Print Sales, Costs, And Profit: 2023
November 11, 2023 ( Prev / Next )

It’s a year since I bought a printer. I thought I would provide an update on running costs, print sales, and profit. I’m happy to be completely transparent about all this as I know it can be difficult to figure this out if you are thinking of creating your own printing business.

The TL;DR is a significant but expected loss. Read on for the breakdown and where all the costs that eat into the profit come from.

Initial Investment

I took out a loan to cover the initial investment in November 2022. This was for 10,000.- CHF (with 2,175.20 CHF in interest added on top). I am paying this back at a rate of 338.20 CHF a month over three years. The loan was used to purchase the following equipment:

That’s a total of 8,611.65 CHF on equipment, in other words bootstrapping self printing. My MacBook needed replacing in the summer due to water damage, so that used up the remaining 1,400.- CHF (and a bit more). So the loan funds of 10,000.- CHF have been fully used.


Income is made up of sales through a local gallery that I am part of, along with web sales:


I include the loan repayment here as that is an ongoing cost, I don’t include any of the consumables (paper, ink, etc) as they were bought at the start as part of the loan and I have not had to add more. I will add these costs in future years, although I (in theory) have enough to last me quite a while.

Total Profit (Loss)


An approx 4,000 CHF loss is a bit more than expected, but that is equivalent to the loan repayment amount so effectively net zero. In two more years that loan will be repaid and so that cost will be removed.

The decrease in gallery sales, approx -30% on 2022, can be explained by the village having a poor summer in terms of visitor numbers. We have heard that other local businesses have seen the same. This is probably down to people travelling elsewhere due to not-quite-post-covid openings but also the strength of the Swiss Franc is discouraging tourists. It remains to be seen how this will impact the winter season, our busiest for sales.

The increase in rental cost at the gallery was also due to the poor summer. We all had to up our contribution to the rent to avoid going into the red. Our first priority at the gallery is covering the rent. We are run as a non-profit so use commission from sales to do that. The bad summer meant we could not cover the rent with commission alone.

We have just renewed the lease on the gallery for five more years. The reality is that a physical space is absolutely essential for getting the work out there and sold - just look at the figures, approx four times the amount of income than from the web sales.

What is not factored in here is the significant gain in time as I no longer need to travel to Lausanne to pick up prints, nor do I have to spend extra on scanning. I now only need to travel to Yverdon-les-Bains to pick up mounted large prints, which is roughly once a quarter.

I can also print and scan on demand now, which means I can run the web shop and increase the amount of work I have for sale - I uploaded over a dozen photos from a trip to New Zealand in the summer, at no extra cost to myself. Had I done this previously it would have cost me in the region of 1,000.- CHF for scanning and a small print of each.

I’ve had comments this year (which I’ve had in previous years) that my print prices are too low and I should be charging five to ten times what I do. Sure, I could do that but I would sell five to ten times fewer prints. The economics work out the same and I would prefer that people are able to purchase a print, setting the price point of my small 60x22cm prints to the equivalent of a day ski pass in the village is about right.

I have no illusions of being Gursky, and neither should anyone else.

photography, technology, printing