Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why Do We Fuss About Selling Our Images?

The obvious answer to the above question is  that a) we need the money, or b) we need it to buy more photographic gear, perhaps gear our spouses wouldn't approve of otherwise.

Perhaps the more important reason is that is that someone paying for our work is a very clear message - our work is worth while (well, unless it's mum).

So, if the hassles of setting up e-commerce or accepting credit card payments and dealing with unhappy customers and failed transactions seems a lot of bother (it is), then maybe it's time to think of giving your work away.

Think about it.

What if you placed your work into a pdf, large enough images to really enjoy on a typical modern monitor, say something around 1200 pixels wide, 900 high, and either use your own website servers or a service to maintain this pdf file.

You then let everyone know that your work (perhaps a sig. but not complete part of your work) is now available, for free, to download.  You set it up so people do have to give you their email address, and make it plain what you will and won't do with that address.

You now have a way to track downloads and thus interest in your work, which was after all what you really were looking for when you thought to charge for it. True, people could share the downloaded pdf file, and you can't track that but that's ok - no saying where the exposure might lead.

Now, to be blunt, I haven't tried this, but it's something I'm thinking of.

I did think of an ebook but it occurred to me that a book of pictures wouldn't offer anything that a website wouldn't so expecting people to pay for it seems rather silly. No, for people to find a book worth paying for they'd reasonably expect more, and that's a topic for another day.

In the mean time, I'm interested in your thoughts about this idea, pros and cons.


Wei Chong said...

Hi George,

I don’t think a free ebook of images will result in much commitment of “buyers” to either comment seriously on the pictures, or buy other images/content.

Whenever I’ve download free ebooks I just don’t treat them as seriously--unless they offer more content than just pretty images. Like technical, asthetic or storytelling content. When the “free” offerings have that additional content, I become more amenable to look at other offerings of those authors/photographers, even parting with some of my money for that.

Your balance act will be in interesting us readers/photographers enough to seek more, without telling everything. I’m okay with that--value is there, and I don’t feel there is a free lunch, so will “pay to play.”

I don’t mean to say images on pdfs (or the web), don’t have value to me; they provide inspiration. But I’m after more. Images from my printer need to be compared to real prints, not that I need inspiration, but instead focus on comparison of where I stand in the craft.

Which is a segue to “Whatever happened to your idea of limited downloads for printing?”

Wei Chong

Tim said...

To be honest I'm not seeing what a PDF gives folks that a website doesn't. After all, if it's trackability you want, but PDF doesn't stop sharing, then running analytics on your website is just as much use.
You could also make a section of a website called `free desktop wallpapers' or somesuch; that would at least give people something to *do* with the images.

Tangent; I made a photo yesterday purely and unashamedly for technical reasons, seeing how I can cope with detail in a new camera. For some reason I had your previous posts in the back of my mind.

Markus Spring said...

Hmm - it seems Google ate my comment (again)

Creating downloadable pdfs is an important step when thinking about publishing a physical item, beeing it book or folio: You can exercise all that steps without the costs involved (except the time) and check the waters here.

A problem is the rising expectation on the quality of such a pdf - the retina displays, popular especially among visually interested users, demands 3 MPixel image for an optimal viewing experience. This makes the files huge and the danger of images getting stolen much bigger.

Werner Meier said...

Simple pdfs won't tell the whole story. For inspiration it might be ok. That's why I continue to buy books, e.g. one of yours.