The past two weeks, we’ve followed stock photographer Marianne Campolongo on her journey selling photos through stock agency Alamy.
Today, we’ll end this series with her top five tips for success. This is tried and true advice from someone that’s been with Alamy for 9+ years and I can’t thank Marianne enough for sharing her story with us!
Cracking the Alamy Code: Part 3
By Marianne A. Campolongo
Some Hints for Success at Alamy
1. Avoid doubling up.
Uploading the same photos to Alamy and your other microstock sites runs the risk of price-sensitive buyers finding the photo on Alamy but then licensing it for far less elsewhere.
Alamy invited New York area photographers to meet with their president, staffers, and clients shortly after opening their Brooklyn office. They gave us advice on maximizing our portfolios. One client said they didn’t mind paying Alamy’s higher prices to get the right photo, but they always searched a less-expensive site before completing a sale, in case they could find the same photo for less.
2. Consider the benefits of Rights Managed licensing.
With Alamy, you decide whether to offer a photo as royalty free or rights managed. With most stock agencies, your photos are licensed as royalty free. When you go rights-managed, you have more control over your image. You get a renewal fee if they want to use it after the original term ends. You can also get paid twice up-front for the same photo if it will appear, as one of mine did, in the frontispiece and an inside chapter of the same book. It is also easier to chase down infringements.
Some clients prefer rights managed, since the higher cost means fewer people have purchased the photo – thus making it more exclusive. But other clients prefer the ease and low-cost of royalty free. I suggest a mix of the two.
3. Don’t limit your portfolio.
Although editorial does well on Alamy, don’t limit yourself to submitting only editorial images. Travel does well on Alamy, as you would expect, but conceptual and still life photos sell better for me overall than editorial.
That said, not everything shines on Alamy. I have earned less than $1 selling backgrounds and textures there, a genre that has earned me over $2,000 on microstock sites like Shutterstock, which is where most designers seek them out.
4. “Alamy Measures” is solid gold.
When you’re logged into Alamy, click the Alamy Measures tab towards the bottom of your dashboard to reveal many helpful statistics. Then drill down even further. The tabs labeled Your Images and All of Alamy just below the graph let you really mine for data.
Your Images shows actual client searches related to your images. When you click on each highlighted term, you see thumbnails of all your photos the client scrolled through for that search, with the ones they zoomed or purchased, if any, highlighted. Clients often save zoomed photos to a lightbox for future consideration.
How well are your photos placing? Are your keywords working? Are there tens of thousands of photos you’re competing against or just a thousand or maybe even fewer than 100? Are people looking for your town, or your niche? With Alamy Measures, you can find out.
Many of Alamy’s clients are book and magazine publishers, so they may do the same search a few times over the space of a month. Did the search bring up just a few pages of results where nothing was zoomed? Can you shoot a better photo and get it online quickly, in case they look again? I was headed to visit a friend and saw that someone had just searched for a small attraction in her town, viewing photos I took 10 years earlier. The afternoon I arrived, I took some new ones in late afternoon sunshine and again at sunset, leading to a $250 sale.
All of Alamy shows searches of the entire collection. Are people looking for a location near you? Perhaps they are looking for a concept you can set up and shoot. It is a great place to look for inspiration and discover what buyers are looking for.
5. Join the Forum.
While the staff of Alamy are awesome, you should also check out the contributor forum. I learned so much there when I started out and I value my peers’ advice just as much today. Many have been shooting stock for decades and are willing to answer questions. If you respect their experience and are polite and friendly, they will be, too.
I hope these tips will help if you decide to give it a go with Alamy. Just remember, it can take a while to make that first sale, but in my experience, it’s well worth the wait!
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]