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The Magnet EffectAdvance Notes: In the field of stock photography, if you try to be all things to all photobuyers, you’ll have trouble achieving success and consistent sales. Instead, choose an area, or two or three areas, of specialization. To be successful, it has to be an area of specialization within a specialization. Not flowers, but prairie flowers, orchards, or tundra vegetation. If you have a passion for photographing in these areas, you begin to develop a deep selection of photos that buyers can choose from. You can become a magnet for photobuyers seeking these kinds of images for their publishing projects.
Have you ever shopped at a flea market? Thousands and thousands of objects, items, whatnots, tools, clothing, and auto parts. Visitors can spend hours, even days, roaming, looking and handling the items for sale.
People who visit flea markets usually arrive with a $20 bill and leave with a prized object they add to their collection, home, or garage.
Flea Markets are a good example of what on-line Internet stock photo shopping has become.
The flea markets are growing. And unlike a 65,000 square foot Wal-Mart where merchandise is segmented by signs (“Household”, “Auto”, “Toys”), flea markets are an ocean of unregulated bits and pieces.
As more and more people discover their digital camera can match and reproduce the same visual quality of the images they see in magazines and books, these folks (we can rightly call them photographers) are discovering they can gain recognition for their art – plus make a few dollars.
And like flea markets, on-line galleries are expanding. And more and more photographers are loading them with more and more images.
It’s true that you can find treasures at a flea market. You can also find photo treasures on the Internet.
But will your photos in an on-line photo gallery find their place on a photobuyer’s desktop? Probably not. The reason is simple. In an ever-expanding supply of pictures, your chances of being discovered by a photobuyer become less.
What to do?
Reverse the marketing process. Put yourself in the photobuyer’s position. If they need a picture of a rainbow, covered bridge or a seagull, they don’t go to the Internet to find it. They shout out the window and 20 photographers will run to them with that kind of generic picture.
In the editorial stock photo buying process, photobuyers always need a specific picture to illustrate their project (magazine article, cover, book chapter head, etc.). The photo need might be a specific African musical instrument, or a toy used by children in Peru, or a plant that is only grown in the Galapagos.
Photobuyers usually find themselves engaged in an extensive search. They want to make the experience as effortless as possible. They use a search engine such as Yahoo, Alta Vista or Google. They usually find a particular picture that ‘almost” fits the bill.
They are not quite satisfied, and they know, thanks to the Internet, they can do better. Their next step is to contact the photographer of the photo they found to learn if the photographer is a specialist. If he or she is, they probably have a deep selection of photos in that particular category.
Here’s where your marketing strategy comes into play.
Because there are thousands (soon to become millions) of photographers displaying their pictures on on-line galleries, photobuyers gravitate as quickly as possible to the photographer who specializes in the area of their interest and need.
THE MAGNET EFFECT
If you want to become a successful on-line stock photographer in the upcoming on-line stock industry, you need to become a magnet to the moving hordes of photobuyers who are continually scouting for the “just-right” photo for their current project. (And they need more pictures tomorrow.)
Since we all come from a culture where we expect to sell our wares to the local community, it’s difficult to imagine that somewhere in the world a buyer is looking for a particular picture that’s in our database right now. Making the match is the mission, and describing your picture (keywords, tags, labels) is the method.
The time has come for you to select one or a select few specialization areas of stock photography that appeal to you. Begin developing a deep selection of pictures in those areas.
You’ll soon become a “magnet” for photobuyers worldwide, who need your kind of pictures and will appreciate being able to come back to you again and again..
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Rohn Engh, is publisher of PhotoStockNOTES from www.photosource.com. He is the founder of the PhotoSourceBANK, a website visited daily by hundreds of photobuyers, where photographers can list keywords describing their photos.