Saving Money on Keywording

Keywording is essential, but with a bewildering array of options available it is easy to end up spending money unwisely.  Here are some basic pointers to avoid overspending, and ensure you get value for money.

1.  Check what you are already spending - but do it properly - If you are getting keywording done in-house make sure you have totalled up every cost, then work out the average per image.  This will enable you to compare your current position with an outsourced service and give you a better feel for how you might organise things differently in your office to maximise efficiency. Include time spent not only on training and supervision, but also on recruiting.  Try to work out if the keywording staff are ever employed on tasks which aren't really necessary just to keep them employed - be totally honest with yourself.

2.  Calculate the cost of delay to market - If your images or video are being delayed from getting ot market because keywording is taking a long time, that's a cost.  In some cases this is far more than the cost of keywording.  Develop what modelling you can, to work this out.  Granted, this will be far harder to work out than the cost of staff and electricity, but it's precisely the calculation you have to make.

3.  Is poor quality destroying the value for money? - With whatever keywording system you use, the value and suitability of your keywording is hugely important.  Spending 50 cents on keywording an image can be more expensive than spending a dollar if the cheaper image is far harder to find or is being rejected by third party sellers such as Getty.

4.  Get the right keywording standard - Make sure that your images/videos are being keyworded to the necessary level, but no more.  Overkeywording - putting in many obscure or barely relevant terms - pushes up the cost but can actually reduce the chances of your images/videos being found.  They are also in grave danger of being rejected by third party resellers.

5.  Sort out demarkation lines when going for outsourcing - Be sure you know who is doing what in any outsourcing arrangement.  A cheap price may not be so cheap if you are spending hours and hours on quality control or preparing spreadsheets.

6.  Avoid inflexible keywording software - Proprietory systems provided on a charge-for-use/subscription basis can be a death sentence for budget control, as you have no way of walking out the door should the system no longer serve your needs, or the provider decides to hike the price.  The easier it is to move your keywording work elsewhere, the better it is.

7.  Do it once, do it right - In the name of budget constraint it is tempting to do a cheap and cheerful job to start with and see how things go.  The likelihood is that a poor job will result in poor sales results and the whole project will have been a waste of money.  Re-keywording is an expensive exercise, but for a small amount extra you could have got the keywording you needed right from the start.

8.  Offer payment in advance - Keywording companies have to employ labour to produce keywording.  They are subject to the same pressures of cashflow as other businesses.  Money up front may help cover their costs and that is worth a discount.

9.  Go for volume - Bigger clients can get better deals.  However many keywording companies may feel that long term regular business is more valuable than a big one-off project.  Find out what the company values most before trying to get a discount for volume of business.  By organising the work flow in a different way you might produce a better outcome.

10.  Be prepared to wait, within reason - The longer it takes to get your keywording done, the cheaper it should be, all other things being equal.  Fast turn around is normally worth more.  Be wary of companies charging a high price and taking a long time to return the work.  This may be a sign of poor organisation, lack or resources or lack of quality.  Also, remember that the turnaround time is directly related to the costs associated with not having your images on the market (see above).

11.  Get you own house in order - If you don't have appropriate model release information, captions are poorly written or you don't send keywording work on time, one way or another you are driving up the cost of keywording.  This can happen directly in the price the keywording company must charge to cover the costs being needlessly added to the project, or in the simple cost of time you spend being inefficient in collating the information to give to the keywording company.  Either way it's money down the drain.

12.  Don't sweat the small stuff. - If you have very few images keywording may not even be worthwhile.  A simple system of categories might work just as well.