One of the attractions of the opportunity provided by Photography Jobs is that photography enthusiasts can shoot the images they love and make money out of them. It turns a hobby into a passive income generator without putting the photographer through the less pleasant process of having actually to work. In practice, of course, it rarely turns out that way. The most successful Photography Jobs photographers treat their contributions with the same seriousness with which a factory owner looks at his outputs.
They plan their shoots, think about the costs of creating them and, most importantly, make sure that the images they photograph match the demand among buyers, even if they don’t match entirely the kinds of images they’d want to shoot for fun. To make those kinds of assessments, though, photographers need to understand what the market wants. That’s not always easy to do. While Photography Jobs sites are happy to show their most successful photographs, and a few list the most popular searches, matching gaps between demand and supply to spot valuable opportunities are a problem.
It’s a problem that Photo Job has gone some way towards solving. Created by John Davies, a UK-based software engineer, the site offers a number of free Photography Jobs toolbars. The Photography Jobs Image Search toolbar helps buyers to find images across multiple agencies, lets them send image requests directly to contributors, and notifies them when interesting new images are uploaded, among other functions. The Contributors toolbar provides photographers with notifications about sales and approvals, a keyword tool, an FTP-upload drop-box for six agencies, and other solutions too.
Photographers work harder than buyers. The search toolbar is currently used by about 500 buyers; the contributor toolbar has about 2,500 users. (Usage figures for both toolbars drop on the weekends though when buyer drop-off out paces that of contributors by 20 percent. Buyers’ Sundays, it seems, are more restful than those of photographers.) The most popular toolbar provided by Photo Job, however, is the newer Ultimate Free Stock Photo Search Tool which looks for free images across more than 200 websites, including many Photography Jobs sites’ own promotional collections.
That toolbar has about 3,000 users, runs as many as 2000 visitors a day, and has been shown to convert free users to paying buyers.The idea for the toolbars came three years ago, when John left his corporate job to find something that offered more freedom and a reliable passive income, but which also had enough data to make informed decisions about future development. Photography Jobs, with its creativity and open doorway, looked like a suitable choice, even though John sees himself as a software guy rather than a photographer. Once he’d started shooting, he found that he frequently refreshed his stats to check sales and monitor the progress of his portfolio. The Contributor’s toolbar was a natural extension of that experience. On a dull day I would waste a lot of time with F5-refresh button, constantly rechecking my earnings rather than creating images, says John.
By incorporating my earning check it into the browser, any activity on my computer would also be accompanied by the nice little ‘ding dongs’ whenever I made a sale.”Once he’d added keywording and a dropbox, he started sharing the toolbar as a free plugin for Firefox. The toolbar has proven useful enough, but what John really wanted was a way of measuring the gap between image supply and image demand for particular keywords. If he could identify popular niches for which there were relatively few images, then he’d know that shooting those topics would bring an increased chance of sales.None of the Photography Jobs agencies he contacted were willing to share their search data so John turned to his toolbars to extrapolate search terms himself.
Using a sample set of images, he calculates the average views-per-file and the average downloads-per-file for each searched keyword phrase. The result is a score that shows the probability of an average-quality image selling at least once throughout its lifetime. A “Photo Job rating” of 100, for example, suggests that an image that matches that search term will sell at least once. A rating of 1,000 predicts at least ten definite sales, although once the figures start to reach 3,000 to 5,000 they become less reliable. Enter any term into Photo Job and you should be able to see your chances of selling pictures that cover that topic. The calculations, though are only suggestions based on the number of views and downloads received for a keyword entered into Photo Job’s toolbars. But as John notes, success in Photography Jobs depends on more than choosing the right topics.“That rating… needs to be balanced against common sense and some rational thought. A higher rating does not always mean better sales. He also says, you will need to be able to judge with an objective mind both the quality of your own work and the time and cost it takes to create and produce.”The idea is to better your photography, the lower the Photo Job rating you can shoot and still expect to make sales. John, who says that he is “not a particularly good photographer,” tends to shoot topics that rate about 75 to 400.
They’re probably easier to shoot than a French castle and a tandem bicycle, which also appear in the list. In general, says John, the biggest opportunities tend to lie in alternative lifestyles such as seniors, and of course, ethnic niches. Buyers, he says, are also looking for more naturalistic images of professionals at work as a nurse administering an injection, for example, rather than a woman in a nurse’s outfit, images that might not be easy for a typical Photography Jobs enthusiast to capture. There are a lot of areas you’re just not going to be able to compete without thousands of pounds of equipment and a perfect eye, John warns. In all honesty, if you want to really earn from Photography Jobs now, you’re going to have to work hard at it.