31 Jan, 2012 | Posted by: st

Are You Mining

The Gold?

In the early days of the California Gold Rush, the '49ers who proved most successful were those that panned the creeks first to locate the gold, but then took one more important step. They followed the gold back to the source and then spent their time in the mine.

Too often, stock photographers will sell a photo to a buyer and consider the sale and relationship done. The photographer goes on to look for "gold" elsewhere.

Photographers who succeed in editorial stock photography are those who develop long-term relationships with publishers whose subject focus, or “theme,” matches the photographer’s specialization area.


These stock photographers learn how to "mine their lode." That is, they calculate the future net worth of each photobuyer (and the market he/she represents) and put the buyer into their marketing program, which includes systematic promotion. A buyer soon passes a photographer by, unless you regularly remind the buyer of your work.

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You can ensure consistent checks
if you cultivate long-term working
relationships with photobuyers at
markets whose photo needs match your
strong coverage areas.

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Determining the future net worth of an editor or photobuyer is not difficult to do. Based on photobuyers at other, similar, markets, be it a book or magazine publisher, a corporation, etc., the photographer estimates the jobs, sales, and other revenue that can be obtained from a photobuyer over two to three years, and then projects what potential revenues will come in based on past performance.

Past experience shows that each buyer represents certain predictable variables: per-picture rate of pay, average number of pictures bought per transaction, frequency of purchases per year, spin-off to other photobuyers in the same publishing house/ad agency/ corporation. From this, it's possible for the stock photographer to determine a fairly accurate future net worth of their new photobuyer.

The future net worth over a ten year period of a typical low-budget buyer is generally in the neighborhood of $10,000 over the 10 years ($1000 in sales to such a market over the course of a year, each year). A mid-range buyer is approximately $50,000 over a ten-year period ($5,000 in sales per year), and a high-budget buyer would be about $150,000 ($15,000 in sales per year over ten years).

By the way, in the editorial stock field, ten years is the average length of time you can expect a working relationship to last with a buyer in the publishing industry. Individual situations may last even longer.


The critical factor is promotion.

If the stock photographer does not
set up a regular and consistent plan
of promotion, a photobuyer could very
easily be lost as a client...

What does it cost to promote? If your costs to promote were just 10% of the expected gross revenue from a specific buyer, it's easy to see that promotion costs are well spent. The critical factor is to know who you should spend your promotional dollars on.

Which brings us to how to get good leads worth your promotion dollars (panning for gold along the creek). Obviously, the leads in your marketletter (PhotoDaily, PhotoLetter, or PhotoStockNotes/Plus) are the most cost-effective for you.

If you spend $375 per year on a marketletter service such as PhotoDaily, and obtain 10 excellent mid-range leads during that one year, you have a gold mine: 10 x $5,000 (average sales to one mid-range market in one year) = $50,000 for one year, times ten years equals a future net worth of $500,000 for all ten mid-range markets over a ten year period. This at a cost of only $375, plus 10% to promote to the markets over a ten-year period. (And much of your promotion will be no-cost electronic communication.) There are not many businesses that can realize that kind of cost-effective marketing strategy.

Begin today. Follow up with the photobuyers you've cultivated in the past, and your leads from the PhotoDaily or PhotoLetter or PhotoStockNotes/Plus.

Start mining this hidden asset of yours.

As an editorial stock photographer you are going to find much more enjoyment when you are photographing subject matter that you like to take. Learn more about how to sell those pictures at PhotoSource International and the PhotoSourceBANK, Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Rohn Engh is director of and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com Fax: 1 715 248 3800; www.photosource.com



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