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Microstock Photography Forum - General => General Stock Discussion => Topic started by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 11:21

Title: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 11:21
Since this is a topic of interest to most of us, and since some of us have already expressed some excellent ideas regarding ways to self-market, I thought it might be worthwhile to start a thread. 

For starters, if Alias has no objection, I will repost his suggestions (from the Istock Collections thread) here:

Nothing stops people from getting together and curating their own lightboxes either at IS or elsewhere and building third party sites to market these as cool collections. It's only marketing.

A group of photographers might create a joint site to drive traffic to their work at one or more other agencies. Almost like an super agency. You could even build in search.

Don't make it a free 4 all. You want a good quality handpicked collection. Ideally hand picked Vetta quality but perhaps lower priced. Give yourselves a name, build a great site - maybe like a collective of photographers. Do some marketing. Put out press releases and use the social media. 

I would definitely be willing to join with any others interested in starting such a site.  Personally I lack the skills to design the site or ensure good google placement, but if any of you who are both designers and contributors want to take on this project I would be happy to contribute images, money, or in any other way I can :)

Other marketing strategies would be welcome too.  Lets get the MSG brain trust going and do something positive here!
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: djpadavona on August 24, 2010, 11:28
Anyone interested in such an endeavor should read Dan Heller's blog posts on getting a site recognized by search engines and self-promoting.  I had visions of doing this myself when I was independent, with the purpose of selling directly from my own site.  I gave up the idea when I realized my portfolio was too small and too weak to carry an entire site, and saw what an uphill battle it would be to gain search engine placement.

Logically though, if I were independent and were to create such a site which highlighted a best-of lightbox, I would want to link back to a place like Featurepics, or BigStock, to garner a higher commission percentage for everyone involved.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 11:32
Excellent suggestion Dan!  Here's a link to the blog:

http://www.danheller.com/photo-biz.html (http://www.danheller.com/photo-biz.html)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: sharpshot on August 24, 2010, 11:40
Perhaps we could do something with one of the sites.  Cutcaster have lightboxes.  There might be others but I like their site and John has been working hard and replies to posts here quite often.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 11:42
I am not on Cutcaster, but if we got something concrete going with them I would be willing to upload there...
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: click_click on August 24, 2010, 12:02
I just read an article about this from a Pro who wrote about his endeavor on his web site. Let me look it up again...

Can't find it  :P

Anyhow, he is a wildlife photographer and was moaning about the tough times in Macro sales so he teamed up with another very good wildlife photographer to combine their collections.

Both photographers are already hosting their collections at Photoshelter and there you can create an agency so to speak. You can combine collections from different accounts and include a search amongst those collections (as if it is one collection). The search results will lead you to the individual photographer's image.

I think that's basically what Lisa was referring to here.

Obviously you have to put in some money to get this off the ground but I think the costs are moderate at Photoshelter, considering everything is already set-up (including the store-front and check-out including downloads).

Maybe some of you can find yourselves there and join.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: alias on August 24, 2010, 12:10
In my mind it is a big portfolio. But you promote each others' work when you promote your own.

+ Do not even get into the business of actually selling direct no matter how attractive that might seem. You are not starting an agency. You are not in competition with the agencies. Just trying to get traffic to the work you have with them. If you get into the business of selling you will quickly run into all sort of deep potential legal issues.

+ Google doesn't matter. Use your social networks. All of you are in direct contact with a few designers and buyers. And they are. If people link to you then Google will just happen. But I think it should be about recommendations.

+ Don't get hardwired to any agency with your lightboxes. Put the lightboxes on your own site and let the members link and edit their comps to which ever sites they choose. Potential buyers may be with different sites.

+ You want to have a good relation with the agencies. What is good for you is good for them. You're all trying to sell pictures. Rising tide etc. Super positive.

+ Forget trying to be democratic. You need the virtual equivalent of a bureau chief. You need a good designer.

+ Although you are not starting an agency it could look like that. You're a hip group of photographers and designers. Like an agency but not. Give yourselves a name.

+ You want fresh content - pics of the week, a blog, stuff which gets people coming back. Your own watermark the same on everyone.

+ Forget search for the most part. Build it around themes and concepts.

+ Not a free for all. Put a group together by invite or application. 50 people max I would say. Even that is probably 3x too many at first. Mostly diamond level or people you know.

+. It will cost you money to do. Pay for a really good design. The site is not going to make money.

+ Only showcase your best work. Keep it very high quality.  Not too many pictures. It's your best stuff.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Amos Struck on August 24, 2010, 12:43
In my mind it is a big portfolio. But you promote each others' work when you promote your own.

+ Do not even get into the business of actually selling direct no matter how attractive that might seem. You are not starting an agency. You are not in competition with the agencies. Just trying to get traffic to the work you have with them. If you get into the business of selling you will quickly run into all sort of deep potential legal issues.

+ Google doesn't matter. Use your social networks. All of you are in direct contact with a few designers and buyers. And they are. If people link to you then Google will just happen. But I think it should be about recommendations.

+ Don't get hardwired to any agency with your lightboxes. Put the lightboxes on your own site and let the members link and edit their comps to which ever sites they choose. Potential buyers may be with different sites.

+ You want to have a good relation with the agencies. What is good for you is good for them. You're all trying to sell pictures. Rising tide etc. Super positive.

+ Forget trying to be democratic. You need the virtual equivalent of a bureau chief. You need a good designer.

+ Although you are not starting an agency it could look like that. You're a hip group of photographers and designers. Like an agency but not. Give yourselves a name.

+ You want fresh content - pics of the week, a blog, stuff which gets people coming back. Your own watermark the same on everyone.

+ Forget search for the most part. Build it around themes and concepts.

+ Not a free for all. Put a group together by invite or application. 50 people max I would say. Even that is probably 3x too many at first. Mostly diamond level or people you know.

+. It will cost you money to do. Pay for a really good design. The site is not going to make money.

+ Only showcase your best work. Keep it very high quality.  Not too many pictures. It's your best stuff.

Very very true - all points are mandatory! I think that will not happen because it's too much work for just presenting portfolio.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 24, 2010, 16:36
Go for it. I am quite suprised that it hasn't happen earlier in microstock (or maybe it has, but I've just missed it). Lots of traditional agencies started out like this: a group of stock photographers combining their efforts to market themselves. Just take a look at Blend Images, for example.

Regarding the pricing, why not do the opposite? Go higher. You're going to provide high-quality content in one place to make it easier for buyers to find great stock images. For instance, AGE has a low-budget RF collection called easyFotostock. It's made up of mostly microstock images priced at midstock prices. The reason for this is because they don't have extended/merchandising licenses: it's always included, just like in traditional RF. Why couldn't you do the same?

If you guys can gather enough contributors to create a fairly large micro/midstock collection, I don't see why you couldn't start approaching traditional agencies to represent your collection directly. Heck, you could even submit directly to easyFotostock or upload the entire collection to Impact in IT's Stock Media Server platform.

To add to Alias's list:

+ Emailers. Since you don't really have a client base yet, consider using Adbase or Agency Access.

+ Directories for art and creative buyers, like Visual Connections, Stock Index Online etc.
 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 16:54
Really outstanding ideas.  These are a great template for success if anybody wants to implement them. As I said, I would definitely consider investing in such a venture if the right person would step forward to design it...
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 24, 2010, 16:58
You need to be careful not to give agencies the idea that you are setting up in competition with them. If they get that idea, you risk being out of the door double-quick.

If there is an easy way of submitting stuff so I can contribute to something like this without spending a lot of time I would probably join.

One problem I can see is that there would have to be really fascist quality control to make such a site stand out and people would be likely to get really upset if they were told that shots that had passed iStock inspection were not good enough.

It might be possible to link in to an automated fine art prints company and possibly generate some extra revenue in that way, as well as from referral links for buyers.

Would it be useful to allow visitors to limit their searches to files that were on specific agencies? Some might find it a useful lightbox but only if they were viewing files available on a site they had a contract with.

I wonder, though, whether we can really reach buyers directly. I suppose the idea is a bit like Magnum - and that, of course, is extremely selective about who is allowed in.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 24, 2010, 17:13
Two aspects are critical, one is the upload interface, the other is the buyer interface.

