I’m fortunate to spend my summers on a beautiful little island off the coast of Vancouver. A popular seasonal tourist destination, Galiano Island has a vibrant arts community and a thriving Saturday Market.
Here I’ve discovered an enthusiastic consumer base for my photography — especially my photo greeting cards. On Saturdays I set up my tent, hang out and visit with the tourists, and sell my work.
I’ve also made arrangements with three small gift shops on the island to carry my cards in the off-season.
It’s not my bread and butter, of course — I sell fine art prints, drink coasters, stock, and occasionally I pitch an editorial photograph, too. But I have earned over $1,000 this year on cards alone — and buyers love them.
Here’s how you can make greeting cards for sale, too:
- Have a selection of iconic images of the destination and the activities that people love to do there. Tourists will be buying an image that reminds them of their time spent in that location. On Galiano, that includes the ocean, iconic scenery, kayaks, and sunsets. Artsy, macro floral images always sell well, too. You don’t need an extensive selection; the popular ones sell over and over. For me, bright, colorful artsy images sell best, like these, which I’ve turned into “paintings” in Photoshop:
- Know your price point. Notice the pricing other artisans are using for similar products and aim to be in the same ballpark. Factor the commission into your price, too. At the market, I sell these cards for $6. In retail outlets, I price them at $7 and I offer the stores a higher commission.
- Keep your costs in line. My costs have to be around 1/3 of my selling price, including commission.
- Create your cards. You can have them bulk printed or handmade. I find people prefer handmade, and it allows me to minimize inventory. I purchase blank cards at an art supply store and attach 4×6 prints. Each is packaged in a cellophane sleeve, available at the same art supply shop. My cost is between $1 and $1.50 per card.
- For variety, you may consider other sizes and formats. Square is popular now, but it’s more difficult to find the materials.
- Don’t forget about payment. Cash or credit? You may want to offer credit card payment. It’s simple with a device like Square that works with most smart phones today, but consider the fees associated with it when you set your prices.
Above all else, have fun. Enjoy the market and engage with people. I always sell more when I chat with tourists, telling them about the stories behind the photos.
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