Saturday, May 6, 2017

Watermarking for Real Estate Agents

The weather is heating up, and so is the real estate market. As real estate agents, there is nothing more thrilling than a surge in the for-sale market, timed so well with an abundance of customers who are looking to buy. It’s the real estate equivalent of the perfect storm.
You’ve worked so hard throughout your career as a real estate agent. You’ve done more than connect buyers with sellers and sellers with buyers. You’ve poured your heart and soul into helping families find the perfect home, helping retirees downsize, and helping couples get started on the right foot. Sometimes the transactions are fast and furious, sometimes the clients are with you so long they almost become part of the family!
If you’ve been in this industry for a while, you know how this goes – the market heats up, then suddenly (and not surprisingly) the number of agents out there trying to represent real estate buyers and sellers starts to skyrocket. Competition gets fierce. Every opportunist out there thinks this is their chance to make it big in real estate! We veteran agents have weathered many storms, and persevered. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to be vigilant.

Now, more than ever, we need to keep an eye out for those opportunists. In this business, your greatest asset is your sales record. Let me reiterate, your greatest asset is your own individual, unique sales record! You know your neighborhoods, you know your demographics, and you know your trade. You also know that in today’s market, especially with younger customers, online communication is paramount. Today’s clients don’t want to take phone calls, they want to email or text. Today’s clients don’t want to wait for new market listings on Fridays, they want to peruse online listings in real time. But even before that, they want to check out online profiles of real estate agents, before selecting someone to represent themselves in one of the biggest decisions they’ll make in their entire lives!
I know you’ll be sure to put your best foot forward online, but If there is one piece of advice I can give at this point, it’s this – do not, I repeat, DO NOT let anyone commandeer your sales track record. In this day and age, most agents will boast their biggest sales online with photos and bragging rights, hoping to build on that success by attracting new customers. But remember those opportunists we mentioned earlier? They don’t have the sales history that gives customers peace of mind that they’ve put their trust in the right hands.

So let me say this – post your successes online! A picture speaks a thousand words! Post photos on your website and on social media, celebrating your successes and showcasing the beautiful properties you have had the privilege to represent. Just make sure you protect those photos and all of your hard work from being stolen by someone else. It’s just too easy for those opportunists to grab photos online, claim to have made the sale, and win future business that they haven’t earned! To protect your photos online, you need to make them your own. There’s no better way to do that than to insert your own unique watermark into your online photos, to prevent anyone else from claiming ownership. And it doesn’t have to be a huge business expense – extremely inexpensive and easy-to-use online watermarking services allow you to place logos, text, your contact information, and/or all of the above onto your photos, to render them unusable for any unauthorized commercial purposes. Your sales are yours, and yours only! Advertise them proudly without fear!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Photo Watermarking for Direct Sales

So many people today are earning a living in non-traditional ways, and proving to everyone that a standard 5-days-a-week-from-9-to-5 job isn’t the only way to do it!  With busy lives and multiple priorities, today’s career-seekers are looking for more flexibility, and a better balance for themselves and their families.  Nowhere has that been more evident than in the recent boom in direct sales companies, who can offer their sales representatives the opportunity be creative, set their own hours, and work at their own pace.  Companies like LuLaRoe, Stella & Dot, and Young Living have not only changed the way we shop, they’ve changed the way we work!
Although a healthy work-life balance may be the thing that first attracts people to direct sales companies, often the creative outlet they provide is what helps their sales reps truly thrive!  Often sales representatives choose a product or company that speaks to their own personal passions and supports their own personal goals.  While it helps to have a great product line or a unique product offering, we all know these products don’t sell themselves.  The key to successful sales lies purely within the sales rep!
If you’re a sales representative for a company like LuLaRoe or Young Living, you know that your unique personality, your unique style, and your unique marketing strategy are the true discriminators when it comes to making big bucks in this industry.  Your own marketing materials and communication style are what speak to your customers and capture their imaginations.  The relationships you build with your customers are what keeps them happy and coming back for more.
Although some companies and their reps still rely heavily on the old paradigm of “get your friends to host a party, and they’ll invite their friends, you’ll make some sales and find more people to host more parties and they’ll invite their friends” and so on (you remember Tupperware, right?), today’s savvy rep harnesses the power of social networking sites and electronic communications to reach their customers.  And sending around a link to a product catalog or company website just won’t do!  Your competitors are doing way more than that (and making more money too!).  Remember earlier when we mentioned that it’s the uniqueness of YOU that makes the difference?  
To draw customers in online, you’re going to need a strong online presence at sites where you know your potential customer base already frequents.  Of course sites like Facebook and Instagram will be crucial to initially connecting with your customers, and frequent activity on these sites will keep your products in front of buyers.  
But, we also need to remember that, just as we’re careful on social media with what information we post on social media sites, we need to be careful with our marketing.  Because it is our uniqueness and style that compels our customers to make that purchase, we simply cannot allow our competitors to make sales by poaching our marketing materials!  It is SO easy for others online to “borrow” our photos and “borrow” our advertisements, and make big money without the effort.  This is why you MUST protect your online photos and ads.  The best way to do this is to insert un-removable watermarks on every photo you post online.  These watermarks identify your online marketing materials as belonging to you and you only, in such a way that others can’t use them.

