Over the years, I’ve belonged to many different websites related to photography. Most of the websites were portfolio based sites designed to showcase your work. Sites like Photoblink, 500px, Flickr, Tumblr, etc. You get the idea. During this time I’ve also had my own portfolio website (no not this one) ……this one: dgoakill.com It is a Zenfolio site I created back in 2008. I still have it and it’s undergone many transitions over the years, mainly because it’s so cheap compared to a lot of the other options on the internet. One of the big advantages of the site is that it has print on demand options and a very good payment system. Visually, that’s another story for another post.
Back in 2008, there were not a lot of options like SquareSpace and the dozens of others that have popped up in recent years. But, a lot of them don’t have the same robust back-end when it comes to selling images or making prints. What Zenfolio lacks in looks, it makes up for in brains…for the most part. However, though my site has been there and on the web for almost 8 years, I don’t rank very high in search engines (mostly my fault SEO wise) mainly do to the fact that my work is all images and not text. Even my blog is all images. Posts like this will do more for rankings than only posting images which is common sense these days. I’ve just always had a problem writing gibberish in order to get ranked. Getting noticed and making sales is tough in photography in general, even harder when most of your work is of regular people who didn’t even know you were taking their picture.
Most of my sales are through word of mouth and random luck (or so I think) as I do nothing to really promote myself. Sites like Zenfolio and others don’t do much to help in that regard either, as they are a service, not really a community or a hub. That’s where sites like Fine Art America, Society6, & Red Bubble come in. While I’ve belonged to all of these sites, the most success I’ve had has been through Fine Art America. I’ve had more sales than the other two combined. Again, doing little work to promote. Mostly, just uploading my work and dropping a note here or there on Twitter & Facebook.
While all of these sites have vibrant communities with targeted audiences, Fine Art America has, or at least seems to me, to have a more diverse group of users. The site also has a very noticeable presence on the web, and if you belong to it, you can get the benefit of that presence. Of course there is a lot of competition on the site itself, and just being on there doesn’t mean much in general, it does at least put you in a better position to be found.
I still sell through my old (main ?) website, but I’ve had more exposure through Fine Art America. The prices I charge are much cheaper than through my old site, but the quantity of sales has evened out the price difference. So if you’re looking for a place to try and test the market for print sales, check them out. It’s free to join with some limitations, but premium accounts are only $30 a year. I waited until I made a sale to upgrade, so it paid for itself. Literally.