How to Sell Your Photos as Postcards
By Andrew Hudson Published: August 30, 2011 Updated: August 12, 2013
There are two approaches:
- Traditional: You can find postcard publishers and try to license your photo(s) to those publishers; and/or
- Self-Publish: You could become a publisher yourself by creating and selling your own line of postcards
How to Sell Postcards Yourself
Visit local stores that typically sell postcards. They may allow you to set up a display “on consignment” which means you provide everything and they only pay you for postcards that sell. This requires some effort, time and up-front money to do the printing and distribution. On the plus side, postcards are the lowest-cost way to tangibly publish your own work.
How to Find a Postcard Publisher
If you don’t want the hassle and time of selling postcards yourself, you could search for a postcard publisher. The best place to start is to find some postcards with similar pictures. On the back should be the address of the publisher. Send a nicely-printed sample to the publisher and see if you get a response. If they have an email address or web site listed, you could contact them beforehand to see if they’re worth the effort.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that you won’t get a reply since most publishers probably get many such submittals and already have an arrangement with one photographer, or a few photographers. It’s easier for them to work with a small number of photographers as there’s less work — less accounting, less checks to write, less hassle with terms, etc. Hopefully though, they’ll be interested. They may offer you a one-time license, to use the image indefinitely. The payment may not be much, perhaps $100, but at least You’ll get your picture published.
If you’re more motivated by seeing your work published than getting any money, you could offer to license the image for free, or in exchange for some finished postcards to give to your family and friends. Note that you would offer to “license” the image rather than give them the “copyright". With a license, the publisher can use the image according to the agreed terms, but you still retain the copyright so you can use the image yourself.
Bear in mind that postcard publishing — like other types of regional publishing — is often small-time, local, and niche-orientated. There’s not a lot of money to go round, personal relationships count, and publishers don’t stray far from the niche that works for them. Also, they may already have a postcard with the same picture as yours, they may not see a market for your image, or they may simply not be printing new cards at this time.
As with anything, originality, color, and quality count. Publishers are looking for something that is not just as good as their current offering but is better, that will add to their line-up, that will attract buyers and fly off the shelves.
Now that you’re selling postcards, you’re only one fold away from selling greeting cards.