Just starting out and need a printer

Philmar

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I am in need of a printer. I am photographer who has many fans in my neighborhood. I post daily photos in a Facebook Group. I often received requests from various FB group members asking if I have prints available for sale or a website where I sell prints or digital files. I didn't. Photography is a passion, a hobby I do to keep me sane, not to line my pocket. I had a full time job that paid my bills and keeps the banks happy. While I was sure I could monetize this hobby, I resisted the urge as it would eat away at the time I'd be spending taking photos. I didn't want to spend my free time running back and forth to a printer and then delivering prints. All work and no play makes Phil a grumpy man!! Eventually I felt terrible continuously turning down a lot of nice people who wanted my photos and noticed I was spending a lot of time explaining why I didn't sell photos. So I designed a website and a process that would create as little of work as possible on my end. I would sell the right to the photo and send it by email to a local printer to whom the client would contact and pay the printer to get it printed and possibly mounted or delivered.

While I wasn't interested in doing this for money I did charge a nominal fee for my time. I would have to locate the files on my hard drive of thousands of photos. They were prepared and optimised for web viewing, not for printing. In order to be printed I must prepare them for printing. This process means I never have to deal with the printers although I probably should as they probably made a fair amount of business through me. My dealings have been only by emails with photos to be printed. I have no knowledge of what size prints or paper that clients ordered. I did not want to be involved.

Well...queue 2023 and I am officially retired and now have time to print and cut out the middle person. Furthermore I had many people request prints but balk when they saw how much the prints would cost from the printer...e.g US$42 for a 16x20 Professional Photo Lustre print from an Epson 9570 or US$130 for a 24x36 Giclee fine art paper.

I am hoping I can print for much less and get even more orders. I would even pay up to $1000 for a printer as I suspect it will pay for itself easily. I have always received great information from people in this forum so I ask of you: what printer would you recommend?
 
I am in need of a printer. I am photographer who has many fans in my neighborhood. I post daily photos in a Facebook Group. I often received requests from various FB group members asking if I have prints available for sale or a website where I sell prints or digital files. I didn't. Photography is a passion, a hobby I do to keep me sane, not to line my pocket. I had a full time job that paid my bills and keeps the banks happy. While I was sure I could monetize this hobby, I resisted the urge as it would eat away at the time I'd be spending taking photos. I didn't want to spend my free time running back and forth to a printer and then delivering prints. All work and no play makes Phil a grumpy man!! Eventually I felt terrible continuously turning down a lot of nice people who wanted my photos and noticed I was spending a lot of time explaining why I didn't sell photos. So I designed a website and a process that would create as little of work as possible on my end. I would sell the right to the photo and send it by email to a local printer to whom the client would contact and pay the printer to get it printed and possibly mounted or delivered.

While I wasn't interested in doing this for money I did charge a nominal fee for my time. I would have to locate the files on my hard drive of thousands of photos. They were prepared and optimised for web viewing, not for printing. In order to be printed I must prepare them for printing. This process means I never have to deal with the printers although I probably should as they probably made a fair amount of business through me. My dealings have been only by emails with photos to be printed. I have no knowledge of what size prints or paper that clients ordered. I did not want to be involved.

Well...queue 2023 and I am officially retired and now have time to print and cut out the middle person. Furthermore I had many people request prints but balk when they saw how much the prints would cost from the printer...e.g US$42 for a 16x20 Professional Photo Lustre print from an Epson 9570 or US$130 for a 24x36 Giclee fine art paper.

I am hoping I can print for much less and get even more orders. I would even pay up to $1000 for a printer as I suspect it will pay for itself easily. I have always received great information from people in this forum so I ask of you: what printer would you recommend?
I have a Canon PIXMA Pro-10. It works well for me printing pictures to hang on my walls. I'm not sure they even sell it anymore.

The cautionary tale here is.... INK. Mine takes 10 cartridges. I tried using 3rd party inks but did not like the results so have gone back to using Canon inks. They are $100+ per set. Check out the cost of ink and how long they last before buying anything.
 
I have a Cannon Pro; it uses 7 ink cartridges. Changing all 7 at once is a $125 shot.

You start printing 36-inch posters you will be the ink suppliers' best friend in no time at all.

I understand not really wanting to make money at this, (I don't either), but sharpen your pencil to make sure you don't lose at it.
 
DO A BUSINESS PLAN

I suggest you tabulate ALL the costs, before you go too far down the hole.
YOU WILL BE THE PRINTER, and you have to consider a LOT of stuff:
- You have to buy and inventory ALL the various paper sizes and types that you would print on.
- - I suspect that your paper inventory will be well over $1,000. Epson 24" paper roll is over $200, 44" roll is $500.
- If you are selling a wide range of print sizes, I think that you will need TWO printers;
- - One for smaller size prints, say 8.5x11 and smaller, and printing on sheets. This will probably be your high volume printer.
- - One for the LARGER prints that print on roll paper. HOW wide will you print? The cost for printer and paper will go UP as it get wider.
- And as Pete said, INK. You HAVE TO have SPARE ink on the shelf.
- You will need a GOOD paper cutter, which are not inexpensive.
- And you have to account for wear and tear on the printers in your pricing. Because when the printer breaks or wears out, you have to replace it.
- Shipping material; envelopes for smaller prints, tubes for larger prints. You have to buy and inventory these also.
- Arrange for a business shipping account with a convenient shipper; UPS, FedEx, etc.
- - You need to find out HOW the shipper charges, so you can charge the buyer appropriately.
- How much space will this new business take, and do you have that space in your house?
- How will you track and manage your sales?

