5 step strategy to more referrals

If getting referrals is not part of your marketing strategy to grow your business, it may be time to re-think that.  According to a recent Nielsen global report for truth in advertising, here are two stats that stand out in terms of referrals:

  • 92% of people believe the recommendation of friends and family over advertising.
  • 83% trust others the recommendation of people they know.

Those are powerful stats.

That means that for every 10 referrals from happy clients will potentially result in 8 new opportunities to grow your business. Let’s take that one step further. If you even close only half of those leads, that’s four new clients simply by asking for a referral.  If you did this consistently and were able generate 10 new referrals every month, that’s nearly 50 new clients to add to your roster and bottom line. Sounds impossible? It’s really not. Here are three ways to make that happen with the clients you currently have.

  1. Ask – every time.
  2. Provide tools to refer you.
  3. Remind them.

Asking

It’s hard to ask for referrals. We feel we are stepping over the line of that comfort zone. For some reason, we feel as if by asking, it might threaten a relationship we’ve worked hard build with a client, or worse, what if they say ‘no’? As a professional, you need to put those fears aside. Repeat these sentences out loud, and as many times as needed:

“I deliver great value to my clients.”
“More people should benefit from my talent.”     

All you have to do is to ask. It’s simple as that. Always assume your clients are happy to refer you. Let them be the ones to tell you they are unconformable in doing so. You might uncover a gap in your services that you will the opportunity to correct, which builds for a stronger relationship and more referrals down the road.

Tools

Many clients are happy to refer you, but don’t know how. That is – they don’t know how to present your services to others so you need to provide them with the tools to do just that.

  • Offer a business card or two to pass along.
  • Produce a postcard with your website and contact information.
  • Provide instructions on how to leave a social media review.

Reminding

You have to remind clients to give you a referral. Asking at the time of the shoot is a good idea, but to be perfectly honest, 9 times out of 10, your request won’t be remembered. Remind them again after the shoot. This could be an email, a personal note attached to the delivery of their final images, or a private message on social media. Remind your client how much you valued the opportunity to work with them and ask for their help by recommending someone who can benefit from your services. This is a real motivator because people genuinely want to help.  The more you remind clients, the more referrals you get, and the more new clients you’ll receive.

How to thank clients for the referrals they give.

Thoughts on referral gifts.

When it comes to gifts for clients who refer you business, there are three rules:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Keep it inexpensive
  3. Keep it relevant to the size of the business

Remember, most clients are motivated to help you. All they need to do is make the connection which takes only a few minutes of their time. You have to do all the heavy lifting, so the reward doesn’t have to be huge.

Thoughts on Following-up

Most photographers make the mistake of discounting pricing for either the referral or the client who gave them the referral (or gasp) even both. This is not necessary, nor lucrative for you. It’s also doing your brand a great disservice.

Instead, photographers need to nurture both sides of the referral by:

  • Sending a thank you note
  • Sending a small personal gift
  • Asking again

5 step strategy to more referrals.

It’s important to set up a referral strategy and schedule that works for your business. Here is a tried and proven method to keep those referrals rolling in.

1. During the session:

As you get acquainted with your client,  be sure to make note of a personal preference, ( for gift ideas later), and ask for a referral at the end of the shoot.

2. After the session:

A simple hand written thank you note should be sent to the client, reminding them you much your enjoyed the session and remind them to refer someone they know. (Don’t forget to send along those tools to make it easy for them to connect you).

3. After receiving the referral:

Send an email thanking them for the referral with the promise of follow-up and ensuing they will be just as happy with your services as they were. (If they didn’t send you a referral after step 2, a gentle reminder as the main gist of this email doesn’t hurt).

4.  After the referral is successful: (the gift)

Once the session is complete with your new found client, send a small (thoughtful) gift to the client who gave you the referral. Since you worked with your referring client originally, you’ll know a thing or two about them when you initially got acquainted. Make the referral gift relevant by making it personal. Avoid gift cards to a coffee shop – unless you know they are a caffeine addict. The more thoughtful the gift, the more memorable you and your services will be.

Send the referral gift along with a personal note letting them know that their referral just finished a shoot with you and they were over the moon with the end result. Chances are, this will be months after they initially refereed this new client to you, so take this opportunity to ask for another referral. They’ll feel good about helping you again knowing the last referral worked out so well.

