Friday, June 5, 2009

Selling Photos To The Largest Internet Market

A Three-Step Process For Reaching The Largest Market On The Internet

The Internet opens up not just a gigantic market for your photography, but also opens up numerous sub markets. I am using my website to get my stock photos seen by more of the “traditional” licensees of stock, to get those same images seen by potential licensees who normally would go to Getty, Corbis, Blend and the like but still might not see my images, and to reach consumers who might want prints, printed merchandise, or might want to license images for non-commercial purposes. That consumer market is the largest market out there and I definitely want to tap into it. Following is my three-step process to tap into that market.

As most of my images are aimed at the traditional stock photography market, I would guess that they are not of that much interest to the layperson. Step one is to create images that will be of interest to the public in general.
My web master pointed out to me that there were a lot of searches being conducted on the Internet for “pictures of dragons”. My associate, Stephanie Roeser, volunteered to create some dragon images from some old photos I had shot of an iguana, hence the dragon image you see above. We also have fire-breathing versions, one with a castle and so forth.

Step two is to get those images (the dragons in this case) in front of that target audience, i.e. loading them onto my site, creating products in CafePress, and uploading the Images to ImageKind (in my case) for fine art prints. With CafePress we can offer the dragons on coffee mugs, apparel such as aprons, T shirts, and baseball caps, mouse pads, journals, pet bowls and numerous other imprinted products.

Step three is to write about those images, maybe put them in a blog (wink, wink), write an article (I always knew that English degree would come in handy) Dragon Article, and, of course, make sure the images are well key worded. The article is first published on my site, then after being indexed by Google and other search engines, it is published on various e-zine sites.

It really is simple. Created images that appeal to the public, make them available over the Internet, and then make sure that the images will appear in searches. Stay tuned, I will eventually know if this works!


Monday, June 1, 2009

On Getting Seen

I met a designer at a party this weekend. He says he buys a lot of stock photography…and always at iStockphoto. This brings up for me a continuing concern. By not being in the Microstock world, there are a ton of buyers who are not seeing my images. I have also spoken to a lot of designers and art directors who use RF but not RM because of their perception that RM is too expensive. I create most of my work for RM and am concerned that so many potential licensors won’t even see my work if they are limiting their searches to Micro and RF. The good news; the designer I met at the party said he also uses Google to look for images.

It is a relief then when I hear that designers and art directors do use Google to search for stock photos. That gives me the ability to get my images in front of them and at least have the possibility that they may license those images. I have been working hard to bring my site up in the search engines. I started that process about six months ago. I am happy to be able to say that I have gone from about one visitor a week to about 300 per day. But that is a mere drop in the bucket, as my web master is fond of pointing out to me. We really want over 10,000 a day!

I have not moved up significantly in the search results yet. I am getting more people finding me through long tailed keywords, and I have experienced some sales through that. I am selling one or two products through Caf├ęPress each week, I have made a spattering of print sales through Imagekind, and have licensed a few images through my site. I am also sending about 20 people a day on to Blend Images, Corbis, Getty and Kimball stock. What percentage of those people, if any, go on to actually license an image I have no idea. But surely some of them must license an image! If so, I am ahead of the game.

As I mentioned, I fully expect to have thousands of visitors to my site each day. It might be months from now, or years. I don’t know. But I do know it is important to get my images in front of people, and that I am making progress with my site. I think it is important for any stock shooter to get their site up, optimized and functioning well. As the stock photo world gets more and more cluttered with photos, getting seen will become ever more important. As photographers, insuring that our web sites are art director friendly, and search engine optimized, is something concrete that we have control over and that we can do to increase our revenue. I believe as time goes on this will be just as important for Micro shooters as for those of us in the traditional stock photo model. As hard as it is to fathom, getting our web site functioning well for us may well be more important than creating new images.