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Social media my friend

Here’ ’s the deal: Photography is all about sharing and social media is all about sharing. In fact , social media is all about sharing photography. So why is it that the extreme majority of those who take pictures for a living cannot make a living with social media ? After all, if there was a tool ever invented for them, it is definitely social media. It is to image distribution what photoshop is to image editing.

The reason ? Conservatism.

Let’s break it down. The only hurdle to overcome is income. In other words, how to generate revenue around all this photo sharing activity happening around them. How to transform this insatiable need to share images into an income.

Right now, the photo industry, be it professional photographers, photo agencies or distribution platform, is convinced that applying models invented for the print world should and has to work. You want to use my image ? Tell me what you want to do with it and we can figure out a price (in the royalty free model, the price is dictated by size, which is also a factor of the expected usage). For a traditional client, like a magazine or an advertising agency, not a problem. For social media, it just doesn’’t work. Why? Because those who post are not traditional clients. They are everyone… and they have no idea what the end usage will be. They just like the image and want to share it. The usage, in other word, is in the image. The image itself dictates the usage. Some images ( the vast majority) will never be shared while others might put “Gangnam Style to shame”

How to price that ? Well, unless someone can devise an algorithm that can predict the sociability of an image, the old model ( charging based on usage) is not the answer. Ideally, if one would really want to keep this model, you would need to charge once the sharing is all said and done, review all the usages and bill accordingly.

Other more realistic ways? Here are some suggestions:

They are many other ways for photo professional to generate revenue using social media. Problem is, most of them see is as a marketing tool instead of a revenue opportunity. While for any other industry, that is true, in the case of photography, the photograph is the product and social media should be the market.

So what’s the next step ? Start charging for social media. Stop looking at Pinterest , Twitter, Facebook, Reddit to try and figure out how they can bring traffic to your site but rather as full blown publishers. Like with any clients, look at what images they are using, when , where , how, who are the decision makers and reach out to them. Hint : the decision makers for photography, on social media, are not the ceo’s or vp’s of the companies, they are the users. Create a pricing structure that works for them, that makes their life easier.

Finally, put some social media pricing on your website so that people who would like to use your images legally have an opportunity to do so. Give them, and yourself, a chance.

In other words, don’t fight it, embrace it.


Author: pmelcher

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