Stock And Assignments
I think about stock photos all the time, but every once-in-a-while I think about assignments. There are a lot of good things about assignments; Money, fresh ideas, subsidized stock, the camaraderie of working with bright, motivated people, did I mention money? But there are some downsides too. They take a lot of time. There is pressure. There is having to do things that you don't want to be doing. There is the stress of working with idiots (or at least people who think differently than you do). And, oh yes, there is getting the assignments, the song and dance routine that all of us working pros know so well!
Time, Energy And Money
Those of you who are in the assignment world know of what I am speaking. There is constantly putting books together, putting time, energy and money into figuring out the coolest look, compiling prospect lists, shooting for the book, taking out ads in source books, shipping portfolios, keeping track of portfolios and so forth. Then there are the estimates. It can take an enormous amount of time and effort to put together good, accurate estimates. Unless you are truly exceptional a lot of those estimates will turn out to be, well, if not a waste of time at least a less than optimal use of your time.
Books Open Doors
But like I said, assignments can be good. The last assignment I did brought in $130,000.00 after expenses. I would be open to more of those, particularly because I didn't spend any time seeking that assignment. It just came to me. It came to me because I had written a book on Photoshop (Adobe Masterclass: Photoshop Compositing With John Lund). They say you don't make money off of books, but books open doors for you. I didn't make appreciable money in royalties from my book, but my client said that they hired me because of it. That book opened many doors for me and some of them were quite rewarding!
Art Directors, Art Buyers, And Designers Looking For Me
So I am OK with assignments, when they come, and if they are right for me. But I have no desire to jump through hoops to get them. I prefer to put my energy into my stock photography. Part of that stock effort includes SEO to get more eyeballs onto my images. But effective SEO will bring more than just stock clients. Art directors, art buyers, designers and others who are looking for a photographer with the look and style that I offer will find me. These people will be looking for me as opposed to me struggling to find them and get their attention. How cool is that? Just last week a licensing agent contacted me, all excited about the work I am doing, and exclaimed, “It was so easy to find you!” It has been a year of heavy SEO now, but it is starting to work.
SEO Opens Doors
Good SEO is like that book. It opens doors. In the short time I have been working on optimizing my site I have had a surprising number of opportunities come my way. Some of them include a contract with a wall décor company, negotiations underway for a line of greeting cards, and a possible calendar deal. I have also executed one assignment and turned a couple of others down. There is no doubt in my mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that it will probably be another year before my SEO really kicks in…at least in a big way. I am totally confident that I will look back and be truly glad that I put the time and effort into making my site come up early in appropriate searches.