Photography is huge business. Revenue from the sale of photography in the United States has been pegged at around $10 billion. A large chunk of these sales are for the purpose of marketing and advertising. Although companies like Shutterstock, Fotolia and Getty Images have cornered the stock photos market, the industry is still extremely open for startup businesses to grow and thrive.
If you are a photographer, or a startup entrepreneur interested in the photography space, here is a guide on how you should go about launching your own photography marketplace:
Understand the various copyrights.
There are a number of different copyrighting options available to the content creator (the photographer). For instance, the content owner may open up licensing for ‘editorial use’ but not for ‘retail’. This would mean that the photo could be used in blogs and magazines but cannot be printed on posters, mugs or other products. There are also other options like ‘public domain’, ‘royalty-free’, ‘rights-managed’ and ‘right of publicity’ that one could offer on their photos. It is necessary to make your sellers aware of these various licensing options in order to ensure that your company does not have to deal with dozens of alleged copyright violations each day.
Protecting your property.
Photos are among the most commonly stolen products on the internet. Enforcing rightful usage of your photos is not easy either given the global nature of the internet – it is not really practical for a freelance photographer to sue someone across the globe for the theft of one of their photos. It ultimately comes down to how well you can protect your property against theft. One of the best ways to do this is by watermarking all your photos. This way you can make sure that your customers will not have access to these photos until they are paid for.
It is also common for your photos to get stolen after your customers have made their purchase. Since the same photo could get licensed to multiple customers, tracking down the source of the theft can be difficult. This can however be done with the help of digital watermarking, which is a process that involves embedding a unique digital marker to each of the copies you sell. This way when a photo gets stolen, it still carries the unique marker that can be tracked down to the original licensee.
Attracting buyers and sellers.
Building a marketplace is tricky because it presents entrepreneurs with a catch-22 challenge – sellers won’t come to your platform unless it has a sizable buying population while buyers won’t come until you have a good inventory. One way to get around this is by making it absolutely attractive for sellers to come to your platform. You may do this by waiving off your commissions for a limited period or focusing on any particular niche (like nature photos, gadget photos, etc.). In the meantime, it is also a good idea to focus on organic marketing strategies like SEO and social media marketing to build an audience. Platforms like Shopify come with ready-made tools to set up your photography marketplace and this helps reduce development overhead. Once this is done, it is a matter of continually building your inventory as well as bringing new customers to your platform.
Launching a photography marketplace can be a challenging task that involves navigating around legal hurdles as well as building a seller and buyer base. But these are the kinds of challenges that make entrepreneurship so interesting and should be a big reason why you want to get into this business.