Online watermarking sites like Water Marquee offer the ability to watermark as many photos as you like without having to install any software on your device.  If you have a logo you like to use in your marketing, you can place it wherever you like on your photos, in a conspicuous enough place that your photos can’t be re-used by someone else, but that doesn’t detract from the focus on your product.  Even better, insert your contact information as a watermark, so your customers always know how to buy, and the sale proceeds end up in YOUR pocket!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A New Version of Water Marquee is Coming

On April 1st we'll be releasing a new version of Water Marquee, both for free and Pro users.  If you'd like to take it for a test spin, we'd really appreciate your feedback!  The new version can be found at:

In addition to being more reliable and faster, the new version adds the ability to "unlink" watermarks - so you can adjust each watermark individually, if you wish, without altering the watermarks on other images.

Unfortunately, any watermark templates you've created (assuming you're a Pro user) will be lost when we transition to the new version.  The existing templates are not compatible with the new template format and there is no automated way to convert them. We apologize for the inconvenience.

If you do have feedback, you can let us know by emailing us at [email protected].

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Watermarks for Models

Modeling is a tough business to crack into - comp cards, portfolios, casting calls - and all that may even be before you land your first paying job.  The topic we're focused on today is crucial to getting your modeling career off the ground - managing you portfolio.  It's great if you have an agent who will do this for you, but if you haven't signed on with one yet, a great portfolio could help you get there.

You probably already have a collection of your favorite shots - the ones where you look your best, the ones that highlight your unique features, the ones that are sure to stand out in a crowd.  But those photos won't help you at all, unless you circulate them to the right people in the industry.  That's the hard part - just about everything is done online these days, so how do you really know who you're sending your photos to, and what are they doing with them? Beware - scammers want to use  your photos for their own profit, and to impersonate you online, or worse.

If you want to have full control over defining your persona and building your brand, you need to have control over where and when your photos are used.  Your photos displayed on the wrong sites by the wrong people could sink your career and reputation.  You've got to protect yourself and your photos!  It can be as simple as adding a watermark to each of your photos, to prevent them from being used commercially without your permission.  Photographers do it, and you should too.

There are several approaches to watermarking your photos, but the main point is to place your watermark in such an obvious place that it would render the photo useless for commercial purposes, but still allows the beauty of the subject to shine through.  You should always include your name and contact info in your watermark, so that, wherever your photos end up, you can be contacted by an interested party.

Another good idea is to occasionally use Google Reverse Image Search to find out if your pictures are in fact being used anywhere on the web.  You can drag and drop your images onto the Google search page, and Google will search for any similar instances online.  While this can help you find out if your photos are being used without your permission, it's a better idea to watermark your photos so that this doesn't happen in the first place.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Watermarking Tips for Family Photographers

For family photographers, watermarks present two opportunities. They, of course, deter clients from using photos without paying for them. They also can help promote a family photography business. If you're a family photographer, here's how to make the most of your images' watermarks.

Using Watermarks in Their Traditional Role

Watermarks have long been used by photographers to deter customers (and others) from using images illegally. In family photography, watermarks have prevented clients from printing their own photos. If a family would like another print without the photographer's advertisement on it, they must pay for that print.

Selling prints has been, of course, how family photographers have traditionally made money. They've offered clients packages of prints, and people who wanted additional prints paid for each extra one. Thus, watermarks have provided vital protection for family photographers' income.

Today, many family photographers still use watermarks to deter people from printing out photos without paying for them. As technology changes how people use pictures, though, this role of the watermark is slowly becoming less important. People don't often print out pictures anymore, so there's less need to prevent them from doing so without paying for an image.

Using Watermarks in a New Way

Instead of printing out pictures, people now share them online with family and friends. When they're emailing photographs or posting them on social media, people often don't mind if the images are watermarked. Thus, a watermark's ability to deter people from using pictures without paying for them is less in today's world of sharing pictures online.

Watermarks aren't obsolete, though. Since clients frequently don't remove watermarks before sharing them, family photographers can turn watermarked photos into advertisements for their business. The people clients share photos with are family and friends, some of whom may live in the area and be potential clients themselves. If they like your work, they might contact you to photograph their family--and this is where the watermark comes in. A watermark can help ensure anyone who sees your pictures knows you took them and has your contact information.

Designing a Watermark for Both Purposes

A well-designed watermark can still fulfill the watermarks traditional role, while also helping a photographer advertise when their pictures are shared. To create a watermark that does both of these things, your watermark should:

. contain your name (or your company's name)
. include your email address and website
. have a professional appearance that complements your photos
. be large enough that clients can't crop it out of a picture to make a print
. be located in a corner so it doesn't detract from the people in the picture

Additionally, you're watermark shouldn't be the focal point of your pictures. It ought to be visible enough that anyone who looks at your work sees the watermark, but viewers' eyes should first be drawn to your clients' families. Adjusting the color, font and opacity of a watermark can help you find the right balance of visibility and subtlety.

