How to Market Your Photos on Flickr

We all want to be popular, right? Maybe you just want to make a few bucks from your photos. Whatever your reason, I’ll show you some key ways to get more people to see your photos on Flickr.

Share them
Creative Commons Licensing on FlickrThere’s over 100 Million blogs, alone, and they’re all looking for pictures for their blogs. If you’re like me, a lot of your photos are just personal, but many are artistic in nature. These are the photos you want others to see. These are the ones looking for publication. Flickr is a great place to get your photo noticed, but if you want someone to publish it in their blog, you’ll want to set your licensing. I use “Attribution Creative Commons” for all of my non-persona because I just want the eyes on my photos at this point. You can just share some if you like, reserving the rights on those images that you want to sell rights to or personal items. This licensing type allows for anyone to use your photos as long as they credit you back in the way you desire. My photos require a link back to the photo’s page. If another blogger happens across one of my shared photos, they will find that they are free to use it with a link back to the photo on Flickr. If the photo is used in print, my name should be mentioned along with the URL to my site. This kind of sharing can lead to a lot of inbound traffic for the rest of your photos.

Send your photos to groups
Flickr has tons and tons of photo groups. A group is just a bunch of people all sharing photos that fit into a specific theme. Michelle and I spent some time in London and Paris for our honeymoon. During our time there, I took nearly 500 photos and about 80% or more of these are non-personal and intended to be artsy. These photos are a perfect candidate for the groups “London” and “Paris”, respectively, of course. All I did was join the two groups. Then I opened my “Honeymoon” set and opened the photos I wanted to add to the London group. In each photo page, I clicked “Send To Group”, selected the group, confirmed, and then closed the photo page. When you have a couple hundred photos to add at once, this can become tedious. Luckily, there’s an easier way to add multiple photos to a single group. Head to the group’s page, and click “Add Photos or Video”. What you get is a page that lets you select a bunch of photos at a time to add. Just navigate to the set to select photos from and start clicking. Most groups impose a daily limit, so choose wisely. When you’re done there, find more groups. Many of my photos were of castles in London, so I found a large group for photos of Castles and added those photos to that group as well. Look at some of your best photos and think about characteristics that might place that photo in certain groups. Find those groups, join them, and add your photos that apply. If done right, you will have thousands of new views on your photos.

Give people what they want
Sure you have your ideal photos that you want to promote, but what if they don’t fit easily into a group, you don’t want to share certain photos for free? The goal here is to get more people looking at your work, for starters. For some of you, your ideal future includes getting paid licensing fees on some of your photos. Either way, you need to give people what they’re looking for on Flickr. There’s a couple easy ways to do this.

First (and easiest), is to just make a list of what’s making news right now. Primarily (in the U.S., anyway) that’s the ongoing presidential election. That means there’s thousands of bloggers out there writing post after post about it. Think about what they’re writing, and shoot photos or create artwork that would fit with their posts. Today, for example, there’s probably 500 articles that remind readers to register to vote. If you thought about that last week and took a good picture of a “Register to vote here” sign, some blogger out there would probably be in your photo stream right now, glad to see that the usage rights fit his situation. You can also shoot photos of stuff that’s always popular, like sports cars, girls in bikinis, cuter-than-cute fuzzy animals, etc.

lamborghini_whiteAnother winner is backgrounds. Backgrounds and wallpapers have been popular on the web since long before Flickr and there are sites that would love to have free rights to use them. Create some backgrounds with attribution rights and you’ll soon have sites displaying your work and linking back to your Flickr pages. Last month, I turned my yellow Lamborghini photo into an iPhone background and this site posted it for people to download. This weekend, I created some fairly simple, but nice-looking iPhone wallpapers with just a background and some PhotoShop effects on the Apple Logo. Another site is already displaying and linking to them. I haven’t even jumped into full backgrounds, either. If you’re shooting photos, try for the Eden effect (an image of somewhere I can look at all day while stuck in a cubicle), things people are fanatical about (cats, dogs, sports, cars), or artsy, but not overbearing, patterns.

Either way you decide to go, you’ll have people looking for your photos and passing them on to other people, displaying them on their computers and iPhones, etc. For me, iPhone backgrounds were an obvious choice. They are small, pretty easy to make from most photos, there’s a lot of buzz still for the iPhone, and there’s potentially about ten million people who might want to download them. If you have photos that you want people to pay a small license fee to use, those people are more likely to see your photos when you’re promoting the free stuff.