And there is a lot more that I have not thought of.

If people are balking at $42 USD for 16x20, what will you charge, and still make a profit? $30?
Epson Legacy Fiber 13x19 paper costs $145 USD for 25 sheets (plus shipping and tax). That is at least $5.80 per sheet. If you make a mistake and have to reprint, that is another $5.80. So $11.60 just for the paper.
Add a couple dollars for ink, a couple dollars for equipment depreciation/wear, a couple dollars for overhead (power, insurance, etc).
So IF you charge $30, and your cost is $20, you make about $10 on that 13x19 print. Is that a "fair" return for your time, effort and investment?
That return $ will get SMALLER for the smaller prints. So you have to sell MORE small prints.

In your business plan, you HAVE TO determine what your size sales numbers will be.

Gud Luk
 
All great points. I currently charge $50 per photo and have the client pay separately to the printer for the printing. I charge $50 because it does take up to an hour or so to locate the file, and optimise it for printing (all my photos are optimised for web view), communicate with client as well as shoot file off to printer. I thought if I can print it cheaper then I would cut the middleman printer out and charge maybe $150 a large print. This is a neighborhood of well to do retired people that love the photos I take of the sunrises off the lake. They lack the mobility/desire to be there first thing in the morning. many became artists in their retirement and appreciate art....and there are many people that left the neighborhood for cheaper living elsewhere and would like a visual nostalgic momento like a photo of a streetcar or the lifeguard station.
But the start up costs are pretty steep I see. Maybe time to join the local photo club and network with some of the local photogs.
 
All great points. I currently charge $50 per photo and have the client pay separately to the printer for the printing. I charge $50 because it does take up to an hour or so to locate the file, and optimise it for printing (all my photos are optimised for web view), communicate with client as well as shoot file off to printer. I thought if I can print it cheaper then I would cut the middleman printer out and charge maybe $150 a large print. This is a neighborhood of well to do retired people that love the photos I take of the sunrises off the lake. They lack the mobility/desire to be there first thing in the morning. many became artists in their retirement and appreciate art....and there are many people that left the neighborhood for cheaper living elsewhere and would like a visual nostalgic momento like a photo of a streetcar or the lifeguard station.
But the start up costs are pretty steep I see. Maybe time to join the local photo club and network with some of the local photogs.

Eyes WIDE OPEN.
It costs a LOT more than most people think, to get a business going.
SPACE is the other issue. Even if I had the money to start a printing business, I do NOT have the space for a WIDE carriage printer, and storing all the paper and shipping materials.
Then I have to run a network cable to wherever I put the printer.

I think you will have trouble finding someone local with a WIDE carriage printer.
Think of the direct costs I mentioned above. You may end up paying him, close to what a commercial printer will charge you.
If you do it for more than a few prints, you should make a business arrangement with that person.
 
Get a min 13" printer. Youcan print 4x6 on it but you can'r print 11x14 and larger on an 81/2" printer! I just ordered a roll, 24x100' of matt paper today. $81.94 with shipping. Plan on 12x24 prints mostly and 24x100' will give me 100 12x24" pieces. Also give me 225 8x16" sheets! $.82 a sheet for 12x24 and $.36 a sheet for 8x16 inch. Ink is expensive but trying some after market ink now. Just did my first photo with it and no complaints. I think it was about $5 a tank, no idea how much that will print, they claim something like 450 prints but I'm guessing 4x6 prints. I use a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MKII, uses 8 tanks and full set was $129, never have had to get a full set at one time before. Individual tanks run me $16 to $19. If I was selling print's I could make it work. I'm using mostly Matte paper these days and cut other sizes from 13x19 sheets. 50 sheet's of Polar matte from Red River Paper is $46.95 plus postage. Don't remember what postage was but not counting postage that's $.94 a sheet, I can live with that! I was thinking if I sold a 12x24 I'd charge min $40 but then I do my own framing also.

I don't have a paper cutter, I cut it with a straight edge and sharp knife, works every time. This framed photo I did on my printer, it's 9x18 inch's in frame made from old wood, two frames actually. if someone wanted it I'd probably ask $150, its actually two frames and completely hand made from scrap wood! More profit in the frame than the photo. Oh yea about the glass. It's recycled off a remodel site! All my framing material comes out of scrap piles, old barns and old fence rails. I work out of my own shop. Don't think I could rent space and afford to sell stuff. Then too, before I started making my own frames I already had my table saw, power miter saw, router, 12" planner and other assorted tools. I couldn afford to go out and buy them all just to get going making frames.

1689998568497.jpeg


For me the least expensive part is the prints. I don't go nuts over expensive paper though either. You can sink a lot of money just getting set up or you can cut some corners, I cut a lot on paper cost!


Next photo is 13x19 in a single frame I think I'd take $65 for it. Really does not take that long to make the frames and for the print's, just wait on the printer.

1689998942408.jpeg


The most expensive part of the whole thing is speciality tool's you could do without and paying rent on a shop if you don't have one. No way will I go up more than a 13" printer, really start's getting expensive. Then again if your gonna try to stick to max 8.5 x11 prints, I have an 8 1/2" Canon iP100 that will print me out 8x16inch prints, has two ink cartridges! A color one and a black one. Very nice 8x16's too. This next picture is an 8x16 inch from my little Canon iP100.

1689999400225.jpeg


My biggest fear if I started trying to make money at it would be turning it into a job! I'm 77 yrs old and retired, don't want a job!
 
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Why not refer your customers to a third party for printing? That third party can frame them as well, which is the next issue your elderly customers will have to deal with.
 

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