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Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

Digital Versus Physical

As Information Marketers living in this digital age, we can easily become myopic with our product creation, meaning, we often focus on creating digital products without considering the physical alternative. There are a few, extremely valid reasons for this. For one, digital products provide instant access with zero additional effort once they’re created. Certain types of digital products can also be created very quickly. I’ll be honest, nothing beats finishing a teleseminar or webinar, knowing you just created a quality product in a relatively short period of time. So what about physical products then? Should you consider adding a physical product line to your existing business? It depends…

While we cannot look at all aspects of physical product creation in this post, I would like to explore one option that is dear to my heart…image-based products. Because of our “bent” toward the digital, when we think of artwork or photographs, we often see them as playing a secondary role in our product creation. We use them for our product covers, header graphics, Powerpoint slides and Animoto videos. Seldom do we consider them as products, except as collections on DVDs or as an upload to our favorite microstock photo site.

However, a quick search on eBay will show you that image-based physical products, prints for instance, are very much alive and well. They can also be quite profitable. And that’s where the Public Domain comes in. When it comes to selling physical prints, nostalgia rules the day! I’ve seen it over and over again where individual prints of a certain image ALWAYS outsell collection CDs or DVDs that include the same image. It has been my experience as well.

So, what does it take to make and sell prints online or offline? You need to understand what people want to buy, a source for the content and a delivery mechanism. If this process sounds familiar it’s because it’s the basis of pretty much ALL successful selling. When it comes to prints, the easiest place to research to see what is selling is eBay. With 65 million people visiting per month, you can get a pretty good feel for what’s hot and what’s not. As for the source of your content…you guessed it…the Public Domain! There are many online sources for finding great, high-rez images to use for your prints. I share many of the best sites in my book, Easy Money Picture Project.

When it comes to the creation process of your prints, you have a few options. You can print them yourself using a large-format printer, although I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you’re just starting out. There are also a number of excellent online companies that can create the prints for you. If you want to go high-end with your prints (like canvas gallery wraps or metallic prints), I would recommend using BayPhoto or MPix. On the other hand, poster prints may be a great option for you as well. My two favorite sites for poster prints are Shortrun Posters and Print Pelican. For instance, at Shortrun Posters, you can prints 18″ X 24″ posters on 80lb. cover stock for $2.00 each. That’s a tough price to beat! And if you don’t need a large size like that, consider this…two 11″ X 14″ prints will fit on an 18″ X 24″ sheet. So you could get full-color 11″ X 14″ prints for $1.00 each. Hopefully you can see how HUGE this is for profit margins. Upload your digital file and in a few days, you have your prints!

Hopefully this post sparks some ideas for you. Over the next 90 days, I will be sharing more Physical Product creation strategies. Until then, get started with this one!

Finding Treasure at the National Archives

One of the greatest treasure troves of works in the Public Domain is the National Archives (NARA). NARA’s “job” is to archive Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. As you would imagine, this has resulted in a growing massive collection of materials, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 9 billion pages of textual records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; more than 20 million still photographs; billions of machine-readable data sets; and more than 365,000 reels of film and 110,000 videotapes. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens (like making money from new products created with them).

While the materials currently available online are but a fraction of NARA’s total holdings, there is still tens of thousands of works available to you online right now. And…if you want to have even MORE fun, I would highly recommend making a trip to the National Archives in College Park, MD. With 6 floors of Public Domain goodness, you will be like a kid in a candy store. It is truly an amazing experience. What is great is that they even allow you to bring in your digital cameras, video cameras, laptops and scanners…all for the purpose of duplicating the “hard copy” editions of the content. One of my personal highlights so far was being able to scan original prints by Ansel Adams taken of our most popular National Parks.

The National Archives has a comprehensive Archival Research Catalog (ARC) available online. Search the ARC HERE. Click on “Search Options” and then click on the “Digital Copies” tab at the top. Now you’re ready to search through ARC’s online records. You can also explore the National Archives online exhibits HERE and HERE.

A Public Domain Army

When people think about finding Public Domain content, they often never consider military sites for content. Honestly, most even overlook government sites altogether. Because military content is created using tax-payer dollars, most of it is actually in the Public Domain…and it’s NOT all about war or protecting our interests.

For instance, some of the best Public Domain-based content I found related to photography was found on a military site. The best recipes I found for preparing meals for large groups was from a military site. I think you get the picture.

I recent found a wonderful resource for military content…this one largely focused on history…with thousands upon thousands of documents, reports, and records. Not only does this site include recent documents, but also ones from centuries past (you should see some of the amazing photos!). To shortcut to time and effort, use the Search Digitized Material button to keep your search focused on materials that are fully available online.

Check out the Army Site HERE!

Take Better Photographs Now!

I need your help!