Tag and Title!
I, myself, sometimes forget, but you should always tag your images and title them properly. An image with a rich title (use keywords) and good tags will have a much better chance of being seen in search results both on and off Flickr. Once you’re in the search results, the thumbnail should earn the click on it’s own, but you have to get the image in front of someone first. Is your image a 1024 by 768 background image of the AZ Cardinals’ new stadium? If so, your tags should include “background” and “Cardinals”, but dig a little deeper, too. Add in “1024×768”, “wallpaper”, “Arizona”, “stadium”, and anything else that someone might search for that would accurately describe your photo.

Use your own images and link back
I really can’t think of a long drawn out way to say this. It’s simple… If you use MySpace, LiveJournal, write a blog, etc., use your images and use the code Flickr gives you under the image. It creates a link right back to the image. This is a gateway to the rest of your images, where someone else might find an image for their blog or a friend on LiveJournal might grab the linking code to share the image, too.

Know your numbers
Suppose you didn’t do anything above (not on purpose, anyway), and just happened to upload a photo that hit the mark. People are commenting on it and adding it as a favorite. If you know where those people are coming from, which photos they like the bes, and why, you have a recipe to recreate success.


Looking back at my own stats, I can see that the most popular thing I’ve uploaded to date was my “Blue Screen of Death” background for the iPhone. It was also the least effort to create, but happened to catch on because you have to view it to read it and it’s funny having the famous Windows mood-killer displayed on a Mac product. In any case, I can also see that it has become the “favorite” of three people, which is more important to me. The fact that someone went the extra step of making it a favorite tells me that they liked it a lot. The fact that three people did so tells me that I should spit out a few more geek humor iPhone backgrounds before I publish this post. Get to know your statistics pages. There’s more than you might think by passively glancing at a page or two. Click every link and take note of which images get the most love.

Don’t be afraid to learn
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times. You’re never SO good that you can’t learn from someone else. Look at what other people are doing and get inspired. Find tutorials like this awesome guide on how to get “perfect exposure” out of your images. Soak it all in, try it, ask people for their opinions. After all your marketing, the image really should speak for itself.

Author: Joe Colburn

Joe Colburn is a software engineer specializing in PHP and a technology enthusiast. Always eager to dive into new and exciting things, Joe writes about anything technology related news and products that he thinks you will also be excited about. Find Joe Colburn on Google+ or by any of the links below.

10 thoughts on “How to Market Your Photos on Flickr”

  1. Dina: Am I already a contact of yours on Flickr? If not, add me. I should be at CES with any luck. We will definitely have to get photos. I always intend to take 100 photos a day and get everyone on camera, and then I never do.

  2. I actually haven’t heard much about Flickr before. I guess I am still learning alot about the wide web. It looks really cool though, and I scrolled through a few of you uploads. I really like “The Path Untaken”. I looked at the original too. Sweet. It isnt too often you find those kinda of shots. Tagging a photo is a great way to tell who is in a shot as well, or where you were.

  3. AffProsCatie: Thanks for the compliments. I liked how that shot came out. I upload a LOT of photos, so I might as well be marketing them. If you find yourself uploading as much as I do, the Pro account is the way to go.

    Andrei: No problem… I hoped people would be able to gain something from the post.

  4. Nice article..!
    One thing I’d add is geotagging. I know it’s a hassle, and it’s not always relevant, but there’s a lot of gizmos out there that use the flickr api with googlemaps or whatever. It’s a nice way to expose your images ewven more.

  5. I’ve been creating Flickr groups then using them as a slideshow and widget to illustrate my posts. 6 of my flickr groups now rank on page 1 for google.

    It’s hard to say how much traffic that generates for my sight, as I can’t load a tracker on my flickr page, but it’s got to be some – right?@

    Here’s an example …

  6. Always, always, always…you post really helpful articles that are very well written. Thank you so much! I have a Flickr account too, but I hadn’t really attempted to ‘market’ my photos before. I do a lot of genealogy stories that include old historical photos and newspaper articles, but also some generic ones too.

    Carol’s last blog post..Lone Sailor Now In Place In Bremerton, WA

  7. juliemarg: great idea. I might have to create a couple long-tail groups myself if they’re available.

    Carol: I’m very flattered. Thank you! Give some of this a try… Even if you’re not looking for views on your photos as an end goal, it can be a means to more traffic on your site. If you use an image in a post, add the post URL to the image’s description. When people find it, they might just want to read about it.

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