How To Market Photography

How To Market Photography

Posted By Admin: 9/22/2011 3:25:51 PM.   Posted To Photographers / Photos That Sell

Selling photographs online has become big business in recent years: digital SLRs keep getting cheaper and the images they produce keep getting better. It seems everyone on the planet must own a camera by now. Given the recurring financial crises of the last few years, it's no surprise that more and more camera owners are looking to sell photography online for some extra money.

For professional photographers trying to make a living selling photography online all this extra competition from the hobbyists has made life pretty tough. Hundreds of websites have sprung up offering photographers the ability to give their work away for nothing more than small change and the thrill of making a sale. The market has been flooded with cheap images and many photo buyers have come to view stock photography as just another commodity to be sourced at the lowest possible price.

It isn't all bad news though. In a lot of ways we've now come the full circle, and an increasing number of photo buyers are showing a renewed interest in features other than price alone. For the savvy photographer, this offers a means to stand out from the crowd and define a niche of their own.

Specialised Content:

There is such a thing as too much choice, and specialist photo buyers have had enough of the massive stock libraries with millions of images. Many of the photo buyers we speak to are always looking for new collections that focus on their interests, and will happily search 4-5 specialist libraries rather than one mega collection.

Most stock photography articles will tell you to start by applying to the 4-5 biggest stock libraries for the maximum exposure but that's only half the story. Those sites might get the most exposure, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a share of it.

Rather than join millions of other photographers at the big-four stock libraries, you'll do much better to find 3-4 boutique stock libraries that you can submit to. Pick one photo stock agency as your main web presence and use the others to repost your content (photographic and written) and add substance to your internet footprint.

Original Content:

If you look around, you'll find a heap of experts who'll tell you the quickest way to make money with microstock is to study the photos that sell best on the major libraries, and copy them. It's quite possible this could work for a while, but you only have to see the masses of weak images of popular subjects to understand why buyers are sick of it.

Much better that you adopt a Client-centric approach and think about your end user, who they are and what they actually need the stock photos for, so you can then set about producing images they can use.

The best thing about this approach is, you can still check the major libraries to see what's selling, but then, instead of simply copying what you see, you can identify the messages and concepts that the buyers need associated with the subjects, and from there create something new and unique that you know your buyers will need..

Personal Service:

In an industry where the buyers were always racing to meet an impossible schedule, instant downloads must have seemed a Godsend, for a while.

As one of the few stock photo libraries that didn't offer instant downloads, we certainly felt the pressure when we started out. We soon realised though that the photo buyer's top priority was to 'find the image' and as long as a reliable delivery followed, 'instant' wasn't really an issue.

In reality, photo buyers are creative people who enjoy interacting with other creative people. These days we're still finding plenty of high-end photo buyers who are happy to take a little more time and enjoy the 'photo research' journey, dealing directly with the photographers, as long as it's professional and efficient.

So however and wherever you choose to sell stock photos, make sure you make yourself available to photo buyers. They'll appreciate it and once the connection is made, they will come back to you time and time again.

Value Your Work & Your Time

When you approach stock photography on this basis, you're actually positioning yourself as a high-end provider, which helps you stand out from the crowd even further.

Without going into the whole rights-managed vs royalty-free argument, there are millions of photographers on the internet these days queueing up to give their work away for peanuts, so it you follow the crowd you'll be facing enormous competition for the smallest of returns.

By comparison, the rights-managed market is much less competitive and pays considerably more, so if you have the high quality, original content, then it makes perfect sense to carve out your own niche there instead. Specialist photographers have always prospered and in the current market place it's more important than ever that you focus on doing a few things exceptionally well rather than a jack-of-all-trades approach.

When you specialise your work interests, you narrow your market and you're able to really get to know your buyers. This in turn allows you to understand their needs and create the unique high quality photography that will make you stand out from the crowd. And if you then back every sales lead with exceptional personal service, you'll soon build a Client list that will come to rely on you as a creative partner they want to work with.


Looking for a platform to sell stock photography online? We offer a whole-business approach to selling photography and we're always keen to hear from talented new photographers. Please check out our photographer's information page, and if it sounds like an approach that could work for you, pelase register and submit an application.