Before you can sell your photos online, buyers first have to see them. That means putting up a website, creating an attractive portfolio and building traffic that comes and looks at your images. And hopefully places orders too.
Protect Yourself Against Google’s Image Thieves
But one of the most popular ways that users search for pictures is also one of the most overlooked. Google Images indexes over a billion photos and has long been one of the first stops for anyone looking for an image.
Unfortunately, many of those people are hoping to steal photos rather than buy them.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use Google Images to market your pictures though. It just means you have to protect them as well as optimize them. To ignore the service simply because there are sharks out there would be a huge waste of a valuable opportunity.
Start with the protection. Any image you want to optimize for marketing on Google Images — in fact, any image you want to market online — has to have a big ugly watermark on it. As we’ve pointed out before, that’s not a foolproof method of protecting your photos but it will stop people from simply right-clicking and saving your images on their computers. That alone will cut out a large chunk of the threat.
Use the Watermark to Drive Sales
But here’s the opportunity. Instead of using a watermark that simply says “Property of John Smith” or whatever it may be, use a watermark that says “Image For Sale.” Someone who wants to use the image and is prepared to pay for it, would click to find out how much it costs. On the image page itself, you could either list your prices or suggest that the buyer gets in touch.
Obviously only a small proportion of the people who see your image will click and ask to buy, but the numbers alone could make it worthwhile, especially if your images are optimized to bring in large amounts of users.
That’s not hard to do. Some of the techniques used to drive images higher in search results are the same as those used to put Web pages in high positions: have lots of links leading in and put keywords in title tags and in the body copy, for example. But large images (those with more than 10,000 square pixels) tend to rank higher than small images, and keywords close to the image can also affect the photo’s tendency to turn up in search results.
Keywords Can Be a Clue to Market Size
Of course, relevant keywords should also be included in the file name, alt tag and image-title tag.
The importance of keywords can also give you a clue to marketability. Search terms that are particularly popular might suggest a large market — and that therefore you should be shooting images on those topics rather than for terms that are rarely sought. It might be worth picking one popular topic, optimizing some images for it and seeing if you generate any sales.
Google Images might not be the most obvious place for photographers to sell their images, but with so many people using it, it’s also too big to be overlooked. With the right strategies and the right care, it might just bring in the right amount of sales too