Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gatekeepers, Responsibility, and Stock Photos

This menacing looking bouncer represents adversity, challenge, security and the gatekeeper.
The time has come for stock photographers to become their own "gatekeepers"!

 Gatekeepers and Responsibility
“Someone is going to be the gatekeeper, and it should be you.” Seth Godin. I read that a couple of days ago in Seth Godin’s blog (how does he come up with such great stuff day after day?). I think this is especially true for stock photographers. Being your own gatekeeper is not easy…and requires that you take responsibility for your self.  For me, it means working every day to give my images as great a chance to be seen by those in need of them as possible. It means getting my images in to stock agencies…which is were the bulk of the money is. But it also means getting images up on my site where I can add to the audience. 

Image Searches And Agency Links
Today, as I write this, 19 people have conducted Internet searches for Images that have brought them o my site…and have then gone on to the agencies that carry my work (a whole lot more made it to my site but did not follow a link to an agency). While I don’t know what percentage have gone on, if any of them have, to license an image, I do know that overall some of them are doing so. I know because every once in a while I am contacted directly when a link isn’t working or they want additional information on an image…or even sometimes when I get a compliment on the image and how perfect it was for their needs.

Animal Antics, Restrictions, and No Guarantees
As time goes by I am adding more and more images to my site that are not handled by an agency.  My Animal Antics (funny animal pictures) images I am increasingly handling myself. I recently had a conversation with a Getty executive who informed me that even though I have greeting card restrictions on some of the images, they can’t guarantee that those restrictions will be enforced. Gulp!

Greeting Cards, Royalty Percentages and Time To Negotiate
Plus, when I license a greeting card image for a royalty percentage, I stand to get a lot more revenue than a one-time fee through a stock agency. It is a trade-off. Without the agency, at least for now, way fewer people will see the image…and I have to take the time to negotiate…something I am not really well suited for! Oh well…at least I get 100% of the fee!

Gatekeepers, Hedging Bets, and the Internet
Ultimately my point is that it is better to take responsibility for your own success than to hand it over entirely to a “gate keeper”. Yes, I am playing the “gate keeper” game, and expect that stock agencies will always be a significant part of my business, but I am also hedging my bets on this new fangled thing called the Internet. I think it is going to be big…really big!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Tailed Key Words and a Tidal Wave of Money

Pictures of money; a tidal wave of currency and coins surges over a sea of cash.
Long-tailed key words are the key to success in generating traffic to monetize stock photos on the Internet.

Searching The Internet For Images...and a Tidal Wave of Money
Every so often I spend a little time searching the net using phrases that ought to bring up one of my photos…a little research as to how things are going and if I can learn anything new. Just now I searched the phrase “Tidal Wave of Money” knowing that I have such an image and that it has been up on my site for a couple of months…long enough to probably have been indexed by Google and other search engines. This is a great example of a “long tailed key word”. Fewer people will be searching for that term, but the ones that are searching for it are more likely to license it when, and if, they find it.

The First Page of Web Search...and
I was pleased to see my image on the first page of the web search (in position number eight). But I was surprised that it was a link to my image at Apparently it does pay to have images on Imagekind, not just for print fulfillment, but for gaining visibility on Internet searches as well!  Perhaps it is because that is such a larger entity and therefore carries more weight, that the image shows up earlier on the web search at Imagekind than the same image does on my own site…even though it has been up longer on my site.

Image Search...and More Money Images
Next I did the same phrase using an “image” search. This time the image showed up 14th on the first page, linked to my site.  Two more of my other money images showed up later on the same page…both on the site. By the way, I have started using the watermarking provided by on the images I upload there…and with this kind of visibility I am glad I am doing that…though I wish their watermark was even larger! and Number One In Image Search
Next I did the same search at This time my web site came up number eight, but no sign of When I did an “Image” search my image came up number one at Bing...and again no sign of The same searches on Yahoo resulted in no trace of my image for the first five pages of web searches…but yet again number one under “Image” search.

Quality Content, Long Tailed Key Words and A Lot More Money!
What do I make of all this? Uh…keep plugging away. I am growing in confidence that with enough consistent work on getting quality content up on a site (and sites like and sooner or later (probably later) I will be generating the kind of revenue that I used to make in the heyday of stock photography. Actually, I plan on making a lot more (a tidal wave of money you might say…)! I am also more and more convinced that long-tailed key words, and lots of them, will be more important than ranking highly for single keywords.  The only way to get huge traffic numbers with long tailed keywords is by having lots of well-key-worded content, which means you will have to excuse me…I have a lot of work to do!