As a stock photographer, one of the hardest yet most important things to manage is timing submissions for peak consumer interest. It is critical to have images ready for sale when the consumer or art buyer needs them. It means thinking and working ahead to successfully stay ahead of the game.
Throughout the year, there are times that sales cycles will rise and fall, so recognizing those cycles and planning for them is a key part of the stock business. The best way to identify these cycles is through tracking your sales. However, there are a few times a year that need to be handled differently.
As the holidays approach, media buyers will begin to search for images to use for projects that they will be working on. In order for those projects to be ready, they need to source images several months before the deadline of these projects.
What does that mean to you as the photographer? It means you need to start creating images earlier than that buyer needs them. If you wait until December to create and upload images for Christmas, there is a good chance that you will miss out on any image sales that are specific to that holiday. The same applies for other holidays throughout the year.
How far ahead should you plan to shoot holiday images? You should try to plan for at least two to three months in advance to ensure that your images hit the agencies a month to six weeks before a given holiday. Sometimes you can offer limited numbers of very special images 3 or 4 weeks before the holiday, but they have to be very special and stand out.
Timing submissions through the rest of the year is not quite as critical, but you should try to keep a steady flow of images to the agencies so your portfolio stays fresh. This is also the best way to keep new images coming up in searches for image buyers.
Because it is hard to predict what buyers will want throughout the regular part of the year, shooting specific things is less important than at specific holidays, but you can see what is popular with particular agencies, then shake things up and shoot it differently. Think outside the box and grab the attention of the buyer, and you will have a better chance of converting views to sales.