See what happened there? You asked 3 times for a referral without seeming annoying, obnoxious, or any of the other things you thought asking for a referral might be.

5.  Start the process all over with your new client.

This takes diligence, but by simply adding a referral strategy like this to your workflow will make a big impact to the bottom line.


About the Author
“We know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” Deanna White,  is owner and publicist for storylinePR and a Chartered Marketer, recognized as top marketing talent in Canada by the Canadian Marketing Association. She provides marketing and PR support to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. –  www.storylinepr.ca


Photography wish lists

What’s on every photographers’ wish list (besides new gear) this holiday season?

These three things are sure to be at the top… 1. more customers; 2. more sales; and 3. more profits.

This season, we’re helping make holiday wishes come true. One lucky Ottawa photographer will be gifted a DIY marketing & PR template to create an actionable plan for themselves to pinpoint their marketing efforts throughout the year. This fill-in-the-blanks marketing & PR plan template will help you identify: who your target customers are; how you will reach them; and how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly bring in new business for you.

A holiday gift that keeps giving all year long

To be eligible, you must be an Ottawa-based photographer, (pro, semi-pro or amateur), and you must sign up before midnight December 24th, 2017. Your name will be automatically entered into a draw for a DIY fill-able marketing & PR plan (a $3,000+ value) that guides you through the entire planning process. Even if you’re not the lucky winner, you’ll be off to a great start to growing your photography business with valuable marketing & PR tips delivered directly to your inbox on a monthly basis starting  January 2018.

Sign up for your chance to win a FREE template and gain valuable marketing & PR tips for 2018 >>

sign up & enter

About the Author
Deanna White, CM is owner and publicist for storylinePR and recognized as top marketing talent in Canada by the Canadian Marketing Association. She works with Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers – “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca


All entries must be received before December 24, 2017 for a chance to win. To be eligible, you must be an Ottawa-based photographer. By entering into the contest, you are opting-in to receive email communication from storylinePR on a monthly basis. You may change your communication preferences at any time. Chances of winning depend on the number of entries.  Multiple entries not allowed. Random draw will take place Friday January 5th, 2018. Selected winner will be notified by email and agrees to have name used in award announcement.

Social media – no guarantees

The only thing in social media that’s constant – is change. Facebook can be an incredible source of referral traffic and growth, but there’s no guarantee it will last. If Facebook officially launches ‘Explore Feed’ which its currently testing in other countries, it will be the demise of all business pages, (IOHO), unless, of course, you have deep pockets for paid ads.

Although Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed for Facebook, says it currently has no plans to roll this test out further, according to this article from Techcrunch: “Facebook is downplaying this test banishing all Pages to buried Explore Feed. This same situation has played out a half dozen times on Facebook: Facebook saw users didn’t like viral game spam, so it turned off game virality and developers like Zynga imploded; Apps like BandPage let musicians stream music from the landing tab of their Facebook Pages, until Facebook banned landing tabs and BandPage lost 90 percent of its traffic in three months; It saw its Open Graph social reader apps were clogging the feed, so it removed most of their visibility and the apps plummeted; The desktop sidebar Ticker showed what friends were doing in third-party apps and was filled with Spotify listening activity, until Facebook muted the channel and eventually all-but-deleted it.”

Creating social currency

Do you rely on Facebook pages to get your marketing messages and images to your audience? You might want to rethink that strategy. Diversifying on social media is key. There is no reason to be on every social media channel out there. Just the ones your ideal customers are on and ONLY the ones that make sense for your business. The ability to more clearly identify your target customers will help both pinpoint your social media efforts and get a higher return on investment.

Like it or not, most customers go online to research their next purchase. As such, having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain a competitive advantage.

The four key components to consider for your online marketing strategy:

  1. Keyword Strategy: identify the keywords to optimize your website.
  2. Search Engine Optimization Strategy:  updates you make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
  3. Paid Online Advertising Strategy: the online advertising programs you use to reach target customers.
  4. Social Media Strategy: how you will use social media to attract customers.

Once you have you online strategy laser focused, you can use your social currency  to get your marketing messages and images in front of the right audience.

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About the Author
Deanna White, CM is owner and publicist for storylinePR and recognized as top marketing talent in Canada by the Canadian Marketing Association. She works with Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers – “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

 

It’s about the art, not the photographer.