To design a new watermark that will help protect your images and advertise your business, try out Water Marquee. With Water Marquee, family photographers can quickly and easily create fully customized watermarks that work for them.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Watermark

The color used for a visible watermark greatly affects how noticeable the watermark is when it's overlaid onto an image. There isn't one color that all watermarks should be, as the right color for any particular watermark depends on the photographer's branding, photo the watermark is being used on and other factors. If you're designing a watermark for your digital photographs, here are some tips to help you settle on a color to use.

Only Consider Colors That Complement Your Branding 


With an almost infinite number of colors to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices to a few finalists. To make the selection process easier--and ensure your watermark's color goes well with your branding--limit your selection to colors that are consistent with the branding you already have in place. You might want to consider:

. colors included in your logo
. neutral colors
. colors you've used in your website's background 
The colors included in your logo, obviously, match your branding, and you've likely already determined that any colors on your website's background go well with your marketing scheme. Neutral colors, especially black, white and gray, will provide an alternative to the colors you've used elsewhere, but they'll still match since they go with anything.

Choose a Color That's Visible Yet Tasteful 


From the colors that complement your brand, the next step is to find one (or a few) that go well with your pictures. The color you use for a watermark should show up on images. You're making a visible watermark, after all. It shouldn't detract from your picture, though, since that's what clients are most interested in.

For instance, a white watermark likely won't show up well on a winter landscape picture that has lots of snow. For a bold look, a black watermark will be noticeable and might complement a striking, strong image well. Gray, however, is more likely to produce a watermark that's visible but doesn't take away from the photograph. A logo color may be suitable for some images, but it also could be too strong for a peaceful, relaxed winter scene.

Once you have a color that complements the picture well, you can adjust the location, size, font and opacity to increase or decrease its visibility. Finding the perfect combination of these factors is often a trial-and-error process.

Settle on One or Two Watermarks That Work Well with Most Images 


Because professional photographers take a lot of pictures, most streamline their workflow by creating two watermarks that work well with all their images. Some photographers have a watermark made from their logo's colors that they use on most pictures and a second that's neutrally colored for images that their logo-colored watermark clashes with. Other photographers have two gray watermarks, one that's light gray and another that's dark gray, and they use whichever shows up better on an image.

With a pair of versatile watermarks, you won't have to spend time creating a new watermark for each image. Instead, you'll be able to focus on taking more pictures and promoting yourself. To create a couple of watermarks that will go with many of your photographs, check out the selection available on Water Marquee. The platform lets photographers use any colors they'd like in their watermarks.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How Visible Your Watermark Should Be

All photographers who watermark their photographs must consider how opaque or transparent to make their watermark. No one opacity is right for every image or for every photographer. If you're struggling to find the right opacity for your watermark, here are some factors to consider.

Opaque Enough to Be Noticeable

Your watermark should be opaque enough to be noticeable. After all, the whole reason to have a visible watermark is so that it's seen. If no one notices your watermark, then what is the point of having a visible one? You might as well use an invisible watermark that's more difficult to remove.

Making sure people notice your watermark is especially important if you're using it to communicate copyright information, which some platforms strip from images' meta data. Without your details included in the meta data, a visible watermark is the only way to keep copyright information with a photograph. The watermark will only work, though, if it's seen.

It's also particularly important to make sure your watermark is noticeable if you're using the watermark for marketing purposes. If your primary goal in watermarking your photographs isn't to keep them from being stolen but to get your name out, you'll want people to quickly see your watermark when they look at your photos.

Transparent Enough to Not Detract

Your watermark, however, shouldn't be so opaque that it significantly detracts from your photograph. Even if you want people to see your copyright information or name, you also want them to appreciate the beauty of your pictures. If they're turned off from your photo work, it won't matter whether they see that you took the picture.

If you aren't sure whether your watermark is detracting too much from a photo, check whether you see your watermark or the image's subject first when you look at the shot. If the watermark is more prominent, make it a little more transparent.

Of course, looking at a photo that you've taken, edited and created a watermark for with fresh eyes can be difficult. You may want to ask a friend to look at a watermarked photo and ask whether they notice the subject or watermark first.

Visible but Tasteful

In short, your watermark should be visible but tasteful. Many photographers find that an opacity between 20 and 30 percent makes a watermark visible but not too intrusive, but this range isn't the only solution. Some photographers use higher opacities but place their watermarks in areas away from the subject. A few even make their watermark 100 percent opaque, and place it in negative space and match the color to a color in the photograph.

The percent opacity for your watermark will depend on its size and location. You'll need to experiment a little to find out what works best for your photographs and goals. If you'd like to try several different opacities, consider using Water Marquee. The platform makes it easy to create a customized watermark and adjust the opacity to any level that you'd like.