Are you considering starting a photo printing business?

The global photo printing market has been growing year on year for several decades. The growing use of mobile devices, resulting in a significant increase in the number of photos taken, is only one of the key factors contributing to the worldwide photo printing industry development. Latest trends also indicate a growing demand for personalized photo products such as photo books and photo calendars.

In this detailed guide, we cover all the steps to help you start and successfully run a photo printing company:

  • Why is the perfect time to start an online photo printing business?
  • What are the first steps in setting up your company in the photo printing sector?
  • What assets and supplies do you need to start your business in the photo printing industry?
  • How to plan and conduct a successful business launch in the photo printing sector?

Why should you start a photo printing business?

The market of world photo printing suppliers is diverse. It contains both low-cost suppliers who offer very cheap photo products, as well as stores dealing with specialized personalization at high costs. There are also some companies that find a balance with a high-quality product at affordable prices.

Regardless of which group you want to belong to with your photo printing company, there are several things behind its setup.

Before we delve into the details of starting a photo printing business, let’s get to know the basic concepts & opportunities of the photo printing market:


Global Photo Printing Market Definition

The global photo printing market includes a variety of personalized solutions for creating physical versions of digital pictures. However, these are not only individual prints but also gifts and decorations with photos printed on them. Examples include customized photo books, photo calendars, canvases, pillows, mugs, T-shirts, and much more.


Market Dynamics

Historical background

The modern history of the photo printing industry begins in 1993 when the world’s first digital press for color printing appeared. It has enabled a wider group of customers to make high-quality, personalized prints. Since then, photo printing has grown into a powerful and highly profitable industry. According to data provided by, between 1993 and 2010, the market value was US$ 85.2 Billion.

Over time, the photo printing industry began to expand to other areas that arose thanks to the rapid technological development. In addition to simple photo printing, companies started to provide design and delivery services for personalized items and gadgets onto which customer photos are printed. Among them, we can distinguish home décor, greeting cards, key rings, mousepads, or even customized playing cards.

→ Check why is it profitable to sell photo gifts.

Growth drivers

The key growth drivers of the photo printing market are fast internet connections, increased usage of mobile devices, and the surging growth of e-commerce.

Wide access to mobile devices and Wi-Fi is responsible for changing the lifestyle of people. Their needs related to photo printing services are evolving. Smartphones and tablets offer users increased flexibility and convenience. With the development of portable devices, the number of photos transferred via digital media is rising. It leads to ordering more and more prints of posters, photo books, albums, and calendars.

Customers can benefit from numerous services in their pockets that allow easy editing and customization of photos taken with the phone. On the other hand, companies can provide customers with innovative solutions in printing and selling photo products through mobile channels. Thanks to mobile applications and Responsive Web Design, designing and ordering photo products is now easier than ever.

→ Read more about Responsive Web Design: Best Practices for Photo Printing Business.

The expansion of the Internet infrastructure and the growth of e-commerce has a strong influence on the interest in online photo printing services. With the increasing speed and availability of the Internet, shoppers are gaining better access to online stores. Such an opportunity makes them more likely to order prints online. The broadband internet connections are booming, which can be a potential industry opportunity.

Change of trends during the year

Observing trends in the online photo printing business is crucial to understanding users’ needs and increasing sales. Therefore, let’s check some query changes throughout the year.

“Photo printing”

A significant increase in interest in the “Photo printing” query is in the second half of December. It may be related to the Christmas season or the end of the year in general. During this period, people are looking for personalized photo gifts for their loved ones but not only. It is also the time when companies order customized corporate gadgets for the following year.

“Photo products

Photo products are a very diverse category, the popularity of which changes dynamically throughout the year. An example of an upward trend in this set is the summer holiday season, when people develop photos they took after returning from vacation.

→ Learn more about the seasonality of photo products.

“Photo book

Searches for “Photo book” reach an annual climax at the turn of November and December. Photo books and albums have recently become a popular Christmas gift, connecting generations and evoking many beautiful memories.

→ Still unsure if photo printing business is right for you? Find out why should you start a photo products business in 2021.

Starting a photo printing business: the first steps

Choose your target audience

Try to know your potential customers and to find out what they want and are willing to pay for. Create a document (an Excel sheet, for example) containing parameters such as age, gender, interests to create the segments that are most relevant to you.

It is important to remember that this step is an essential part of your photo printing business plan. Identify what products would be the most popular or find your niche.

Recognize the competition

Find out what products and services your competitors are offering and how much people must pay for them. Try to stand out and offer unique photo products such as photo books in various sizes, albums, photo calendars, photo cards, etc.

Learn about photo printing standards

Each industry has unique sets of guidelines, ethos, and rules that govern it. The photo printing sector is no exception.

The established regulations are the basis of the photo printing business and define the minimum requirements that a company must meet when providing these services.

Spend some time to become familiar with these standards and ensure that you know how you can incorporate them into your business.

Look for the right software vendor

One of the crucial steps in setting up and running your own photo printing business is finding the most convenient and optimal software that perfectly suits your needs.

Among the products available on the market, you can find many different options and components, like online editing software, e-commerce, CRM, PDF file generator, and many more. You may also consider purchasing a complete package that provides an all-in-one solution.

Plan your marketing strategy

Even the best software and the most beautiful storefront will not sell your photo printings without a proper business & marketing plan.

Ways to promote business and attract customers don’t have to be expensive! Try to offer loyalty discounts & coupons, plan campaigns in social media, and take care of SEO optimization.

Your business, regardless of its size, can attract new audiences and turn them into loyal customers.

