Monthly Archives: July 2015

Dig More Streams

Dig more streams is a saying I got from David Du Chemin’s excellent book, Visionmongers. (If you haven’t read Visionmongers please see here for a short review.) Dig more streams refers to creating more income streams for your photography business.

Tricks of the Trade

Is it time to write that book or e-book you’ve been meaning to get around to?

The principle here is to critically evaluate your photography business and examine whether you can generate a greater financial return by offering different products or packages.

What are some examples?

If you are a wedding photographer – can you create more products for your clients to purchase? If you normally do electronic images and prints, can you do albums as well? If you are shooting family portraits, can you expand your product range to offer canvas prints as well? or other print products? Or can you restructure your package offerings to provide more value for your client and more margin for your business? If you are an experienced industry professional, can you write and sell a book or an e-book? Can you expand your current business by selling prints to a worldwide market via online portals? Can you use your spare time to build a stock photo portfolio? Can you teach a beginners course on how to use a digital camera?

These are just a few of many, many examples. What are the opportunities for you and your business?

What are the advantages of being able to dig more streams?

By adopting the ‘dig more streams’ approach you will be able to:

  • generate additional income from your existing activities (e.g. by adding albums and prints to your wedding photography service)
  • create new income streams (e.g. selling prints online)
  • generate repeat business (e.g. selling a first anniversary package to your wedding clients)
  • add more value to your existing clients (e.g. if you specialize in new born images, keep a note of the babies birth dates and follow up with a 1 year old special offer, then a 2 year old special offer, then … you get the idea!)
  • capitalize on the growing number of professional and semi professional photographers by meeting their education needs (e.g. writing an e-book about how to shoot weddings)

Selling wildlife canvas prints locally and online has helped me dig more streams

One example from my own photography business is that I often am asked about my experience as a stock photographer. That leads to photographers asking me what they can do to build a stock photography portfolio themselves. The repetition of those questions lead me to write an e-book called Build A Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time which covers my own experience plus advice to people starting out in stock photography. If you would like to check it out, please see here. If you’ve got a digital camera, a computer, determination to keep improving, and some perseverance – then financial success as a stock photographer is possible for you.

Thanks for reading Dig More Streams. Has it prompted you to think about more streams which are possible for you and your business?

iStockers, Why the Shift to Subs is Good

I have been an iStock contributor since 2008, and an exclusive contributor since May 2010. I have written a series of posts for Beyond Here about stock photography and the changes going on at iStock. Today I tackle the growth in subscription sales and, for iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

In September 2014 iStock announced changes to the subscription program. I covered those changes in this post. Since then my subscription sales have been growing strongly. I summarized that progress in this post. Another month has passed. I have had another strong month for subscription sales, and many iStockers are reporting their strongest subscription sales month. So what does that mean?


iStock is a viable option for big buyers shopping for an image subscription program

Well, it means that iStockers are seeing more downloads of their images at a lower average price per download. My experience is that my ‘normal iStock’ downloads initially declined and have now remained steady. For those of us who have been iStockers for several years, it is a big change not to see your balance changing frequently. Instead of being reported in real time, the downloads through the subscription program are only reported once per month.

More downloads, lower average income per download. Why would this be good?

I see four key reasons for iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

(1) The subscription program drives repeat business. One benefit of a subscription program is that it builds repeat business for iStock. Buyers use the service each day or week or month for many, many months. This can only be good for contributors in the long run. We want buyers shopping at iStock and continuing to shop at iStock.

(2) Greater consistency of income. Lots of downloads at a low average income per download produces consistent income from month to month as you are not reliant on a single large sale. While you may not see your balance moving every day, when the sub downloads are reported you can see the subscription program is being used daily by buyers. I expect we will see much less variability in income from month to month as the subscription program continues to grow.

(3) In time, buyers will move from competitors. It has long been felt that the quality and variety in the iStock library is superior to other microstock sites. (Keep in mind, I am biased as I am an iStock contributor! The reality is that I haven’t checked competitors sites for some time). Now that the subscription program appears to be gaining traction with buyers, we can expect that clients will move to iStock over time – continuing the growth in iStock subs downloads.

