How to actually get value from Unsplash as a photographer

About two or three years ago, Unsplash landed on the scene. Actually, more like crashed. A lot of us were not happy with the evolution of stock photography. Or at least what we thought was going to be the future of stock photography.

A couple of photographers tried the platform, and some even claimed to get actual shoots out of it, which is awesome for them! 

The lot of us, however, did not see any value. Not monetary nor exposure. Until now…

Okay, maybe that is a bit overdramatic. I did find a good way to get extra value out of my Unsplash downloads. It does require a bit of work, but it’s fairly easy to do.

So what is it?

Well simply said: better SEO for my website.

SEO is a bit general; let’s specify it even more. I used Unsplash as a way to generate links to my website.

That’s right, Unsplash has become my link building tool

The first thing you have to do is upload a couple of your photos to the platform. Let them simmer for a couple of weeks, maybe even months, until you have reached a fair amount of downloads.

I had the luck of having a couple of popular ones on there already. So they had racked up a nice amount of downloads by the time I dove in. 

Make sure to use photos that are good of quality, actually represent your skill and maybe even your niche. 

Though, the best photos should go to actual stock photography platforms like Wirestock.

Next, have the photos in a folder on your computer. Or download them from your page yourself and put them in the image search of Google.

That’s for those that are not aware of it yet.

Upload the photos one by one. Google will then show you all the places (or at least most of the places) where your photo has been used. 

I copy-pasted all those URLs to a spreadsheet. How you want to organize this is all up to you. 

I had a list of about 150 URLs after completing this little task. It takes about an hour (maybe two) to do so.

The next thing you are doing is just clicking open every url one by one. Then find the contact page of the website and send them a friendly email.

Just tell them:

“Hey there

I noticed you had used one of my photos on your website. On this page in particular:

*url to the page*

Would it be possible for you to add my name and url underneath it?

For example: Photo by Frederic Paulussen / Fredography

Thank you in advance!



No more, no less. Easy right?

Now, In this example, I have been a bit generic with the mention. I actually asked them to say “Photo by Corporate Photographer Fredography” or “Event Photographer.” Whatever the page fitted which of my niches best.

It’s extra valuable to add this type of keyword because it tells Google what the page behind the link will be about. And that your page is actually about that subject as other websites tell them so too.

In my spreadsheet, I added when and to who I emailed this request. This way, it was easy to follow up if no reply came or to cross them off my list when they did add it.

About 30% of my list actually added the url. No one complained or tried to avoid adding it. They just did, no issue. Most of them even thanked me for the photo.

One of them even became a customer!

Now there is something to say about local links: these are all URLs from Brazil to the US, South Africa, and all over the place.

You can try to add more local photos to Unsplash to feed that local market. Let’s say a couple of local buildings that are well known. Always keep in mind you need to have complete ownership of the photos. So maybe refrain from people and copyrighted structures.

Anyhow, I hope this has been inspiring enough for you to go out and try to use these kinds of tools to your advantage. Even if it seems there is none.

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