I’ll be honest…the Public Domain is NOT my first love…photography is. Ever since the days of running around my Grandmother’s yard snapping flower and bug pictures with my Great-Grandmother’s Kodak 126 Instamatic, I’ve been hooked. Trust me when I say that I’ve been at this a while. A year ago, while at Joel Bauer’s Passion2Profit event, Joel had us list the one thing we were passionate about as kids…as teenagers…as adults…the one hobby we go back to again and again. The answer was easy but also troubling…PHOTOGRAPHY! Not the Public Domain, not product creation, not graphic design, not audio or video. It was photography hands down.

I found my response troubling because, as an entrepreneur, I’ve built my business around everything BUT photography, and, thanks to Joel (and my mastermind group), I felt challenged to explore WHY I haven’t done more with it from a business perspective. I love photography and it seems to show from the responses I receive from those who see my work.

You can view a lot of my photography HERE => http://lightdream.smugmug.com

So here is why I need your help…over the past several months, I’ve received a LOT of requests and feedback about teaching on photography. I think I’m ready to listen and respond to those requests. My question for you, dear reader, is whether this topic is something YOU are interested in? I’ve created a brief survey to gauge interest and direction on creating a Photography “something” and I’d appreciate it much if you would take a minute and give me feedback.

You Can Access & Complete the Survey HERE!

Finding the BEST Government Content in the Public Domain

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the BEST sources for great Public Domain content is the U.S. Government! Billions of dollars are spent each year to create programs, research, publications, websites, consumer education and much more. And guess what? YOU are paying for it…it’s your taxpayer dollars at work. Of course, the great news is that works created by federal employees during the course of their job are in the Public Domain. What that means for you and me is that there is a LOT of great content of all types, created by some of the brightest people, available to us right now to use for products, articles, blog posts and more!

The challenge is always finding the content. I always say that you can’t find what you don’t know to look for. That’s true “most” of the time. The trick that can overcome that rule is to understand HOW to look…and that usually involves some stealth research tricks…grin…or access to a good search engine. And when it comes to finding content from the U.S. Government, there are several “search engine” options you have available to you.

Below is a list of my favorite, government-related search engines. Each have different focuses for accessing different types of content, but all can lead you down the “Yellow Brick Road” (yellow meaning GOLD…grin) for great content!

http://www.usa.gov

http://www.searchgov.com

http://www.searchmil.com

http://www.google.com/unclesam (also…google.com: search for [keyword] .gov)

http://www.gpoaccess.gov

http://www.loc.gov (Library of Congress)

http://www.ntis.gov (Find docs advertised here and then search for PDFs on usa.gov)

http://www.business.gov

http://www.regulations.gov

http://www.voanews.com

http://www.archives.gov (National Archives and Records Administration)

http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/BasicSearchForm (Archival Research Catalog)

http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/ (Archives Library Information Center)

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html (American Memory)

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/ (Prints & Photographs Online Catalog)

In closing, I’ll leave you with this thought…this content is yours…you paid for it with your tax dollars…so why aren’t you using what’s yours? Think of it as the ultimate tax rebate. Make products from the content your tax dollars helped create. Sell those products and enjoy 100% of the profit. Cost to you…NOTHING! (You already paid, remember?!).

Your only question should be, “What can I create next?” Go have fun!

Print and Photographs Online Catalog Updated

For months the curators and technologists at the Library of Congress have been working together on a spectacular (and welcome) revamp of the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The online collection can now be found at the easy-to-remember address of www.loc.gov/pictures/ — with many images available for downloading.

Some of the new features include creative new ways to browse their 1.25 million online prints and photos, such as grids that give a quick overview of dozens of images at once and even a slideshow format that lets you toggle bibliographic information on and off.

The interface is reminiscent of other existing sites that offer powerful ways to search for and display images, such as the ever-popular Flickr.  In celebration of this new milestone, the LOC has posted a new set of highlight images from the Library called “Meet More Treasures.”  They consider it a thank you to all of those who have found value and pleasure in the Library’s priceless collections of more than 14 million pictures (both online and in their physical collections). I for one am grateful since I’ve found value (in the form of income) and pleasure from this site. Many of you have as well

Finding Elusive Images in the Public Domain

How often have you tried to find an certain type of image in the Public Domain, and no matter what you try, you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for? It can be pretty frustrating for sure! Just the other day, I received an e-mail from one of my UK customers who was experiencing that exact dilemma. She e-mailed me to ask:

“I purchased your “Easy Money Picture Project”.  As you are US based it’s not surprising that your links to internet sites for public domain are going to mostly contain US public domain material.  I am in the UK, I know most of the US material can be used here OK but I am interested in old images of the UK & I didn’t know whether you had come across any sites that contained such images or any UK websites that contained content from the UK.”

