Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Landing On Your Feet In Tough Times

There are a couple of principles that I have built my photography business around, principles that just might help you land on your feet in tough times. Those principles are: Basing my business around income producing assets and multiple income streams. Long ago I made a conscious decision to focus on producing images that would bring in a continuing revenue stream. Later, when I got involved in the greeting card industry, I realized that it would also be a good idea to diversify my photography to generate a separate income stream.

For a time my income streams included assignments, stock and what is called paper products. Paper products covers products that have your photos imprinted on them and can range from coffee mugs and mouse pads to greeting cards and calendars. When creating my Animal Antics images, pets in anthropomorphic poses and situations, I have generally tried to keep the paper product rights myself. The idea is that I can get royalties from the distributors of products which can generate considerably more income than if the same images were licensed for a one time fee through a stock agency.

While I am still keeping the stock and paper products income streams going, I haven’t done an assignment in years. Now I am adding an additional income stream through advertising on my site. Right now that is in the form of Google click-through ads. Eventually it may include other advertising.

A lot of my fellow photographers question my wisdom on including advertising on my site, but I really think the potential of the advertising out weighs the relatively unobtrusive Google ads. I also believe, especially since I am not seeking assignment work, that if someone is looking to fill a particular image need, and they find a suitable image on my site, the advertising isn’t going to bother them. Time will tell.

Another venture I am currently undertaking is adding a video component to my stock (see video below). A side benefit from undertaking the video is learning new skills. While initially very reticent, I am now enjoying learning Final Cut Pro and am starting to think a little more in the way of motion. Another plus is my enjoyment of collaborating with others in undertaking video projects.

All of us photographers need to at least be aware of what alternate income streams might be available to us. Just taking a quick mental survey of photographers I personally know actually brings up quite a few possibilities. I know of one photographer who does quite well leading photo tours to exotic locations. Subsidized, income-producing stock sorties…not a bad gig if you can swing it! Another photographer I know supplements his income with weekend seminars in his field of expertise. Still others are offering online education.

Many additional income streams can be set up to be minimally intrusive on your time. Selling prints through a company like Imagekind, retail products through Cafepress or Zazzle, or even the aforementioned Google ads, are good examples. A word of caution though, doing a thorough job of setting up a program with a company like CafePress, or even Imagekind, does require a lot of upfront time.

A final word about finding supplemental income streams. My experience has been that any time I push myself beyond my normal zone of comfort it has been a positive experience. When you add up the benefits, additional income, insurance against market fluctuations, and acquiring new skills, well, the effort is bound to help you land on your feet!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I didn't realize you were doing Goggle ads. When will you know if it is worth it? nv