I presume the uploader will have to link the file to each of the agencies it is on according to its file number there, so that buyers could click through to make a purchase (and activate a referral, if possible). Or could it link automatically using the uploader's name and running an automatic search for existing keywords within that portfolio?

Would keywords need to be limited to prevent spamming and prioritised to help the search.

How would "best match" work?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Sean Locke Photography on August 24, 2010, 17:14
Everyone's up for it, until they're told they didn't make the cut... ;)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 24, 2010, 17:18
It would certainly be condemned as elitist. Especially if it didn't let me in.

Who's going to be the adjudicator, I wonder.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: ljupco on August 24, 2010, 17:46
I had suggested something similar several years ago, but nobody seemed interested/willing to embark on such a project. Too bad I can't find the post, the site doesn't let me go back that long ago. Photographers selling their own work on their on web site is the way to go in my opinion. Regards, Ljupco
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 18:14
It would certainly be condemned as elitist. Especially if it didn't let me in.

LOL!  I second that!  Already planning on starting a thread if I don't get in ;D
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: WarrenPrice on August 24, 2010, 18:20
Wasn't Magnum elitist? ??? :D ;D

ED:  should have said, "Isn't Magnum elitist?"   8)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Dreamframer on August 24, 2010, 18:27
I'm interested too. But I'm, afraid my photos would only degrade the collection
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 24, 2010, 18:39
I'm interested too. But I'm, afraid my photos would only degrade the collection
You can write the score.  ;)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 24, 2010, 18:42
I had suggested something similar several years ago, but nobody seemed interested/willing to embark on such a project.
It came up 2 or 3 times. Perhaps the need wasn't there then.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 24, 2010, 18:52
I presume the uploader will have to link the file to each of the agencies it is on according to its file number there, so that buyers could click through to make a purchase (and activate a referral, if possible).

I use one of the unused IPTC fields to put in the link to the stock sales site and my software does the rest. I'm just playing with my port  now on a standalone site to see how fast I can get into Google Images. Example (http://flemishdreams.com/portfolio/imagepages/business-people-image21.html) (currently linked to 3DS but it can be whatever).
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 24, 2010, 18:56
Lots of good ideas have been floated over the years, but so far nobody stepped forward to put any of them into action.  

As FD says, perhaps there wasn't as much need.  Maybe now that incomes seem to be dropping, more creative solutions will be welcome.  

BTW, it is Alias's suggestion in blue in my OP.  Unfortunately I am not business savvy enough to have come up with anything particularly useful...
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: djpadavona on August 24, 2010, 19:24
If you want a simpler start, why not gather up 20-30 high end iStock contributors, and invite each one to add 10 (and only 10) of their images to a "Best Of" lightbox.  That way you don't have to pick and choose which images to accept...you know they will all be great.  Then start pushing the Lightbox through all of your social networking channels.

Accept another 5 images from each member of the contributor list every month to keep it fresh, and push those new images hard through social networking.

If you can get enough designers watching the lightbox, you might be onto something.  It would probably take a few months to gain traction (if it worked), but it would be 100% free and nobody would have to design a website.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 24, 2010, 20:04
lol it all sounds good on paper but it hasn't been implemented before because it won't work.  Setting up a website, maintaining it and promoting it poperly takes time and money and who's going to be the sucker that gets bogged down with the big tasks while others just sit back and go along for the ride? 

The smartest idea was the one from djpadavona.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lefty on August 24, 2010, 20:31
  Personally I lack the skills to design the site

From careful observation and rememberance of several comments existing here there is one call FD who sound like having qualification you seek. At least from various comments made by the person. Unless it is all person named FD know is limited but my idea is this person sound with knowledge to design site so.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 24, 2010, 20:35
From careful observation and rememberance of several comments existing here there is one call FD who sound like having qualification you seek. At least from various comments made by the person. Unless it is all person named FD know is limited but my idea is this person sound with knowledge to design site so.
Come on TanSen, flattery will bring you nowhere.  :P
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lefty on August 24, 2010, 21:03
From careful observation and rememberance of several comments existing here there is one call FD who sound like having qualification you seek. At least from various comments made by the person. Unless it is all person named FD know is limited but my idea is this person sound with knowledge to design site so.
Come on TanSen, flattery will bring you nowhere.  :P

Sorry FD, it is not flattery. I read many times you mentioning technical terminology that fly pass my head. Assume you are qualified. So why not you offer lisafx the assistance ?

And while I got your attention.
I have question for you on Firefox. How do you reduce the memory intensiveness impact on browser? I don't like IE because it is prone to virus. Or is that pure rumor?  What browser do you use? If firefox is so bad why is it the most popular of browser?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lefty on August 24, 2010, 22:50
Come on TanSen, flattery will bring you nowhere.  :P

Lastly why you refer to the Nepal TanSen? I am not Nepalese . Nor am I TanSen the Getty photojournalist. But Confusion is much flattery , thought. Thank you :P
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 24, 2010, 23:43
So why not you offer lisafx the assistance ?
Ahem, that was already done. ;-) But thanks!
And while I got your attention.
I have question for you on Firefox. How do you reduce the memory intensiveness impact on browser? I don't like IE because it is prone to virus. Or is that pure rumor?  What browser do you use? If firefox is so bad why is it the most popular of browser?
FF, but I now minimize my # of open tabs so the resident scripts are minimal. FF itself is not that heavy, but of course heavier than IE that co-uses the renderer in the (resident) explorer. If you have little memory, it's better to restart your PC and not open FF when you want to do Photoshop. DPP is a memory beast too.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 25, 2010, 01:29
lol it all sounds good on paper but it hasn't been implemented before because it won't work.  Setting up a website, maintaining it and promoting it poperly takes time and money and who's going to be the sucker that gets bogged down with the big tasks while others just sit back and go along for the ride? 

The smartest idea was the one from djpadavona.

You're probably right. Djpadavona's idea is very good indeed. In fact, it could become almost compulsory to participate in a box like that. There could be one made for each cannister level (or, at least, one for diamond, one for gold - I don't know if Sean and Lisa's crowd need a separate one or might be better off in the larger diamond collection). Black diamonds could be invited to contribute 100 images, diamonds 10, gold 5, silver 2  .... something like that. Not sure about bronze, there are so many of them it could make maintenance utterly impossible.

Even that would probably be far too much work for one person - it would need iStock to allow multiple users to maintain the box, so there would also need to be a shared mailbox to send requests to. But iStock might see it as a direct threat to its efforts to push its Vetta and Exclusive+ collections, so it might not like it.

It also only (hopefully) attracts buyers to one agency, some of us would want a wider reach.

If the other idea could ever be got off the ground, the participants would have to pay an image-hosting fee to cover setting-up and maintenance costs. That would, at least, restrict the potential membership to serious contributors. It would also mean that we would need a high degree of confidence in the ability of such a site to drive business to our portfolios. I would be willing to put in say 50c per file for hosting IF the marketing strategy was really convincing and there were enough other potential contributors to create a credible resource for buyers.

Once money is involved, I doubt if the enthusiasm for this will survive.  And it does come down to Lisa's original point that we pay most of our earnings to our agencies precisely to do the marketing and administration for us. That is what they are there for, nothing else. Lisa must have paid over a million dollars (literally) in commission to agencies to market her works, so she has the right to expect that they do an exceptional job for her.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: diego_cervo on August 25, 2010, 02:39
totally agree with you.

Maybe is the buyer that has to pay a (small) fee before being redirected to an agency website, where he can then buy and download the image. No keywords, author's name etc. have to be displayed to the buyer before he pays this fee.....it wouldn't prevent him to search directly on an agency, but at least the task would be time-consuming.

Besides, I think that it should be up to the contributor to specify where his images are available so that both exclusives and non-exclusives may benefit from this project.

Best,
Diego
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 25, 2010, 03:06
totally agree with you.

