Contributor Tips, Trends

Keywords and Concepts: How to Get More Eyes (and Buys) on Your Work


If you’re creating media for sale or licensing, regardless of how beautiful your work is, it only matters if people actually see it. Unique keywords added to your content can translate to more traffic and make the difference between 25 searches and 1,000 searches of your collection. More often than not, customers will dial in a keyword well before narrowing their search to a specific theme or category — so even before you take your first shot, you should be thinking of conceptual ideas you can weave in to what may appear to be a simple shoot.

Give your work a unique voice

Individual shots with the most targeted concepts will undoubtedly be the bestsellers in your collection, as long as your aim is true. Conceptual keywords have the power to reveal a more complex meaning to the viewer, so take the time to analyze the image beyond the general idea and think about the mood that best represents the theme. The more targeted ideas you can pepper into a shot, the better your odds are for increasing your revenue when people are searching for related visuals. Your best shots will be those that convey a simple message while capturing layers of complexity developing beneath the scenes’s overall theme.

Young Man Selecting Records by Chester_Copperpot

Tighten up your concepts

When you’re in the initial phase of pre-production, you should always create a shoot brief including conceptual keywords for each scene. This will help you minimize your shot list by only focusing on the scenes with the strongest concepts — which will save you endless amounts of time editing through dailies and potentially save you money in the long run. Plus, the more strong concepts that you can seamlessly roll into a single scene, the higher the chances for visibility will be.

Sun Shines Through Jungle Canopy by BananaRepublic

Two sides to every story

If you’re focused primarily on the positive side of identifying concepts, it’s possible you may miss out on projects with narratives that represent the other side of things. For instance, a clip featuring a dense rainforest could be used to represent nature or adventure, but it could also represent a diminishing resource caused by deforestation, climate change, or other natural or man-made threats.

For a close-up of bacon strips sizzling on the grill, the filmmaker has beautifully captured the meat’s texture and savoriness, making this perfect for a piece on cooking or eating. On the other hand, keywords like “unhealthy,” “heart attack,” “processed,” and “cancer” can also resonate with a client building a healthcare spot. As long as the keyword is within reason and the theme is executed well, covering all angles increase your chances of the image living within an editor’s final cut.

Bacon Frying in a Pan by NYLon_Stock_Footage

Keep your keywords accurate

Often, clients will become familiar with your work after using it once or twice, which will drive their search directly to your collection when starting a new project. Be aware, however, that if you lead a customer down a path littered with false or exaggerated keywords, you may never get another chance to showcase your work and thread it into their next story. So, while using varied keywords that cover different angles and concepts is always good, make sure to keep things accurate. Misleading keywords may get your more views, but chances are they won’t lead to sales and will ultimately backfire.

Friends Sitting on Sofa by Chester_Copperpot

Read the world around you

Be aware of the ever-changing demographics, trends, and terms that define a technology, an event, an occupation, a community, a culture, or an individual. You can bet that terms such as “Millennial” and “LGBT” are weaved into the themes and stories that are developed by today’s editors and producers. As media makers, its our job to clearly represent these themes and to provide those looking for ways to illustrate them with the quickest route to the freshest and most relative media.

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What do you do to ensure the relevancy of your media and make sure it gets discovered? Tell us in the comments!