Selling photography online: 500px, 1x or RedBubble?

selling photography online

Selling photography online can be fun and rewarding. But where do you place your photos? Which website is best for them? Let’s give a look to RedBubble, 500px and 1x.com.

MORE: Why I chose RedBubble over 500px and Flickr in the end.

Selling photography online with RedBubble

I still use RedBubble as my main shop. The reason is quite simple: at the moment it is the most flexible and easily approachable of the three websites I have been on for selling photography online. There are so many ways your photos (or graphics) can be printed that it is difficult to choose where to start from:

Posters, postcards, photographic prints, framed prints, canvas prints, mounted prints, matted prints, calendars… Also, you can design iPhone and iPod cases and sell them plus stickers, T-shirts and whatnot.

The way you can set the price for your art is quite simple: there is a fixed price that cannot be edited plus the percentage you want to earn. Large mounted prints (61cm x 40,7cm), for example, can be bought at €58.50 as a base price and sold at any price beyond that. To know how much you could earn, let’s make an example: Say you set a price of €65 for one of them, and you sell one picture. To the price you have set (€65) you will have to subtract the base price (€58,50) and the result will be your income: €6.50. Manage to sell some photos, and you will have some satisfactions.

Selling photography online with 500px

500px, at the moment (February 23rd 2012) sets the price of all your productions at $500. I wish that people would actually buy my photos for that price, but, simply, they are not worth that much. I believe they are decent photos, but no one would ever buy them for that much money. I have tweeted a question regarding the possibility of adjusting the prices, but didn’t receive a reply but I’m pretty sure the possibility will be given soon. Also, there is a limited choice on how your art will be printed: Gallery Wrapped Canvas prints of various dimensions are the only option until today.

Update – 13/05/2012

Quoting directly from  500px webiste:

“You will get $2 from every digital download, and 70% net proceeds from the sale of a canvas print. On average, photographer can expect a payout of $40 per print. The payout may wary depending on different factors — printing costs, shipping costs, discount promotions, etc. Payout is calculated individually and is based on market factors.”

More on 500px: 500px vs. Flickr, which one to choose?

Selling photography online 1x.com

1x.com is probably the place that has the best fine art photography around. The quality is kept high by the fact that curators look after the galleries. The problem here is that “in order to participate in the Print Sales at 1x, you need to upgrade your account to Extra (basic prints feature) or PRO (extended prints feature with custom pricing and limited edition)”, once you have done that, you will receive 60% of the profit of each sold print. I understand the strive for quality, but this will keep many potential photography sellers far away due to the €139 fee for the yearly subscription. If you are a very talented photographer, you should give it a try. Photos are printed on real matte photographic paper in premium quality in four different sizes (small to extra large.)

On a personal chart I would rank these sites like this:

  1. RedBubble – At the moment, the most complete and easily accessible of the 3.
  2. 500px – Immature, but with great potential.
  3. 1x.com – Too exclusive for my taste.

Remember this: No matter which service you will decide to use in the end, it will be always difficult to manage selling photography online and it is very improbable you will ever make a living out of it. When you take pictures, always put your art first, then consider whether  you would like to sell your product or not. Do it for the art, not for the money!

Giulio Menna
Lover of: all things digital, humanities, and medieval manuscripts. I created Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project and run them both with passion and love in my free time. I am an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University. Still happily living in the Netherlands.