Benefit from smart technologies

The goal of any business is to get the client to take the step from start to purchase as quickly and efficiently as possible. AI & Machine Learning can analyze photos and find patterns to suggest the best selection of images. What is more, smart tech evaluates pictures’ quality to create a composition that will look the best when printed.

Intelligent technologies revolutionize the photo printing market so the customers can successfully reach their desired goal within minutes.


Resources needed to start a photo printing business

At this point you are probably wondering “What equipment do I need to start a photo printing business?”. That’s why we present the list of assets required to set up a successful photo printing company.

Printing infrastructure

Printing infrastructure can be handled in two ways.

You can invest in an in-house printing infrastructure and do it yourself. However, this would require a large amount of money to put into physical space and machines. Make the list of printers, computers, cutting equipment, etc. Perform extensive research about the products and choose the best that is available in the market. If you already have the setup, you don’t need to worry about that.

Although, if you are a market newcomer, outsourcing may be your best option in the early stages. All you need to do is to find a quality printing service provider. Get in touch with multiple potential outsourcers to ensure you get the best possible opportunity and value. Negotiate a sliding scale of discounts with them based on monthly sales.

→ Check how your non-printer business can develop photo products.

Editors & design tools

When choosing an editor for designing prints, photo books, or other photo products, make sure that it has advanced features that make it easier to compose a project and add personalization.

Here are some tips for choosing a photo printing design software:

  • Mobile responsiveness: editors should be mobile responsive so that users can design products on any device.
  • Customization features: The tool is an investment. Therefore, make sure it has enough options for your customers to design products easily. Although, remember that more is not always better. Overwhelmed by the number of options, customers may delay placing an order because they will never find their design perfect.
  • Dedicated buying paths: each photo product requires a different approach which means customizing each stage of the user’s journey. The ease of modifying the purchase path for various products should be an important factor when evaluating your photo printing software.

→ Read more about how to choose the best photo products software for your business.

E-commerce facilities

Selling photo products is much more complex than online trading for other items such as clothes or shoes. Products such as photo books do not only come in different shapes and sizes. They can be printed on various paper types, with different covers to choose from and a customized number of pages. The finally configured product needs to be valued properly, considering the above elements.

Therefore, when looking for a suitable e-commerce platform for your photo printing business, do not forget to review the admin panel. Ensure you can configure each product individually, add complex price combinations, or put on new themes or design resources easily.

→ Consider choosing a ready-to-sell solution, where advanced photo product editors are combined with a complex e-commerce environment. Check the Printbox offer.

Unique Value Proposition

Providing top-quality photo products that are hard to get anywhere else is a differentiating factor that can trick a potential buyer into choosing your business.

If you can find a provider of high-quality paper and offer sharp imaging and printing, then you will have a chance to start a lucrative photo printing business.

You can also decide to sell unique products unavailable in conventional printing houses, which will become your brand’s distinguishing feature.

→ Get inspired by 4 ideas for unique photo products collected from our clients.


How to launch a photo printing business

With the research, strategic, and technical parts done, it’s time to start building your brand online visibility. There are a few things you need to do.

Optimize your website content for SEO and Google rankings

SEO is Google’s way of determining which sites deserve a high ranking for each search query entered. The higher your position on search engine result pages, the more clicks and traffic your site will generate. SEO also improves the user experience, increasing the likelihood of customers becoming repeat buyers.

Create a teaser video 

Having the choice between text and video, most people prefer to watch a movie clip. That is what makes promotional videos the bread and butter of your funnel-top marketing campaigns. A well-made promo video can be fruitful with even the smallest budget, so get creative and don’t hesitate to start.

Build hype on social media

Social media is currently one of the most effective channels for building personal communication with the audience. Test different voices, content, texts, and visuals to see how people interact with them.

Don’t be afraid to go talk about what you are doing and what will come out of your photo printing business. People need to see the true face of the company as this helps potential customers develop a sense of trust and bond with your brand.

→ Check also 5 social media tips every photo product seller should know.

Get press

Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through popular news outlets or websites, this is a great way to get the buzz about your photo printing business.

Remember! Do not contact any industry portal, magazine, or blog editor to write about your business until you have reviewed their publications and understand what they contain. Suggest something relevant, new, and noteworthy that they haven’t written a hundred times before.

Run promotions to help increase initial sales

The human mind likes bargains, and it is natural. For this reason, attracting audience attention in this way when launching a business can be beneficial.

Promotions always have a specific duration. In the client’s mind, the mechanism related to the rule of unavailability is subconsciously activated. Moreover, bargains and promotions reduce the desire of customers to continue searching for the product elsewhere.

Takeaways (and some tips on what to do next)

We hope that the idea of ​​entering the photo printing industry has sprouted in your mind – now it’s time to act! Re-analyze all the most relevant points we mentioned to start implementing.

Okay, but what to expect next?

After the e-commerce is successfully launched, analyze your performance. After 3-4 months, you will be able to determine the average number of orders. Based on this, you can put more effort into marketing to improve your results.

Here are some tips for the following steps:

  • Check your prices regularly to stay competitive.
  • When you reach a stage where you will have regular orders, expand your product offering and experiment with different photo products.
  • Invest in advertising on social media. It can be a great way to disseminate information to a local and international audience.
  • Ask customers about their experiences with your company. Are they satisfied with the product quality and customer service? Based on their feedback, you can see how you can improve your listing.

We keep our fingers crossed for the success of your new photo printing business!

Content & Communication Manager in Printbox. She has over 5 years of experience in communication activities in social media, supporting the marketing team in PR activities, research, and expert content creation. In her spare time, she listens to true crime podcasts and takes long walks around Krakow.