Maybe is the buyer that has to pay a (small) fee before being redirected to an agency website,

IT won't work charging buyers a fee. It would all have to be paid for by us *gulp*
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 03:13
I don't blame Lisa for trying to implement it.  It would be frustrating relying on the performance of micro agents especially if you rely on micro earnings to feed your family.  I think the best thing for her or anyone in her situation is to spend less time in here and more time learning ways to promote their own work including developing their own website.  Also Lisa's an excellent photographer and 'people' are her niche.  This is good but it puts a limit to what she can do with her work.  If I were her I would rethink this niche.  She's got enough 'people' shots that can sit there earning while she branches out in other forms of photography and sells those images other ways.  This way if microstock goes down the gurgler, she'll have a backup.

The other idea (alias's) is a good one but I can't see it working by coming into a forum and asking "who wants in?"   I can see it working if a few internet computer geeks/photographers team up together but I cannot see how these people with these skills will be willing to support other competitors who can't provide anything other than a small amount of money.  



lol it all sounds good on paper but it hasn't been implemented before because it won't work.  Setting up a website, maintaining it and promoting it poperly takes time and money and who's going to be the sucker that gets bogged down with the big tasks while others just sit back and go along for the ride?  

The smartest idea was the one from djpadavona.

You're probably right. Djpadavona's idea is very good indeed. In fact, it could become almost compulsory to participate in a box like that. There could be one made for each cannister level (or, at least, one for diamond, one for gold - I don't know if Sean and Lisa's crowd need a separate one or might be better off in the larger diamond collection). Black diamonds could be invited to contribute 100 images, diamonds 10, gold 5, silver 2  .... something like that. Not sure about bronze, there are so many of them it could make maintenance utterly impossible.

Even that would probably be far too much work for one person - it would need iStock to allow multiple users to maintain the box, so there would also need to be a shared mailbox to send requests to. But iStock might see it as a direct threat to its efforts to push its Vetta and Exclusive+ collections, so it might not like it.

It also only (hopefully) attracts buyers to one agency, some of us would want a wider reach.

If the other idea could ever be got off the ground, the participants would have to pay an image-hosting fee to cover setting-up and maintenance costs. That would, at least, restrict the potential membership to serious contributors. It would also mean that we would need a high degree of confidence in the ability of such a site to drive business to our portfolios. I would be willing to put in say 50c per file for hosting IF the marketing strategy was really convincing and there were enough other potential contributors to create a credible resource for buyers.

Once money is involved, I doubt if the enthusiasm for this will survive.  And it does come down to Lisa's original point that we pay most of our earnings to our agencies precisely to do the marketing and administration for us. That is what they are there for, nothing else. Lisa must have paid over a million dollars (literally) in commission to agencies to market her works, so she has the right to expect that they do an exceptional job for her.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: dirkr on August 25, 2010, 04:17
If you want a simpler start, why not gather up 20-30 high end iStock contributors, and invite each one to add 10 (and only 10) of their images to a "Best Of" lightbox.  That way you don't have to pick and choose which images to accept...you know they will all be great.  Then start pushing the Lightbox through all of your social networking channels.

Accept another 5 images from each member of the contributor list every month to keep it fresh, and push those new images hard through social networking.

If you can get enough designers watching the lightbox, you might be onto something.  It would probably take a few months to gain traction (if it worked), but it would be 100% free and nobody would have to design a website.


How far away is that from this (http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/microstockgroup-istock-lightboxes/) ?

Ok, less restrictive and the social networking marketing thing is missing, but else...

Anybody has seen positive effects from those lightboxes?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lagereek on August 25, 2010, 04:34
I dont agree!  Lisa should stick to what she is extremly good and well known for. Finding a niche, today, 10 years after Micro was introduced? well even if its done, its too time consuming if not impossible, meanwhile the money needs to be generated.

Here is a story:  I ran my own Trad-agency with large, medium, 35-mil trannies, some 20000 for three years, this was back in the 80s, I had high-ranking stuff and man! I was selling very, very well. BUT!!  before I knew, I was stuck in my office, not 8 hours a day but around 15 hours per day, indexing shots, distribution, filing, captioning,etc, etc, etc, etc.  there was no end to it. Remeber, if you want to suceed at something you simply have to be there yourself, no good throwing in a little girl Friday or whatever, hoping they are going to get the job done. Just sitting negotiating in telephones is a hellish job and you have to be a salesman as well.

So many will say AH! but this is online, computers, digital!  sure it is and how much bloody work dont we all do just in PP and uploading??? simple truth is: you got no time over for photography what so ever, your life will concist  of a screen and paper. Fun hey?

I was lucky!  a very large agency bought my little operation, paid me handsomely and later I joined that agency, that Agency was later bought up by Getty!  well the rest is history.

all the best.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 05:04
Well the microstock industry is well oversaturated and it's going to get a lot worse.  Everyone keeps whining about it while at the same time they sit there typing on forums and posting their referral links getting more and more people to join.  The agencies benefit but you're all doing yourselves in and you had to have known this was going to happen.  Eventually it will be a struggle to make a living out of microstock and unless you look at alternative ways to earn, you're going to wake up one day and kick yourselves over not having something to fall back on.

The big earners had it cushy for years but I'm afraid it's time people... something's going to give, the bubble's going to burst.  You can all sit there fighting the odds trying to come up with ways to promote your ports but if everyone is still inviting new members to sign up for a few extra bucks, then you're fighting a losing battle.  The growth rate of your individual ports is nowhere near the growth rate of the microstock agencies.  We're living in a digital world where everyone with a digital camera thinks he's a photographer.  You know what?  they are photographers!... you told them so when you referred them! 

Every year it's going to get worse until eventually no one will be making a living out of microstock.  This will become a hobby.  A little side earner.  It's just the way it is.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lagereek on August 25, 2010, 05:11
Well the microstock industry is well oversaturated and it's going to get a lot worse.  Everyone keeps whining about it while at the same time they sit there typing on forums and posting their referral links getting more and more people to join.  The agencies benefit but you're all doing yourselves in and you had to have known this was going to happen.  Eventually it will be a struggle to make a living out of microstock and unless you look at alternative ways to earn, you're going to wake up one day and kick yourselves over not having something to fall back on.

The big earners had it cushy for years but I'm afraid it's time people... something's going to give, the bubble's going to burst.  You can all sit there fighting the odds trying to come up with ways to promote your ports but if everyone is still inviting new members to sign up for a few extra bucks, then you're fighting a losing battle.  The growth rate of your individual ports is nowhere near the growth rate of the microstock agencies.  We're living in a digital world where everyone with a digital camera thinks he's a photographer.  You know what?  they are photographers!... you told them so when you referred them! 

Every year it's going to get worse until eventually no one will be making a living out of microstock.  This will become a hobby.  A little side earner.  It's just the way it is.

Agreeing with you, at least to a point. However where quality really matters,  NO!! everyone with a cam is not a photographer,  far from it.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 25, 2010, 05:19
Agree with BaldricksTrousers. You cannot charge the buyers a fee to use the website. Nowadays, stock agencies don't even charge for doing image searches for buyers!

Don't know how many of you keep track of what's happening in macrostock, but premium RF prices are going down (moodboard, Imagebroker etc.). Every other month or so we get emails from agencies lowering the prices for the RF images.

It's probably better to set it up as invitation only in the beginning, maybe needing recommendations from two accepted members or something.

When it comes to image hosting, you can get around that by relying on third-party websites with established customers already. For example, with a fairly large collection, Impact in IT's platform doesn't have image hosting fees for image providers (e.g. it is the agencies that would represent your collection that are charged a fee based on the size of the collection). I know the guy working at Impact and could talk with him about hosting.

The main problem is whether agencies are going to be interested in another microstock/midstock brand.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 05:26
@ lagereek

You've missed the point.  In their minds they are.  They've joined microstock agencies as photographers.  Microstock agencies refer to them as photographers so in actual fact they ARE now photographers.  It's irrelevant if their photographs are crap. Their photos are still good enough for cheap microstock.  Their images are still saturating the market and it takes longer to find the quality shots. Furthermore these amateurs start playing amongst the big guns and start paying attention picking up tips and gaining more and knowledge. While the hot shots lose enthusiasm over their ever-decreasing revenue, the new ones start earning more and more each month and are full of enthusiasm to improve the quality of their work and the quantity of their portfolios.  In the end they are photographers and a lot move up the ranks.  
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: gostwyck on August 25, 2010, 05:27
lol it all sounds good on paper but it hasn't been implemented before because it won't work.  Setting up a website, maintaining it and promoting it poperly takes time and money and who's going to be the sucker that gets bogged down with the big tasks while others just sit back and go along for the ride? 

