I find a great deal of my job in real estate marketing is graphic design. I’d say at least 90 per cent of my work day is spent in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop (I try and avoid any Microsoft product like the plague – especially the abomination that is MS Publisher).

So, whether it’s putting together advertising pieces, listing proposals, marketing collateral, mailers or flyers – my biggest day-to-day struggle is coming up with something that is visually effective at conveying our message or telling our story.

Now it’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But, I’d counter that with a picture is more often worth a thousand dollars. Having the right picture is critical, but more often than not good stock photography can take a huge bite out of your marketing budget.

Or at least it used to.

Let me share with you a little secret. A little web site out of Canada that has completely revolutionized the stock image industry…


iStockPhoto.com is a completely affordable source of high quality stock photography. Its advantage is its unique ‘micropayment’ business model which lets just about anybody upload and sell photos online. With more than 800,000 indexed images in their database from tens of thousands of semi-professional and amateur photographers, iStockPhoto’s database is now remarkably comprehensive.

You can search for any term – say ‘house + neighborhood +wood’ or ‘mobile +real estate’ and you’ll instantly be presented with a number of options for download. Camera ready artwork can be had for as little as $1 up to a maximum of $10 for a large size, high resolution image. This is far, far cry than what you’d pay elsewhere. The photographers are making their money off volume and by how popular their photos are instead.

The site has been a resounding success, spawning numerous clones. I'm constantly fascinated with the devastating impact that the Internet can have on traditional business models. So it was no surprise then, when Getty Images (the world’s largest stock image company) recently bought iStockPhoto.com for $50 million. If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em, I guess.

The funniest thing is, once you’ve spent any time with the site, you start recognizing certain photos and faces everywhere you look, on billboards, in magazine and newspapers etc. – testament to just how widespread the site’s influence really is, I guess.

So the next time you're looking for an image to spruce up your marketing pieces – I'll bet you find one on iStockPhoto.com.

Additional links:
Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches

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