Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Photo publishing opportunities

Something that I've been telling myself I should do for a couple of years but never seem to get farther than that is to make some of my photography available for sale on-line.  When I first got the idea, I was thinking in terms of setting up my own website for sales, but I'm not really interested in either the webmonkey aspect or in doing order fulfillment for any physical products.  But there are a number of sites out there that will do that stuff for me, in exchange, obviously, for a fair chunk of the money.  My questions for the LJ world are:

  1. If you have used any of these sites, as a customer or as an artist, what was their service like?

  2. Assuming you had a physical product (i.e., not just downloading stuff), was the physical quality (paper, printing, packaging) up to expectation?

  3. Based somewhat on what you might buy yourself, but more on what you'd think was worth pointing friends toward, what kinds of products make sense?
    • Calendars

    • Prints

    • T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.

    • Electronic downloads of high res images to use as wallpaper or print yourself

  4. Making sample images that are very high res available worries me.  Would anyone pay for a product if they could get a good-looking version of the image for free?  If I don't make sample images that are good enough to clearly see the product, am I smothering whatever chance I have of actually attracting paying customers?

  5. How important is it to pick one service and stick with it?
    It seems like it could make sense to use each service for the products it does best.  But that would spread my stuff out.  Is that good or bad?  Do any of these sites' internal marketing schemes really help a small player?

As a starting point for discussion, I have looked into three different services, though none deeply:
  • CafePress
    They seem to be pretty expensive, but they appear to be honest.  I'm especially interested in the quality of their T shirts.  I like their pricing structure: the base price (covering production and fulfillment costs) goes to them, and all of the excess goes to the artist.

  • deviantART
    I'm put off by the name; it makes me think that it's a place to go for kinky erotica.  But it appears to be a general resource for artists.  They offer prints at relatively low base prices, but they take a large cut of the excess above the base price.

  • Lulu
    They appear to be more like a traditional publisher for physical objects; you pay to have a bunch of things made and then they sell them.  But they seem to be a fairly good deal for strictly electronic stuff.

I'm far from sure where I really want to go with this.  Encouragement is welcome, but I have to be realistic; I won't start devoting 20 hours a week to this next week.  At this point, I'm just trying to get a little more information to hopefully spark a little ambition.
Tags: publishing, questions,
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