Exactly. You will be paying to compete for advertising space against the millions being spent by IS, FT & SS __ only to then direct any buyers straight back to them. What's the point?

The only way an individual or a collective of photographers can market themselves cost-effectively against the big boys is by having a unique and comprehensive collection in a niche subject __ say 15K images of a particular country for example.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lagereek on August 25, 2010, 05:30
@ lagereek

You've missed the point.  In their minds they are.  They've joined microstock agencies as photographers.  Microstock agencies refer to them as photographers so in actual fact they ARE now photographers.  It's irrelevant if their photographs are crap. Their photos are still good enough for cheap microstock.  Their images are still saturating the market and it takes longer to find the quality shots. Furthermore these amateurs start playing amongst the big guns and start paying attention picking up tips and gaining more and knowledge. While the hot shots lose enthusiasm over their ever-decreasing revenue, the new ones start earning more and more each month and are full of enthusiasm to improve the quality of their work and the quantity of their portfolios.  In the end they are photographers and a lot move up the ranks.  

Yep!!  this time you got it right and I totally agree. Proposing opening your own site,etc,  seems more like an act of desperation.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FastRacer on August 25, 2010, 06:56
It does all sound like a good idea. I think the part about NOT being an agency, but just having a separate site with the images being linked to whatever microstock sites the images are on sounds like a good one. Links in and out, on top of whatever social networking all the participants do, will certainly give the site good search engine placement.

Every single photo in my portfolio is not a good one, but I have some great sellers. I have a lot of opinions, but if the site is an elitist one, I am afraid I will not make the cut!  ::)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lefty on August 25, 2010, 08:12
And while I got your attention.
I have question for you on Firefox. How do you reduce the memory intensiveness impact on browser? I don't like IE because it is prone to virus. Or is that pure rumor?  What browser do you use? If firefox is so bad why is it the most popular of browser?
FF, but I now minimize my # of open tabs so the resident scripts are minimal. FF itself is not that heavy, but of course heavier than IE that co-uses the renderer in the (resident) explorer. If you have little memory, it's better to restart your PC and not open FF when you want to do Photoshop. DPP is a memory beast too.
Thank you. So that the reason for Lack of Memory warning. Salut FD
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: alias on August 25, 2010, 08:31
search engine placement.

Forget Google. Use the social media. By recommendation is the new search.

if the site is an elitist one, I am afraid I will not make the cut!  ::)

Think to building a boutique shop window rather than a yard sale. You want it to be cool.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: massman on August 25, 2010, 08:42
search engine placement.

Forget Google. Use the social media. By recommendation is the new search.

if the site is an elitist one, I am afraid I will not make the cut!  ::)

Think to building a boutique shop window rather than a yard sale. You want it to be cool.

Why forget google?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: alias on August 25, 2010, 09:10
Why forget google?

You are not trying to reach everyone with an upmarket boutique. The social media networks are the thing now. Photographs friend designers. Designers follow other designers. The industry talks to itself. If the site is cool and useful people will do the Google for you.

SEO is ultimately like a dog chasing a car. To say forget Google, I am being slightly rhetorical but put it to the back of your mind. Now there are a few things you want to do from the start in case you want to exploit them later (IPTC keywords for example - maybe 5 max). But yes. Basically forget Google.

Plus. How you have find about about Google in the first place ? Someone said ?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: No Longer Cares on August 25, 2010, 09:43
It does all sound like a good idea. I think the part about NOT being an agency, but just having a separate site with the images being linked to whatever microstock sites the images are on sounds like a good one. Links in and out, on top of whatever social networking all the participants do, will certainly give the site good search engine placement.

Every single photo in my portfolio is not a good one, but I have some great sellers. I have a lot of opinions, but if the site is an elitist one, I am afraid I will not make the cut!  ::)


What about creating a site something like this?

- Users can create blog posts about their images/content which:

   - image(s) on the post are allowed to link to author's affiliate account/image(s) at the micro agency of their choice which brings in the extra affiliate boost/income for the purchase; which increases sales of that image; which increases search ranking at the agency
   - post is credited to user's author account/profile on "site" which lists your site/agencies
   - posts a tweet to the "site" twitter account about the blog post
   - gets picked up by the search engines (site will be seo optimized and submitted)
   - blog post feeds will be syndicated to other sites about stock/micro
   - a facebook page will also be created and (eventually) posts will be listed there also

- Users/Authors will be by invitation only in the beginning, then maybe later by approval process.  The first few posts by each user will be held for approval by the admin.  After the user has created a good track record, they will be posted immediately when published.

- Each user will spread the news about their blog posts, which spreads the news about everyone's posts, which advertises the site, …

- With updated content being added daily, search engine ranking and traffic will also flow to the site

The site will be 100% focused on content BUYERS, so it will not have “sell your images here” or any kind of affiliate links of that sort.  The site will have a Google analytics account that all users/authors will be able to view and track progress.  The site will be free for users (maybe some advertising spots will be available to purchase to pay for the site).

Any other ideas?  I have personally seen increased sales from images I have blogged about, with the nice extra boost of the affiliate sale here and there.  My personal photography site gets hits from the search engines daily about images I have blogged about (and my posts are usually rushed and slim on content).

(by the way, this concept is already being created  ;) )
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: donding on August 25, 2010, 10:02
lol it all sounds good on paper but it hasn't been implemented before because it won't work.  Setting up a website, maintaining it and promoting it poperly takes time and money and who's going to be the sucker that gets bogged down with the big tasks while others just sit back and go along for the ride? 

The smartest idea was the one from djpadavona.

I agree with what sunnymars said. It takes work to create a website and it takes work to keep it updated with new photos ect. If it was just sitting there....it wouldn't be as much work, but to keep fresh content every week...that is work and whoever did it would be blogged down with it all which would be kinda unfair to that individual.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 10:18
Really great ideas here.  Brandon, I am pleased the blogging is working out so well for you.  It's good to know there is a direct correlation between images you are blogging about and increased sales!  Thanks for sharing that info.

As for what I personally should be doing, well, I am doing what I like and what I am good at.  Shooting people for stock.  I did weddings and portraits before discovering stock and I guess I could go back to that, but I wasn't particularly successful because I lack marketing skills (see a pattern here?).  Not to mention that I really hated doing it.  I doubt I will go back to doing something I hate that much. 

And spending too much time on the forums?  Guilty as charged.  But since I have learned a lot of useful information here, it isn't just a guilty pleasure.  It is part of my business.   It's a fun way to spend free time, and certainly much less of a waste of time than playing Farmville on Facebook or some similar BS. 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Anyka on August 25, 2010, 10:39
May-be a super stupid idea, but if the marketing site-to-be would not be selling directly, and only through links to - let's say - the big 4 ... why not ask for sponsoring?   SS/IS/DS/FT would benefit from the existence of a site that shows really creative images, so might they not be willing to sponsor it ?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 10:47
I think it sounds like a really good idea Anyka.  If we could demonstrate a clear ability to drive traffic to the sites, a site would be smart to sponsor and make sure the traffic went to THEIR site :)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lagereek on August 25, 2010, 11:11
May-be a super stupid idea, but if the marketing site-to-be would not be selling directly, and only through links to - let's say - the big 4 ... why not ask for sponsoring?   SS/IS/DS/FT would benefit from the existence of a site that shows really creative images, so might they not be willing to sponsor it ?

Or the whole thing might just be seen as a hostil action since its more or less a group of independants??  dont know?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: click_click on August 25, 2010, 11:29
It's hard to follow the thread in its entirety but I want to bring up a couple of thoughts here.

