I have to start by saying that most of my success in photo and later in business world came from the initial blog posts and initial reviews I’ve done on this blog. So for that, I will be forever grateful.
I consider myself pretty successful. I’m an ambassador for Sony cameras and an Artisan Of Imagery for Sony (BIG DEAL FOR ME!), I have an e-commerce business that got its initial boost from this blog, and I’ve been doing alright with print sales – my main real source of photo income.
I have been pretty committed to blogging in all of 2015 and then in 2016 things kind of faded off. I’ve been thinking about what to do and where to go next. So I’ll outline some realities I realized. I don’t expect you to agree with everything, but you’ll definitely get an idea of how things are happening in the photo market.
LONG STORY SHORT:
I blogged every week in 2015, so at least 52 posts for that year.
Only the select few really got any attention, mostly the gear reviews.
Everyone kind of bypassed the real meat on this blog – the photo tips and lessons and business advice from other articles. I was pretty bummed.
It was a quest for me to get all that gear for reviews for free. It was a lot of hassle.
My Instagram started looking more about film cameras that other stuff, I was riding the film wave.
I kept noticing that posts on Instagram that do best are the typical stuff – gorgeous landscape and a tiny person in a yellow raincoat. This was not what I was shooting most days. So what? I get no post likes now?
The Instagram changed the algorithms. Now I feel like it’s all their play field and we have no real say in our success. Things used to be different before with post likes. So at some point, I gave up on my commitment to post daily.
Around the same time, I became more focused on my store, asildastore.com – the only real income from photography I was getting at that point. The blog was making some affiliate money, but it’s barely covering gas. I had no time to push print sales as much with other jobs I had going on in my life.
HERE IS THE DILLEMA, IN SUMMARY:
- You can’t count on the photo blog as the source of income
- There has to be a plan on how you actually make money
- Instagram is always manipulating reach and it’s super frustrating and doesn’t seem fair
- If you make money in other ways, what’s the point for the photo blog?
- Also, nobody is going to look at your portfolio posts, nobody is looking at mine (I have over 50+ posts of my ballet and shapers shoot recaps on the blog)
- So you sit… get a glass of red… and realize all this work is for… what?
Did you notice how many photo blogs have gone dark lately? We’re all most following YouTube channels these days.
But guess what, I’m not a video shooter, it doesn’t come easily to me. I have a had time producing video reviews. It takes forever. Who is still doing quality reviews? Do my past reviews still matter? My traffic numbers say yes, but not as much as they used to.
And even when I get traffic, it’s not anyone who will buy my prints. We’re all photographers. I’d need interior designers reading this blog then. Totally different concept. So where did this all leave me?
Not posting anymore.
I still get free gear shipped to me for reviews. I loved doing reviews. I just don’t have as much time for them anymore and I don’t see the real return on time for those reviews. I probably should just treat them as my fun spare time. This is sort of where I’ve been leaning anyway in the last few months.
SO THE CURRENT STATE OF REALITY IS:
- You need to do vlogging on video reviews of gear – very hard for me as it’s not my skill
- You need to really plan for the ROI, or none of it.. most likely
- Social networks do what they want with how many people your posts reach
- You’re either popular if you post what everyone likes (formula is not complicated – beautiful landscapes and tiny people) or you’re not very popular
- If you’re not consistent with posting, you’re off the train. Missing post schedule is like poison. You are either all in or you’re not. You can’t post for a week and then go silent for 3.
- Since everyone is a photographer these days, you’re likely to have a hard time with print sales
- This leaves you with crowdfunding books, commercial work (most likely they won’t know what they really want and client management will become your nightmare), weddings (half of them don’t even want to be together), and portraits.
GREAT! Are you already getting depressed?
But it cannot be all that bad. There are thousands of photographers around the globe doing just fine making a living with photography. But you either fit and adapt to the system, or you’re the outcast and have to recreate your market and how you sel your products and services.
I’m happy with how things are going with the store. The store really happened only out of my frustration for several things not happening: traffic not converting, my passion for patches not needed anywhere else, and nobody was requesting my services for photoshoots.
But… I loved doing reviews. It was my time to rest, create, and enjoy very cool gear. I got really good at reviews. I just have a certain aesthetic and theme to things I review.
I also feel that we’re going into a deep dive with photo blogging in general. So many bloggers went away. So many photographers refocused on something else. Only a handful of YouTubers are really killing it with consistent content.
This is purely a blue ocean where you can create nonstop and get noticed. It just depends for what reason you want to get noticed and how you’ll make money with it. Influencers in photography, the typical smaller scale people like you and me, are not breaking the bank. We cannot count on this income. You have to be a big time someone, or Ken Rockwell with his massive web SEO presence.
So, here we are… in the world of social media and influencer marketing almost being a bubble that will soon burst. And where content has a hard time converting to a solid living income.
SO, WHAT DO YOU AND I DO?
We have to lay in all on the table. Analyze. And adjust.
I’m going back to blogging because I loved sharing my point of view and getting cool new gear to play with. I will have no expectations of income from this moving forward. And that’s ok. It was really spicing up my life with everything else I had going on.
The store will remain the primary focus. I love it. I want it to be around for 100+ years and become timeless and authentic and relevant to future generations.
I’m going to rework this website and focus on online print sales and blogging more. I’m not made to shoot campaigns for other brands. I realized I’d rather make my own brand and shoot that. And keep the money in-house.
And for you, I suggest 2 things:
- Analyze your current state of things, research what others do that makes money
- Adjust to what’s popular and in demand, or be an outcast and create a market and an audience of your own. Caution: much harder to do but yet so rewarding!