Time and time again, I tell customers to make their online presence client focused rather than self promotional. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this online:

“…is an award winning professional photographer with a masters in fine art who’s passion is…”

This is great for an ‘about’  page on a website, but that’s where this kind of content should stay. Content like this sends the message that the art is all about you, the  photographer, and not about the client. There is a simple way to establish your credibility and market your brand.

Understand your audience.

Know what need your clients want to have fulfilled and tell them how you can satisfy it. Many years ago, a mentor once told me: “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.” More pointed – they buy the emotional connection behind the experience. He was bang on. Throughout my entire career, from marketing cars and IT services, to donations and memberships, it all comes down to this fundamental principal: Selling the experience will resonate with your audience better than a pitch about product features.

The hard-hitting truth.

When it comes to your photography, people aren’t buying you, the photographer, (or even your photos for that matter), they’re buying the benefits they get from your photos. The emotion evoked and the need satisfaction met. Keep in mind that different market segments will have different expectations, so be sure to promote your photography business accordingly. The photographer behind the work will sell itself.


About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, representing Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers who are looking to create and perfect their work, while we stay keenly focused on the marketing side of their business.   www.storylinepr.ca

5 reasons why email marketing works

Of all the content marketing tools, I’m a big advocate of email marketing. Not only is it a cost effective as part of any content strategy… it works.  Here’s why:

Image of laptop surrounded with email marketing ROI symbols 1. Customer Experience

One of the best things about email, (and automated email marketing in particular), is that it enables you to create personal experiences that speak directly to your audience. There’s power in personalization.

2. Best ROI

The ROI is impressive – and then some. According to Forrester Research “…companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost.” What other tool can give you that kind of return?

3. Effective

Email far surpasses the social media giants where generating customers is concerned. In fact, it’s 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter. That’s because email is a less distracting environment for a conversation / transaction. Which is a good segue into our next point.

4. Targeted

Your audience is already engaged. They voluntarily raised their hands and asked to receive information from you (assuming they opted-in) and are potentially interested in buying from you. You can’t get more sales ready than that!

5. Traceable

Using the online email marketing tools, you can see who opened your email; when they opened it; how many times they opened it; and what links they clicked through to – indicating their individual interests. That’s pretty powerful information at your fingertips!

It’s not for everyone. It takes time and effort to build an effective email marketing strategy that’s right for your business.  Here’s a long list of email marketing tools available. We’ve tried a few and have our go-to. How about you? Please share your preferred and post your reasons for using in the comments.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

 

How to build the right marketing & PR plan.

To succeed, you must start with a solid marketing and PR plan. Executed well, your plan will be your road map as you grow your business. The right marketing plan identifies: 1) who your target customers are; 2) how you will reach them; and 3) how you will retain your customers so they repeatedly bring in new business for you.

We are often asked what we include in the marketing and PR plans we produce for our photography clients, so we thought we would outline the 15 key sections as the fundamental basis of our working relationship with some of the best local talent.

Section 1: Executive Summary

We often complete the Executive Summary last. As the name implies, this section merely summarizes each of the other sections in the plan. It will be helpful in giving yourself a reminder and any stakeholders an overview of your plan.

Section 2: Target Customers

This section describes the customers you are targeting which we develop through a persona exercise. Personas are generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your current and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. The ability to more clearly identify your target customers will help both pinpoint your marketing (and get a higher return on investment) and better “speak the language” of prospective customers.

Section 3: Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Having a strong unique selling proposition (USP) is of critical importance as it distinguishes your work and your business in an already over-crowded industry. The hallmark of several great companies is their USP. For example, FedEx’s USP of “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is well-known and resonates strongly with customers who desire reliability and quick delivery. We’ll identify the USP that sets you apart from your competition.

Section 4: Pricing & Positioning Strategy

Your pricing and positioning strategy must be aligned. For example, if you want your photography business to be known as the premier brand in your genre, pricing your work too low might dissuade customers from purchasing. In this section of your marketing plan, we detail the positioning you desire and how your pricing will support it.

Section 5: Distribution Plan

Your distribution plan details how customers will buy from you. For example, will customers purchase directly from you on your website? Will they buy from other publishing venues, at events or galleries? We’ll brainstorm different ways to reach your customers and document them in this section of your marketing plan.

Section 6: Your Offers

We’ll develop strategic offers to secure more new customers and drive past customers back to you – that will generally cause your customer base to grow more rapidly.

