How to Sell Your Photos as Postcards

By Andrew Hudson Published: August 30, 2011 Updated: August 12, 2013

There are two approaches:

  1. Traditional: You can find postcard publishers and try to license your photo(s) to those publishers; and/or
  2. 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.

Learn more.

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.

Learn more with:
Links to Postcard Publishers
Photo Tips for Postcard Photographers
How To Become A Postcard Photographer

Greeting Cards

Now that you’re selling postcards, you’re only one fold away from selling greeting cards.



Reply by Edson

October 4, 2016

Hi there. Is it possible to use random images off the Internet to make postcards? If so, do I need to alter these images? If so, how do I need to alter them?



Reply by Bill

August 31, 2016

I have hundreds of post cards that range from 100 to 125 years old. I have never seen a lot of cards I have. Is it possible to reproduce cards that old? Some are made with unusual materials and some are slightly risqué even for today. Some are just so cute I’d like to share them.

Thank you


Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

September 2, 2016

Published photos from before 1923 (in the U.S.) do not have copyright protection (they are said to be in the “public domain”) and anyone can copy them. (Photos from 1923 to 1976 only have protection if the copyright was registered, renewed, and notic provided). So yes, you could reproduce those cards.

Reply by Anonymous

May 25, 2016


ChromaZone Publishing (a postcard publisher in Holland) is interested in one of my panorama photography and offers:

A) card royalty contract (12% of the Distribution Price € 0.30=€ 0.036)

or B) buy-out for the card rights for 5 years for € 70

What do you think? Could the contract interesting be or not at all?

Thank you for you answer and advice.

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

June 7, 2016

Go for it! Money is better than no money! These are probably standard terms and they seem typical for the industry. Sign the contract, get paid, and start taking more photos to license!

Reply by Anonymous

November 6, 2015

Your "Directory of Postcard publishers" does not work.

Reply by Baladi

May 15, 2015

Hi Andrew,

When I went to Nashville, TN. I learned about Percy Priest Lake. I fell in Love w/ this Lake! So, I took LOTS of pics. When I showed my coworkers and friends they said that my pics looked like postcards. So, I thought this was a great idea and; thought I could make extra $$ like when I used to give private piano lessons. Just something on the side.

So, you say that publishers are picky??!! That my pics can’t be similar to other postcards?

I mean that’s why I want to put my pics/postcards out there. I’ve seen postcards of downtown Nashville and I can picture my postcards side by side in the same touristy rack. OH! BTW. I have not seen any postcard pics of this lake in downtown touristy Nashville.

But what would be a simpler way w/out too much complication?

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

May 19, 2015


See if there is a postcard publisher that covers Nashville. Go to a tourist store and look on the backs of postcards to see who publishes them, then contact the publisher.

Reply by Anonymous

December 27, 2014

How do you get paid when you distribute your cards to a selling source?

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

January 26, 2015


If you supply printed postcards to a distributor or retailer, they will likely pay you a certain amount per card sold, often as a percentage of the retail price. With books, as an example, the publisher might get around 1/3 of the retail price (e.g. about $7 for a $21 book). If your costs for printing, warehousing and shipping come to $5 per book, that’s a profit of $2 per book, or about 10% of the retail price.

If you supply the image (and the selling source does the printing/publishing), then they may license your image for a set amount, possibly depending on the quantity they think they can sell. Established companies often have established rates, which you can accept or walk away from.



Reply by Isabelle

December 15, 2014

Do you need to copyright your images on the postcards? How would you go about it?

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

January 26, 2015

Hi Isabelle,

You don’t need to do anything to copyright your images, as copyright is automatic. (As soon as you take a photo, it has copyright and you are the owner). It’s helpful to add a copyright notice to your postcards (e.g. “© Your Name”) to make others aware of your copyright ownership, and to use as evidence if some issue comes up.

Optionally you can register your copyright. You can do this online (at in the U.S.) for a nominal fee, and you can register a group of photos for one submittal and price. Registration gives you additional legal options, particularly if you go to court, but it is not necessary.

Good luck,


Reply by Susan

April 25, 2014

Hi !

What are the restrictions in the US, when selling selfmade postcards from your own photographs of a public building, such as a windmill or a church? Is that allowed? And what if its a private owned building?

Best regards Susan

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

October 8, 2014

Hi Susan,

There are no restrictions that I know of concerning public views of public buildings, or even public views of private buildings (other than privacy).

(Privacy being photographing people in private situations, or disclosing private facts).

There was a landmark case on this very issue, called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame v. Gentile, 1998. Posters of a private building from a public viewpoint were considered “fair use” (of a service mark).

U.S. Copyright law has a specific exception for architecture:

Pictorial Representations Permitted

The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.
#8212;U.S. Copyright Office, Title 17 USC Section 120 (a)

For more info, read Buildings Copyright and Trademarks.

Reply by Glen Robson

November 15, 2012

Hi Joann

there is a christian resource website called Seed Resources, it used to be known as 12 baskets. They have created a massive resource of images, hymns and prose for people to buy. I have put my pictures there and have selected charities to give any royalties to. Its not a means of retiring from selling pictures but does mean people are seeing your work, and to know someone has bought something is just a great feeling in itself.


Reply by Joann Merritt

September 17, 2012

I am trying to find someone to publish some postcards for me. My postcards are of everyday pictures that i have taken and then I go to the word of GOD, the bible and get a scripture to go along with the picture. I guess the best way to put it is inspirational postcads. Thank you for your time.

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

September 17, 2012


Hi Joann:

It is hard to find publishers for your postcards. To find a publisher, see my Directory of Postcard Publishers, or, in your case, do a Google search for Christian Postcard Publishers. Alternatively, you can print your own. See Sell Postcards and Directory of Postcard Printers (Digital).


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