog will be three fold: 1) To share more of my work than my once per week “how I done it” feature, 2) To motivate me to spend more time on my photography, and 3) To generate enough traffic to make sales.

I’m thinking of using fineartphotoblog.com or fineartphotographyblog.com for the domain, and the name of the site will naturally follow from the domain name. Anybody have any preferences?

The site will have a simple, neutral, and navigable design. It will run on WordPress. There will be no ads. Each photo will present the viewers the opportunity to purchase the photo. All photos can be purchased as a print. Some can also be licensed.

I’m testing out ImageKind right now as my future method for handling print sales. I have a feeling they do decent work, and I like the fact that they have so many options for papers, matting, and framing. I just ordered a couple of my own prints so I can evaluate their quality (and my color management). I only have a few images up, but I’ll be adding some on a daily basis until I have a good collection going.


I want to take this thing a step further. A photoblog from one person is neat, but a photoblog from a collection of artists is beyond neat. I’m looking for up to 5 other photographers that would like to be part of the photoblog as a method of selling their art. The idea is that a group of photographers should be able to drive more traffic than a single photographer. It will lighten the load on everybody by reducing the need to post a new image every single day. This will allow us to focus on our best work and prevent us from rushing our image preparation. We’ll also be able to feed on each other’s popularity and bring in a wider selection of potential art collectors. I’m saying 5 for right now just to test things out, but we may bump that number up if there’s enough interest.

Each photographer would be responsible for selling their own images — the blog is only a means of generating traffic, you won’t be able to buy anything directly from it. I’m going this route because every photographer will have different needs, and they should have full control over how their images are sold. Not only that, but bigger sites like ImageKind and RedBubble are more trusted than an independent site with a cheesy shopping cart.


I don’t have all the details planned out quite yet, but it’s slowly solidifying. I’m planning on launching the site some time in January. You guys are a knowledgeable group of people, so I’d like to hear your thoughts and questions on this thing. If you have any ideas for improving this idea, I’d be more than happy to hear them. If you think it’s totally stupid, I’d like to hear that too.


If you’re interested in being one of those five photographers, put together a portfolio of 10-15 of your best photos that you would want to sell as fine art. You can do this with Flickr, Zooomr, ImageKind, RedBubble, your personal gallery, or whatever means you have to present me with photos. It needs to be publicly accessible, and I have a reason for this.

I’m not going to decide who gets in and who doesn’t. The photographers who submit a portfolio will decide who gets in. I’ll ask the photographers to vote for the top three to five portfolios, depending on how many there are. I’ll tally up the results and take the top photographers. If I don’t get any takers, I guess I’ll be going it alone. If I get one or two half-hearted attempts, I guess I’ll be going it alone (I reserve the power to veto). Honestly, don’t submit a portfolio unless you’re dead serious about selling your work and helping out with the blog. And do realize that if you want to sell your images through a place like ImageKind, it will cost you a monthly fee at some point.


32 thoughts on “Want to Sell Your Art? I Have a Proposition…

  1. Stuart

    in reference to the preference for domain names you proposed…..

    Shorteris better, the less people have to type the quicker they are to visit your site. Also for some unknown reason, some people have trouble typing out the word photography.

  2. Brian Auer Post author

    I appreciate your feedback on the domains — I hadn’t thought about “photography” being a commonly mistyped word. I agree, shorter is probably better. But the draw for using fineartphotographyblog is the key phrase “fine art photography” — it’s a little more popular, and more targeted, than “fine art photo”. Each has it’s ups and downs, which is why I’m having a hard time deciding.

  3. Antoine Khater

    what a great idea, I don’t think I’m good enough to be part of it (that’s why I so rarely show one of my pics at adidap) but I’m going to give it a try πŸ™‚

    However let me ask you a question or two
    1) When you talk about a photo blog how many new submission per month are you expecting from the photographers ?

    2) Are you looking for a special kind of art photography or anything that can be hanged on a wall can fit ?

    thank you for this initiative

  4. Brian Auer Post author

    To answer your questions Antoine:

    1) I’d like the blog to post at least one photo per day, so with 6 or 7 photographers that would mean one per week. As things heat up, I’d like to move to 2 or 3 per day, but at that point I may bring on more photographers. I think 1-3 new photos per week isn’t too much of a stretch for most of us.

    2) Basically anything that can be considered art would be fine. I’d like it to be somewhat diverse so we catch a larger audience.

