Monday, April 30, 2012

Tigers, Business And Key Words

A tiger stands in an upscale office setting wearing a saddle in a concept stock photo about business challenges and risk.  
This tiger, ready to be ridden in a business setting, has little chance of success without proper key wording.
Tigers And Business
Every once-in-a-while I go to the site of one of the agencies that represent me and search for things that I know I have. I do this for two reasons. First, to get a sense of how long it might take someone to find my images, and secondly (and more importantly) to make sure that the keywords that I need on my images are there.  What is prompting this post is that I just searched “business and tiger” on Getty and one of my tiger images, one that I created specifically for the business market, doesn’t show up.  Time to get on the horn to Getty!

Key Words And Taxes
Checking the keywords on my stock photos is not my favorite activity. Actually, it is right down there with doing my taxes. But it is also a vitally important activity even for us “traditional” shooters whose agencies do the key wording for us.  Here is the caption on the Getty site that goes with this image “The phrase 'Riding The Tiger' can be applied to my photo of a Tiger wearing a saddle in an office setting.”.  But it doesn’t show up under “Tiger and business”? Strange!

Corbis And Slow Motion
Two weeks ago I was searching Corbis Motion for some of my slow motion clips. Get this. The key words “Slow Motion” are not on any of my hundred plus slow motion clips!  In fact, if you insert the words slow motion into a search you specifically don’t get my clips in the results.  We are working on that little problem now. It will get resolved, but it is another important reminder that with out the right keywords you aren’t going to make any sales!

The Overriding Challenge To Stock Photographers
In my mind visibility is the overriding challenge to stock photographers. Key words are biggest influencer of visibility. But once we have dealt with that aspect, what else can we do to get our images seen? Some of my microstock friends tell me that it helps to create light boxes, and to participate in the forums to get favorable reviews on your images.  There are probably other strategies as well, but as I haven’t participated in microstock I am not familiar with them.

Aggregator Agencies
I do think it is important to have some work with an aggregator agency, such as Blend, Tetra or others (disclaimer…I am part owner of Blend Images). By having work with an aggregator it gets seen in far more places. With Blend RM, for example, your work is seen on Getty, Corbis, Superstock, Masterfile and countless agencies throughout the world. As I have mention before, you can also get work into the TAC (The Agency Collection) with aggregators…something you can’t do even if you have a Getty contract (go figure).

Blog, Share And Feature
Finally, you can put your work up on your on site with links to where they can be licensed. Then (ahem) blog about them, share them on social media sites, feature them on sites like 500 pixels and and such. It is all a lot of work.  But then, back in college when I tried to earn money selling life insurance it was a lot of work as well…and I didn’t enjoy it as much (at all actually), or make nearly as much money!


Dasha said...

What a great blog! I started to submit stock photos to stock agencies in January 2012 and publish a sales report each month on my blog:
Anyone else out there just starting out?

Tim McGuire said...

Doesn't putting your work into aggregator sites create a situation in which your images are competing with themselves thereby perpetuating the race to the bottom? By race to the bottom I mean setting up a situation where everyone / every agency has everything and the only thing left to compete on is price... thus the downward spiral in pricing. Not to mention the dilution of revenues to photographer in a sub-distibution scenario. I'm not sure how that works when you're a part owner of the aggregator (ie Blend).

Just some thoughts.

John Lund said...

Tim, do have a point, but I think it is more theoretical than practical. However, along the same lines, every time you create a new stock photo you are contributing to the over supply of images and devaluing our industry.

While it is great to ponder what is wrong with our industry we also have to face the realities. In a good year I personally produce about 200 images a year...which I don't believe have a significant impact on the industry one way or another. Compare that to Yuri Arcurs whose stock machine is producing 6000 selects a month! Oh well...

The bigger question is how we photographers can thrive in this setting. Right now having my images on one site and not another deprives them of being seen...which for me is an even bigger problem than price! For example, I have sales through Blend from Corbis that don't happen on Getty and visa versa. For me the increase in sales certainly outweighs the drop in precentage due to the added Blend commissions. When Blend makes a direct sale I make five times more than if Getty or Corbis or any of the hundreds of others distributors handles the license. This is true for both RM and RF. I WANT all my images on every site. Do I wish things were still like they were in 1995? Yes and no. My RPI was certainly better...but I still had to shoot film, scan, etc. I am actually, overall, better off right now. Imagine that!

I appreciate your thoughts...keep em coming!


Anonymous said...

well said, John