Photography by: Kalandrakas
Usually, the debate about free products in photography centers on the use of Creative Commons licenses. Amateurs love them because they get their images distributed across the Web and beyond. Professionals, for the most part, hate them because they lower the price of images to a level they can’t compete against and let buyers get used to finding photos for nothing.
Used very carefully, our position is that Creative Commons licenses can be a helpful way to publicize work and bring buyers in to see photos for which you charge. But photos aren’t the only thing that photographers can give away for free. In fact, free samples, bonuses and giveaways have been part of marketing almost as long as stores have been organizing sales. There are a number of things that photographers can give away to boost the apparent value of their products and win more sales.
Give Away a Service
These days, photographers aren’t only employed to take images. They might also be employed to retouch them, print them and for wedding photographers, perhaps even arrange them in an album. All of those things might be offered for free (provided the extra cost still makes the job worthwhile).
The best strategy though is always to give away something that costs you little, is valuable to the client, and brings you benefits too.
One of the best options might be to give a wedding client a year’s free membership on Flickr and offer to place the images you’ve shot on the site.
Although “wedding” is one of the most popular tags on Flickr, most of those photos have been placed on the site by clients… which means that the photographer is rarely credited. Placing the images yourself would ensure that you get the credit, let the client share their photos with family and friends, and save them time.
It would cost you around $25 and a little bit of extra work, which should be more than covered by the value of the marketing.
Buy One, Get One Free
Giving away two products for the price of one is a classic marketing strategy but it comes with a risk. It makes the product look cheap and lets the buyer feel that there are plenty of them around. You lose a sense of exclusivity.
When you’re selling prints, offering two for one might work but there’s another approach you can take.
You can give away a smaller version of the print you’ve sold.
If a buyer likes a photograph that you’ve created enough to pay for a print to hang on their living room wall, they won’t complain when you give them a postcard-sized version to pin up in their office or a card to give to a friend. Make sure your name and URL are clearly printed somewhere on the photo and when that image is used outside the home, you’ll be spreading your name around for no more than the cost of the print.
Give Away a License
Giving away the same image works because the buyer can’t do anything with the second image but share it. No one is going to want to put the same picture up twice in the same room. They’ll either put it in a different place where other people can see it, or they’ll pass it on. Either way, you both benefit.
When you give away a second license to use an image, you are giving away something valuable with no discernible benefit… unless you choose the images for the second license that you give away carefully.
This might be a good strategy to use when you’re trying to break into a new field of photography. Tell a buyer that in addition to purchasing a license to use the image they want, they’ll also receive permission to use a photo from your collection of flowers or pets or whatever it may be, and you’ll start to spread your name around as a photographer in that niche.
Those second licenses should come with strict conditions that ensure that you receive credit and if they’re being used online, a link back to your portfolio too. And they should be limited so that you don’t give away too many licenses.
The fact that you’re making the offer to people who you know actually use images increases the chances that your photos will appear outside your portfolio where more buyers can see them. While it’s also possible that many of your buyers won’t actually take up the offer if they don’t need the photo, just making it available should make your sale look more attractive.
Free bonuses have always been popular with marketers and especially online. With a little creativity, they can be popular with photographers too.
[tags] freemium [/tags]