New photographers looking to break into commercial endeavors like stock photography are often perplexed about how to make images that are not just visually attractive but are commercially successful as well.
One of the most popular categories of stock is the subject of business. So how do you best approach this topic to produce images that sell? Try thinking about the subject as it relates to the popular comic strip Dilbert.
Scott Adams uses universal themes in Dilbert to appeal to a wide audience of people. Anyone who has worked in any office anywhere can readily identify with the Pointy-Haired boss, or the know-it-all co-worker and the company slacker.
We probably also see ourselves as the trying-to-succeed-in-a-mixed-up-world main character of Dilbert himself. We can readily empathize with the situations and setting those characters find themselves in with humor and grace.
Apply those same concepts to your images, and you have the foundation for successful business stock photos. Start with these universal themes.
People and Teams
The trend in stock photography is away from the beautiful models acting like they are doing something – talking of the phone, looking seriously at a piece of paper, shaking hands in introductions, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The need now is for quality images of realistic people in realistic business setting doing realistic activities – a more candid and unscripted feel.
Apply the same thoughts to teams and team activities. They should be easily identifiable and associated most closely with the universal concepts of doing business. And remember that business is global; so make sure your subjects represent a diverse inclusion of genders and ethnicities.
When you think of business, finances naturally comes to mind. Images focusing on hard currency, stocks and bonds, or banking instruments fall into this area.
As do images associated with loans, mortgages or debt. If it has to do with money, it‘s an image needed in this category.
Images needed here fall into one of two categories. The industries within the business arena: marketing, accounting, finance and entrepreneurship; and the industries of business: financial advisors, stockbrokers, bankers, retailers and the like.
Think also of how business is conducted within specific niche industries as opposed to generic business to fill the demand they create.
Transportation and Travel
Well dressed business professionals hailing a cab or walking into an airport – as well as the business of travel – travel agencies, rental car companies, or airports – are some of the types of images needed in this area. Images are needed that deal with the transportation of people and goods. Think shipping, trucking and rail. Automobiles and airplanes. Show how business uses transportation to keep running on a day-to-day basis.
Objects and Still Life
Business objects can range from calculators and abacuses to tax forms and contracts. Any object used in any discipline while conducting business will fall into this category. Don’t forget to think of retro or futuristic objects as well.
Creatively combine objects to create a theme or universal concept. Think of all the objects used in a house purchase: For Sale sign, mortgage applications, building blueprints and the like. Grouping them together can convey the entire process of buying and selling in the real estate market as just one example.
You wouldn’t dream of spending a day in business without the support of computer systems and applications. Show how they are used everyday in the modern business world. Show what happens when we don’t have them for a few hours or days. Show how technology is changing how business is being conducted.
Telecommuting. Team collaboration and brainstorming. Written communications in the form of documents, text and email. Working remotely from home or on the road with the assistance of advanced video conferencing. All are part of this ever-evolving area of business technology.
Remember, a picture can speak a thousand words. Use creatively composed images to represent esoteric and complex business themes. Just make sure that concept or theme is easily identifiable. A smartphone stands in for social media.
A calculator means financing. Using those building blocks, the world of business is easily recreated in pictures.
Not everything in the business world needs to be buttoned up and formal. Any of these categories can be approached in a whimsical manner to produce uniquely represented concepts that set them apart from the competition.
Think communications using smoke signals, or accountants represented with people counting beans in a backroom. And when speaking of images in each of these areas, don’t limit yourself to only still photos. Videos and illustrations can be used anywhere a photo can.
So grab your camera, and the next time you approach the subject of business – or any other popular commercial theme – ask yourself one question. “What would Dilbert do”?
All images copyright Karen Foley via Dreamstime.com.
Images are provided by the author
Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.
Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.
If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.
Get Your Toolbox in Order
Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:
- Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
- Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
- If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option
Don’t Begin Right Away
This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.
The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.
Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.
Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.
Use Affiliate Programs
Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.
The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.
You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.
Optimize Your Search Ranking
You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income.
Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.
Open a Shop
Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.
Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.
Release an Ebook
Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.
Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.
Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.
Become a Speaker or Consultant
Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.
Offer Freelancing Services
Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.
Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.
Start a Class or Series
Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.
Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.
It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity
To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.
Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments
Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.
Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.
With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.
Diversity of Content is Key
If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.
How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”
Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To
In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.
Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.
Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.
Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.
Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power
Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.
This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.
Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content
Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.
In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.
There are five primary reasons we share content:
- To bring value and entertainment to our friends
- To define ourselves to our friends
- To grow and nourish our relationships
- To feel more involved in the world
- To support a cause
Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).
But Balance Is Key
Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.
Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.