Sometimes we are confused about the differences between 4 things. The 4 things are the pillars upon which we receive money from other people. The 4 things are not complicated. And anyone who is trying to maximize their earnings should go up to a mountain top and meditate upon this stuff. Here are the 4 things:
- What we are selling.
- What are we actually being paid for.
- What by-products are generated as we deliver our service.
- What value those byproducts have.
Getting de-confused about this is a good idea.
Photographers appear to be a professional group that are very confused about this issue. Thus the drama with their concerns about using Pinterest. This post will focus on their issues (a bit), but you might be confused about what you’re selling too, so let’s explore the topic together.
As a side-note, my wife tried family photography as a profession for a year, then realized it involved way too much face-to-face selling, coordinating schedules, and managing people (even if indirectly) – so we shifted to another one of her mad skills – design. But in that year, I got a little (admittedly small) glimpse into how to be the marketer for a photographer.
Here is my big aha from that year, and how it applies to Pinterest.
Photographers are rarely ever selling pictures. The pictures are not the valuable thing. Nope. Not. They are an easily obtained commodity. Especially online – images are rarely going to be paid for by anyone except companies. And if they need images – they’ll likely hire their own talent.
The service of coordinating a photo shoot, being an awesome & creative shooter, and making the subjects feel happy and upbeat, and getting the pictures selected and printed, now that has substantial value. That’s hard work, and requires talent and patience. That is what people are paying for – the service. But the actual images – especially digital copies of the images – they are nearly worth zero. Oh, people assign massive value to them in a way. But they are not paying you for just the image.
This is confusing of course since most photographers assign the ‘charges’ to the images, but the real work is what they are actually being paid to do. It’s like saying
The keys to your new Mercedes cost $90,000. Really – the keys cost $90,000? No, clearly they don’t cost $90,000, but when you write the check, they hand you the keys, so it’s easy to get it mixed up.
Even if you’re selling photography as art – like special large format prints in a gallery, you are selling the physical item – that is artwork – to be hung on a wall. It is the physical item that has the value. The printed, physical product. And if you’re talented & lucky, the customer might also be paying a premium for your brand because they believe it has value, (which it might).
I think good photographers should get paid a killing. My friend Mark Kuroda for example charges crazy prices for wedding photography in San Francisco. He deserves everything he is paid. But again, he’s paid for the work – the talent of shooting professionally – the event coordination – the physical printing – the driving around to crazy places to capture magical memories. Those services are valuable – the images are just the keys.
So Photographers that are confused by this are in a funny spot when it comes to Pinterest. They have a huge pipeline of high quality images but they have this hang up about pinning onto Pinterest liberally. Their concerns are:
- People will ‘steal’ their images.
- They will lose control or rights to their images.
- People will use the images – but the photographer won’t receive any compensation.
Each of these concerns vaporizes when you acknowledge the truth – the images have little monetary value.
What I’d do on Pinterest if I was a professional Photographer, Pastor or Teacher:
- Launch A Pinterest Profile. I’d create tons of mood boards in Pinterest slicing up various categories very thinly – love, hugs, kisses, hand-holding, dancing, beach, sunset, sunrise, Wedding Cakes, Wedding Favors, Wedding Flowers, etc. Or if I was a pastor – I’d do topics, books and passages – 10 Commandments, Faith, Hope, Love, etc.
- Catalog My Work. I’d categorize my images into the appropriate categories, (or message if I was a Pastor or Teacher). Or have a helper do it for me when they aren’t doing other things.
- Brand it all. I’d subtly brand the images (if a photographer) with my website and logo – not a big watermark – a subtle brand that shares your info without destroying the quality of the image. If I was a Pastor, I’d make podcasts, or Youtube videos with a clear brand.
- Pin hard. I’d pin like a wild banshee because the stuff I’ve got (great images or video) is the stuff Pinterest is made of.
- Be Social. I’d use www.curalate.com to see if people use my images (or content) – and I would hope they do. And I’d ‘like’ those repins or comment on them – thanking the people for sharing the images, and I’d follow these pinners too. I’d do this liberally as a way to encourage them. All good. They are now your sales force. Thank them. If your images strike a chord with lots of people – your followership will grow really really big.
- Chill. I would not care if the content URL in Pinterest didn’t point back to my website – because my brand would still be on the image.
- Digits. As a final step – to close the deal – I’d ensure my website, Pinterest Profile and related social media sites clearly explain how to hire me.
Now for the non-photographers…
Do you have a stream of content that you are NOT leveraging?
Do you regularly create content that is NOT making its way onto social media? I can think of a few examples:
- Pastors make sermons each week – are they being turned into share-able content?
- Teachers do interesting summaries and case studies all year-long – are they being repurposed for social sharing?
- Professional trainers create presentations all the time, (or at least are expert at doing it), are they creating tons of content to share?
If you are paid to provide a service – and content is a byproduct – but you aren’t using that content as marketing material for your business – you are wasting a huge opportunity. Package up that content – use it to draw a crowd.
Have I offended any photographers? If so, leave me a comment, I’ll do my best to defend myself 🙂