Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Has Social Media Done For Me?

A woman examines her social media world in the form of a sphere of pictures of family, friends and business acquaintances.
 A woman pauses to examine her world of social media, a sphere of portraits ranging from friends and family to business associates.

Checking My Facebook Page
This morning I began checking my Facebook page to see what was new and I realized that at least 80% of the posts were by people who I didn’t even know. I have the habit of saying yes to whomever sends a friend request. Now I have posts in Russian, Dutch, Thai, Spanish and languages that I can’t even guess at. Posts from close friends, people I barely know, and people that I don’t know at all.

Feeling A Little Left Out
I have mentioned before that when I peruse Facebook I sometimes start feeling a little left out…though oddly enough the things I feel left out of are things I am not really very interested in anyway. What does that say about me?

Keeping Up On Cool Images
For me Facebook seems to be primarily a way to keep up to date on the cool images that Colin Anderson makes…which of course makes me wonder why I don’t come up with cool images (okay…I do come up with some cool images…but certainly not with the style and romance of Colin’s work). My friend Shalom Ormsby shares his benevolent perspectives on life, Shannon Fagan shares his humorous adventures in China, David Sanger (and many others) share their cool iPhone pix (hey, how come my iPhone pix don’t look cool?), and everyday is somebody’s birthday…which since I only check every couple of days I am usually just finding out I missed someone’s birthday.

Two Thousand Followers And Irrelevant Tweets
Then there is twitter.  I have over 2,600 followers, hardly any of which I suspect ever see the once-a-week tweets that I make. I follow over two thousand twitterers (is that what they are called?), and how can you possibly stay on top of all those tweets? I sure can’t…and most of the tweets are totally irrelevant to me.  Once-in-a-while I do hang in there, scrolling down all those tweets till I find one that looks like it may lead to something interesting…though most the time what they lead to turns out to be something written by someone for whom English is their second, or third, language.

Goolge +, Klout and Linked In
I have a Google + account too. I visit that religiously…ever few weeks. I have no idea what do with it except make circles…but I already go round and round enough already! Klout sends me emails to let me know how influential I am…but I have no idea what the scores mean. I get requests everyday to link to people on Linked In, though mostly they are people I don’t know. I think I read somewhere that you actually are supposed to know the people you link to…of course, I say yes anyway because it seems like the polite thing to do.

Spam, YouTube and Vimeo
The first thing I do every morning is throw away the fifty-odd spam emails I get during the night, the ones my spam filter doesn’t catch. I have three email accounts two of which I haven’t looked at in months. YouTube comments on my video channel of mostly slow motion videos go to one of those accounts…last time I looked at it I just felt overwhelmed…and haven’t gone back since.  That reminds me…I started to put some stuff up on Vimeo, but never followed up with a second submission. Oh Well.

What Has Social Media Done For Me?
What has social media done for me? Well, if nothing else, it gives me something to do while I eat breakfast, something to do every few minutes at work, something to do while I watch TV in the evenings, and something to blog about!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Equation For Success In Stock Photography

Photograph of a young child in diapers standing at a blackboard in school and completing a very complex mathematical formula.
The secret ingredients in the formula for success are copius amounts of hard work and an appropriate gestation period (i.e. a lot of time!).

Exploring The Work of Photographers
Earlier this week I spent some time exploring the work of other photographers. Man, there are a lot of great shooters out there! I also spent time looking at work in stock agencies. Again, some of the photography that is being produced is amazing. Sure, there is a ton of bad photography, and mountains of mediocre imagery, but there is also a copious amount of fantastic work flooding into the market…work that is adding to the already staggering glut of stock photography.

The Equation For Success In Stock Photography
Every once-in-a-while, when I do that kind of searching, I am amazed that I am still successful in stock photography. I mean, with all of that truly great work out there, how does anyone ever find my work let alone choose to license it? I don’t have an answer to that question. But it is a question that continues to concern me, and that leads to the question of what I can do to make sure that I can continue to do well in stock photography.  I believe that there is an equation for success in stock photography:

Quality Images + visibility = Success x Quantity + Variety

Of course, this doesn't include the necessity of a ton of hard work and a huge investment of time!

No Magic Bullet
There is no one answer, no magic bullet. The formula for success lies in having great images with high visibility. Of course, the more of those images the greater the success as well, though the quantity requires variety to avoid cannibalization. So on the one hand it is simple: create great images and get them seen. On the other hand, it isn’t easy. It is a ton of work, and one that requires tremendous passion for success. You need the passion or you’ll never get the work done.

Great Work And Visibility
That begs the questions of how to create great work, how do get visibility for your images, and how to be able to produce the quantity of work needed to meet your financial goals. But it can be done and a lot of people are doing it. Some are doing it by themselves, some with plenty of staff, some using video and some using stills. Again, to succeed you need to find the combination that works for you, the combination that works with the passion you have.

Making The Numbers Work And Work Flow Interruption
Actually, it gets even more complicated. You have to make the numbers work as well. You need to be sure that you are paying attention to your expenses, being realistic in your accounting and planning, and dealing, effectively, with all the pain-in-the-neck details that running a successful business takes.  For example, I spent most of the day today getting a new server up and running. Who among us budgets accurately for such work flow interruptions? That is just one example of too many for me to even think about right now.

Images Online And Building Traffic
I will say that one thing I am certain is a good move in relation to insuring that my stock photo career flourishes in the long term is in getting my images online and building the traffic of my site to increase the visibility of my images. I began the process three years ago. What I have come to believe through these efforts is that the strategy is a sound one, but that the process is almost unbelievably time-intensive and an insanely long-term undertaking. I do believe that someday I will wake up and say “Man, I am glad I did that work!” which is what I have also said many times about my efforts to build my stock photography business in the first place.