What Buyers Want From Photographers
What particularly caught my eye in the new survey by Photoshelter “What Buyers Want From Photographers” were two statistics. First, 61% of buyers search Google for images, and secondly, 87% go to stock agencies for images (though it is a little unclear on whether the survey was indicating that 87% go to stock agencies for images…or 87% go to agencies other than Getty and Corbis…(but either way you can’t beat the agencies in terms of getting art directors to see your stock images).
Getting Work In Front of Stock Photo Buyers
Think about it. If your images are not on your site, and your site isn’t optimized for the search engines, you are missing out on the chance of getting your work in front of 61% of image-licensing art buyers (be they designers, art directors, art buyers, editors or whatever). That is huge! On the other hand, if you are not with stock agencies your missing out on the 87% of image buyers (or more) who turn to agencies.
Fatter Stock Photo Royalty Checks
I would propose that you are well served in having your images online on your optimized site whether those images are with agencies or whether you license them yourself. It just makes sense. If you are with agencies you can link your images directly to where people can license them through the agency. That way the process is automated…no negotiating, answering e-mails or phone calls or anything else. Just get a fatter royalty check each month (or quarter).
Additional Stock Photo Income
I don’t take the trouble to track down how many of the twenty to thirty people each day that go from my site to the agencies actually license my imagery…I imagine it is a relatively low percentage. And yet, with Blend Images in the last week I happen to know that two art buyers found the images on my site, and then were directed to Blend where the licensing transactions were completed. In both cases I had forgotten to provide the link from my site to the Blend Images site and had to manually provide that link to the buyers. In those two cases the increase in my own income amounted to just over $800.00. Yesterday I also completed a transaction in which I licensed two more images, that are not with any agencies yet, for a total of $600.00. My stock photography income would be noticeably lower at this point without my efforts at getting my pictures online and putting the time and effort into SEO. The downside thus far has been the tremendous amount of time and effort I have put into the site...time and effort I believe will be well rewarded over the coming years.
Building Traffic For Photo Sites
Further, by doing this work now, if at some point it makes sense to be licensing more, or even all of my own work, I will already have the hardest thing to achieve in place…the traffic! If that sort of back-up plan is important to you, then the time to start is now. Building traffic for your photo site takes time…and a lot of it. Plan on giving it three to five years to achieve decent results. Of course, what "decent" means can vary. It has taken me two and a half years to go from one person a week to well over a thousand a day...and my goal is ten thousand a day (got a ways to go).
Online Photos and SEO Is Good Business
One more thing. As any successful business can tell you, success comes from servicing your clients well. When you put your images online and provide proper SEO, you are making the lives of art buyers easier. You are helping them find the images that solve their visual problems. Simply put, getting your photography on the Internet, and making it easy to find, is good business.
Nice article. SEO brings definitely another source of buyers. On the other hand it's getting crowded and needs the agency's attention as well as other things.
Hi John, I'd love you to take a look at ImageBrief.com as an alternative to putting your images up on stock libraries. It's a 70/30 split for photographers.
I'd love to know what you think.
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