When design firms are looking for images for projects, they typically go to Getty or other more traditional stock photo sites. When bloggers need an image, they use their own or likely go straight to Google or Flickr. If all goes well, they find an image they can use legally. In other cases…. well, let’s just say there are a lot of pictures being used today that violate the owner’s copyright.
Photrade, a new site still in private beta, is set on protecting photographer’s rights while changing the way bloggers and online publishers find images in hopes of creating a win-win environment for the publishers and photographers alike.
According to the site:
Photrade is where photographers reclaim ownership of their photos. Photraders decide how, when, where and at what cost their photos are used online. We provide unprecedented protection for photos and offer a free photo marketplace where photographers can sell stock, prints and merchandise or use our Adcosystem (TM) where photographers get paid for every view of their photo, anywhere on the internet.
At the core of it, Photrade offers users the ability to create a profile, browse photos, upload photos, create galleries, protect images with watermarks, sell photo merchandise, sell stock images and turn on ads to earn revenue from photo views. How does that last piece work? Here’s an example. I uploaded an image to Photrade, grabbed the code they supplied for blogs and embedded it here. There were some options for size and borders, and to turn the ad on or off. I turned it on so you can see the small ad link at the bottom of the image and links to Photrade. Thanks to you all, I’ll make a few bucks off this cute little dog from Costa Rica. I can use the stats page to track views and money earned, and get my earnings next month via Pay Pal. With any luck I’ll earn enough to go back and visit the little guy…so keep clicking!
Competition has been out there for a while, but mainly in the form of either online stock agencies or white label galleries & storefronts. And from what I’ve noticed, they tend to attract the more professional photographer (eg, Digital Railroad), or the amateur hoping to make a few bucks on the side (eg, Zazzle). I asked Photrade who their primary target audience was and learned about “prosumer photographers” who, according to Krista Neher, VP of Marketing at Photrade, “…are taking great photos and are interested in making money from them. This group ranges from enthusiast photographers (like me with a DSLR) to semi-pros or pros that are new to online. Additionally, we have received positive feedback from bloggers who like the protection features (especially when sharing their personal photos online), the monetization features, and the fact that when they need a photo they can get free legally licensed images from our site.” That said, their competitors seem to range from Flickr and Photobucket to Smugmug and iStock.
To further differentiate, Photrade is focusing on new protection options like setting a custom watermark across all of your images and disabling the print screen button on large image views. And yesterday they launched a redesign which puts more focus on the images and allows groups, events and contests. The platform allows anyone to setup and run a contest complete with judges, rules and prizes and enables voting, more social interactions and discussions.
In terms of my experience with the site, setup was simple, creating a profile was fast and uploading photos was easy. I did get some errors causing it to take extra time getting images online (it is beta…). An offline tool for batch uploading such as Flickr’s uploader would be extremely helpful. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any EXIF data associated with any images, which might be useful for targeting ads, but maybe that’s part of the plan down the road.
It’s nice to see that they’ve included a basic stats area so you can keep tabs on activity and earnings for each photo. If this takes off, I can see people very quickly wanting more detailed stats – on galleries, search terms, tags and more.
On the social side, you can view people’s profiles and leave comments, but they don’t yet have a way to favorite images or follow people or topics. They do offer two blogs you can subscribe to though: HyperPhocal (photography tips, tricks, news, reviews and features) and Photrade News (updates from the team about the product and its users).
Overall, I’m enjoying the small beta audience but am anxious to see the site and it’s tools evolve. I’d love to see more integration with Flickr and open API’s to encourage broader distribution. I think they have an uphill battle getting people to change their habits – that said, if the benefits are big enough for the majority of their customers (and not just a few extraordinary users), they’ll have an entire audience of marketers working for them and spreading the word.
If you’re a photographer, keep your eyes open for their upcoming Aperture Nature Photography Workshop contest with over $100,000 worth of prizes. If you participate, let me know if you’re a winner!