Seems like everyone’s a photographer these days. Some are good. Some are great. Some are crap. If you fall into either of the first two categories, then I have a business idea for you.
Many photographers try to sell their artwork online (me included). But begging to be let in through the hallowed doors of Getty Images or micro stock agencies like iStockPhoto, uploading 17GB of images and then hoping someone’s going to buy a few, is a game you can’t win.
Why? Because there are approximately 7 gazillion other people following exactly the same marketing plan.
The answer? Create a niche photography market and then fill it – with yourself.
Become a niche stock photography agency
I’ll bet you live somewhere, or near somewhere, that’s in demand, photographically speaking. Any major city or distinctive geographical region fits this description. It just needs to be a place with either size, fame or both. Ideally it’ll be a region that’s known at least nationally – or better – internationally.
The idea is for you to become the go to photographer for pictures of that location.
Your customers will be magazines, media outlets, publishing companies and other professional pictures buyers around the world looking for decent imagery of your location. These are professionals who don’t have the budget or time to hire a photographer to do a custom shoot, but who don’t want to rely on the same old, tired stock photography route.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a picture of Paris on a stock photography site that does not feature the Eiffel Tower? Exactly. That’s fine and wonderful if you’re just slapping something quick together, but creative art directors and buyers know that imagery is more powerful when it doesn’t lean heavily on a cliche.
They want something different, a refreshing visual take that comes from really knowing a place.
Why this business model is better for you and your client
From your point-of-view, you get to:
* Keep all the money
* Decide how best to market your work
* Build contacts (a stock agency never reveals who buys your work)
* Keep all the money (I mentioned it twice because that’s the best part)
From your customers perspective, they get to:
* Save time by not having to wade through a slushpile of crappy photography
* Have a contact for next time they need similar images
* Feel good about supporting the artist directly
The time saver is a big one. Any idea that helps someone do their business quicker is already very promising.
How to set up a website like this
What you’ll need:
1. Great images of the location you’re specializing in, which you probably already have
2. Optionally, photographic work in different styles – covering more than one genre means you can sell not just landscape photography, for example, but architectural shots too.
3. A website for showcasing your portfolio, allowing people to contact you and to take custom orders.
4. Time for networking and online marketing.
Don’t underestimate the last point. Even the greatest products in the world need promotion to get the ball rolling.
Like this idea? Here’s the next step
If you’re new to the world of online business and take a look at my guide to how to build a website.
If you understand about web hosting and WordPress and are ready to start looking into good ways to display your image, take a look at the premium WordPress themes at StudioPress, particularly Expose, Crystal and Manhattan which are portfolio themes designed for photographers and other visual artists.