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The No. 1 Strategy for Breaking Into Stock Imagery

Question: How can I attract and market to clients looking for stock?

There is a simple but time-proven axiom in the picture business that applies to this question: Generalists strive while specialists thrive.

The competition in today’s tumultuous stock industry is too enormous for anything but an extremely narrow focus. So the first order of business, before you even consider how you’ll bring your images into the marketplace, is to figure out whether you have devoted yourself to one or more specific stock subject sectors – and created the best (as in, “most salable”) possible images within those sectors.

If you haven’t really drilled down within one or more subject areas, all the marketing in the world isn’t going to help you. Having more than one area of specialty is certainly an option, but remember: The more subject areas you embrace, the more likely you will dilute your efforts in any one of them, and tackling too many will almost certainly lead to failure.

Should Illustrators Plan a Back-Up Career?

Question: I’m concerned about the future of illustration. I love illustrating, but I’m afraid that if the company I work for goes under I won’t be able to make a living illustrating. I feel like it would be in my best interest to learn web design since that seems to be the safest market in the design field right now. What is your opinion?

Illustration is not going anywhere, but trends do shift and you must be educated and prepared to “shake things up” so you shift along with them and your work doesn’t look dated.

The best way to ease your concerns about the future of illustration is to keep current on styles, trends, mediums and technology. A bookstore is an excellent source for seeing how illustration is being used – there are books, magazines, music packaging, calendars and an entire children's section with endless illustrations. Of course, one very common trend now is incorporating illustration work into web projects, so if you’re interested in web design and have the time and resources to learn it, go for it.

Your Brand (or Brands) and Your Target Audience

Question: I’m branding for editors and art buyers. How is that different from branding for stock sales?

All branding basically has the same objective: to take whatever tactics make sense and pull them together to create a single memorable “image” for a person or business. But some folks mistakenly think of a “brand” as the logo that they see for a company: think Coke, Ford, MTV, etc.

Your brand, and the marketing that supports it, are critical in making you stand out from the competition.

Pricing, Quality and Microstock’s Uncertain Future

Question: What’s going on with the merge of microstock and traditional stock? What will happen to microstock?

The assault on “traditional stock” by microstock is very much a work-in-progress, but there are some parallels to the past that I think provide a clue about the future.

Stock Photography: Know What You’re Getting Into

Question: Can you give me some feedback regarding going the "stock" route in today's market?

You’ll hear lots of doom and gloom about the stock-picture business, but it generates somewhere between $2 billion and $5 billion in annual revenue, depending upon whose guesstimate you believe – so somebody’s making money out there. Why shouldn’t it be you?

A Stock Photograph’s Worth: Pricing and Licensing

Question: What are some methods to figure out pricing for the licensing rights of photographs I want to sell as stock?

As is the case with so many aspects of our industry, there are not many hard and fast rules when it comes to estimating fees. So much depends on the final number and the reasons for the wide swings in prices vary from project to project and photographer to photographer.

When a client calls us to license an image for stock use, here are a few ways we determine the price:

Sending Mixed Messages in Online Portfolios

Question: Should work shown online be mixed together in one main portfolio or be broken down into very specific portfolios according to subject matter? Does anyone take the time to look at individual portfolios?

Last winter I held a presentation about building online portfolios at ASMP's Strictly Business workshops. A question that came up again and again during the Q&A portion was how to organize different genres of images within an online portfolio.

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