- Why would the big 4 (together) support ONE site, that supposedly drives traffic to them. Either one of the big 4 would like to do that individually but not if IS knows that the site also promotes SS, DT and FT images. At least it would bother me as an agency owner to see that other agencies would be supported by the same source. Maybe I'm just naive about that.

- I blog about various issues in Microstock using only my own images as blog illustrations. All linked to my images at each agency with referral code. I have 30 unique visitors daily and not once found out that one of them bought one of them. I don't know how much traffic Brandon, has and I believe he as a lot more so, sure there can be money/business made but the traffic has to be there in the first place to get there.

- Content is key. While many sales people say that you can sell anything (no matter how bad it is) it just matters HOW you sell it. HOW do you promote it. Same thing with the iPhone. While competitors have better phones available (screen res, camera res, add-on memory, customization options etc.), Apple (also due to it's phenomenal brand image) manages to get that thing sold as if there are no other phones on the market. I strongly believe in quality and not quantity. So to me it only makes sense to offer exclusive content.  How can you offer something successfully at a higher price point if it's available somewhere else dirt cheap.

- Letting in 2 images from Bronze members I read somewhere... What would be the motivation for these people to keep contributing? That barely leaves any exposure for them. Sure, it mostly makes only sense for contributors with large, already successful portfolios. Or at least newbies with exceptionally creative content. You need to offer a considerable amount of high quality content to begin with and keep the new content coming at the same time.

Now besides that:

I've been working my butt off to figure out this Twitter thing, enhancing my Zazzle store and promoting my portfolio through my web site.

Traffic and targeted visitors are my goal which I can't get to see my stuff.

There are hundreds of books, workshops and courses out there (especially youtube - LOL) that promise you trillions of $$$ if you follow their strategy. I think this is even worse to find the right info than asking what to shoot in a microstock forum in order to be successful.

Obviously all of us (with maybe a few exceptions) have no clue how to successfully promote ourselves. Otherwise we would be laying on our yacht right now watching the royalties roll in on a custom-designed flat screen, mounted over my hammock.

So my question is: Can one person (photographer/contributor) do it ALL by him/herself?

- Creating content (editing, keywording, uploading and managing)
- create their own web presence like a personal/professional web site as an electronic business card to build their brand
- create, manage and add to a blog on a regular basis
- follow, un-follow, find new people to follow on Twitter and tweet about useful stuff
- create, maintain and update Facebook and mySpace
- educate yourself in terms of new photography gear, social networks trends, web site technology, marketing strategies
- advertise, promote and market yourself in person at the ball's game, supermarket, intersection etc.
- walk into galleries, restaurants small businesses and present yourself as the next big Sh!t who has the bestest images in the world that they have to buy.

I mean the list goes on and on.

Oh and do you guys also have a life? I barely do. Does that mean I'm incredibly inefficient, because technology is supposed to make everything easier?

I'm pretty sure the ones who figured all this out successfully don't hang around in any forum nor do they want to share this info but maybe we can put some pieces together.

Oh and another thing about this idea of promoting our images: How much money is each of you willing to throw into the pot to make it happen. Or how many hours a day are you willing to work for free to set it up, as you may also be a web designer, programmer etc.?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: alias on August 25, 2010, 11:30
Yes. Make sure that it absolutely is not potentially hostile and does not favour one site over any other. It should be complimentary and industry friendly.

It's next about a group of hip modern photographers promoting their very best work together.

I would suggest - no advertising. A serious photographer would not have advertising on their portfolio. Adverts are not cool. Pay for the thing by subscription. Because you would be proud to be part of that group.

One day you might get to do a tie in with Hasselblad or Nikon. But that would be in the future.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 13:16

So my question is: Can one person (photographer/contributor) do it ALL by him/herself?

- Creating content (editing, keywording, uploading and managing)
- create their own web presence like a personal/professional web site as an electronic business card to build their brand
- create, manage and add to a blog on a regular basis
- follow, un-follow, find new people to follow on Twitter and tweet about useful stuff
- create, maintain and update Facebook and mySpace
- educate yourself in terms of new photography gear, social networks trends, web site technology, marketing strategies
- advertise, promote and market yourself in person at the ball's game, supermarket, intersection etc.
- walk into galleries, restaurants small businesses and present yourself as the next big Sh!t who has the bestest images in the world that they have to buy.

I mean the list goes on and on.

Oh and do you guys also have a life? I barely do.

All extremely good points Click.  The time consuming and overwhelming nature of all of the above is probably what keeps good ideas like this from getting off the ground.  I know that I am already spending as much time as I care to on my business, and that is allotted mostly to shooting, editing, keywording, and uploading.  And yeah, hanging around here too when I need a break from any of the aforementioned ;). 

If an alternate site to drive traffic, as is being discussed, were to be successful it would have to be run by someone who is pretty devoted to it.  They would make their money from the photographers who would pay to participate.  Most likely they would have less time to actually do microstock themselves. 

It's tricky to implement, I am sure.  What we don't need is yet another "get rich quick" scheme that just bilks aspiring photographers out of their money. 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 25, 2010, 13:48
"Nil volentibus arduum"  (for those that really want something, nothing is impossible).  ;)  :-X
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: djpadavona on August 25, 2010, 14:21
It may have already been mentioned, but just an FYI that iStockphoto allows the creator of a lightbox to assign admin status to other users, so if a couple of black diamonds teamed up they could each add files to the lightbox.  If you wanted to limit each user to X amount of files, the administration would have to be an honor system.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: massman on August 25, 2010, 14:50
So my question is: Can one person (photographer/contributor) do it ALL by him/herself?

- Creating content (editing, keywording, uploading and managing)
- create their own web presence like a personal/professional web site as an electronic business card to build their brand
- create, manage and add to a blog on a regular basis
- follow, un-follow, find new people to follow on Twitter and tweet about useful stuff
- create, maintain and update Facebook and mySpace
- educate yourself in terms of new photography gear, social networks trends, web site technology, marketing strategies
- advertise, promote and market yourself in person at the ball's game, supermarket, intersection etc.
- walk into galleries, restaurants small businesses and present yourself as the next big Sh!t who has the bestest images in the world that they have to buy.
Yes, all of it.


I'm pretty sure the ones who figured all this out successfully don't hang around in any forum nor do they want to share this info but maybe we can put some pieces together.
Correct.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: massman on August 25, 2010, 14:54
"Nil volentibus arduum"  (for those that really want something, nothing is impossible).  ;)  :-X

Best reply I've seen so far.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Magnum on August 25, 2010, 15:42
Wasn't Magnum elitist? ??? :D ;D

ED:  should have said, "Isn't Magnum elitist?"   8)

Thanks ;D
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: gaja on August 25, 2010, 16:35
I think this sounds like some of the Partner Programs from DT and FT. There are sites that get content from both of them. DT has something called API in their referral area; does that have something to do with this?

Maybe such a scheme could be financed partly from referral income? If there is a referral link belonging to the site inbedded in the image link? Is that possible in all the big ones?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: madelaide on August 25, 2010, 16:45
It may have already been mentioned, but just an FYI that iStockphoto allows the creator of a lightbox to assign admin status to other users, so if a couple of black diamonds teamed up they could each add files to the lightbox.  If you wanted to limit each user to X amount of files, the administration would have to be an honor system.

I was thinking of suggesting something using lightboxes - IS or DT, I don't know.

Take N of us, each with a website or a blog.  Like in MSG lighboxes, each would select a few images on a theme, we would create a lightbox with them, and all would publish that lightbox in their websites/blogs.

PS: We could publish that in Squidoo too.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: michaeldb on August 25, 2010, 17:38
Obviously all of us (with maybe a few exceptions) have no clue how to successfully promote ourselves. Otherwise we would be laying on our yacht right now watching the royalties roll in on a custom-designed flat screen, mounted over my hammock.
My first question is: How are we all going to fit into your hammock?

Secondly, would buyers use these lightboxes to actually buy?

Ways buyers might find images to buy:
-keyword search
-looking at the port of the imagist whom they just dled an image from (mostly subscribers do this probably) to see if there are more good ones
-looking in categories
-looking at lightboxes, which are sort of more-vertical categories

How many buyers really use lightboxes to buy images? Does anyone know? And if the answer is, "Not many" then even if alias' idea of using social media to get googlejuice (which sounds like a great idea) works and you get a lot of traffic, the whole overall idea might not be so good.