Section 7: Marketing Materials

We’ll take an in depth look at the marketing materials you’ll use to promote your business to current and prospective customers. We’ll identify which ones you’ve already completed and ones that need to be created or re-worked to fit the plan.

Section 8: PR Strategy

The PR section is one of the most important sections of your marketing plan and details how you will reach new customers. In this section of your marketing plan, we’ll consider each of vehicles available to us and decide which ones will most effectively allow you to reach your target customers.

Section 9: Online Marketing Strategy

Like it or not, most customers go online to research their next purchase. As such, having the right online marketing strategy can help you secure new customers and gain competitive advantage.

The four key components we consider for your online marketing strategy:

  1. Keyword Strategy: identify the keywords to optimize your website.
  2. Search Engine Optimization Strategy:  updates you make to your website so it shows up more prominently for your top keywords.
  3. Paid Online Advertising Strategy: the online advertising programs you use to reach target customers.
  4. Social Media Strategy: how you will use social media to attract customers.

Section 10: Conversion Strategy

Conversion strategies refer to the techniques to turn prospective customers into paying customers.  For example, increasing your social proof (e.g., showing testimonials of past clients who liked your work) will nearly always boost conversions and sales.  In this section of your plan, we’ll document which conversion-boosting strategies you will use going forward.

Section 11: Joint Ventures & Partnerships

Joint ventures and partnerships are agreements  with other organizations to help reach new customers or better monetize existing customers. Think about what customers buy before, during and/or after they buy from your company. Many of the companies who sell these products and/or services could be good partners. We’ll document such companies in this section of your marketing plan along with tactics to reach out to try to secure them.

Section 12: Referral Strategy

A strong customer referral program could revolutionize your photography business. For example, if every one of your customers referred one new customer, your customer base would constantly grow. Rarely will you get to experience such growth unless you have a formalized referral strategy. We’ll help you think through the best referral strategy for your business and document it.

Section 13: Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices

While your primary goal when conversing with prospective customers is often to secure the sale, it is also important to pay attention to the transaction price. The transaction price, or amount customers pay when they buy from you, can dictate your success. For example, if your average customer transaction is $1000 but your competitor’s average customer transaction is $1500, they will generate more revenues, and probably profits, per customer. As a result, they will be able to outspend you on advertising and promotion, continually gaining market share at your expense. In this section of your plan, we’ll strategize ways to increase your transaction pricing.

Section 14: Retention Strategy

Too many organizations spend too much time and energy trying to secure new customers versus investing in existing customers. By using retention strategies you can increase revenues and profits by getting customers to purchase from you more frequently over time. We’ll identify and document ways you can better retain customers here.

Section 15: Financial Projections

The final part of your marketing plan is to create financial projections. In your projections, we’ll include all the information documented in your marketing plan with the related expenses that give you the highest return on investment.

One final word…

Creating a comprehensive marketing & PR plan is real work. Once it’s complete, it will serve you well as an actionable road map of deliverables with expected results in terms of new customers, sales and profits.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

Content marketing – beyond images

Most photographers share their images on their website in hopes of driving a ton of traffic to complete the ‘contact us’ form. Unfortunately, in today’s digital world that’s no longer enough. You need a content marketing strategy. What is content marketing exactly?

Definition of Content Marketing In my view, content marketing provides relevant, useful content to your audience online without actively pitching them. It’s about providing information that makes your target audience become more informed before they buy. By doing this in a consistent manner, you’ll earn brand awareness and they will ultimately reward you with their business.

I won’t lie to you – it takes work. Relevance and consistency are key. How does one get started? Here are some of our top go-to recommendations when building a solid content marketing plan.

Get social

Dread it or like it? Some photographers dread the idea of social media while others embrace it and utilize it to engage. It’s a necessary evil in an effort to reach your target audience.  Have a presence and aim for good engagement activity.

Share stories

Posting images online is no longer enough. Blog about the experience. Tell a story about the image in such a way that will entice your target audience to learn more about you. Provide useful content and tips on ‘how to’ for your audience relative to your work.

Educate

Despite what some believe and in the wake of CASL, the art of newsletter writing is not dead. Provide an opt-in mechanism in all you do to have people sign up. Make it educational in tone. What better channel to distribute your content than to the ones who raised their hands to openly to receive it.

Keep SEO in mind

This goes without saying, but a good content marketing strategy will involve search engine optimization. And, if all the above things are done well, they will help with SEO.

