The competition that existed in the postcard market for decades has declined because of cellphones, digital cameras and email. Because there is less of a demand there is far less competition meaning that your chances of entering the market are greater than ever if you can shoot quality images.
There are so many people still going on holiday and the sheer numbers mean that there are still large percentages of people writing postcards. One of the major reasons that they continue to sell is that they are good quality and of a standard that amateurs can't achieve themselves with cellphones and digital cameras.
So if you want to enter this market then you need to do a few things right in order to be successful. Simple steps but essential to the process.
1. Be original
If the photograph has been taken many times then the chances of you being accepted by a postcard company are minimal You have to be original in your approach and creativity. When a potential buyer looks at your images, you have to stand out from all the other images. For example, most beaches have been shot from every angle but if you are prepared to spend some money and shoot from the air the possibilities are much greater. The initial outlay may be expensive but the rewards could be far greater. Don't always go for the most obvious but try to find angles and viewpoints that nobody else has used.
2. Subject choice is critical
You need to shoot the right places in locations where people are on holiday because the sales of postcards are highest in these areas. Although you are looking for unique images they must reflect what the visitors are seeing and want to remember. Don't go too over the top as the images must be easily recognized. So focus on the key icons in the city you are shooting. Think as a tourist will but see if you can come up with something that is above the norm and you will stand a greater chance of succeeding.
3. Don't copy
By all means shoot photos that people want to take home or send in the mail on postcards but don't try to reinvent the wheel. Have a look at postcards on sale and see what is available. Then shoot variations of those but not exactly the same. The reason they are on sale is because they are good images and sell well. If you really want to make a success then start a postcard collection and study them to see what makes them what they are, successful. They will give you a good idea of what sells and why.
4. Find a theme or common thread
Building on the previous point and starting your own postcard collection you will begin to see a common thread in the images. What is the theme? Do they all have rich colours? Is the focus on a landmark, a famous building or a particular type of scene? What postcards sell in a particular location or area? Getting to know the market will help you enter and shoot the image types that sell.
5. Find out who the publishers are
Look on the backs of the postcards in the areas where there are high tourist volumes and find out the names of the publishers. These are the people who probably are doing high volume sales and are on the lookout for new and creative photographers with unique styles and images. Contact them to see if they are interested in new images and photographers before wasting your time.
The postcard market is not going to die out soon. There will be many millions of postcards sales in years to come so if you are prepared to stick it out, handle rejection and persevere, you'll probably be successful. Happy shooting!