Eliminating The Negative

Special Guest Post by Rohn Engh

Through the years I’ve observed several marketing mistakes that emerging stock photographers make. Here’s a checklist of them, so that you can see what to avoid:

  • Create First Then Find A Market. This is a recipe for disaster. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams is strewn with bodies of creative people who never learned: “Find the market first and then create for that market.”
  • Acapulco beachGeneralize. When you try to be all things to all people, the photobuyer’s reaction is: “No one can be that good!” Discover your photographic strength areas, and go for them. Become a specialist in one or a select few subject areas. If wild horses can’t pull you away from your subject area(s), you’ll succeed. You’ll fail or get bored if you focus on racing after those markets that ‘pay well,’ putting subject matter in second place, rather than putting your attention to the subjects you love to shoot.
  • For Soul Not For Sale.  Writers rarely publish their poetry, and even more rarely get paid for it. Don’t expect your ‘artsy’ pictures to sell. Consider them your poetry. Ask yourself next time you’re taking (making) a picture, “Is this for sale or is it for soul?”
  • Passing Through. Many creative people move to a new address every few years. Photobuyers shy away from the wanderer, no matter how talented they might be. Buying photos is a business and they want you to be businesslike in their dealings with you, and that means being ‘reachable’ two days before deadline. Make sure you maintain a stable, dependable e-mail address and cell phone number. If you use a business card, change the address and phone very time you move.
  • Looking Like A Beginner. If you appear to be ‘just starting out,’ photobuyers will pass on by. They don’t have the time to hold your hand or “train” you. They’d rather spend their time with someone who is “hassle-free.” You should give the appearance of looking like a pro.
  • Technical Failings. The controls on cameras today make it nearly impossible to take a technically poor photo. Photobuyers expect technical excellence. And it should match their guidelines. No matter how excellent your image may be, if it does not meet the quality expected by the printing and publishing industry, you’ll fail.
  • Homeworkless. Do your homework. Know what your strengths are, and then photograph in those areas that you love best, where you ‘speak the language’ of specific photobuyers who need photos in those areas. They will welcome your knowledge and your photographic expertise and deep coverage of the subjects they need. Do your homework to find such buyers through Google or specialized search engines. You’ll find scores of powerful directories awaiting you, listing photobuyers who, at this moment, are searching for your talent, special skills, and subject coverage that matches the content needs (the theme) of their publishing operation.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: info@photosource.com; Fax: 715 248-3800; phone: 800 624-0266; www.photosource.com

Author: Joe Farace

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