I’m gonna give you some contrarian (not ‘common-sense’) advice on how to become a viral photographer — someone whose message, ideas, and images will spread like a virus.
1. Let everyone download your JPEG photos, full-resolution, for free.
Open-source is superior to closed-source systems, because open-source systems are decentralized. I idolized Steve Jobs, but disagree on his closed approach.
Centralization of power creates tyrants, dictatorships, and is very dangerous. It causes us to lose power.
I prefer Android over iPhones because I can hack, modify, or edit my Android phone however. With iPhones, you’re stuck in an Apple prison.
Elon Musk open-sourced all the TESLA patents; helping the entire electric car industry.
I believe in open-source, because it helps drive humanity forward. The more open and free our information, the more we all benefit.
The problem is most open-source stuff sucks. Linux isn’t as good as Windows or MacOS. GIMP is nowhere as good as Adobe Photoshop. There is no real good competitor (in my opinion) to Adobe Lightroom on the market.
I strive to make good information in ebooks, and open source it — for anyone to remix it, translate it, download it, and do whatever they wanna do with it. I do this to empower people, but also to help spread my ideas like a virus.
It is also a personally-selfish strategy. Why? The more open my information, the more famous ERIC KIM becomes. Therefore it is ‘viral marketing’ — the more people use free ERIC KIM presets, read ERIC KIM BOOKS, or ERIC KIM information — the more I build my name, my ‘brand image’, and more people are likely to buy HAPTIC products, attend ERIC KIM WORKSHOPS, or quote me.
I keep all my photos open and free to download for several reasons.
First, I like to treat others how I would like to be treated. For example, I was inspired how Magnum made their photos and phonebooks available for free on their site. I didn’t have to buy the photo books to access the images. But I still buy their books, because I prefer printed books over JPEG images online. So this is a great win-win situation.
I fucking hate it when others put anti-copying shit on their sites. So according to the SILVER RULE (don’t do unto others as you don’t like others doing unto you) — I would NEVER put DRM, anti-copying shit, on any of my photos or materials.
I like the idea anyone can download my photos for free, no-bullshit, JPEG 100% resolution, to make their own prints to inspire them, to make it their computer or phone wallpaper, or to perhaps remix the images, or study the compositions in the images.
Also, as a selfish strategy— because my images have spread virally, they have touched more eyeballs. And even though all my photos are free to download, full-resolution, I have now created a market for limited-edition, signed, one-of-a-kind, ERIC KIM art prints via HAPTIC. We can now sell $1,000 prints (and actually have people buy them) — because people want a bespoke, one-of-a-kind art piece, to adorn their walls, to have it touched and personally signed by the artist.
Personally, I like the idea of having an ‘original.’ I would love to have a KANYE WEST signed print, poster, or pair of shoes — even though I could probably get a fake somewhere for very cheap.
People crave authenticity — that is why people still shell out hundreds of dollars for a ‘real’ Louis Vuitton bag, even though they can get a convincing fake LV bag.
2. Don’t charge for ebooks, videos, or presets
Don’t charge money for ebooks, or PDF stuff, or videos, or presets.
Better to have it open to download and distribute for free— so it will spread virally, and more people will discover who you are.
If anything, your information is like free ‘marketing’ for yourself. If your information is good, people will end up spending $5,000+ to attend a personal workshop with you. Or book your consulting services for $500 USD+ an hour.
I think this ‘barbell’ strategy of extremes of either FREE or EXPENSIVE causes everyone to win.
Free information can empower folks. And expensive experiences will empower those who can afford it — and then the profits can be fed back to helping those without money, resources, or opportunities.
You might make a few thousand dollars charging money for information — but you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars by making it open and free, and charging money for your services, physical products, consulting, commercial work, or workshops.
3. Don’t use social media.
Own your own platform.
Go to bluehost.com, and register a wordpress.org website. Download the Genesis theme (or just use the default WordPress one), and start blogging, showing your portfolio, interviewing other photographers, writing photography tips, and make your own YouTube channel.
Don’t use Instagram or Facebook, and don’t waste time with Twitter. And definitely don’t waste time on Snapchat.
If you use a ‘free’ product, you are the product.
Meaning, when you use Facebook or Instagram, they are mining your personal behavior, data, location, messages, whatever — to sell you advertisements.
Build your own platform, and own your own platform.
A good rule of thumb (heuristic) to know whether you own your platform or not:
Do you pay a monthly fee to use your platform?
If yes, you own the platform. Well, not 100% — but you have much more freedom than getting censored or buried in the social media feeds of other platforms.
For me, because I own the platform of this blog, I have let Google’s Spider Bots crawl all over the information over the 2,700+ blog posts I’ve written, and Google says:
ERIC KIM(’s) website is a good source of information, particularly pertaining to ‘STREET PHOTOGRAPHY.’ His information is dense, is obviously written by a human, and is being mentioned and linked to by a lot of other websites on the internet. We will rank him higher on Google to give the user the best resource for STREET PHOTOGRAPHY.
That is how Google thinks (more or less).
So if you wanna rank higher in Google, the strategy is this:
Find a niche you are interested in, but cannot find any useful information on. Then fill the gap. Write at least 2,000+ blog posts on the topic over 6 years, and you might become #1 on Google for that topic.
I’m #1 on Google for ‘STREET PHOTOGRAPHY’ now, I believe the ‘Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Street Photography’ ranks below Wikipedia — and I hope to become #1 on Google for ‘PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.
Homework assignment: Start your own photo blog, and blog 1-2 articles a day, 7 days a week, for a year. You will learn a lot about your photo topic, and passion, you will build a community, and you might one day be able to monetize that.
Openness = growth. Generosity = success.
The more you give, the more you will receive in return.
Take your God-given talent, and multiply it. Don’t hoard it for yourself. If you have a flashlight, and you’re camping and everyone else is tripping in the dark — isn’t the right thing to do is to share that light with others?
If you are in Plato’s cave, and you see your friends all locked up, and seeing false illusions and shadows on the wall, will you not unlock them from their mental prison, and show them the true light— even though it might blind them?
Give others the red pill (watch the MATRIX).
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
How to get rich from photography
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Sell Yourself
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks
Take your street photography to the next level:
- August 27 (Friday): SEATTLE MASTER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NOW LIVE!]
- September 11 (Saturday): DOWNTOWN LA ADVANCED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NEW!]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.