Is Your Company Big Enough to Do Its Own Keywording?

Successful inhouse keywording relies on maintaining a level of expertise which allows for efficient use of resources and a consistent, high standard of work.  Too often, photographers and small photo libraries attempt to save money by doing it themselves, but run into problems.  So how do you know if your company is big enough to do keywording successfully?

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to find out if you've got enough manpower and expertise to keyword well for the long haul:

1. If one or two of your keyworders didn't come in to work, would keywording halt or be severely curtailed? - If the answer's "yes" then you don't have the staff to maintain the level of efficiency you need.  Illness is one thing, but staff also resign, have babies, go on holiday and die.  With only a tiny number of staff, all the expertise they've built up is of no use when they aren't around.

Biting off more than you can chew with keywording?

2.  If the person doing your training of keyworders was to get another job, do you have someone who can seamlessly move into the role? - Even if you have a reasonable number of keyworders, if there is a revolving door of talent, with only one expert in the room, you are vulnerable  That person can cripple your keywording effort by leaving, and will be very difficult to replace.

3.  Do you have your keywording processes fully documented? - If that's something you've always been meaning to do, but never got around to, then keywording just isn't enough of a priority for you to do it well.  If it was a priority, or you had sufficient resources committed to it, documentation would have been done long ago.

4.  Do your keyworders do duties other than keywording, or have periods when they have little keywording to do? - If so, this means you have either compromised on quality by getting a Jack-of-all-trades to do your keywording, or you're wasting money having keyworders twiddling their thumbs.

5.  Does the quality of your keywording vary considerably depending on who is doing the keywording? - If that's the case then your systems are not adequate to maintain the level of consistency necessary for good keywording.  That's probably because it's not a focus of your business.

6.  Do you know how much it costs per image to do your keywording, including admin, training and other overheads? - If you can't lay your hands on this figure immediately then you're spending money blindly and almost certainly are paying too much for your keywording because you don't have the economies of scale to make it worthwhile to work out the costs properly.

7.  Are you regularly updating your keywording standards and software? - If you're not updating this information often, and use the same software all the time, you're almost certainly behind the eight ball compared to professional keyworders or your competitors.

8. Are you sick of having to take time out from management or sales to supervise, train or recruit for your inhouse keywording? - If you've got better things to do, then why are you getting involved in keywording?  There's only one answer.

9.  Do you find yourself having to significantly delay getting images or video to market while you wait for keywording to be done? - Every day your images or videos remain unkeyworded and off the market is a day you miss out on revenue.  If you are having to make this compromise on a regular basis, your company is too small to do inhouse keywording.

10.  Do you have a keywording vocabulary which is regularly maintained and refined? - Without a decent vocabulary which is well-maintained you are unlikely to maintain a consistent standard of keywording.  This takes a lot of effort and organisation.  Understandably, photographers and small libraries often have other priorities, but that doesn't make for good keywording.