To be honest, I had never researched images specific to the UK, so I thought it would be a good exercise for my research skills. After spending 2 or 3 minutes with Google, I sent her a few of the results I discovered:

“Here are a few starting points for you:

  • http://www.historyworld.co.uk/
  • http://www.oldukphotos.com/
  • http://grumpystumpy.com/
  • http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/

Hope this helps!”

She responded back the next day with:

“I’ve just quickly linked to the sites you sent me & had a quick look & they look as though they will be very helpful, why couldn’t I find them? Must be doing wrong searches!”

I responded to her that searches can be tricky and offered keyword phrases I used to find the websites I sent her. After writing my response to her, I wondered how many MORE of you have encountered similar frustrations? So I thought I’d write a post to share the methodology behind how I research.

I’ve found that there is no rhyme or reason to why websites use the text they use in describing the contents on their websites. The sooner you learn that fact, the sooner you can move into conducting and enjoying meaningful research online.

First of all, you need to be aware of variations on your keywords. You can use a thesaurus if you get stuck. For example, let’s consider the keyword “photograph.” Photograph could also be displayed as:

  • Photography
  • Photo
  • Picture
  • Pic
  • Image
  • Graphic
  • Illustration
  • Still
  • Poster

To this end, you will notice in the screenshot below how this website uses the word “advert” for advertising, so if you were searching for “vintage UK advertising,” you may not find this site because of the variation.

Now, in the case of our case study, I simply used two keyword phrases:

  • “vintage UK photographs”
  • “old UK photographs”

Again, there are a number of variations for “old” and “vintage.”  The same holds true for “UK”: United Kingdom, Britain or British Isles…and don’t forget specific locations, such as “Gloucestershire” or “London.” I think you get the idea.

Another trick I want to point out is this…when you find a site you like in Google, very often you will see a link for “similar sites” in your search results as seen in the screenshot below. CLICK that link! It will reveal even more related sites for you. Of course, you can also use SimilarSites as I mentioned in a previous post, if they offer suggestions for your sites. In the case of the UK sites, they didn’t offer any results.

Now there is ONE keyword phrase that, oddly enough, you probably DON’T want to use in your search phrase…”Public Domain.” Seems odd to say that being that this is the Public Domain Blog, but the truth is that it’s not a common word that many sites use. Yes, you can find Public Domain images using that phrase in your searches, but I can tell you from experience that you will not get the kinds of results you truly want if you include it. As a matter of fact, with this case study, my customer indeed wrote back and said she was searching using the keyword phrase, “public domain vintage UK photos” among others and wasn’t finding the sites I found. Notice that her search phrase is a variation of one of mine except for a noticeable difference…she included the phrase, “public domain.”

To learn even MORE methods for finding and using images from the Public Domain, check out, “Easy Money Picture Project,” my comprehensive book on how to profit from Public Domain images and photos.

Easy Money Picture Project

Amazing (and free) Image Editing Tools

An essential tool for any Information Marketer’s toolbox is a high-quality image editor. Of course, the King of the Hill for image editing software is Adobe Photoshop. Having used Photoshop for the past 18 years, I can safely say that, from a design perspective, we’re definitely joined at the hip…grin. I use it every day. The problem that crops up, however, is that Photoshop isn’t cheap and is often out of the budget range for many, especially if they’re just starting out. It doesn’t change the fact that there are still header graphics to create and photos to edit…ebook covers to design and DVD cases to finalize…but sometimes, having the best tools for the job simply isn’t an option.

There are some cheap and free software options out there, like Photoshop Elements or GimpShop. I’ve talked about (and promoted) these options before, but they are not the topic of THIS post. There are some new, amazing web-based tools emerging, that, in my opinion, could actually give Photoshop a run for their money. Adobe DOES offer an online image editor (Photoshop Express http://www.photoshop.com), but I’m not including it in this post. I personally prefer the other programs I DO include here. The point I want to make here as we begin to explore these new, online tools is that you have options…more now than ever before…and the best news is, they’re FREE!

Pixlr (http://www.pixlr.com):

Pixlr is perhaps my favorite online image editing software of all the ones I’ll be sharing today because it’s so well done. The look and feel is nearly identical to Photoshop (as most of them are), and quite honestly, it performs nearly ALL the same tasks Photoshop will. It even opens Photoshop PSD files and maintains the layers, which is a nice touch. None of the other programs offer that. It offers an extensive line of filters and editing tools, as well as everything else you would expect from a high-quality image editing software. The ONLY issue I have with Pixlr (if you even want to call it an issue) is that it doesn’t offer an option to show rulers or draw snap guides. And actually, none of the web-based programs I’m sharing here offer that feature (except for Aviary, which I’ll talk about a little later). It’s not a huge deal but it would be nice to have (Please take note Pixlr…grin). And…BTW…all the screen captures for this post were edited in Pixlr.

