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POSITION YOURSELFAdvance Notes: Successful marketing in any endeavor entails knowing when to zig and when to zag. Photographers find themselves betwixt and between in the transition to the “digital age.” Here are some pointers.
If you're a ball player, you know the secret of success: anticipation. You position yourself where instinct tells you the action of the play is going to be. Where’s the action heading in this “digital age” we find ourselves in? Where are you going to position yourself? Translation: Where should you invest your photo business time and money in the digital age?
1. KNOW THY BUYER. Once the under-30 art directors take over the photobuyer scene, look for on-line services to supply buyers with discount generic pictures. But look for photobuyers to opt for your rights-managed (RM) photos because RF (royalty-free) photos won’t be specific enough for their quality publishing projects.
2. CONTENT-SPECIFIC pictures will always sell for higher fees (rights-managed). Most RF (royalty-free) pictures will sell for pennies. Informational magazines and books will require unique documentary pictures (rights-managed--RM). Since there are fewer of these specialized-content pictures, they’ll sell for high fees. The massive numbers of “exquisite cliché” (RF) photos will fall in price, because, well, there are so many of them. And the number keeps growing.
3. SPECIALIZE. Attorneys do it. Doctors do it. Musicians do it. You do it. You are much more valuable to a photobuyer if you can match that photobuyer’s “theme” area with your stock files
4. ANTICIPATE. Ever notice that book stores seem to know the current trend in reading matter? Most of the time. It's because publishers, who plan their press runs far in advance, do heavy market research. You can use book stores to inspire your next (specialized) self-assignment. You'll be ahead of the game.
5. DIGITIZE. Learn to take, scan, and manipulate digital pictures. Borrow the equipment if you can't buy it. But remember, the best word processing program can't produce a good story without a good author. Film is dead. KODAK told us so. (See PhotoStockNotes, May '95, Pg. 1). It’s still taking awhile for film to fade completely out, but shake hands with those folks you've been debating with. They won.
6. RF has always been around in the form of Clip-Art – but there was not a way to produce massive digital versions of it. Now there is. Naturally, this reduces fees. Don't fight it.
7. CD and DVD are delivery methods. Like all delivery methods they will become outmoded. However, your images (the content) can easily be transferred to the newest on-line delivery methods. Your investment in CDs and DVDs will not be lost.
8. COPYRIGHT. You can expect we will see some new copyright laws coming. But few will be enforceable. Foreign copyright infringement is rampant. As the saying goes, "Build a bigger lock and someone will build a bigger hammer." Put your energy to making more pictures.
9. MARKETING. Your marketing methods remain unchanged: Figure out what you love photographing. Find the markets that need photos in those interest areas of yours. Meet their needs. Your buyers won't care what delivery method you use (on-line, CD, FEDEX, or horseback), if you deliver what they need when they need it. –RE
Rohn Engh is the best-selling author of “Sell & ReSell Your Photos” and “sellphotos.com.” He has produced a new eBook, “How to Make the Marketable Photo.” For more information and to receive a free eReport: “8 Steps to Becoming a Published Photographer,” visit http://www.sellphotos.com