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Sweat Can Be Sweet
At my photo marketing seminars, I often get the question, "What will I earn at photo marketing?" I don't give the pat answers. There are many: "You’ll earn according to the amount of effort you put into it," or, "Depends on your initiative and imagination". These are gray answers. You’d rather hear something black or white.
Here is a black and white answer. You could gross between $5,000 to $15,000 a year if you put spare-time effort into photo marketing. If you make it a part-time occupation, you could gross between $15,000 and $30,000. If you go all-out, and build your stock file to 50,000 to 80,000 images, you could gross between $30,000 and $150,000 or higher.
We all know the story about the beginning gardener who asked the hardware store owner if he had any good hoes. The gardener wanted to assure a bountiful crop at harvest time so he wanted to invest in the very best hoe. The proprietor picked up an ordinary hoe and exclaimed, "Here’s the best hoe manufactured today, but it’s out of fuel...it runs on perspiration!"
There are two kinds of perspiration. Sweet and sour. Sweet comes from working at something you enjoy doing. Christopher Morley said, "There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way."
I know a fellow who enjoyed gardening so much that he’d spend every free moment weeding and cultivating his cauliflower and beans. His neighbors used to joke that his garden netted him 15 cents an hour, and that if he added in the cost of his overhead, his carrots cost him about fifty cents a piece! He persisted. He bought a plot of land in the country for his weekend garden retreat.
Twenty years later he was still breaking even on his garden, but in the process he has acquired two hidden assets. First, the land that he had purchased appreciated 10% in worth each year. His garden acreage was now a retirement nest egg. Secondly, the knowledge that he gained became an asset also. He writes magazine articles on gardening for beginners, and in the winter shares his by conducting an adult education class.
Your stock photography operation might not be immediately apparent to you. If you gross $5,000 or $50,000 a year, but don’t come out with a net profit, you nevertheless may have built assets in other ways.
The tangibles: 1.)Your camera equipment, vehicle, office, and darkroom are real collateral in the eyes of a banker. 2.) If you were to sell your business, your stock photo file would be valuable. Certain of your pictures will be of art and historical value.
The intangibles: 1.)If you have a family, you may have discovered that photo marketing is something you can do together as a unit. The children can get involved, even if it’s only to appear as models in your pictures. 2.)Travel and stock photography go hand in hand. 3.) By building your name in the photo marketing community, you are becoming an important resource, not only to the publishing industry, but to other photographers just entering the field.
In this Digital Age, we are moving swiftly toward a visually-oriented society. Your knowledge and your collection of stock photos, like a garden plot, will become more valuable as the years progress. If you are earning a salary with several zeroes at the end, but your expenses have an equal amount of zeroes – the prospect of putting your energy and perspiration toward marketing your stock photos should have the ring of sweet success to you. -RE