(4) Big buyers will be attracted by the subscription program. The real benefit of the subscription program is for large volume buyers who need large numbers of images per month. Think ad agencies, newspapers, and magazines. Big buyers coming to iStock will be positive for iStock contributors.


The iStock sub program is making a noise

On the flip-side, because of the growth in sub downloads and the lack of growth in ‘normal iStock’ downloads it has become very hard to achieve redeemed credit targets. My personal experience is that this year I am unlikely to achieve the redeemed credit target required to maintain my current royalty level. I expect this is the experience of many contributors, and see iStock being under pressure to change the redeemed credit targets. I hope I’m right as I don’t fancy a reduced royalty rate.

Thanks for reading iStockers, why the shift to subs is good.

Seven Traits of People Running Successful Photography Businesses

This week I took part in an interesting discussion between photographers in a Facebook group. The discussion started with one photographer asking if others thought it was a good idea to do her own personal and business tax returns. (For readers not based in Australia, the tax year here ends in June and people begin submitting tax returns as early as July).

It is very hard to answer her question without knowing her circumstances. She may be a qualified tax accountant and it might be worthwhile doing her own taxes. That scenario is unlikely and my advice was that it is best to have a specialist do your taxes. That’s what I do for both my personal and business tax returns. I find it is worth the peace of mind knowing that my tax returns have been done properly. It also means that I get all of the deductions available to me as a small business owner. But most importantly, using an expert to do my tax returns leaves me more time to look after my clients.

Tax time

Taxes are one example of business tasks better left to a specialist.

The photographer in the Facebook group had just completed her first year in business as a photographer. Her comments reminded me that it is very common when we are starting out to try and do everything ourselves. We may not have the business cash flow to be able to pay for a range of services, or we just figure that because we have the time, we will do things ourselves to save money. Some might think that is a valid approach, but all of the people I know who are running successful photography businesses take a different approach. That lead me to consider the traits I see in people running successful small photography businesses. Here they are, seven traits of people running successful photography businesses.

The photographers I know who are running successful photography businesses have these things in common. They:

(1) Get help with business activities they are not expert in – that includes but isn’t limited to doing taxes, editing images, printing, preparing contracts, framing prints, delivering products to their clients. The list goes on. Where they are not expert, or where they can’t add value, they get an expert to help.

(2) Understand the value of their time. This is where being a good business person really shows. They may be able to do their own taxes, but they know it will take them 3 weeks where an expert can do it in one week. Why would they want 3 weeks of their year tied up doing taxes? They know it is not a good use of their time to be tied up doing this type of task.

(3) Build relationships with clients. This is the one element of their businesses that they won’t leave to someone else. They know that the connection they make with their client is critical to the ongoing success of their business. All other things get set aside to make time for their current clients, and for finding new clients.

(4) Build their own skills. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses keep adding to their core skill set. They invest in learning new post processing techniques, or learning how to better market their business, or learning how to shoot expertly with a new piece of equipment. They don’t get distracted with trying to do their own taxes. They build their skills so that they can better serve their clients.

(5) Network with other successful photographers. People running successful photography businesses take time to build relationships with others doing the same. They discuss the business as well as the art. They share ideas and learn from each other.

(6) Take time off. Yes, people running successful photography businesses know that they need to take time off. They need to get away and relax. They put the dates in the diary at the beginning of the year. They are deliberate about taking a break and recharging the batteries. Is that what you do? Or do you have a break when you don’t have any clients?

(7) Don’t give up. Small businesses, like people, go through good times and bad times. The people I know who are running successful photography businesses understand this. In the good times, they don’t get carried away with their own success. They view it as an outcome of the work they have put in. And equally with bad times, they know that tough times will pass. They keep focused on their clients and the quality of their work, knowing that short term down times will not effect their long term success.


Successful small businesses owners understand the importance of time off to recharge their batteries

If you are starting out or looking to refocus your photography business, challenge yourself on each of the points above. Are you doing tasks which would be better done by an expert? Have your skills grown in the last year?  Are you putting enough time into finding or looking after clients? Are you getting distracted by trying to do everything yourself? How well are you doing on the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses?

Thanks for reading the seven traits of people running successful photography businesses. Have you seen other traits that set people apart? Please leave a comment and share your experience.