The Business Of Travel Photography; Great Work If You Can Get It Page 2
Where there is change, there is also opportunity. In the online world, rather than wait for paying clients to publish their work, photographers can now directly present their work to the public (emphasis by author). Here are some guidelines:
• Familiarize yourself with the travel industry, online and print publications, travel and tourist boards, other travel photographers and teachers.
• Develop specialty expertise (geographic, cultural, technical).
• Work on your own photo projects and present them online.
• Offer multiple services to a client, not just images but editing, design, video, communications consulting, subject matter expertise.
• Develop your own voice and point of view on your website.
• Take advantage of professional associations (ASMP, SAA, SATW) and online communities (STOCKPHOTO, Flickr, Lighstalkers).
Some classical strategies are still important: show only your best work. Edit tightly. Master Photoshop and post-processing to be sure your images are presented as well as possible.
Once you have a body of work online, then you can approach magazines and travel companies who use the kinds of images or stories you produce, and the stock agencies who sell to them.
SB: Regarding marketing tactics, what seems to work best for you and what do you recommend?
David Sanger: All my individual marketing efforts are through my website and Facebook pages. I no longer do direct mail or e-mail campaigns. Often for me, new clients have come unsolicited, from someone seeing one of my web pages or blog postings and contacting me directly.
PhotoShelter is a great option for direct online presentation of images with eCommerce for prints and licensing, but, as with all web marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is key, and mailings and personal contact lists can help build traffic.
The advantage of having images with a stock distributor is that they deal with sales and marketing so that you have more time to shoot. The larger agencies, Getty, Corbis, Masterfile, and Alamy have significant dedicated sales forces, but many smaller outlets simply rely on their online presence, with significantly fewer sales as a result.
Lorne Resnick: Branding! As cliché as it sounds, you need to create compelling images that are different than what’s out there. You need to create a unique voice for your work and brand yourself. Use multiple marketing paths such as entering contests, creating a hot list of targeted clients, sending promo cards out, creating an e-mail marketing campaign, and making sales calls. Networking (person-to-person) is the single most important thing by far.
Glen Allison: During the past year my efforts were focused on developing the marketing aspects of my website, which at the beginning of 2010 centered on a PhotoShelter ready-made template site. My first task was uploading a large number of images so I could start building stock photo and related sales directly from my own site and, more importantly, so I could eventually muster a higher percentage of return than outside stock photo portals offered. Initially, much of my time was spent tweaking the site, keywording photos, and linking older images to various stock photo portals that represent my work, primarily Getty Images. I decided to initiate other avenues to generate income as well, so I created calendars, postcards, and fine art prints plus several intensive Photoshop workflow actions that could add more eCommerce earning potential.
I had to learn quite a bit about HTML and CSS coding so I could customize the site by myself on the fly. Naturally, having a high search engine ranking makes online ventures more successful. But first I had to line my ducks in a row by getting the necessary components in place.
As a writer and novelist I decided to capitalize on aspects of my past creative endeavors by launching three photo-related blogs: one for stories and images to illustrate my current travel episodes, one for fine art photos that I shoot along the way, and, finally, my newest Stroborati blog that focuses on the portable lighting setups I use in the field to shoot environmental portraits. I was looking for ways to not only share my journey but to augment the SEO of my website in the process.
To put my website efforts into perspective, I might add that I have no permanent base. I’m a vagabond travel photographer embarked on a marathon mission to stay on the road nonstop for the next decade. This is the second time I’ve embraced such craziness. My previous escapade back in the 1990s lasted nine years. My current venture commenced almost two years ago and my entire road show exists within the constraints of three compact bags: one for personal belongings, one for cameras and a laptop, and one for portable lighting equipment. This represents virtually all that I own in this world.
I never return home; I have no home. Being continuously mobile complicates my Internet life. I accomplish website manipulation, image uploads, and social media pursuits from Internet cafes across the globe and—if I’m lucky—from Wi-Fi connections in a hotel room at midnight. Much of my Internet work occurs at Stone Age snail pace—many times not much faster than dial-up speed since I thrive on visiting remote locales. Frequently I have zero Internet access. The social media world necessitates immediate reaction and I don’t often have such luxury. Many places I visit have limited or no iPhone reception.
Though my business target in starting the three blogs was to implement a strategy to generate more website traffic, initially these blogs were separate WordPress endeavors that were not embedded into my PhotoShelter website and thus traffic directed to them didn’t add to the SEO of the primary site I was trying to promote. Consequently, much of my spare time during the past year was focused on redesigning a new website with the PhotoShelter eCommerce embedded in the background and with the three blogs incorporated directly into the site architecture so that all the hits I was getting would add to my SEO.
SB: Do you work with a professional web designer?
Glen Allison: I soon realized it was time to retain a qualified website designer who could kill all the bugs I had created from lack of HTML coding expertise. My new site was launched at the end of 2010 and I’m now seeing enhanced web traffic. I watch my stats with Google Analytics whenever I can and I see that most of the current traffic is being generated by my Stroborati portable lighting blog.
Yes, a majority of these viewers are other photographers who aren’t going to be my primary eCommerce customers, except for perhaps my Photoshop Actions. But photographers don’t often buy other photographers’ photographs. However, the enhanced traffic this blog generates will augment my search engine rankings and this will drive stock photo and fine art clients to my site. Enhanced rankings will eventually enable me to monetize the site by getting paid advertising from various photo-related vendors. Passive income is another goal.
Truth be told, however, I love sharing the thrill of travel and I hate dealing with stats and all this techie stuff. I’d rather be creating images instead. Nevertheless, I must keep concentrating energy to build really fabulous SEO.
So, during the coming year I’ll exert efforts to write guest posts on other travel and lighting blogs so I can build a bigger network of backlinks to my own site and thus generate more hits to enhance my search engine ranking. Now that my foundation is laid with all the pieces in place, I’ll concentrate on interactive social media networking as well. Maybe I should buy a satellite phone. The step-by-step journey we photographers must embrace can be arduous but I’m learning every day. The fun is in sharing the ride.