Isn't it amazing that we now have the tools and resources to even contemplate performing this kind of calculation? There is nothing like a little real world feedback. Seems to me that it blows open the "secretive" world of art, galleries, and pricing. Information can generate knowledge and supplant "belief". Knowledge can lead to understanding. Understanding can lead to freedom of movement of ideas, markets, and money.
Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh
Hmmm... that's one world view, I suppose. But I'm not seeing it that way. It appears to me that eBay is a wonderful tool for reaching a vast market. Understood as such I think it's an interesting indicator for how well a person's work migh be accepted in the marketplace. A tool for honing one's market approach. It sure beats having a "gallery" take 30 to 60 percent of your "profit" per print.
Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh
Did eBay bring the "eyes" to your work and allow you to raise your prices as you became "established"? Or do you feel you could have/should have charged 175 or 250 out the chute? What venue(s) would you have chosen (when you first entered the market) in place of eBay to get the kind of exposure to your work that you are seeing now?
Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh
I always read these discussions on selling on ebay with great interest. One of the most interesting things about the sale of prints on ebay is the fact that this information is available to the public. There is no other outlet for selling prints where the public knows what is selling and for how much. Galleries do not give out this information and private websites don’t either.
I sell prints for a living, and ebay is one of the three settings I have for sales. I looked at my own stats for the last 90 days and I will say my average sales price is somewhat higher than Clay’s information suggests, and my sales rate is more like 25% of the items I list. I have found that it costs me 10-15% of my sales in fees, and that includes both paypal and ebay.
I think that for most emerging, (not to mention living) artists that ebay offers a better opportunity for both income and exposure to the collector community than almost any gallery can offer.
Most photographers I know whom smaller galleries represent experience very few sales, sometimes they go for years at a time with out any sales at all. Maybe Clay or any of the rest of the readers who have gallery representation can share some information on their experience with the galleries that represent them. I would also be interested to hear about website sales.
Thanks for checking on this thread. I hope my original post did not imply that I believed my little data mining experiment to be completely representative. But from what you are saying, it was in the general ballpark. It does appear that you are one of the more successful users of this outlet for print sales. And kudos for that!
My general take on the gallery scene is that the number of prints sold is far smaller, but the proceeds from any given print are pretty good. The real issue is getting shows. Just having representation without having shows is just a very slow way to make sales. But shows are a pretty massive effort, and I am not sure I have the whole thing sussed out. You need to have a coherent, interesting (and appealing!) theme to prepare a show. And you need a lot of finished work. As in say, 35-50 finished, matted, and ready to sell prints. That is a whole lot of work. The nice thing about the one-off sales that you are getting online is that you can fulfill them as they come in. You don't have to get them all ready to go at once.
One pro to the ebay sales method is that you may be reaching a far larger audience. On the other hand, the nice thing about a gallery show is that a certain percentage of those coming to a show are there to buy, and often do.
I dunno, I really don't have any 'this is the best way' feelings about the whole thing. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Originally Posted by Ray Bidegain
Last edited by clay; 11-22-2006 at 02:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.
A while ago I dabbled with selling on ebay. I was encouraged by the initial results, then Bang! November hit. Couldn't sell anything to save my life. Over Dec and Jan listings in the photo section rose to close to 25,000 items.
Checking back over the next couple of months confirmed very little of anything was selling. After a while I drifted away. Was that an anomaly, or have you found the venue to be cyclical?
Hello Mr. Darkness:
I do think there is a cycle to ebay sales, sadly I am not organized enough to know what it is. I do know that some months are better than others, and the one thing that has really paid off for me has been, perseverance. I have continued to sell for several years now, collectors know what they can expect from me and my work. I have a few collectors who watched me for 3 or more years before beginning to collect my prints.
I think it would be a great way to sell your DVD, by the way. And I have to add that the trailer I viewed had great production values and was harilarious on top of that. Well done.
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I have been extremely lucky with gallery sales over a number of years, but have noticed a drop across the board in the last 2. Especially in this country. Asia and Europe seem to be fairly healthy, but are newer markets for me so I have nothing to compare that to. I do notice that it seems to be on the rise here again as well. Hoping that is a trend, but it could be the fact that I have done less since my almost 3 year old was born and I am finally on the move again. To be honest and somewhat candid, 200 + print sales a year through my various outlets would not be out of line. I know those that sell far more and don't admit it, but I know far more that sell less and don't admit it either. It has been getting better, but certainly does fluxuate based upon economic situations. Photography, especially contemporary work definitely takes a hit when people are worried about their cash flow. I've been doing this long enough to realize that fact. I would say another factor is that I am less and less tied to the local economy due to an increasing percentage of sales being outside the US.
Originally Posted by Ray Bidegain
As for Website sales, it is hard to gauge. A lot of gallery sales are now arranged through the web, but not actually purchased online. My galleries that sell only through the Web do not do near the volume the brick and mortars do. I do have to say that based upon my experience selling special editions and offers via my Website has tempted me to go only in that direction. I have been dealing with the gallery scene long enough to know that it isn't the business everyone might think it is and controlling your own business matters in this day and age may not be a bad idea. I mean no disrespect to anyone that represents me, but over 10 years of careful cultivation, my website has done more for me than I could have ever dreamed. I think a lot of others are discovering that as well. You are truly in the global market and it is hard for a gallery to do that for you. I think as all become more confident in the web and the doing of business in this way, photographers and other artists will have far more control over their financial matters, sales and distribution of their work. Lately I'm thinking eBay could play a big role.
