Inspired by the writings of the late Rohn Engh
If you want to make from stock photography, you want to follow a basic business concept: positioning. If your photo collection is strong in automobiles, position yourself so you become a valuable resource to editors who are in continual need of these kinds of photographs.
Photographers should position themselves so well in their specialty area that they get put on specific available photographer’s list who speak the language of the special interest that photobuyers need for their readers and advertisers. These photographers can phone photo editors to let them know they are in France or Italy, or inform the photo editor they have discovered a new aspect of their special subject matter. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a full-time pro to do this. The technology of cameras and the Internet will allow you to do this part-time, and still keep your ‘day-job.’
To be a successful part-time stock photographer today, you need to brand yourself. Think of a photography brand the same as you think of an artist’s “style”. For example, when you think of van Gough, Matisse, Mondrian, Rockwell, or Picasso you think of a certain style that identifies each of them. Your specialization in the same manner will be your “brand.” Your theme photos may be of automobiles and when you submit your first selection of photos to such a “theme” to publishing house, you want the photobuyer to say, “This photographer speaks my language.”
Once you sell your first photo to a theme publisher, it will be easier to make subsequent sales. Once a photographer establishes him/herself with a theme publisher, he can expect to stay with that publisher for an average of ten years. The individual photo editors or graphic artists at such a publishing house may come and go but the theme of the publishing house remains the same. And of course the business relationship may go on even longer.
And that is the beauty of marketing your own photos. You can choose to stay with only one or two theme publishers, or go big time and deal with dozens who focus on that theme, and, of course, you can repeat the process with two or three additional themes, if you position-and-brand-yourself.