Monday, February 1, 2010

Opening The Doors To Photography Opportunities

Is the glass half empty or half full? The photography industry is under siege, but there are opportunities out there!

One Door Closes, Another Opens
How often have we heard that when one door closes another one opens? I think that we all believe that too, to a certain extent. But when we are talking about our own livelihood it is a bit more difficult to get behind! And yet, taking that maxim to heart is an important step to a great future.  A close friend of mine, and former assistant, was, until a couple of weeks ago, the manager of business that is doing quite well. He walked in one day; the owner called him in and fired him. Surprise. You don't have a job anymore!

True Story: A Better Job and New Opportunity

I called him today to check in and see how he is doing. Great it turns out. He had just returned from a ten-day trip to Europe, paid for by an acquaintance of his who now wants him to run his North American operations.  This is a true story, and as I said, is happening to a good friend of mine. My friend ended up with a new and better job in the same industry, with more opportunity, and all within two weeks of being unexpectedly fired.  If he hadn't been let go, that opportunity would have passed him by.

Too Early Is Better Than Too Late

Now look at our own industry. Under siege by image glut, low prices, crowd sourcing and image theft.  Perhaps we can open the doors to new opportunities by letting go of our belief that the photo industry shouldn't be undergoing these changes. We can start opening doors even before the old doors slam totally shut.  The time to do that is now. Opportunities take time to find and develop. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I have been passed by…I’d rather be too early than too late. Also, If there is one overriding thing I have learned in my last year of working on my website and SEO (search engine optimization), it is that the opportunity I see in Internet searches takes time to develop, and a lot of it!  I can see progress, I can see that my efforts are starting to pay off, but I also see that I am probably at least another year away from the kind of Internet success that I am after.

Understand Where the New Opportunities Are
Instead of jumping on a forum and bemoaning all those photographers who are ruining the photography and stock photo industries, take that time to understand where the new opportunities are, and get working on them!  I don't know about you, but it wasn't easy for me to reach success under the old paradigm, and I don't expect it to be easy under the new one either.  I know it is going to take work, but I know there are opportunities here.

Google Searches and Print Sales
Do you know how many searches there were for "wall d├ęcor" in the last year? Google reports the number at over 21 million!  Are you getting your share of print sales? Wordtracker reports searches of "Hawaii stock photos" at 52,000 last year. Invest a little time looking at keyword searches to see where some opportunities are for you, with your areas of expertise and what you like to shoot. Then get to work on your site and make sure that people, who are looking for what you have to offer, find you!

Tracking Searches and Increasing Revenue
I use SmarterStats to track the searches that bring people to my site.  A year ago I was getting a few people a week. Now I get hundreds a day. Someone came to my sight today searching "lighthouse storm photos", and someone, hopefully the same person, went from my site to a lighthouse-in-a-storm photo that I have on the Corbis site. I won't know for three months or so whether there was a license of that lighthouse image, but the point is, that because I have made my images available for those seeking such images, I have a far greater chance of earning revenue from those photographs.

Using Creativity to Find Opportunities

Of course, the Internet is not the only source of opportunities. I have a photographer friend looking into 3D video, and another photographer friend who is using his photography knowledge to devise a turnkey system for doctors to photograph their patients. Use your creativity to find opportunities that appeal to you. My point is lets not wait for the door to slam before opening the door to those other opportunities! Opportunities are seldom easy, and seldom come to you.  Now is the time to go out and find them and to put the time and effort in to making them payoff.

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