Friday, November 13, 2009

Penetrating The Consumer Market For Photography

Turbulence, Change And Pictures As Products
In this crazy time of turbulence and change in the photography world, I think it is extremely important to keep an eye on, and perhaps a toe in, a variety of markets. One market that the Internet seems to have opened up to individual photographers, at least on the surface anyway, is the market made up of consumers, people who want to buy pictures as products. I define that as everything from fine art prints to anything with a picture printed on it such as coffee mugs, greeting cards, mouse pads, calendars and so forth.

Cats, Dogs and

What I have found so far is that it is not necessarily an easy market to penetrate. With my collection of “Animal Antics” images, photos of cats, dogs and other animals in anthropomorphic poses and situations, I thought the process would be simple. Just put my images up on Caf├ę and rake in the sales. Why is it that things so seldom work out as planned?

Cats, Dogs And Coffee Mugs

The first thing I misjudged was how much work it is to put pictures up on sites such as CafePress. A funny picture of a cat that works really well on a mouse pad invariably doesn’t fit well on a coffee mug. A photo that fits on a coffee mug probably isn’t going to fit too well on a journal. You get the picture. Not only that, but you have all kinds of products that you have to decide if you want to include. Things like “Flip Minos” and dog bowls. Then you have items like T-shirts and sweatshirts that aren’t going to print detail well. Is it better to include every product you can, or to limit your selection to products that the images actually work well on? I decided that the latter is better, except that what I have actually done is the former. I have all kinds of products, mugs, T-shirts, funny golf shirts, and the like, that don’t work particularly well with my images. I keep meaning to fix that…but, well, you know…. Decisions, decisions!

Key Words, Tagging And Traffic

Then, if you go to all that trouble, you may find, like I did, that after three or four months you have had six visitors and no sales. Does that sound like fun or what! To drive any kind of measurable traffic to your Caf├ęPress Store front requires a ton of key words, tagging and promotion efforts. That isn’t to say it can’t be done. I am experiencing a slow but steady growth in sales. Heck, just yesterday we sold four T-shirts and made $18.00. But it does take a huge investment in time and energy. Will it pay off for me? I think it will and so I continue….

Time, Effort And Photographic Success
But back to the point of this blog. To succeed in this market will require having photography that is suited to the market, whether it is a collection of beautiful landscapes, cute kittens, or breath-taking flower arrangements…the images have to appeal to a broad group of buyers. You will need to put the time and effort into all the work from SEO to uploading images…it is up to you to bring the customers in. That doesn’t happen automatically. And, as I pointed out in a previous blog (Bill, link here to the blog, you need patience and perseverance. Photographic success takes time…and an effort like this can take a LOT of time.

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