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Quit Fighting Social Media and Figure Out a Revenue Model
Posted By Paul Melcher On January 24, 2013 @ 9:33 am In Business of Photography | 2 Comments
Here’s the deal: Photography is all about sharing and social media is all about sharing. In fact, social media is specifically 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 ever there was a tool invented for photographers, it’s social media. It is to image distribution what Photoshop is to image editing.
Let’s break it down. The only hurdle is for photographers to figure out how to generate revenue around all the photo sharing happening around them. How to transform this insatiable need to share images into an income? Right now, the photo industry – professional photographers, photo agencies or distribution platforms – is convinced that models invented for the print world should and must 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).
Traditional Revenue Model Won’t Work With Social Media
For a traditional client, such as a magazine or advertising agency, that’s not a problem. For social media, it just doesn’t work. Why? Because those who post pictures 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 words, is in the image. The image 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 devises 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 the old 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 to compensate photographers for their work? Here are some suggestions:
Social Media Isn’t Marketing, It’s a Revenue Opportunity
They are many other ways for photo professionals 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 next? 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 CEOs or VPs of the companies. They are the users. Create a pricing structure that works for users, 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.
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