In our next few blog posts, we dive deep into each of these with some tips on how to implement.
Stay tuned.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

Top strategy for charities

What if I told you there was a way to get your business in front of potentially thousands of eyeballs from your ideal target audience. All for the cost of a few hours work. It’s one simple concept that very few photographers take advantage of.

This will impact your bottom line

Ottawa happens to be home to many charitable organizations who are on tight budgets, and always on the lookout for giveaways to create more donor dollars.  I’m not talking about donating your time to shoot for a charity event, but rather putting a silent auction package together that gets your name in front of a very lucrative target market and will likely not cost you a thing. In fact, in most cases, it can make you money. Similar to the gift card industry, offering up certificates for your photography services as a silent auction item associated with a dollar value can, and will, deliver to your bottom line. Here’s why:

Many are not ever redeemed. Giving away your services for free is hard swallow sometimes, but as Jenn Reichenbacher of Merchant Warehouse reveals, many times they won’t ever be utilized. Thousands of dollars goes unredeemed annually. About 40% either lose or forget about the item they purchased at a silent auction and most people chalk up their donation as going to a good cause.

They encourage repeat business. It’s also important to remember that when customers make purchases using gift cards (or in this case, silent auction gift items), they don’t always spend the entire amount. That means that they will likely return to make more purchases in the future. Gift Card Granny points out that “55% of gift card recipients require more than one shopping experience to spend the balance.”

Customers tend to spend more than the face value. By the time the monetary value of the silent auction item has been used in full, a client most likely will spend more. That means more money for you! “65% of gift card holders spend an extra 38% beyond the value of the card.

There are the top three things to keep in mind when putting a silent auction strategy in place:

  1. The Target Market
    Target the right audience with your brand. There are a myriad of charities who attract high-profile, net-worth clients at galas, golf tournaments and dinners. Reach out to the ones that make sense for your business. Ones you have a connection with, or whose causes you really believe in. Make sure it is well suited for your audience by asking qualifying questions about who their donors are.
  2. The Offer
    Tailor the offer to meet the needs of the audience and your marketing strategy. If your goal is to sell your images, perhaps the silent auction item is a private gallery showing with $500 towards the purchase of an art collection. Or perhaps you are looking to market your corporate photography business by offering the cost of a 3 hour session. Even if packaged as a product offer – make sure the dollar value is the main redemption mechanism.
  3. The Promotion
    Here’s where it can get interesting. Be sure to schedule some social media promotion around your silent auction item mentioning the charity you are donating to in the post using the ‘@’ sign. By mentioning the charitable organization, you are reaching potentially thousands of donors and supporters beyond your own social network; the charity is gaining additional exposure about the event; and your brand is being associated with a good cause.

There are several lists we are compiling for Ottawa photographers to reference and ‘charitable events’ is currently in the works. We are looking to our community help us build on these lists. If there a charitable golf tournament or event that you recommend? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

How to get your work featured in an art gallery

Image of Carrie Colton of Studio Sixty Six
Carrie Colton, Studio Sixty Six

Getting your work featured takes more than just great talent. After spending some time getting acquainted with a photographer and their work, we roll up our sleeves and start building a marketing & PR plan together. One of the very first questions we are inevitably asked is… ‘How do I get my work featured in a gallery?

Meet Carrie Colton, Director and Curator of Studio Sixty Six, an Ottawa art gallery devoted to showcasing emerging artists from in and around the Ottawa area and across Canada.
Carrie was kind enough to answer our FAQ in the following blog style interview, starting with how to approach a gallery – to what happens after the show…


What do you look for in work you represent? 

Studio Sixty Six: I look for artwork that is visually dynamic and well composed. I look for things like balance, texture, rhythm, composition and scale. Artwork that is finely crafted, solidly constructed, produced and finished. Artwork that is clever, thought provoking and interesting. Art that or makes one feel something whether that be, joy, pain, excitement or humour, perhaps asks a question of the viewer. Work that is offering something fresh and a new approach to genre or materials.

What is the best way for a photographer to approach a gallery? 

Studio Sixty Six: Email is best. Never show up with art work without an appointment. Following up the email after a week, if you have not heard back is fine. A polite phone call stating that you sent a submission and are wanting to confirm it was received is good as well.

What should (s)he prepare in advance to be considered? 

Studio Sixty Six: An email submission should include:

How does the gallery / photographer relationship work? 

