Thursday, August 6, 2009
If I had to use one word to describe my strategy for success in the stock photo world it would be service. Service isn’t necessarily a word that you might associate with success in stock photography, but hopefully I can present a convincing case for it. Business Gurus often say that service paves the road to riches. I think it is true. Let me explain.
Service as a stock photographer reveals itself in several ways. As an example let’s look at an experience I had yesterday. A doctor on the east coast emailed me asking if she could use one of my photos in a power point presentation. The image was of a patient and doctor consulting in a recovery room…with an elephant standing in the background. The doctor is presenting to a group of her peers. It is very important to her to give a powerful, interesting and effective presentation.
The first way that I was in service to this doctor was by creating an image that goes beyond your normal everyday image. The photograph is not just out of the ordinary, but it is also relevant with a quick, clear message. When you create images that stand out from the crowd, have a strong message and are needed in the marketplace, you are in service to your clients.
But how can you take that service even further? By making it as easy and efficient as possible for potential clients to find your images. When the doctor was looking for an image, she typed into Google “elephant in the recovery room”. I just did the same thing to check and see how quickly that image would show up. My image came up first on the Google search. Now that is service! As they say, time is money. If you can save a client time and effort your images can command a higher price point, and if it takes too long to find that image it dosen’t matter what price you charge, you aren’t going to make that sale (yes, I know, we license the images rather than sell them).
I believe in agencies; they do have the “eyeballs”, the traffic if you will. But I also believe in supplementing those agencies by putting your images online and making them easy for people to find. In the above example the doctor contacted me because the image in question has not yet been accepted by an agency. Once it is with an agency collection, my site will direct people interested in licensing it to that agency. BTW, the “elephant in the recovery room” image was submitted to Getty two weeks ago but has not yet been edited (accepted or rejected). Another "aside", I am the patient in that image:).
Being in service to your stock photo clients means getting your images up online with a search capability, great key wording and a large enough image for a client to easily see details and quality. It also means serious SEO (search engine optimization). Without the SEO component, all that work you put into creating great images might go to waste.
Service is rewarded. Keeping in mind how you can be of service to your clients will keep you on the right path. Service to your fellow photographers will also find its reward. You can’t always tell how or in what form that reward will come, but I have seen it happen too often to not understand the truth of it.