Being the outspoken person that I am, I run into a LOT of people who either run existing Stock Footage sites, or they are starting up new ones. And I give them tons of (sometimes unsolicited) advice from my perspective. And not just the perspective of an artist who is trying to earn a living at selling stock footage, but as someone who does a TON of research on the industry that is becoming my livelihood. So, rather than repeating my advice individually over and over again, I figured I’d post my thoughts here so that I can just give out the link…
The first thing to remember about the “MicroStock” industry is that it has matured. If you are contemplating a new startup, you have a VERY LONG and DIFFICULT road ahead of you. The overwhelming majority of buyers have already settled on their favorite places to buy from. The job of getting them to buy from you is going to be an extremely difficult one and you are likely going to fail. Go into it with the expectation (and fear) of failing, and you might just make it despite the odds.
“Fear of failure” is one of the best motivators for any new business. It drives you to innovate and do non-traditional things that can help to make you a success. And in a mature industry innovation is key. But even more important is a strong desire to beat the odds and be the best. If you set your goal to “make enough money to pay my mortgage” then you are doomed to fail. You are not going to have the drive to take risks. If you start down this road then you need to have the attitude and desire to be number 1 and take the established sites down. Otherwise, don’t even bother… seriously you need to find something else you are passionate about because at this stage of the game passion is the only thing that will bring you success in this industry.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and buying Google/Yahoo ad placement is not going to drive a significant amount of traffic to your new site. Most of the buyers have picked their sites and no longer use search engines. Sure, there are always “new people” coming in to the industry that don’t know about Pond5, RevoStock, ShutterStock, Artbeats, Digital Juice or iStock… but they represent a very tiny part of the stock buyer community. So plan on spending both time and MONEY on more traditional advertising like trade magazines and web ads on industry related sites.
Pick a niche. The above mentioned sites target all buyers and accept all types of clips. Footage, animation, HD, web sizes, etc… But there are some successful niche sites that specialize in Nature Footage, Motion Graphics, or Very Small Rocks. Find a niche that you don’t see being well served and fill that gap. By concentrating on a small niche you’ll find it easier to stand out and attract buyers who have the need for your clips.