Madelaide's idea of everyone re-publishing the lightbox seems like a really good one. But still, visitors might not buy. Then what good is it? Surely you if you were going to invest time or money in the lightbox idea, you would need some evidence that buyers really use them to buy.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 25, 2010, 18:17
I don't really know about any of the microstock agencies, but because I do actually work for an agency in Asia, I know that our clients use lightboxes extensively. Mostly to organize images they like or need for future use. Especially those that buy from subscriptions. They have tons of lightboxes for a large variety of subjects. I'd be very surprised if the same wasn't true for microstock buyers too. However, there's a big difference between buyers organizing their own lightboxes and you guys creating lightboxes/galleries for the buyers.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 25, 2010, 18:32
However, there's a big difference between buyers organizing their own lightboxes and you guys creating lightboxes/galleries for the buyers.
Correct, I think we're talking about a different type of lightboxes. The ones that buyers make for themselves are actually glorified bookmarks. I use them on my buyer's account in DT to pass to the designers (that use the same account). Lightboxes on DT are not even public (collections are, just like lightboxes on IS). When the (Indian) designers log in they check my lightbox and download out of it what matches best the page layout or dominant colors.

Contributor-made lightboxes or collections are totally different. They are very useful for a niche subject that would take too much time for a buyer to explore himself.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 18:57
The only thing this website will do is reduce your RPD even further.  What you're all failing to consider is the typical behaviour of a designer.  Do you really think their first point of contact will be some website with a group of desperate photographers listing a handful of their best photography.  Designers don't give a * who they buy from.  They're after the best, the most current and the most original content.  They're not going to browse through an individual's portfolio first and risk downloading something better than your shots.  They're going to do what they've always been doing and search for images on microstock sites where there are millions of photos from ALL photographers.  If you want to stand out in a crowd of millions, make your images individually better than anyone else's.  Focus on the search results of each image and figure out a way to move them to the first 5 pages quicker.  If you're old timers at this and you've haven't worked it out yet, what . have you been wasting your time on?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 19:25
 Focus on the search results of each image and figure out a way to move them to the first 5 pages quicker.  If you're old timers at this and you've haven't worked it out yet, what . have you been wasting your time on?

Seriously?!!  "Figure out a way to move (our images) to the first 5 pages quicker"?!!  So, like, game the system?  It's been tried a bunch of times in the past but ended up with account closures for the gamers.  AFAIK the search engines are pretty gameproof at this point.  

Eventually if you build a portfolio of quality images and a good sales history you may be toward the front of many searches, but it really is dependent on the whims of the sites and their programmers.  Beyond producing the best images we can in whatever our areas of specialty are and using as many accurate keywords as possible (without spamming!) there really isn't much else one can do to ensure search position.  

You have some very nice vectors in your portfolio.  Would love to hear more about how you managed to get all your 59 files on DT placed advantageously enough to pull in the 72 sales you have had since you started in April 2010.  Perhaps yours is just the fresh perspective and insight we "old timers" have been waiting for to show us the way ;).
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: WarrenPrice on August 25, 2010, 19:41
^^was wondering how long that would take.   ;D
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 19:42
lol I'm not stupid enough to just blab it out on a public forum but yes, absolutely work the system.  I wasn't talking about playing games or doing anything illegitimately.  Certainly not spamming or using inappropriate keywords.  Figure out what drives the search engines at each agent, it's not that hard.  Choose one of your quality images that's on page 10 and pick out a quality image that's on page 1, go their portfolio and try to work out why yours is placed on 10.  

Competition seems to scare everyone away but it drives me.  If it wasn't so competitive I wouldn't be in it at all.  The money's not driving me either.  I want my image to be better than anyone elses and I want it on page one.  I'm far from it but that's what is driving me.



 Focus on the search results of each image and figure out a way to move them to the first 5 pages quicker.  If you're old timers at this and you've haven't worked it out yet, what . have you been wasting your time on?

Seriously?!!  "Figure out a way to move (our images) to the first 5 pages quicker"?!!  So, like, game the system?  It's been tried a bunch of times in the past but ended up with account closures for the gamers.  AFAIK the search engines are pretty gameproof at this point.  

Eventually if you build a portfolio of quality images and a good sales history you may be toward the front of many searches, but it really is dependent on the whims of the sites and their programmers.  Beyond producing the best images we can in whatever our areas of specialty are and using as many accurate keywords as possible (without spamming!) there really isn't much else one can do to ensure search position.  

Would love to hear more about how you managed to get all your 59 files on DT placed advantageously enough to pull in the 72 sales you have had since you started in April 2010.  Perhaps yours is just the fresh perspective and insight we "old timers" have been waiting for to show us the way.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 19:50
lol I'm not stupid enough to just blab it out on a public forum but yes, absolutely work the system.  I wasn't talking about playing games or doing anything illegitimately.  Certainly not spamming or using inappropriate keywords.  Figure out what drives the search engines at each agent, it's not that hard.  Choose one of your quality images that's on page 10 and pick out a quality image that's on page 1, go their portfolio and try to work out why yours is placed on 10.  

Competition seems to scare everyone away but it drives me.  If it wasn't so competitive I wouldn't be in it at all.  The money's not driving me either.  I want my image to be better than anyone elses and I want it on page one.  I'm far from it but that's what is driving me.

I think it's awesome that you have such enthusiasm, and great that you are not intimidated by competition.  Maybe you will have a long successful microstock career.   Its really too soon to draw any conclusions though.  
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 25, 2010, 19:57
Would love to hear more about how you managed to get all your 59 files on DT placed advantageously enough to pull in the 72 sales you have had since you started in April 2010.  Perhaps yours is just the fresh perspective and insight we "old timers" have been waiting for to show us the way.
;D- I didn't say it this time.  :P
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 20:03
lol It makes no difference to me if I have credibility at microstockgroup.com or anywhere relating to microstock.  I'm not after credibility.  

You can toss my opinion or advice out the window, it doesn't matter at all to me.  But really, I'm not and no-one else here is going to worry about your starving family when microstock volumes go through the roof and you've wasted a good portion of your microstock life on a public forum typing useless post after post instead of working out a way to maximise your profits, your position as well as creating images that aren't limited to microstock.

You typically got offended earlier when I mentioned branching out in other areas other than 'people'.  I was talking about your subject matter.  I didn't mean do weddings.  I was talking about creating images that you can sell as microstock and otherways but instead of considering the advice of a 'newbie' you went with the "who the fk are you to tell me what to do" when all I was trying to do was help you.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 20:07

You typically got offended earlier when I mentioned branching out in other areas other than 'people'.  I was talking about your subject matter.  I didn't mean do weddings.  I was talking about creating images that you can sell as microstock and otherways but instead of considering the advice of a 'newbie' you went with the "who the fk are you to tell me what to do" when all I was trying to do was help you.

Sorry, can you tell me where I said the above?  This sounds like you have some sort of personal issue with me.  Since I don't know you at all I can't begin to imagine what triggered that.  Feel free to post whatever opinions you want, but don't expect me to take them seriously. 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 25, 2010, 20:08
Figure out what drives the search engines at each agent, it's not that hard.
It's great that you found out the well-kept secrets of the best match at iStock. Without any doubt, your large and successful portfolio on iStock was a great help in finding that grale.  ::)  8)
I think I'll turn my noise reduction engine on again here, and reduce this thread from 3 to 1.5 pages without loss of signal. ;)
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FastRacer on August 25, 2010, 20:10
Oh boy. She's back. For a minute I thought sunnymars just might have been having a bad day the last time she came in here and used foul language at most of us. I have her on ignore, but I can see from you guys quoting her that she's up to her old tricks.

