Tired Of Low Prices? Here’s A Possible Solution

Posted on 11/29/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Tired of low stock photo prices? Maybe you ought to license your images to customers direct. More and more customers are finding the images they need by searching Google. Sometimes the image may be one of yours that is represented by an agency. You may be able to get these searchers to come directly to you.

Sure, sometimes these Google searchers may just grab the image and use it without paying anyone, but, what if they could easily find you and come to you to negotiate rights. Would they do it? There are certainly thieves in the world who think everything should be free – (except the things they’re selling). But there are also a lot of people who want to do the right thing.

And there are a significant number of the image users who search Google and are going to continue to search Google. There is every indication that this number will grow. Many of these people are not just looking for FREE, or the cheapest thing they can find. They are willing to pay a reasonable fee if they can easily find where to go to do it.

The trick is using good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so these customers can find your site, and so your photos percolate to the top of Google Images when someone does a search for a particular keyword. Consider, Todd Klassy’s strategy. He can teach you how to do it.

Klassy sold his first stock image in 2006. For years his images were only found on Flickr. (Flickr, really?) He made some brief tries at selling through stock agencies, but didn’t like the prices they charged. His business has grown steadily and by 2015 he was earning enough to justify spending his full-time efforts in the production and marketing of stock photography. He was getting more and more requests for his images and he came to understand that a lot of the image users, even those finding images on Flickr, were finding the images as a result of Google searches.

A few years ago he set up his own website at www.toddklassy.com and started learning how to organize it so those doing Google searches for his subject matter might find his photos. For a while he was selling images through both Flickr and his site, but it soon became obvious Flickr was not interested in improving its site in a way that would increase traffic. Once traffic at Flickr declined, so too did sales for Todd.
Todd has 3,045 images on Flickr, but at the end of 2016 he decided to stop adding new images to that site and focused instead on building and improving his own website. Currently, he has about 2,000 images on www.toddklassy.com.

It is worth noting here that Todd lives in Montana. His specialty is agricultural photography and not one of the high demand stock photo subjects.

So far in 2017 (and they year is not over yet) he has made 142 sales resulting from customers finding him through Google Images, and marketing his portfolio for local consumption. Only 1 sale came from Flickr. He says, “those 142 sales are the result of the intensive search engine optimization (SEO) techniques I employed on my website.”

In addition, 3 sales (including a nice new account with a very large company in his niche) resulted from regularly posting images to Twitter. 2 sales came from Instagram.

What About Price

Some might say that 142 sales aren’t all that many, but consider that his average fee per-image-licensed has been $250. He keeps 100% of that figure. His average transaction fee for both RF and RM sales has been $601.42. The lowest he charges for any use is $40 (and those tend to be local businesses, non-profits, or those who frankly would otherwise use a free image). His largest transaction this year was for $13,000 for 13 images a large agricultural client licensed the images for a calendar. His largest fee for a single image was $1750.00.

Before I go further, let’s do a few comparisons. Earlier this year I analyzed the 2016 sales of a few major Getty contributors. The average gross sale price for RF images was about $45 and contributors get 20% of that, or $9.00. So, in order to match the revenue Todd earned from 142 sales the Getty photographer would have had to license rights to 4,027 images.

Then we turn to Shutterstock. In the last 4 quarters the average price per image licensed was $3.06. Contributors get about 28% of that or $0.85 per image licensed. So in order to earn the same amount as Todd earned from licensing 142 images the Shutterstock contributor would have had to license rights to 41,764 images.

Presented with these comparisons Todd commented, “And never mind the fact that I didn’t have to go through the hassle of submitting photos to a stock photography company for their approval. Several of the photos I still license are photos Shutterstock once rejected because of subject matter, noise, etc. But they were perfectly fine for many of my clients. Go figure.”

And all this from a collection of only 2,000 images. It doesn’t take a lot of images. It just takes good images, well presented in ways customers can find them.

At this point you might want to take a look at a couple previous stories I did on Todd Klassy.



How To Learn About SEO

So how can you learn what you need to know about organizing you site in order to Optimize in a way that customers will find it when they do searches.

Last winter Todd did a series of online classes on SEO for Photographers. He will be repeating and upgrading those classes this winter. If you are interested in learning more about these classes contact him at gbqq@gbqqxynffl.pbz.

Here are some of the topics discussed:

Setting Up Your Own Stock Photography Micro Agency
- Creating a micro agency to combat the evils of micro stock photography
- Owning your locale
- Owning your niche
- Owning your product (i.e. stock photography, prints, assignment work, etc.)

Website SEO
- Selecting the right keywords
- Setting up your website right
- How simple blogging creates sales
- Linking
- More

Image SEO
- Curating your photo collection online
- Preparing images for public consumption on the web
- SEO tricks once a photo is uploaded

Licenses & Invoices
- Understanding the difference
- Offering options large stock photo agencies can’t
- Creating your own licenses

Turning Someone Who Wants Something for Free into a Sale/Customer

Finding Those Who Have Violated Your Copyright (and turning them into customers)

Copyright © 2017 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • John Lund Posted Dec 1, 2017
    Jim, photographers undertaking such efforts should consider putting a big fact copyright notice/watermark on their images (mine is ©johnlund.com)...harder to steal and makes it clear where to turn to to license the image.

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