Studio Sixty Six: It depends on the gallery but generally if a gallery agrees to represent your work on their website and on their walls they will ask you not to be represented by other galleries in that city. Galleries generally take 50% of the sale. We give photographers 100% of the cost of the frame if the artist has had the print framed. Galleries are also a great source of support to their artists, (or they should be!) via advice, connections, critiquing your art work etc…

What’s involved in getting ready for a show – from the artists’ perspective? Specifically, what should a photographer expect to provide and what can (s)he do to ensure the show is a success? 

Studio Sixty Six: An artists is required to provide all text information about themselves and their work going in the show well ahead of time, (typically a month before), as well as high and low resolution images of the work. The work should be dropped off a few days before the show, ready to hang.

The most successful shows are the ones where an artist participates fully in the marketing and promotion of the show. We encourage artists to invite all their contacts, distribute the show postcards and promote the show through social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc…

It’s also important to be at the opening event well dressed and on time – until the end of the evening. We ask all artists to be friendly and ready to talk about their work!

What happens after the opening?

Studio Sixty Six: After the opening, photographers should bring people by the gallery over the course of the show and send the curator contacts for those who did not attend the opening, but you would like to have receive a personal invite to see your work. It’s important to be in constant communication with the gallery and ensure response to email inquires asap.

After the show comes down the work is either picked up by the artist or kept as inventory. The work will generally be available on the gallery website under the artist’s name if they have agreed to an ongoing relationship.

What final piece of advice do you have for a new or emerging photographer who wants to be featured in a gallery showing? 

Studio Sixty Six: Take courses and learn about the history of fine art photography. Present yourself positively and professionally when meeting or talking to a gallery director / curator and as mentioned previously, ensure you have a high quality website.


About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

Are your photos being stolen from you?

It’s a catch 22. You want to share your God-given talent online with the world but don’t want to risk your images being stolen and used without your consent.

Many photographers will tell you the solution is not to post your images, but that’s not the answer. How can you expect to market your photography business and your work if you don’t put it out there? Sure there are traditional means, but your audience spends more and more time online looking for what you have to offer and if you’re not there, then what happens? Exactly! Here’s some tips:

Watermark
Photographers often watermark their images, but is that enough to stop unauthorized use of those images? If your water mark is placed in such a away that it doesn’t interfere with the image for the viewer and off in some corner somewhere unobstructed, it can be easily cropped out. Even when a watermark is placed strategically, anyone with Photoshop and a little patience can remove a watermark from a photo.

Copyright
Adding a copyright infringement message to all images posted online might stop that person or someone who just doesn’t realize that using or copying your image is wrong. In fact, most photographers I know add the word ‘copyright’ directly beside their watermark. Nothing deters theft better than possible legal action.

Size Matters
Be sure to post the smallest image size possible making quality reproduction an image close to impossible.  You can always put a statement online that high resolution images are available upon request with your contact info. Makes a great call to action for clients doesn’t it?

Image Tracking Tools

As a professional photographer, the Internet is a key way to promote your work and here are ways to help you track how your images are being used online.

  • TinEye is a free service that allows photographers to upload a picture and then search for the same image across the Internet.
  • ImageRights is a company that works to secure your rights to your photos.  The service has both paid and free plans, in which photographers upload their photos to allow ImageRights to search the web to find violators and can assist you with your legal rights.
  • By simply editing your EXIF data and the copyright information along with your name in the comment field can be effective. Setting up a Google alert for your name is another way to detect unauthorized use of your images, (provided they dont alter the EXIF data).
  • The one method I most recommend is to visit the mighty Google Images page. Where Google.com is unmatched for searching textual data, Google Images is the king of pixel based searching. Google Images utilizes a special algorithm to find imagery that is exactly your work and imagery that is visually similar.Simply copy/paste the URL of your image from where you host it. When you first enter your image’s URL, you may find Google telling you it can’t find the image. Actually, Google Image Search assumed that the text you entered was a keyword, so naturally, it cannot find a keyword that looks like an URL.  Look closer, however, and you’ll find the line that says “For matching images, try Search By Images” right underneath the search field. Click that link and it’ll use your image to scan for other instances across the web.

There are other tracking tools out there – some free, some complex, some for a small fee. We’ve heard reports on them all and find Google Images to be the most widely used and reported most effective. What tools do you use? Please share your favourite online tracking tools in the comments below.


About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca