Triple Marketing


In the early days of Hollywood, grabby movie producers signed promising stars to long term contracts -- not unlike slavery. The next wave of actors saw what was happening and elected to become independent contractors; able to pick and choose their future scripts. Maybe our stock photography industry is evolving in a similar vein. In the wake of the rush toward automation in the commercial stock photo industry, it will be interesting to see if this kind of merger will represent an example of how mid-sized agencies will combine forces to offer convenient, personalized services to local and regional clients, much like how "quick-stop" grocery stores survive very well in the shadow of massive food chains.

History has shown us that consumers will often choose convenience of some products over other buying choices: price, brand, and quality. With regional stock agencies in the mix, it means that you, as a freelance stock photographer, will have three ways to market your photos: 1.) You’ll send your commercially oriented generic stock off to an automated, digitized giant (Getty, Corbis, Alamy, etc.); 2.) Send your regionally-oriented stock to local regional agencies; and 3.) Market your highly specific editorial stock photos directly to special-interest buyers and publishers whose needs match your personal coverage areas.

Here's the advantage of this three-tier selling strategy: Number 1 will pay the bills. Your commercially-oriented stock photos will go stale after five or six years, but you'll continue to keep on top of the fads and pump them out. Number 2 will enable you to anchor yourself to something other than an email address. You'll give personalized service and receive first-name attention from your regional agency. Number 3 will allow you to photograph in the areas of editorial stock closest to your heart (environment issues, developments in education, Native American issues, archery, the homeless, rodeos, gardening, and so on). These photos will eventually become of historical significance and you can pass their value on to your heirs.

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In my eCourse and in my earlier marketing book, “Sell & ReSell Your Photos,” I emphasize that in order to be successful in the world of editorial stock photography, you should choose a special interest area that is of special interest to you, and focus on photographing in that field. Eventually you will amass a large file of specialized photos that will be of great interest to a specific segment of the photobuying universe. Your customers will be world-wide and your free promotion for your specialty will be through Google.
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Most photographers I meet, and who attend my seminars, are more interested in short term monetary gain. They ask me, “What sells best?” I interpret this to mean that they will then enter that field of stock photography, whether it matches their interest area or not. This is a recipe for failure. It’s like a man marrying for money. Surely the relationship won’t last long. If you have a talent for photography and you match it with an area of interest that you love photographing in, you’ll be able to withstand the pitfalls and roadblocks you’re bound to meet up with. LESSON: Choose a specialty area that appeals to you, one that wild horses can’t pull you away from. In the short term, it might not be highly profitable, but in the long run it will pay off, because you’ll have enjoyed every minute of it.

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Rohn Engh is the best-selling author of “Sell & ReSell Your Photos” and “” He has produced an eBook, “How To Make the Marketable Photo,” and an eCourse, “How To Market Your Photos.” For more information and to receive a free eReport: “8 Steps to Becoming Published Photographer,” visit 800 624-0266.

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