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Author Topic: Strategies for Self-Marketing in Microstock  (Read 24648 times)

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lisafx

« on: August 24, 2010, 11:21 »
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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!


« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 11:28 »
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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.

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 11:32 »
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Excellent suggestion Dan!  Here's a link to the blog:

http://www.danheller.com/photo-biz.html

« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2010, 11:40 »
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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.

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 11:42 »
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I am not on Cutcaster, but if we got something concrete going with them I would be willing to upload there...

« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 12:02 »
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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.

alias

« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 12:10 »
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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.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 12:13 by alias »

« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 12:43 »
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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.

« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 16:36 »
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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.
 
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 16:46 by christophertvarne »

lisafx

« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2010, 16:54 »
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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...

« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2010, 16:58 »
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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.

« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2010, 17:13 »
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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?

« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2010, 17:14 »
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Everyone's up for it, until they're told they didn't make the cut... ;)

« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 17:18 »
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It would certainly be condemned as elitist. Especially if it didn't let me in.

Who's going to be the adjudicator, I wonder.

« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2010, 17:46 »
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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

lisafx

« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2010, 18:14 »
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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

WarrenPrice

« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2010, 18:20 »
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Wasn't Magnum elitist? ??? :D ;D

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


« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2010, 18:27 »
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I'm interested too. But I'm, afraid my photos would only degrade the collection

« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2010, 18:39 »
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I'm interested too. But I'm, afraid my photos would only degrade the collection
You can write the score.  ;)

« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2010, 18:42 »
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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.

« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2010, 18:52 »
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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 (currently linked to 3DS but it can be whatever).

lisafx

« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2010, 18:56 »
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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...

« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2010, 19:24 »
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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.

youralleffingnuts

    This user is banned.
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2010, 20:04 »
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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.

« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2010, 20:31 »
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  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.


 

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