Can you increase your Income from Rights Managed Stock Photography?
The rights managed stock photo business is in great flux due to the explosion of easy access to user-generated photos on microstock sites and Flickr as well as expanded search. You need a strategy to create rights managed images to compete with the hundreds of thousands of images licensed for a dime on the dollar.
Become known for a specialized style or subject. Gain access to a unique location or group that is unattainable for others. Work and work until your images are at the top of the list for your niche in technical quality, originality and marketability.
Photography may seem to some to be a passive activity; photographers survive by being observers from behind the lens. To succeed in today’s marketplace you must get out from behind the camera to build a following:
- Explore all the social networking opportunities available. Follow people outside of photography. Professional photography is about filling a need. Follow the Facebook and Tweets of those who might need your photography in addition to those photographers who are generous with their knowledge such as http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ or http://www.johnlund.com and
- Get physically in front of your clients and potential clients. Step up your go-sees. As more and more people depend on electronic connections, those who take the time to visit their clients have a better chance of getting in to see the decision makers. This applies to those with specialty stock collections and not only to assignment photographers.
- Don’t depend exclusively upon a stock agency to distribute your work especially if you have a strong niche. Consider licensing your niche stock photography direct to buyers.
Fortunately now there are tools to enable photographers to build a unique stock photo collection and to license it directly
- Explore services like PhotoShelter and their business white papers such as the recent one on social media for photographers: http://www.photoshelter.com/mkt/research/social-media-for-photographers or take a look at http://www.licensestream.com/licensestream2/Portal/index.aspx Use code ELLENB when you sign up for a 10% discount.
- Expand your marketing to cover every possible user of the photos within your niche. Agency Access (http://www.agencyaccess.com/index.cfm?go=home.PhotoConsulting) slices and dices stock buyers into lists of those with every imaginable subject/business need.
- Some say that direct mail for photographers is dead. Not according to art buyers that I’ve heard from. Remember you are there to provide an answer to a visual question. Those who need your specialization want to hear from you if you can help them look better in their job. Use the most creative designer you can afford to ensure that your DM pieces stand out creatively.
- Connect electronically. Make your email blasts informative…. provide data, antidotes, statistics that will help your users in their work. Don’t simply sell yourself. That’s spam
- Know your audience. Who are the people most likely to license your work? What are their job challenges? You can’t provide answers unless you know the questions.
Be wary of following the urge to SHOOT only what sells. Part of what has harmed the stock photo business over the last few years is in an overabundance of photos all of the same subjects/styles. Originality has diminished and frustration has grown. As one photographer recently asked me, “How many pictures does the world need of happy people jumping on a trampoline?”
Most photographers began their career with a love both of photography and a certain subject. As their careers develop, many chase the market and lose sight of what gave them creative kicks in the first place. This is especially true for those that put their hat into the stock photography ring and followed the demands of stock companies requests to the exclusion of the vision that brought them to photography. Regain it.