I have noticed an increase in the number of marketing cooperatives that are advertising in the publication Black and White the magazine for collectors. On the surface this seems to be a means to get several photographers names out into collectors awareness at a reduced cost for advertising. I am not sure what the criteria are for inclusion in one of these cooperatives. The downside to this that I can see is that the individual thrust is diluted. What are your thoughts about these?
As you and I have talked about this, I agree that the concept is sound. Like you, I am not sure if there needs to be a leader to select the members of the cooperative. Whatever happens count me in if I fit.
For me the cost of advertising in those publications always broke even at best. I think it is a good idea because it gives people who otherwise would not get that exposure a chance to become visible. It is a double edge sword however. Once th popularity rises more people saturate it with lesser quality images and the magazine I had the experiance with rather than edit lower quality simply raised the advertising cost. So I guess With good leadership it is a good Idea.
In a previous life, I ran a small independent record label. I used to do co-op ad buys with my distributors all the time. Some times they worked, sometimes I just hoped I got a little bit of exposure. The key is consistent high quality work. Someone needs to be the yes/no guy/gal. And people need to deal with it. The key is to do it issue after issue, and have it professionally designed and consistent. I too would be interested if selected, and have a few designers at work that I could tap for the design work. Let me know. Oh yeah, I think it would have to be full page if not a two page spread. Pricey, but it would have impact.
Even though this doesn't directly apply to a cooperative effort, Michael Smith shared his experience with Black and White Magazine (for collectors) with me. He indicated that he advertised there a year (double page layout) and after that year a collector contacted him and bought his work. The collector indicated that he waited that long to see if Michael was "serious". I think that his experience directly speaks to the need for a commitment to a continuing effort.
My thoughts are that if one were to enage in a cooperative effort that a full page ad would be indicated at the outset and that as photographers were added the size would increase to a two page spread. A different segment of those photographers work represented by the cooperative would be featured on a rotating basis. I think that the existing cooperatives, while better then nothing, often have their impact lost among the little 1/4 page ads at the rear of the magazine
Additionally, the magazine advertisement would list a website URL in which all photographers represented by the cooperative would have their work shown and a further link to an individual website if desired.
These are my thoughts on the matter. I am interested in hearing the thoughts of others.
A few thoughts:
I agree that you would need to run at least a one page layout to get any kind of attention. My own experience with B&W is that I take the work presented at the front of the magazine (usually the full page or double page ads) as the most serious collectible work. I think you really need to be among pages that contain advertising for galleries and current exhibits to achieve a certain cache of "being there" as opposed to the 1/4 page adds in the back.
Also it seems to be my impression that artists who advertise a lot seem to get spotlight articles. I have no opinion about this practice, but maybe a full page or eventual double page add would give one or two coop members a leg up in getting a spotlight feature.
Finally, I think you need to determine the number of members and cost per member and present that. Then decide on a procedure for accepting members to the coop. And be prepared for some one getting mad at you if there work is not accepted. I might submit some work for consideration and if it is rejected I would just try another time. Some people might take it kind of personal about it.
If it happens I will look forward to seeing it in the future.
Jim, I think you are right on with your post. Since I have been reading B&W since the first issue and have not missed any of them, I have watched the evolution of some of the folks showing their work.
There may be a relationship to advertising and spotlight articles, but I really do not think so. Bill Schwab, who is a member of this site I think, was featured and yet I do not recall seeing his work advertised. On the other hand, Michael and Paula have been there forever it seems and the current issue is the first to have a spotlight article on them.
You have a very good point about some might get upset..... but I think there is some outstanding talent on this site and it might be a good way to let others know. I would add that it would be in the participants best interest to have a good selection of work available for the buying public to choose from, just something I've always been told. That and they like a variety.
Good luck to all who go for it..and keep the rest of us posted.
I've never sold any photo in my life, for me it's a one way street - pocket to store.
But IMHO a cooperative, made by commited professionals makes a lot of sense.
It does sound like a good idea.
Personally I would only watch out for people ADVERTISING such things very openly. Not like people here, but people taking out ads saying "For only $$ you can make $$$$ with our "Co/op"" You know what I mean. Besides the obvious "vanity publishing pitfalls, I'd want to be a part of a co/op whos work compliments mine and vice versa.
From my experience:
Sounds like a good idea, but before you begin, have a web site in place, at least.
In the 1960s and 1970s there were groups of serious and well-known photographers who did things together--had exhibitions, published quarterlies, etc. My opinion is that to have any credibility at all, any co-op needs to be much more than just a group organized to get cheaper ad rates.
Done right, and doing it right is the only way to do it, a co-op will entail a more serious financial committment than most of you are probably aware.
Someone, and that is some ONE, will have to take charge and make decisions--who is in, who is out. These things CANNOT be run by committee or it will not happen or will quickly fizzle out. This person should be paid for his/her time and effort, which will not be inconsiderable.
Everyone involved needs to have along-term committment. Years.
Ad is Black and White: Don had the story almost right. We met the very reluctant collector and had to contact him about four times. and even then it took two showings of our photographs before he committed to buy work. Only a year later did he tell us that he even consented to meet with us because he had been following our ads and saw that we were serious. The real point of this story is that to sell him work, we had to meet with him personally.
Do not expect to sell work, ever, from an ad in B&W. Not that it can't happen. It can. (Over the course of a couple of years one fellow sold 34 prints from one picture that he kept putting in one of the small ads at the back. I think the print sold for only $200, however.)
Which brings up price point. A lot more prints will sell for $200 than for $1,000. About 20-1, or more. but do you want to sell prints for only $200? There are pros and cons to doing that. It needs to be considered. Will everyone in the co-op have the same price on their prints? Probably not, this being an individual thing. But it is something to think about. My own recommendation would be that everyone in the co-op should be roughly in the same range. If you are selling your prints for $1,000, you don't want to have others selling theirs for $200--at least not in the same ad.
Again, do not expect to sell work from an ad in B&W. If that is your expectation, you will be disappointed and the energy for the co-op will soon dissipate. An ad in B&W must be looked on as only a part of a marketing effort, not the whole thing.
Relationship between having a feature and advertising in B&W. There is no relationship, really. One reason there sometimes seems to be is that by advertising, the Editor/Publisher, Henry Rasmussen, who, by the way is wonderful to deal with, gets to know your work and will ask if you would like to have a feature. Recently, we recommended a photographer to him, whose work will be featured in a forthcoming issue, and this photographer cannot begin to afford an ad of any type. And often, we know of at least several cases, where a feature was offered and then the photographer thought to begin advertising. Henry wanted to do a feature on us for years. He thought we were a good story, being a couple, yet still quite different. We wanted to wait until the magazine became more established, which is why this did not appear sooner.
There is so much more I could write, but this should do for starters. Bottom line: good idea theoretically, practically there are lots of pitfalls and problems, ahead, as well as a lot of harder work and effort than you can imagine if you want it to be successful and not just a lark.