Friday, August 20, 2010

Twenty Months of SEO and Monetizing Photography

A man makes a splash as he jumps from a balcony into a pool exhibiting risky behavior.
Even with a bad sales report the only reason I might be tempted to jump from a balcony is to make a splash!
Getty, Corbis and Abysmal Sales Reports
My Getty and Corbis royalty reports this month were both abysmal…the lowest in each case in a decade. Now I consider myself a pretty optimistic person, but even for me that is something that makes me sit up and take notice. Am I tempted to jump off a tall building? No…unless there is an inviting swimming pool below. Mitigating factors include the fact that the previous two months at Getty were pretty good for me, and that June found my sales at Blend being very good. But still, my Corbis monthly drop was truly spectacular and my Getty drop was down to half of what is normal for me. Yikes!

Creativity, Action and Depression
Strangely though, I don’t seem to be depressed. Which is really good because depression is the biggest enemy of creativity and action…the two things that we need most in challenging times. In trying to understand why I am not depressed I first realize that I know that my income will rebound…it always has…and that it isn’t time to panic. As I mention, my Blend income is looking good and overall I have been producing some of the best images of my life. I have robust and diverse distribution. Also, I am really glad I started SEO on my website almost two years ago.

Monetizing Imagery, Time and Effort

Ultimately I believe that the best insurance against the demise of the stock industry as we know it is a strong presence on the web in order to monetize our imagery in as many ways as possible. My experience is that it is a painfully slow process…but that it will work. In my recent interview with Rolf Hicker, who is making such an effort work, he points out that what it takes is a huge expenditure of time and effort. That is also borne out by the other people I know who are profiting from the web. Overnight success only comes after years of hard work.

Twenty Months of SEO
Let’s take a look at where I stand after about twenty months of SEO efforts. I started with about one person a week visiting my site. This past week I have had over 600 people a day for at least Monday through Thursday. Not bad…but nowhere near where I want to be. I am earning somewhere around $6.00 per day on click through advertising. In the last year I sold about $1,200.00 dollars worth of prints through Not particularly good, but better than the zero dollars I earned before I started this effort. At Caf├ęPress, sales of photo imprinted gifts such as coffee mugs, mouse pads, and other gift items, has reached an average of about one sale a day. I guess can’t quite retire yet! My new “funnyanimalpix” blog is up to a whopping 20 visitors a day. Hey, it has only been about a month now! Most importantly, I am getting around twenty people a day who find an image on my site and then follow the link to the agency that handles that particular image. I have no way to know how many actually license an image at that point…but I know some do because I have occasionally managed to talk to some of them…sometimes when they contact me directly to try and get a better price (which they can’t). Keep in mind that for the above figures, it seems to be that the summer months usually finds a visitor drop-off of 20% for website traffic.

Three to Five Years and Decent Money
From the above it seems reasonable to me that if I can get six thousand visitors a day instead of six hundred, I will be making some decent money…mainly from increased stock sales. I totally believe I will get there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me three to five years more. In the meantime…hey, at least this industry isn’t boring!


Cutcaster said...

What do you think has been your top one or two SEO tricks or tips that increased your exposure and brought you a noticeable increase in visitors to the site John?

I have found that with our SEO efforts it is sometimes hard to track the effects of a particular changes since you often don't see any real changes for months.

John Lund said...


I don't really have any tricks, and as you have pointed out it is really hard to tell what is working. What I think is happening is that as I get more material up I get more keyword possibilities for those long-tailed keyword searches.

One thing I am keenly aware of is how quickly my blog posts get indexed. So if I did have a "trick" it would be to blog a lot. I should be blogging every day! Look at Seth Godin...everyday!


Cutcaster said...

Yeah its tough to do it everyday as we both know. I think you can do it 3 times a week and you will get a good ranking as well as good attention from the search engine web crawlers. How long does it normally take for one of your posts to get indexed by the major serach engines? Do you check this manually or do you have a online tool that helps you to check it? Cheers

John Lund said...


I don't check that often but when I do I find that the blog get indexed in under an hour...I have seen it in a matter of a few minutes. I just check by picking a phrase and searching....


Diane Macdonald said...

Great post, John! Thanks for pointing out how quickly the blog posts are indexed. I had not realized that until this morning when a "Google Alerts" showed up showing that someone had searched on my name and a keyword in my post from yesterday! Now you have reinforced the importance of that discovery. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Regarding stock sales, although I license almost exclusively from, I have noticed the same this summer: worrying drops.