Hope she doesn't derail the thread (which might very well be her intent). I think we are all on the right track to something good.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 25, 2010, 20:14
lol It makes no difference to me if I have credibility at microstockgroup.com or anywhere relating to microstock.  I'm not after credibility.
Oh my, do we have a little attitude problem here? Just some good advice. Try to do some work instead of infesting forums here and at DT (where I sadly can't block you) with incomprehensible BS. Sweet dreams, and PLOINK.  :P
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 20:18
Again, do your own homework.  Hint look for the "it's my business" post.

Why would you think I have a personal issue with you?  You're the OP who started this thread.  I replied to post, someone mentioned you and I responded to that post.  

And do you really think I take you seriously?  You've been at this game for years and you haven't even got yourself a website or at least a blog yet because you prefer to waste your time on here.  If you lose revenue, you can blame yourself for sheer laziness.  Your OP is ridiculous.  You expect people with the skills, the drive and the enthusiam that you lack to step up and help you out promoting your work?   10 years ago it would have been a lot more complicated setting up webstie, but today, anyone can do it.



You typically got offended earlier when I mentioned branching out in other areas other than 'people'.  I was talking about your subject matter.  I didn't mean do weddings.  I was talking about creating images that you can sell as microstock and otherways but instead of considering the advice of a 'newbie' you went with the "who the fk are you to tell me what to do" when all I was trying to do was help you.

Sorry, can you tell me where I said the above?  This sounds like you have some sort of personal issue with me.  Since I don't know you at all I can't begin to imagine what triggered that.  Feel free to post whatever opinions you want, but don't expect me to take them seriously.  
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 20:21
Figure out what drives the search engines at each agent, it's not that hard.
It's great that you found out the well-kept secrets of the best match at iStock. Without any doubt, your large and successful portfolio on iStock was a great help in finding that grale.  ::)  8)
I think I'll turn my noise reduction engine on again here, and reduce this thread from 3 to 1.5 pages without loss of signal. ;)

What's iStock have to do with me?  I'm not with iStock because iStock is the most idiotic microstock agent out there.  They've gone from the best to the worst making stupid decisions that will lead to their collapse.  Their reviewers aren't all there, managment has increased their pricing in the worst possible time in economic history.  At this rate, I doubt iStock will be around much longer.  This is the reason why you're all panicking.  Your biggest earner is about to fall and it should.


lol It makes no difference to me if I have credibility at microstockgroup.com or anywhere relating to microstock.  I'm not after credibility.
Oh my, do we have a little attitude problem here? Just some good advice. Try to do some work instead of infesting forums here and at DT (where I sadly can't block you) with incomprehensible BS. Sweet dreams, and PLOINK.  :P

lol I couldn't care less if someone who thinks he's an IT expert who talks * all day in a forum ignores me.  I'd love it if you can find incomprehensibe BS on DT from me.  It's full of it from YOU though.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lisafx on August 25, 2010, 20:30
lol It makes no difference to me if I have credibility at microstockgroup.com or anywhere relating to microstock.  I'm not after credibility.
Oh my, do we have a little attitude problem here? Just some good advice. Try to do some work instead of infesting forums here and at DT (where I sadly can't block you) with incomprehensible BS. Sweet dreams, and PLOINK.  :P

Did you notice that the number of her postings at DT exceeds her total number of images?  And equals her total number of sales?!  And this is someone who is lecturing us "old timers" on wasting time with useless forum postings?  Best laugh I have had in weeks!  Maybe I should Un-ignore her after all.  You can't pay to get entertainment this good ;D
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 20:38
lol what are you, 12?

Should I be as pathetic as you and count all your posts in EVERY forum you type on?  There's over 3000 in just here.  I really can't be arsed tallying it all up.  I only type on DT, the occassional one at FT when something is really wrong and lately in here.  It doesn't really matter if I waste time on a forum anyway.  Microstock is a hobby, not my occupation. 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: Artemis on August 25, 2010, 21:15
Ahh, all love peace and harmony here again  ;D
Been catching up with this thread and i think there are some great ideas floating here! Still so much questionmarks... how to maintain quality, which is crucial imho (no clue..we all love our pics like they're our children and all would be hurt to be left out); would it be a website (costy + time intensive for the victims maintaining it), or a public lightbox (coming from which site, and where and how to host?)
ETA *snip*
(meh, my english is ditching me; cant get my point across, will try again at a more decent hour )
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: michaeldb on August 25, 2010, 21:22
Do you really think their first point of contact will be some website with a group of desperate photographers listing a handful of their best photography.  Designers don't give a * who they buy from. 
Take out the acrimony and this is a valid criticism. Our images are now a commodity. Just about the only way to compete when selling a commodity is to lower prices. So we have the fears of a 'race to the bottom' and .01 images, and these fears are well founded. Commodity sellers have to compete by lowering prices, it's Economics 101.

The alternative to selling images as a commodity is a 'franchise' or a brand. If "Designers don't give a * who they buy from" it is hard to establish any kind of franchise, but not necessarily impossible.

This thread is about the possibility of establishing a franchise or franchises for some imagists by competing with search, by using some kind of lightbox publishing idea. As christophertvarne and FD pointed out, buyers really do use lightboxes, of at least two different kinds. And Alias suggested ways to use social media and recommendations (with google SEO coming along as a result) to make the lightboxes highly visible.

Can somebody use lightboxes to put his or her images ahead of the pack, create a franchise in a sea of commodity-images? If so I am interested in participating. The real question is can it be done? If so, how?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 25, 2010, 21:28
Thanks for the Economics 101 lesson.  I'm a Management Accountant/CPA :)

Do you really think their first point of contact will be some website with a group of desperate photographers listing a handful of their best photography.  Designers don't give a * who they buy from.
Take out the acrimony and this is a valid criticism. Our images are now a commodity. Just about the only way to compete when selling a commodity is to lower prices. So we have the fears of a 'race to the bottom' and .01 images, and these fears are well founded. Commodity sellers have to compete by lowering prices, it's Economics 101.

The alternative to selling images as a commodity is a 'franchise' or a brand. If "Designers don't give a * who they buy from" it is hard to establish any kind of franchise, but not necessarily impossible.

This thread is about the possibility of establishing a franchise or franchises for some imagists by competing with search, by using some kind of lightbox publishing idea. As christophertvarne and FD pointed out, buyers really do use lightboxes, of at least two different kinds. And Alias suggested ways to use social media and recommendations (with google SEO coming along as a result) to make the lightboxes highly visible.

Can somebody use lightboxes to put his or her images ahead of the pack, create a franchise in a sea of commodity-images? If so I am interested in participating. The real question is can it be done? If so, how?
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: lagereek on August 26, 2010, 01:11
Theres one truth in all this verbal beefing though which needs to be taken seriously. Picture buyers, designers, Ad-people, etc,  they really dont give a crap where or from whom they buy as long as they get their stuff.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 26, 2010, 01:36
Exactly right and if anyone doesn't believe that, they should go do some occasional design work for a few months.  I did and still am doing it from time to time.  I've picked up a few tips from it:

1.  I now understand the micro industry from top to bottom.

2.  I got into the designer's head.  Designers look for the cheapest, most original and current work and don't even give a thought about the artist or their reputation.  Also a lot of designers do their own work.

3.  I familiarised myself with current trends.

4.  I learnt that microstock is a little frowned upon lately and has a stigma attached to it.  A lot of clients go so far as to say in their brief "No microstock or clipart please!".

5.  I've made $3.5K's from it so far from various avenues.

6.  It makes me think outside the square and helps me come up with original work and work that I wouldn't do otherwise.

7.  Some of my leftovers go to microstock and/or PODs.
 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 26, 2010, 05:20
Not necessarily. We have clients that go to our competitors' websites, download the low-res/thumbnail and ask if we have the same images. Why would they do that if they don't care about where they license the images? Why would they go through the trouble of involving a second agency when they know for a fact that they can buy the same image from the first agency? It sure seems to me that clients do care where they license images.

Theres one truth in all this verbal beefing though which needs to be taken seriously. Picture buyers, designers, Ad-people, etc,  they really dont give a crap where or from whom they buy as long as they get their stuff.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 26, 2010, 07:46
Not necessarily. We have clients that go to our competitors' websites, download the low-res/thumbnail and ask if we have the same images. Why would they do that if they don't care about where they license the images?

