Monday, June 8, 2009
Adjusting My Strategy For Selling Stock Photos
In a recent interview with Tom Grill (Tom Grill Interview), perhaps the most experienced stock shooter in history, he indicated that he is shooting for RF (Royalty Free) and not RM (Rights Managed). His strategy is to provide RM quality images for the RF market thereby having the best images available for those who are looking for RF stock photos. My own recent strategy has been to focus almost entirely on Rights Managed images. But after re-reading Tom’s interview, I am adjusting my course a bit.
I am continually debating with myself on whether I am making a mistake by focusing so much on RM. The problem, as I see it, is that by shooting only RM I am eliminating a big portion of the market, probably the biggest portion at this point. To hedge my bets, and having read Tom’s advice, I have decided to send more of my new work to RF. I have to admit it makes me a little crazy! I just have a very hard time with the idea of selling my highly manipulated concept work for RF prices. I also hate the idea of selling it based on file size.
“What about Micro?” some of you might ask. First, I consider Micro to be just a lower priced version of RF. Secondly, I do worry about missing out on what, by volume, certainly is the biggest market. But the research I have done so far indicates to me that “traditional” RF, despite declining RPIs, still offers me a bigger dollar yield per image and per shoot.
Some of my RF stock photos with Blend Images have made me some pretty impressive sums of money. I have a number of images that have brought in, so far, in excess of $5,000.00 over a two and three-year period of time. I have a couple of RF shoots that have brought in $20,000 to $30,000.00 over a similar time frame, shoots that only cost me two or three thousand dollars to execute. I continually have to fight my “old school” mentality about stock and work at embracing the new realities…like them or not. But it certainly helps to have the knowledge and guidance of photographers like Tom Grill to help point the way.
The RF that I have shot has been almost entirely for Blend Images. When Blend recently began to offer Rights Managed stock I went back to doing what I love doing most, those highly manipulated concept stock photos. Now I will be sending more of those images to the Royalty Free offerings, testing the water, and hoping that the sound I hear is a cash register ahead and not a waterfall!