The Digital Journalist
Common Cents:

September 2007

by Mark Loundy

"The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum." — Frances Willard (1839–1898)

Momentum. It's what keeps your business going. Momentum is what builds up between assignments. It comes from what you do while waiting for the phone to ring. Since almost nobody can make it solely freelancing for newspapers, generating multiple revenue streams is a must. Commercial work and even weddings and portraits often pay the bills.

One of the most important things a community-based photographer can do is keep themselves personally visible.

Join the local chamber of commerce and attend the monthly mixers. Local businesspeople are often your core clientele.

Offer your services to the local United Way. Your fellow volunteers are often tomorrow's clients.

Create relationships with local businesses related to your services. If you're doing weddings, pair up with local DJs, event venues or videographers.

Don't forget previous clients. An unsolicited basket of cookies is always welcome.

The Good

• Good is lacking this month.

The Bad

Earth Island Journal for $60-per-photo rates, paid upon publication.

• SportsFive.Net for offering (gasp!) nothing to photographers in exchange for submitting images for publication on their Web site.

• The Marin Independent-Journal for requiring exclusivity for the entire state of California along with an "all-media-forever-and-ever" contract.

• Reuters for hanging an all-rights contract on the unsuspecting amateur winners of their contest to hang for a day with a Reuters photog.

Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.


• Photographer Chase Jarvis recently appealed the favorable decision handed down by a federal judge in his case against sporting-goods maker K2. That's right, he appealed a favorable decision. Because the finding left a major loophole in the law and would have allowed advertising clients to repurpose images without paying additional license fees, Jarvis risked a subsequent unfavorable ruling because he "felt professionally and morally obliged to appeal the District Court's decision on several points of law." In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of Jarvis and sent the case back to the trial court to determine damages. It's not often that people will take such personal risks to do the right thing. Kudos to Chase Jarvis.

• Blogging on Freelance Switch, writer Jack Knight cites the Number-One Sign You May Be Charging Too Little: "Companies have been calling from India wanting to outsource their work to you."

CinemaTech editor Scott Kirsner has compiled a great chart listing more than 20 companies that pay (or share revenue) for video content. If you think you're working on the next "The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments," this is a must-read.

• The Folks at Wheels & Wax have uploaded a selection of business forms to their Web site. Be sure to have your legal advisor approve anything that you might want to use.


Chase Jarvis' K2 Blog

Getting Paid by Scott Kirsner

Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little

Wheels & Wax Business Forms

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Business Manual

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group (Message Archives)

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

© Mark Loundy

Mark Loundy is a visual journalist, writer and media consultant based in San Jose, California.