  5. the_wolf_brigade

    I’m not sure whether I’m at a level where I could confidently sell my work, well, outside of my current place of employment anyway (a restaurant, where I have a few for sale), but I really hope this works out for you.

    Even if you have to go it alone, I’m very interested in learning from your experience.

  6. the_wolf_brigade

    Oh, and definitely the latter in terms of Domain names. While photography is an often misspelled word, I think the distinction needs to be made that it’s art rather than casual snapshots. Once word gets out on Digg or Photography Voter, (judging by last time) somehow I don’t think the difficult spelling will slow traffic πŸ˜€

  7. marcus5

    Interesting idea. Certainly worth a try.

    A few random thoughts.

    Using the word blog in the domain name might lead someone to think it’s a blog. Point is, the higher end buyer, or even the casual collector buyer, might not see a blog as a purchase destination. Some photographers will worry about building the blog’s brand rather than their own, but selling prints might be worth the trade off.

    The look and feel of the old PhotoStore site did not project a fine art sales environment but rather a photo gallery site where folks could buy a print. I find this to be a very common issue with the gallery sites and software. The look and feel of the site needs to portray a more sophisticated design and user experience. One serious issue with the gallery sites is the inability to show the image at a large enough size to even begin to visualize what a larger print would look like.

    Wouldn’t the fine art print buyer expect to be offered larger sizes than 11X14. And while I might be convinced otherwise from a merchandising standpoint (i.e. sales $) I might think the buyer would assume the artist has decided on glossy vs. matte vs. canvas vs. watercolor?

    Lastly, I’d hope they would expect to pay more for the images.

  8. Brian Auer Post author

    You bring up some good points and questions…

    About the “blog” thing — I can rationalize both using it and leaving it out. It really will be a blog, from the standpoint of design, structure, layout, navigation, and functionality. The blog won’t act as a point of sales, but it should drive traffic to those points. My intent for the design of the blog will be less focused on the blog brand and more focused on the photographers. Each photographer will likely have their own category-type of page that will show all of their work. The photographers will certainly be building the blog’s brand, but if they’re a key part of it the blog should also be part of their own brand.

    You’re right that the photostore site was poor on design, and I haven’t had the time to develop anything for it. Part of the difficulty is that software like that isn’t as widely supported by the community as something like WordPress. The blog should be much easier to design and tweak to give that “sophisticated” look. As for size — I was thinking either 640 or 800 pixels as a maximum, but I’m curious to hear what other people would think. I don’t want to go much higher than that because of the higher attraction to steal the digital copies.

    As for sizes, I’m now offering up to 24″ prints. But the size availability would be up to each individual photographer. Same for pricing — I won’t mandate what the images should cost.

  9. Ed Z

    I think this is a great idea and I’d love to participate. (will put a portfolio together)

    To me this sounds like a “web 2.0” twist on the traditional artist collective style gallery, which I think is totally cool.

    maybe the name could reflect something along those lines like
    “The PhotoBlog Collective” or “The Fine Art Photo Collective” or some such…

    that doesn’t help much with a domain name though πŸ™‚

  10. Brian Auer Post author

    Thanks Ed — I’d love to see a portfolio from you.

    Great, now you’ve got me wanting to buy more domain names… I like the idea of presenting it as a collective though.

  11. Brandon

    I’ve just signed up with aminus3.com and am playing around with a photoblog. They have a pretty nice design, and it’s free. I really like it a lot, but I can’t link my photos to anything, I can only show off my work.

    I was wondering where you’re getting your template for WordPress? Do you know of any good WordPress photoblogs?

    Have you seen Aminus3.com? Any thoughts on it?

  12. Brian Auer Post author

    I hadn’t heard of aminus3 prior to this, but it doesn’t look like a bad setup for free photoblogging. Kind of stinks that you can’t link the photo to anything though.

    For the new photoblog, I was thinking about using the theme I use on this blog, but really tweaking it for a photos-only setup. It’s a good theme and it has a lot of functionality built in behind the scenes. But like I said, it’s probably going to take a LOT of tweaking to make it usable as a photoblog.

  13. steve

    Great Idea – I buy prints from the net, may I suggest that you contact someone at
    Carrie Leigh’s Nude Magazine they are the high end art and photography Print Magazine in the
    stores today. They exhibit the best print quality fine art in the world and maybe they can
    pass this information on to their artist and photographers.

  14. John

    It sounds like an interesting idea; but I’m wondering about a couple of areas.

    First, how would you plan on drawing traffic? You mentioned that your gallery doesn’t attract the amount of traffic that’s needed to make sales, but I’m wondering how the format of a photoblog would be more likely to do so.

