Why should I bother with contests?
Another contest? should I enter? should I even bother?
Contests are very interesting... they are created for a lot of different reasons, the biggest most likely being that they give manufacturers a wonderful data base of names and addresses and data about you, which is worth it's weight for marketing. it also makes giving away something like a trip or a car worth more then the prize might actually cost.
There are small contests that give away a book or a movie pass, larger contests that offer prizes such as a trip or cash, and even nationwide sweepstakes that offer things like cars and even a house! So do people win these things? yes! actually they do, and over the years I have won toys, shoes, cash, trips, and once, even a mini van-which they did not give me... (so sad.. long story for another time.)
Biggest words of advice for contests are, 1: follow the rules. if it says you can only enter once, then only enter ONCE! if it says a 3x5 piece of paper, then use only that size. and most of all, watch the deadlines!
2: don't enter a contest where you do not want the prize. sure, perhaps you could sell it,
but sometimes the taxes you have to pay on a win is more of a hardship. One company gives a home away every year, however only one person in the last 10 years has been able to actually live in the home. trips are great to win, but can you afford to take time off to use it? sometimes travel is NOT included.
3: read the fine print. yes. that can be a tricky part! There are a lot of contests out there, especially photo contests, where you enter and give up all rights to use your photo again! Not such a good thing if you make a living selling images.
So today, lets look at the dreamstime assignment contests.
every month or so, dreamtime offers an assignment idea, and by entering an image you can win $300, $200 or $100. another benefit is it also automatically brings your image up to a level 5 image, which means better placement of your photography, which also helps buyers find your work. (you can also choose to take a $25.00 pay out instead and then I believe your image becomes the property of dreamstime. at least thats how I read it, so dont shoot me if im wrong!)
I dont know about you, but winning cash is always something I like to do! So I try to enter the assignment contests whenever I can. A lot of the time I do not get accepted, which is frustrating. I think I have a wonderful idea and then i'm shot down, which sure doesn't help the ego one little bit. But, there are huge advantages to trying.
you get motivated. Also, one idea may lead to other images that are perhaps not right for the contest, but ARE right for stock sales. (see the top 3 images at the start of this blog, one is in the current contest, the other two became good stock images while I was creating the assignment image)
you put on your thinking cap and brainstorm new ideas, and this often is just what we need to get off our butt and get out there to try something different.
you get creative: well we are all here BECAUSE we are already creative people, but an assignment often turns on that bright lightbulb over my head and gets the juices flowing.
You become a better photographer. really, you do! all our friends and family are wonderful at telling us we are the best photographer in the world, but sometimes rejection is a needed wake up call to make us try harder, take a course, watch a tutorial, or just do it better next time.
The dreamstime contest has one small DISADVANTAGE if you are NOT an exclusive contributor: By entering your image, you agree that you can only sell THAT image on dreamstime. a tough call when you work with other agencies, but it is something to think about.
HOWEVER... there is one HUGE advantage that I think is important and what motivates me to enter this contest: and that is... you get discovered.
ok, not hollywood movie star discovered, but I have noticed, every time I have been accepted in a Dreamstime assignment contest, all of a sudden I have more sales of my models, and more images from my portfolio in general. why? well this is easy! because the buyers can find me! having the best images are good for sure, but if your images are not found, then who can buy them? there are 22 plus MILLION images on this site alone, people, so you need to do more to help your images become recognised.
post on facebook when you have a sale, pin your image on pinterest (dreamstime lets you do this right from the site with the copyright on the image.. so awesome!) Blog!!!! and add your images of course, and add images to popular collections. the more times your image is seen, the better the chance your image is BOUGHT. (Yes, and key word keyword... but a different blog!)
And most of all, take amazing photos and enter the dreamstime assignment contest. fame and fortune could be just around the corner...(ok, maybe not, but cash prizes and more sales make it worth it) AND, it IS lots of fun!
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Photo credits: Susan Sheldon.