Sell Your Work Online

Where’s a good place to sell your photographic (or other) work online? How do you evaluate those marketplaces?

Recently, Molly Jacques, a freelance illustrator, wrote The Freelance Diaries: Supplementing Your Income. In this post she covers 3 things you can sell: sell the original product, sell a digital product and become an affiliate. Molly’s overview got me thinking about the various platforms available now for art listing and sales. Inspired by a section in The Handmade Marketplace called, “Evaluating Marketplaces”, I decided to do some comparison research.

Fork in the Road by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Fork in the Road by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

For the comparison, I chose Creative Market because Molly and sketch noter Mike Rohde list and sell there. It is a “mousemade” only shop. I chose Søciety6  because an artist I follow on Instagram, Tess Wyatt, is there.  I list on RedBubble and I wanted to see how it stacked up with the others. So those are the three I’ll start with. For the topics to compare on, I chose a few to start and refined them during the process.

CAVEAT: I based the information in the table below on my understanding of the information I read today. I could be wrong and by tomorrow the info could be outdated. Base your decision about whether to list with these services on your own understanding of the terms and conditions.

 Topic Creative Market Søciety6

Red Bubble

Products – What can you sell? Photos, graphics, templates, themes, fonts Wall art, clothing, cases & skins, home décor, cards Wall art, clothes, cards, calendars, home decor
Manufacture – Do they make it or do you have to? Digital download only, i.e. “mousemade” not clear if this is Søciety6 or another party from what I read. By 3rd party
Price Range for a single photograph. How much money is in this? $3 to $20 $15 to $20 $6 to $18
Business Terms
License – What rights do  retain? Simple “you retain the rights to your work” non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license
Customer Relationship: Can you contact your customer? Yes, you will know the name and contact info for your customer and can answer questions. not clear from what I read on the site No, you will not know the name or contact info of your customer.
Commission / Listing Fee – How much does the listing service take? 30% of sale price The base price for each product includes seller fee$1 for identity verification with Paypal The base price for each product includes seller fee
Payment Options – What kind of account do I need to get paid? Paypal Paypal Paypal, check or ACH Direct Deposit
Payment When – How often will I get paid? 1st of the month, 30 days from sale 1st of the month, 30 days from sale Varies by payment method. 7thst of the month, for Paypal, for all sales in the previous month if your receivables are > $20
Partner Program – Do they have a referral program? 10% of every purchase for a year from all new customers you refer 10% curator commission paid on base price for prints & framed prints. No minimum None

Generally, artists like Jacques list on several platforms so the choice isn’t really either / or. It’s more of a both/and. The questions are , “What are all the options out there?” and “Which fit my target market?”. For more on a diversified online selling strategy, see Laura C George’s blog post, “Why Society6 Can’t be Your Only Strategy.

There are several other listing services out there such as Big Cartel, Etsy, Cafe Press, Amazon, SmugMug and 500px.  However, not all are equally useful in today’s mobile age. For example, Cafe Press, Red Bubble, Creative Market and Søciety6 do not have a mobile app for the seller. Smugmug has an app focused on uploading and following. 500px has a traffic and statistics app available for Plus users. Amazon has some apps but they are not specifically for the seller to manage a shop. However, Big Cartel and Etsy both have seller-focused apps. The ability to manage your store while on the go is key to being responsive.

There are more comparison posts listed below. For photographers, the consensus from the below is that are few sites better than Smugmug but it is too expensive for the sales generated. For handmade work, the consensus seems that Etsy is still the best but there’s a broad array of alternatives that are also good. Don’t take my word for it. Have a look at the below.

What listing services look good to you? What do you use for your store? Are there other factors you’d like to see included?

Send the listing services that you’d like to see explored and if I get 3 I’ll write another comparison post.

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  1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for sharing your research — I’m going through the same process right now, and will probably blog about it at some point too — if I do would you mind if include you in my own “list of helpful links”?


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