    Also, I’m wondering about the quality of the traffic. Would the group of people coming back every day to see that updated photoblog really be interested in taking the next step and purchasing fine art? I don’t know.

  15. Brian Auer Post author

    Photoblogs (and blogs in general) are made to attract higher amounts of traffic than most other types of sites. WordPress structures the site to appeal to users and search engines at the same time. There’s a lot of SEO that goes along with a well operated blog, and that alone brings decent traffic. Each photo would have its own web page with a keyword rich permanent link, meta keywords, meta descriptions, and it would be cross linked from many other pages withing the site. Blogs are also known for producing fresh new content on a regular basis — so this keeps people (and search engines) coming back on a more frequent basis.

    As for the quality of traffic — a majority of it will probably be folks who aren’t interested in buying anything. But that’s perfectly fine… actually it’s better than fine. Increased traffic in general means increased visibility to a whole other set of traffic, including niche popularity within the circle of photobloggers, photography bloggers, and social media. These things equal links, and links equal more traffic, and both of those things equal increased search engine popularity (plus more traffic). There’s bound to be some percentage of that traffic that’s interested in purchasing a print. Besides, you never know when the casual viewer will see something they really like and decide to make the purchase.

    In the end, this photoblog isn’t intended to be 100% about selling the prints. It’s also about sharing great photos and interacting with the community. I’m fully supportive of allowing comments on the photos, but that will be up to the whole group of photographers; not just myself.

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  17. libeco

    Very nice idea. I don’t think I’ll be able to reacht the minimum required number of pictures per week on a 52 week per year basis, so I won’t join you.

    I think for the idea to succeed you need to think of several things:
    – How will you attract the right audience for your site?
    – How will you create enough ‘buzz’ for visitors to tell their friends about the site?
    – How will you make the visitors come back every day?

    Just my advise after my little acquired marketing knowledge the past half year at school… πŸ™‚

    Good luck!

  18. Howard Grill

    Interesting idea Brian. From your description, I am not quite sure what the posts to the blog would consist of…obviously the image, but are you also looking, along with the image contribution, of having a post of some kind about the image?

    I could well be interested, but just want to clarify what type of time, writing and photo contribution commitment it might entail.


  19. Brian Auer Post author

    In addition to the image, I’d be looking to include description text and keywords in both the content and in the meta tags of the html. For a time commitment, I’d hope to see at least one new photo per photographer per week. For the design I’m going with, you’d have to upload several images at various resolutions and crops. In addition to that, you’d add 1-3 sentences that describe the image (nothing too long, it’s just a photoblog), maybe 20 or 30 keywords, and the url to the page where it can be purchased. My guess is that it would take no more than an hour to complete — as long as you’ve already processed the image.

    Really, you could spend one day per month getting 4 to 6 images loaded up and just set them to publish at the appropriate dates. This would free you up to work on other things during the month, like taking photos!

  20. Mike

    Hi Brian,

    I would be interested in throwing my hat in the ring! I have been able to sell some of my photos on shutterpoint.com, but I often think I would have better luck selling prints. I’ll send you a portfolio of my photos.


  21. thejdawg

    Hi Brian,

    I’m also interested in this idea. I’ve been selling on etsy.com and doing fairly well especially since I haven’t advertised.


  22. Saulius

    Hello Brian. I am also interested and have sent you an email with my information. I think your idea has potential and hope I can get in on this. Here is a web site for you to take a look at. I go to it from time to time. Is this along the lines of what you where thinking? http://www.artandperception.com/


  23. Saulius

    I just saw in one of your replies that you are looking more towards just 1-3 sentences to go with an image, not at all like the website I mentioned http://www.artandperception.com/
    Would you be against allowing one to write more to go with the image from time to time if so inclined? I suppose one could make a link from their image on the blog to their own website or blog where more writing about the image could be displayed to viewers. Just tossing out some ideas.

  24. Brian Auer Post author

    I’d like to see the text kept to a minimum so that the focus remains on the photos themselves. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to sticking a link in there someplace that leads to a more lengthy write-up on that image. Ultimately, it will be up to the photographers involved to decide what the standards will be.

  25. moun10addict

    I am also very interested in joining the photoblog. I am working on putting mywebsite together (just signed up with Zenfolio), and should be done sometime around when you’re ready to launch the blog. I had basically the same idea as you for promoting sales of fine art landscape photography, so I’m looking forward to the possibility of being a part of this!


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