Thursday, November 5, 2009

Traffic, The New Currency For Photographers

Traffic Is The New Currency
I am not sure if the above phrase is entirely accurate, but it sounds catchy and it does convey my point that traffic is rapidly becoming the most important thing. That is especially true if you are a photographer and are involved in stock photography production. If you want to get an assignment you need to have your work seen. If you want to license stock you need to have your work seen. If you want to sell picture-imprinted products you need to have your work seen. In short, you need traffic.

Traffic Provides Alternative Income Sources

Not only that, but traffic provides you with alternative income sources. If you have traffic you can earn money from advertising. The light bulb for this first came on in my head when my brother told me he was earning $3,000.00 per month from Google Adwords on a couple of trivia sites he created. Now I don't know about you, but for me an extra $3,000.00 a month is nothing to sneeze at!

Someone Is Looking For You

Let's get back to the issue of having your work seen. You can print promo pieces and mail them out, enter contests, send e-mail blasts, make cold calls and all of the rest of the tactics that as photographers we have all employed to drum up work. But if you aren't optimizing your site you are, in effect, leaving a lot of money on the table. Let's say you are an assignment photographer specializing in executive portraits. Wouldn't you want anyone who is in need of your services to know you exist, to find your work? Who is most likely to be searching for "executive portrait photographer"? A motivated buyer! Someone who isn't locked-in to a favorite photographer, someone who has a need, someone who is exactly the person you want to reach, and someone who is looking for you! Can they find you?

More Eyeballs Equals More Money
The same is true, perhaps even more so with stock photography. We all have images that agencies have rejected, images that didn’t happen to fit the requirements of the moment, or didn’t suit a given editor’s sensibilities, but that are still good images and can be earning revenue for you. And even with the images that the agencies are handling, getting more eyeballs on them, and linking buyers to those images on the agencies site, will result in more dollars for you. People, all kinds of people, are out there looking for images. Are they finding yours?

Photography, Creating Content And Drawing Traffic
As a photographer you are already in the business of creating content, and content is the primary tool of drawing traffic. Search Engine Optimization is the process of adding quality content and making sure that Google knows it is there. There are photographers out there who are getting massive amounts of traffic and converting that traffic into income. If they can do it, I can do it, and you can do it.

Long Tailed Keywords And Building Traffic
I have been working on optimizing my site for approximately one year now. I have gone from an average of one person a week in traffic to between four and five hundred visitors a day. Oddly enough, I really haven’t increased my rankings in the search engines; I am just getting more and more long-tailed keyword results. I believe that I am in what is called the “sandbox”.  Apparently Google will sit on your site for up to a year, to make sure the site is legitimate, before moving it up in the rankings. I keep thinking “any day now”, but who knows. At least my traffic is building and is leading to more licensing, more opportunities and to more community. And that isn’t a bad thing!


BJS said...

Great information. Thanks!

Andrew Ptak Photography said...

This is my current Mantra too and I must say it bedevils me.

I set up my own site using Photoshelter as the back-end archive, did all the right things for SEO (as far as I know)and now after several months I still can't find my own work on a Google search!

Funny thing though, if I do a search on (say), +Chicago +sunset, most of the images I get are from various travel related sites - even very small ones - and not from Stock Agencies. I would have thought that no matter what I typed in, I would have had pages and pages of Getty and Corbis images, but not so.

I had thought that the Internet had brought democracy to image search and that I stood as good a chance as anyone else in presenting my images to prospective buyers, but it seems that I have just mimiced the big stock agency's invisibility!

Frustrating as hell.

John Lund said...


The process takes a lot of time. At least I have gone from 1 a week to 500 a day. So SEO does work.

I don't understand the mechanics of all this, but I am told that the Stock Agencies sites are not set up to be well indexed by Google....

Anyway, don't give up!


Pixels Away said...

I don't know about traditional (macro) stock agencies, but I can find my pictures on several microstock agencies through Google image search. They may be easier to search.


John Lund said...


Do those pictures then link you back to the micro site?

Are you using your own site to drive traffic to your images?



Andrew Ptak Photography said...

From what I've been able to find out over the last few days, sites like Getty, Corbis and Photoshelter are difficult for Google to index because of the site's security set ups - something to do with "overlays".

Many MS sites do not have these issues and therefore Google can index and display them.

It seems to me that the only way around this is to develop your own site using something like Lightbox Photo or equivelant. however, you may run into the same issues, don't know.

The only other alternative that I can think of is flickr, but that has serious security (lack of) issues. Dan Heller claims 20,000 visitors a day, I'd like to know how he does it.

John Lund said...


I believe Dan Heller gets that traffic by a high ranking with Google due to his large amount of content and a long time at working his SEO. He has over 34,000 photos online which, combined with his high ranking, makes his abundant long-tailed key words come up early and often.

If he can do it, we can. But I probably will never catch Dan, oh well....