SplashUp (http://www.splashup.com):

SplashUp is another great online image editing option. While it doesn’t have all the features that Pixlr does, it’s still a great choice…especially if you don’t need all the extra features. It DOES have the ones that matter: layers and layer effects, some decent basic filters, etc. My favorite option in this program is how it handles type. Unlike Pixlr (where you have to enter the type into a type palette and then click “Okay” to add it to your document), you can type directly into your document…just like you would in Photoshop. The biggest bummer with this program? It doesn’t support Photoshop files. Pixlr does. In my book that’s a big deal, but that aside, SplashUp is still a great option for your image editing needs.

Aviary (http://www.aviary.com):

Aviary is more than just an image editor, it’s an entire suite of free online tools that includes an image editor, a color editor, an effects editor, a vector editor (think Illustrator), an audio editor, screen capture and more! Quite honestly, it’s one of the most amazing suites of online tools I’ve seen anywhere. When using the image editor (called Phoenix), you will notice, again, that the basic look and layout is similar to our standard, Photoshop (it doesn’t support PSD files however). What I love about Aviary is how they handle their layers. You can have regular layers (like images, text, etc) but ALSO access the Effects Editor and Vector Editor and add dedicated layers from those tools as well. This greatly expands the reach of Phoenix’s (the image editor) basic offering of tools. They also offer extensive tutorials, including how to create banners for Etsy (nice touch for one of their target audiences). All in all, this is another amazing suite of tools that is worth your time to investigate!

In addition to the three image editors I mention here, there are others as well, such as Pixinate, Picnik and SumoPaint. They each have merit, but speaking as a veteran graphic designer, the three I mention here should more than address ANY graphics needs you may encounter. What I would to you is to try out all three offerings I mention here and get a feel for what each one offers. You may prefer one over the others. Of course, the GREAT news is that you no longer have to stress about shelling out big sums of cash to address your image editing needs!

Product Creation Lessons from Aeropostale

My daughter, Ashlea, works at Aeropostale, so over the past several months, I’ve been in the store many times. I’ve also been paying attention to what they do and how they do it when it comes to how they create and market their products (clothes and accessories). Aeropostale is hugely popular with the younger generation and it’s evident that they understand their demographic (14 to 17 year-olds) very well. Heck, even I like a lot of their clothes and I wouldn’t consider myself a part of their target audience. That said, there are a few lessons we can ALL learn from Aeropostale when it comes to branding and product creation.

For Aeropostale, branding and product creation are synonymous. If you’ve been to one of their stores or to their website, the ONE thing that will stand out immediately is that their brand is on everything…their clothing turns their customers into walking billboards. It’s rather brilliant actually. Of course, they’re not the only company to do this…many do…but I’d have to say they’re one of the best at it for sure.

Aeropostale also provides a LOT of variations with their products. Now stay with me here…their main brand simply involves their name and the year they began their company…1987. Here is where it gets fun…the variations they create on those two elements is nearly limitless, it seems. As a product creator, this is an important lesson to understand. With just the words Aeropostale, Aero, 1987, A87 and other variations, they produce hundreds, if not thousands, of variations on the theme. You can do the same thing with your products and your business…especially if your products are image based!

Here is a challenge for you…go the the Aeropostale website and just look at their t-shirt lines…that’s it. Now, using Aero’s approach as your inspiration, consider a graphic, photograph, logo, or brand related to your business and make a list (or sketches) of every possible variation on the theme you can think of. Ask friends and family to do the same. You will be surprised (and amazed) at the outcome. I guarantee it! Then, share your results and what you learned here in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Native Americans in the Public Domain

One of my favorite local powwows happens today, the Lawilowan American Indian Festival, and I’m excited to see friends, vendors and dancers whom I haven’t seen in a while. Of course, I’m also excited to see my girls dance again. So in honor of the powwow, I thought I’d share some great sources for “Native American” related content from the Public Domain. There is some great content out there…hope you enjoy!

The first place we’ll begin is at Google Books…the growing source for all kinds of fun things in the Public Domain. The BEST way to find Native American-related resources on Google Books is by using focused keywords…for example, not “Native American” but “Cherokee” or “Dakota tribal.”

Another favorite source for Native American-related images is the Beineke Rare Books & Manuscripts Digital Library at Yale. Here you can find a LOT of great images…many in high resolution…including photographs, fine art and illustrations.

The Internet Sacred Text Archive is a terrific source for information on tribal stories, religious ceremonies and much more. This is definitely on of my favorite sites!

Of course, this post would be incomplete without mentioning Edward Curtis resources at the Library of Congress. You can view those resources HERE and HERE.

To wrap up this post, I’d like to share a quick video of my girls dancing at this powwow three years ago. Enjoy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxnwhxPjFQ[/youtube]

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