Is it because it is cheaper from you?Or perhaps you are a subscription site that they have already paid into? Maybe they have an account with you but your search engine is a mess so they can't find anything on it (in which case you need to do something).
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 26, 2010, 07:58
.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 26, 2010, 08:33
Sunnymars, it may come as a shock to you but you are not the only person on the board and my question was addressed to someone else. The someone who I quoted. Someone who apparently is part of an agency and was able to say what actually goes on. So I was looking for actual information, not your idle speculations.

Thank you.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 26, 2010, 08:45
We have clients that go to our competitors' websites, download the low-res/thumbnail and ask if we have the same images. Why would they do that if they don't care about where they license the images? Why would they go through the trouble of involving a second agency when they know for a fact that they can buy the same image from the first agency? It sure seems to me that clients do care where they license images.
It all depends on the price difference, since your research and scouting time costs money too. In the case you can monetize such an effort, beware of sites like Picscout and some others in the making (genre "Best Buy") that will make that process virtually automatic. In that case (having a price advantage), you'd better inject your collection into Picscout.

This from the agencies' point of view. Contributors should be very weary of this trend towards trans-agency virtual photo-agencies too. One day they will regret uploading (or opting in) to bottom-line price agencies, in their greed for the extra cent.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 26, 2010, 08:47
Sunnymars, it may come as a shock to you but you are not the only person on the board and my question was addressed to someone else. The someone who I quoted. Someone who apparently is part of an agency and was able to say what actually goes on. So I was looking for actual information, not your idle speculations.

Thank you.

Baldrick's, sorry I meant to quote the post above you since I was the one who first said that buyer's don't give a * who they buy from.

I too was looking for feedback from the same person.  I too did not care for YOUR idle speculations.


Thank you.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: youralleffingnuts on August 26, 2010, 08:48
They care which agency as long they can find a quality image they want at the right price.  No one was referring to an agent earlier, well at least I wasn't.  Buyers don't care which artist/photographer the images comes from as long as it's what they're looking for.  They're in a hurry so they're not going to click on an image, then click the contributor's port and let their bio content be the deciding factor on whether they purchase it or not. 



Not necessarily. We have clients that go to our competitors' websites, download the low-res/thumbnail and ask if we have the same images. Why would they do that if they don't care about where they license the images? Why would they go through the trouble of involving a second agency when they know for a fact that they can buy the same image from the first agency? It sure seems to me that clients do care where they license images.

Theres one truth in all this verbal beefing though which needs to be taken seriously. Picture buyers, designers, Ad-people, etc,  they really dont give a crap where or from whom they buy as long as they get their stuff.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 26, 2010, 09:11
Can somebody use lightboxes to put his or her images ahead of the pack, create a franchise in a sea of commodity-images? If so I am interested in participating. The real question is can it be done? If so, how?
It will only have a small impact on your overall direct sales but the collateral impact on your search position might be more important. But in fact, we don't know that since the search algorithm is a very well guarded secret on all sites.

I don't have any real proof of impact of having independent light boxes, but you can catch some random sales for sure. What's interesting about those are that they are credit and not subscription sales. Last week I had 2 N/A credit sales of level 5 images on DT, and looking into my Google Analytics, I saw an exit to DT from my site (where the images are up) around the same time. That's no proof since it's incidental but that's one of the ways how an independent light box might work.

There is a valuable lesson in this: don't link your images to low-earning or sub sites, since the buyers there are already very knowledgeable about microstock. Many aren't. You should link to credit sales sites, or at least where a random credit sale is easy.

About the social networks, I always avoided them witnessing people wasting too much time on it. But as all sites are pushing FB and Twitter so much,  one could ask if their research didn't show those generate important sales in the overall traffic. They wouldn't make that programming and design effort on their site if they weren't convinced social networking was an asset.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 26, 2010, 09:43
No, it's not cheaper nor is it more expensive. It's the same. When agencies represent other RF brands, the prices are set by the image provider. It's the same across the board. We're not a subscription website, but we do offer subscriptions to interested clients, as well as VCDs, RF, and RM images. However, subscriptions are separate from our website, e.g. clients have to go to other websites to register accounts.

For sure, there are clients that shop around to find the best deal (you can do that with RM images). When talking about RF images, that's not always the case, since RF have set prices. Prices vary greatly in microstock, especially when factoring in extended/merchandising licenses. It could certainly be a search engine issue. The fact is that image codes/IDs are different for every stock website, just as in microstock. Or maybe it's just a matter of preference.

Is it because it is cheaper from you?Or perhaps you are a subscription site that they have already paid into? Maybe they have an account with you but your search engine is a mess so they can't find anything on it (in which case you need to do something).
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: christophertvarne on August 26, 2010, 09:50
Totally agree. Most clients are concerned about whether it's the right image and/or the right price. All other things are secondary. When you factor out price and the image, what else is left? Preference to particular agencies? Payment options? I don't know really.

They care which agency as long they can find a quality image they want at the right price.  No one was referring to an agent earlier, well at least I wasn't.  Buyers don't care which artist/photographer the images comes from as long as it's what they're looking for.  They're in a hurry so they're not going to click on an image, then click the contributor's port and let their bio content be the deciding factor on whether they purchase it or not. 
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on August 26, 2010, 09:55
May I go back on topic?

The only faint possibility of a separate redirect site being a hit with buyers would be:

1) If the content was all superb, so it was completely reliable as a source of top quality images.
2) If there was enough content to meet most common requirements but not so much that it became tedious to search through it all. That implies limits on categories (to make it even more unworkable than it already looks).

I know designers frequently proclaim that they will search through a thousand images to find the perfect result but Alamy's record of searches suggests very strongly that most will give up if they don't find something on the first page or two.


***

As for caring about photographers: Of course they don't - but there may be certain names on the bottom of a file that act as a form of quality assurance above and beyond what the inspections provide. Yuri Arcurs doesn't seem to have any doubt that self-promotion is beneficial.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: madelaide on August 26, 2010, 17:26
As FD said, I don't expect to catch frequent buyers like designers, who probably have one or two sites they search for images, possibly using subscription packages.  Instead, I would aim casual ones who will buy one or two images paying credits. In SP, I see searches like "buy stethoscope photo" from Google, and in fact many sales there are originated from Google, so this seems to be a valid strategy for casual buyers.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: No Longer Cares on August 26, 2010, 19:49
As FD said, I don't expect to catch frequent buyers like designers, who probably have one or two sites they search for images, possibly using subscription packages.  Instead, I would aim casual ones who will buy one or two images paying credits. In SP, I see searches like "buy stethoscope photo" from Google, and in fact many sales there are originated from Google, so this seems to be a valid strategy for casual buyers.

+1.  Designers already know and search microstock agencies.  It's the other buyers (there are many types) I try to pull in with my site(s).  The stats show it works and Google/Bing/Yahoo are the places they come from.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: microstockinsider on August 29, 2010, 19:17
Nobody so far has touched on the important point of measureability, if you cant measure it you can't manage it. That's where the lightbox co-op idea falls apart. lightboxes are still good, but you are a little bit blind which I think is why everyone seems to say "I think they are working but i'm not sure exactly how much they are helping me"

If you send traffic to a lightbox from your own site then you can measure the traffic and look at sales results. you can use bit'ly to watch traffic if you use a social network to 'do your marketing for you', but if you try to build a network on an agencies site then unless they are happy with you all linking via 3rd party server to keep track of things then you have no idea of how many people are looking at the lightbox and who they are. I stock are quite good in that you can keep independent track off views of a single image over time by tracking the impressions of an image on another server in the description text, none of that is exactly childs play!

to really measure things properly go need to be able to correlate which visitors from which source lead to sales - if you can do that then you're in business. but you cant really do that unless you run your own site, and like others he have written I don't recommend that, you'll NEVER be able to match the agencies when it comes to site usability, range of images and trust.
Title: Re: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock
Post by: FD on August 29, 2010, 19:21
Nobody so far has touched on the important point of measureability, if you cant measure it you can't manage it.
Correct since you can check your own Google Analytics, and not those of third sites where you can just guess.