It’s Important To Become A Brand
Special Guest Post from Rohn Engh
If you’re interested in making money from stock photography, you will want to follow a basic business concept: positioning. If your collection of photos is strong in education, position yourself so you become a valuable resource to editors who are in continual need of education photos.
I know photographers who have positioned themselves so well in their specialty area that they get put on specific available photographer’s list who speak the language of the special interest that photobuyers need for their readers and advertisers. These photographers can phone photo editors to let them know they are in France or Italy, or inform the photo editor they have discovered a new aspect of their special subject matter. When you’re at that stage, you are, in effect, taking a free vacation by paying for it with the sale of your photos. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a full-time pro to do this. The technology of cameras and the Internet will allow you to do this part-time, and still keep your ‘day-job.’
To be a successful part-time stock photographer today, you can do the same: brand yourself, the same as theme publishers do. Think of a photography brand the same as you think of an artist’s “style”. For example, when you think of van Gough, Matisse, Mondrian, Rockwell, or Picasso you think of a certain style that identifies each of them. Your specialization in the same manner will be your “brand.”
Your theme photos may be of automobiles, gardening, hang-gliding, medicine, and so on. When you submit your first selection of photos to such a “theme” publishing house, you will spark the photobuyer to say, “This photographer speaks my language.” And then the photobuyer will say, “Where have you been all my life???”
Once you sell your first photo to a theme publisher, you will find it easier to make subsequent sales. I have found that once a photographer establishes him/herself with a theme publisher, he can expect to stay with that publisher for an average of ten years. The individual photo editors or graphic artists at such a publishing house may come and go but the theme of the publishing house remains the same. This translates to $20,000 to $50,000 in sales over the ten-year period. And of course the business relationship may go on even longer.
And that is the beauty of marketing your own photos. You can choose to stay with only one or two theme publishers, or go big time and deal with dozens who focus on that theme, and, of course, you can repeat the process with two or three additional themes, if you position-and-brand-yourself.
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.