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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 02 Jan 2011 (Sunday) 13:10
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How much do you sell

41 posts
Joined Sep 2008
Jan 02, 2011 13:10 |  #1

I'm getting ready to start my second season of doing equestrian events. I use Smugmug as my e-commerce web site, they have great statistics. I am running between 8-10% in sales, I will post 1000 photos and will sell between 80 & 100 photos. For the ones that do Event Photography, not so much weddings those are usually pre-packaged; what % is expected in sales. Thanks, Roc

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102 posts
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Joined Jun 2007
Location: Drummondville Quebec Canada
Jan 02, 2011 13:14 |  #2

I don't do event photography right now, but I think that it will differ a lot depending on the type of event that you do. I did some events with another photographer before and it was hard to calculate since we were selling the prints right on the spot.

I think that 8-10% of your images selling is a REALLY good number, especially if you don't sell directly on the spot. It might be different where you live, but, here in Quebec, I'm pretty sure that selling only on Smugmug would kill my business right off the bat.

55 posts
Joined Dec 2010
Jan 04, 2011 02:57 |  #3

The other part of the answer depends on how much you are selling your photos for. If you post 1000 photos and sell 10 but are charging $100 a photo you are doing well and making $1000 and only at 1%.

But if you are posting 1000 photos and selling 100 at $5 you are only making $500 but instead at 10%.

These numbers are further affected by expenses incurred to shoot at the event.

Which number do you care about, profit or the percentage?

I think the answer is a mixture of both the percentage and profit, saying you have good traffic. If you have a high percentage your price should increase, but if you have a low percentage, perhaps you should play with your price point to increase profits. All other things being equal of course.

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Joined Nov 2005
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Jan 04, 2011 09:06 |  #4

I say it is VERY event dependent but also demographics. I've shot equestrian (my daughter rides dressage so I shoot at her events) lacrosse, football, soccer, wrestling, martial arts, dances, parties as well as ballet and choir. Some at high school level some younger and some post high school level. So I have shot many different events in many areas of many age groups. But my pricing is the same for all so that is not a factor when comparing my event sales to each other.

Your numbers of 8-10% I would consider very good for event. But like mentioned, if your price is such that you are practically giving them away then what's the point? Personally I do not even think about the percentage of images sold. I think about how much time I spent shooting and processing and then how much money I actually made on the shoot. If I can come in around $25/hour after all expenses then I consider it a good event shoot. I define my event shooting as not being paid to show up, just making money if people buy after the shoot. I also think event shooting is typically tough to make money at. There are a few events I am paid for to just show up and then I make more on print sales, but most are not this way... this is starting to change as I am becoming more known and people are wanting me to come shoot their events.

Of all the event shooting I've done over the years I've seen sales all over the map and I have yet to figure out why some sell great and some almost not at all. My equestrian sales tend to do better than most other events but martial arts has been my best so far. Going by my success or failure judgements based on hourly rate earned after sales I've earned as little as 50 cents per hour and as much as 50 dollars per hour and everything in between for no money up front event shooting.

Now I also do other types of photography that pays better, like portraits, weddings, etc. But I really love event shooting and one of my goals is to figure out which one's are worth it and why some work and some do not. I know that marketing plays a role, but there's also something else at play that I have not figured out. There are many events that I shoot where people tell me they are going to buy for sure, and never do. And other events where I feel it will not go well and they surprise me and order way more than expected.

So in the end if you figure out your hourly rate after all your time and expenses are figured in and you are happy with that rate, then you should always go after that event and keep shooting it. If the rate comes out lower than you like then don't shoot it anymore.. unless you are just shooting it because you love to shoot it. For the events I shoot that do not do well I often times get requests from people to come shoot it again. When I get these requests I inform them that this event was not worth my time based on sales from last time and if they want me to shoot it again they will have to come up with an upfront fee to get me to show up and shoot. This fee is usually based on how much time I feel it will take me to shoot and process, as well as drive to and from and I figure in expenses. Some people have agreed and come up with the fee, most I never here from again. So be it.

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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 04, 2011 19:16 |  #5

As others have noted, there are too many variables to be able to give a simple answer as far as a percentage goes. A lot depends on how many images you post and how much you charge.

If you shoot a kid's soccer game, post 50 photos of each player, and charge $50 for an 8" by 10" print, you will have a very low sales percentage. In fact, most parents won't be buying anything at all. 50 images per kid x 9 kids on each team = 900 images. You'd probably sell zero images, but let's just be optimistic and say you sell 3 images. Your sales percentage is 0.33% And that's being very optimistic!

Now, let's say you only post the best single image of each kid, and charge $12 for an 8" by 10" print. So you have 18 photos posted and will probably sell 3 or 4 images. At least in my local demographic that's how many parents would be willing to part with twelve dollars. Your percentage will be 20% - 60 times greater percentage than the previous scenario!

Although each of these scenarios sound extreme, there are actually sports event shooters who do it each way. Some bust their butts to take and upload thousands of images every single weekend, only to make 50 or 60 bucks a week. That's the reality of the situation, and if you're selling 8 or 9 percent you have a very, very good gig.

Guard what you have - it's a wonder that some aspiring photographer hasn't severely undercut you already.

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Cream of the Crop
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Joined Nov 2005
Location: Attica, NY / Parrish, FL
Jan 04, 2011 20:30 |  #6

Too many factors to include as noted, but I'd guess about 5-15% but basing it off people who buy and not how many prints. So if there's 300 kids in an event maybe 30-45 parents buy for the bigger/national events and maybe 3-5 buy from a regular game. How many prints they actually buy has ranged from one to 100 per parent.

Profit wise it comes down to pricing, SmugMug takes too much of my bottom line so never looked at them, went with Exposure Manager which take 5% less which adds up (and they're cheaper each year), however, now in the middle of switching to PhotoCart which is only the 2.8% that Paypal takes so it's basically 12% more in my pocket w/ no annual fee.

Pricing has a lot to do with it, too cheap you may sell more but earn less, too high and nobody buys. Have to research pricing heavily before just throwing numbers out there.

When it comes to T&I (kind of an event), that's a VERY high percentage, only small handful of kids don't get those because it's the thing to do over action shots.

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How much do you sell
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