Sorry to go on so long! Hope this helps.
I agree with photomc. I have met Clay and for those who have not, please don't worry.
Originally Posted by photomc
I also sell on eBay from time to time. I have noticed that on eBay if you are over $100 you just wont sell and if you do you will go months between prints sold and just rack up a listing fee bill and at $4 a pop to list it adds up quickly. In the last 2 months I have sold nothing on eBay at my full price but have had 5 direct sales form my website at full price. I think the problem with eBay is that people are devaluing their work by selling it way to cheap ($40-50) especially when you look at the amount of work that goes into making a silver , pt/pd print. eBay is not the normal collectors market and one should not gage anything from eBay as eBay it all about getting deals not paying full price for anything.
Unless all the photographer are willing to standardize their prices, eBay will be nothing more than a place that you pay to list with very few sales as said above in this thread especially with the internet as people have access to a large amount of images at $20 prices.
To me with the work and expense involved in making traditional prints, selling at $20, $30, $40 or $50 just is not worth it.
The question is, do you use eBay to get your name out there and expect no or very few sales while listing at full price, or you undercut / undervalue yourself listing your work for next to nothing?
Which brings on another problem; say you have sold prints at $200 to previous clients but now you take that exact same image and list it on eBay for $50 what happens? I think this is going to hurt your long term goals and creditability with past and future buyers as they will feel they were taken advantage of, therefore forcing them to no longer buy form you directly but rather wait until you list on eBay cheap.
eBay is not really a place to gage the market, as most people on eBay expect deals and want things cheap. Look at those that buy photo gear, where do they go? eBay! Why? Because they think they can get it cheaper, therefore avoiding buying from the retailer and driving market down. Look at fidelity, lisco and regal, they are no longer making film holders because people decided to buy used rather then new and put their sales to the point it was no longer profitable to make the product.
Why buy new when you can get them at a fraction of the cost on eBay. This same mentality goes for artwork as eBay creates a false market for any artwork.
The whole mentality about eBay is not about auctions, but more about getting something for next to nothing and with artwork you cannot make living selling prints for free as all you end up doing is paying eBay fees to list your work that doesn’t or won’t sell. Research the sell through rates on eBay, they are horrifying.
I really do not know how these guys can sell prints at $40 or $50 bucks. For example a sheet of 8x10 films is about $3 a shot and depending on paper it can cost about $1 a sheet to print it. I use between 5-10 sheets of paper to get an image the way I want sometimes more sometimes less, so on average say it cost me $7 in paper to make one print. There are chemical expenses also involved, Developer, fixer, stop, toners, etc, which I won’t include. Then I see these guys mounting and matting to 16x20 ( I only mount to 13x15 for 8x10 which cost about another $5 ) which is expensive, shipping material is another $3 and I am already up to $18 and now listing fees. So if you sell a print at $50 for example ebay and paypal are going to take an additional 10-15 in fees only if your print sells the first time, if it doesn’t sell the first time you are paying listing fees every time until it sells or you take it off eBay. If it does sell the second tie they will give you back the 2nd time listing fee. So fro argument sake lets say it sold first time which would be about $6 for fees if it was 12% for total fees which now brings you up to $24. $50-$24 = $26 and you still haven’t included your travel time, gas expenses, depreciation on equipment, time to make the print, time it takes to cut mats and mount image, packing time and time it take to drive to the post office for delivery. When all is said and done you are earning less than a $1 hour.
So when you sell cheap you are not only hurting photography but also your own pocket book.
Last edited by kjsphoto; 12-21-2006 at 09:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Sheesh... why bother, eh? I'm tired just reading about all the drawbacks!
Originally Posted by kjsphoto
My experience is that you can talk yourself out of anything. It is a whole lot easier than trying, and a whole lot less fun. It costs money to make money in business. Everyone has to start somewhere and it seems to me that eBay is just as legitimate a business venue as any. I see Bert Stern and Jerry Uelsmann among others selling their own work for great money on eBay almost every week. Why not "unknowns"?
I have been selling on and off for about 3 years now on eBay so I am still green compared to others that sell there and by no means am I saying don't, I am saying that those that sell cheap are killing the market by devaluing artwork in general making an artificial market that isn't realistic with the price of supplies cost to produce the work, that is all.
And for me eBay just doesn't give sales, one sale every 2-3 months is just not a very good business decision for me when I have to spend $40-50 a month in listing fees with $0 in return.
I will continue to use eBay but I know that nothing will sell and I am throwing money down the toilet in a way, but at least I know my name is active, so for $40-50 a month it is advertising I guess. I just hope it is reaching buyers and they will realize that I am in it for the long haul and one day will start to buy more regularly.
>>Why not "unknowns"?
I think most people are afraid to buy unseen for unknowns without seeing the quality of the work first. With known names they already know what to expect and will drop $500 and up for a piece, but for an unknown they are not willing to gamble $50-75 without knowing how serious the individual is or the quality of their work when they can get a nice image for $20..
By the way Bill you work is beautiful I just check out your site and the front page image is amazing.