Grover’s Photographer Recession Survival Tactics

Grover’s Photographer Recession Survival Tactics

Remain calm. This whole recession thing just may be a great opportunity in disguise. Here are 10 things you can do to help power your photography business through these stormy economic seas:


1.    Sell Personal Use downloads instead of prints. There’s a cost associated with prints like the paper, ink, shipping and handling. None of these apply when your customer only downloads the image and makes a print of their own. People will even pay more for a download because they see value in having a digital file. So give them what they want – a lower resolution file for one price, a higher resolution file for a much larger price. Many photographers are afraid of doing this, but Personal Use downloads can give you a competitive advantage. Several photographers enjoy Personal Use sales almost daily through PhotoShelter, like Alex Cena and Aaron Kupferman. (kudos guys!).

2.    Incorporate embedded galleries and single images into your marketing strategy. Look for as many creative places that you possibly can to embed your PhotoShelter images online. Client’s websites; online communities; local newspaper websites; community organization websites; sports team websites (pro, amateur, kids); anywhere you possibly can.

3.    Create a few “special edition” prints that are signed and numbered by you. Price these higher. If you can match the right image with the right audience, you may be sitting on a revenue opportunity. People will pay for something if they see value, so show them. When the subject matter of your image taps into their passion, and you provide excellent support and treat your product like it is worth something (a numbered print with a signature tends to do just that), price isn’t such a major concern.  Jimmy Williams has a beautiful collection of limited edition prints.
(Use the embedded single-image feature – remember, from tactic #2 – to let these images market themselves by going viral. A passionate customer is more likely to pass it on to another like-minded passionate customer.  So make it easy for them to share and admire your images. And, it will increase the images’ perceived value.)

4.    Set a minimum price on print sales. This won’t make you a ton of money, but it will keep you from losing a few bucks here and there. (Hey, every little bit helps, right?) You can set a minimum price per order in the “Sales Configuration” area. If you’re selling images via EZ Prints, there are costs associated in doing so, so make sure your add an appropriate markup. Prevent revenue loss by using this handy little setting.

5.    Recession stock. This recession is affecting everyone. Conducting a search on Yahoo! News for “recession” returns 126,000+ stories. Do you see the opportunity here yet? If you don’t have any keyworded images in your archive that could illustrate “recession,” you may be missing out on potential sales. Create some, and price them for Rights Managed or Royalty Free licensing.

6.    SEO. If you are shooting less, and have some available time, it would be well-spent doing all things SEO. You hear everyone saying those three letters over and over, “S-E-O,” and for good reason. Search Engine Optimization is of critical importance, and if you can turn some free time into better search engine rankings, it will pay off for years to come. More on getting your work found by Google. (In another blog post, I talk a lot about SEO.)

7.    Think twice before you drop your price.  You’ll only attract clients who worry about price. Compete on quality and service instead. Use this as an opportunity to upgrade your client base by working only with those people who understand that photography isn’t free. Let your competition spend all their time and energy attempting to satisfy the cheapskates. Chances are, they might not be your competition much longer.

8.    Avoid major web design costs. If you’ve been planning to pay a designer to whip up that killer website you’ve been dreaming of, think again. Why use a web designer when you’ve got the PhotoShelter Website Customization Templates at your fingertips? You’ll have a well designed portfolio plus all the PhotoShelter features built in. In fact, we released a few new themes recently. Have a look!

9.    Stay positive. A doom-and-gloom or a have-pity-on-me attitude isn’t going to make your customers feel any better. A positive outlook will calm your customers, and instill confidence in you and your products.

10.    Market yourself like there is no tomorrow.  There may be no tomorrow for some of your competition. When the recovery hits, set yourself up so that you’re top-of-mind with your customers. There is value in simply staying alive.

Now is not the time to be shy. Go out there, guns blazing!

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There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Nigel Merrick at 10:20 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post, thank you. There are a lot of photographers out there who are struggling needlessly in this recession. Thank you for helping to share the knowledge! This is something I am also trying to do through my Zenologue blog ( Best regards and keep up the good work, Nigel

  2. Kristjan at 7:56 pm

    It is bad to be glad about some ones misfortune. I had been thinking for a while to take the full step of moving from DRR to Photoshelter. They took it for me and I am happy (- money lost) My clients are also happy. Now I can easily update both of my website and use the embedding to show my images. I am also moving more and more to using embedded images i my blogs and can probably in the end cut down on hosting cost to. keep up the good work best Kristjan

  3. Mike Shipman at 11:53 pm

    Thanks for the post, Grover. There are some things there that I’ve been thinking of doing, have done, and will think about. I actually just raised my prices on some things after completing a full site redesign to mesh with my customized PS archive pages. As you say, the personal use downloads are a bit scary, but I think I’ll try it. It does seem people are more likely to download a digital file (for convenience and to “get it now”, maybe similar to an impulse buy) than they are to wait for a “hard copy”. I think I’ll start with a select group of images and create a specific gallery for them so they are easier to find on my portfolio page. I’ve also created a “limited edition” gallery for my fine art prints, and priced them accordingly. I’m trying to take advantage of embedding slide shows and individual images in my blog, and on other sites to “spread the word”. We do have to remain positive, although it can be awfully hard to do. Fortunately, Photoshelter provides multiple, easy-to-use tools to help alleviate the pain and get my images out where they can be seen. Thanks! P.S. I was asked to log in when trying to make a comment. I’m already logged in, but then found out I needed to log in to TypePad, hence the anonymous posting. Mike

  4. paul prescott at 7:42 pm

    I would like to comment about point 2. Embedding. As I find this tool marvellous, I have to point out that it has its limitations. Namely, low Search Engine Optimization. Many people do Google “Image” searches. If you got your photo referenced on a first google page listing it would drive many people to your site. Google searches for JPEGS. However, PhotoShelter’s EMBEDDED slideshow gallery or EMBEDDED photo are Flash based, not JPEG. Even if you wanted to place a non-flash PhotoShelter image, most blog sites don’t accept PhotoShelter’s http:// version of the file location. PhotoShelter has done this for our protection, and also so people can link to our portfolios directly. All these tools were made for Viral Marketing, but how many people do you know how to EMBED a slideshow? A limited amount. Regarding Viral Marketing, my question is, “what is more efficient, a Google Algorithm or people struggling to EMBED galleries into their blogs?” Google would be the better Viral Marketer if the photos were JPEGs and if PhotoShelter could automatically create a JPEG with a caption that Google could pick up, because a photo is nothing without text surrounding it. I was wondering if anyone had any other ideas or insight on this issue. I am not trying to criticize PhotoShelter. I think they do a great job at everything. I would just like to open a discussion on this subject to see if anyone has any views on this subject. Regards Paulp

  5. louisvuittonhandbags at 4:19 am

    Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard. What are trying to say here? What do you want us to think? It seems like you cant really get behind a unique thought. Anyway, thats just my opinion.

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