General Marketing

Overlooked Digital Marketing Channel: Get Free Web Traffic | MADX

December 11, 2021
Overlooked Digital Marketing Channel: Get Free Web Traffic | MADX

My first Unsplash photos generated 220,819 views in 15 days.

The first 24 hours were strange. My account was blocked, flagged for review, two photos, and most captions were deleted before releasing the account and freeing me of all charges. When I woke up the next day, I had 2,029 views on my profile, and eight days later, the editorial team featured one image.

“Sorry if your stats go crazy,” Annie from Unsplash editorial team.

To put Unplash traffic in perspective, my first published stories took over a year to reach that many eyes.

Meaning: you can become a digital marketing strategist in less than a day.

What we’ll cover:

Unsplash: Digital Marketing Channel for Free Web Traffic

Unsplash doesn’t let you upload more than ten photos every ten days, and moderators removed two of my initial uploads.

Luckily, Unsplash has topics that let you submit your images, and once accepted, you’re on a roll.

My initial boost came from the photos that were distributed in Business & Work. I’m not sure what the right start on Unsplash is and how many views are considered good, but 200,000+ is a nice motivation to upload some more. I’ve taken 500+ photos in one afternoon of strolling Oxford with my girlfriend, of which I might edit and upload 200 to Unsplash.

However, the platform lets you only upload 30 photos a month under normal circumstances.

I have seven months of stock photos on hand if I only upload ten photos every ten days. Sometimes, Unsplash lets you upload more than ten photos if they like your work. Maybe, I can share my photos faster in the upcoming months.

Bio page screenshot for Austen Distel.
The famous face of Medium entrepreneurship stories

I Replicated Austin Distel's Profile, so Unsplash Moderators Edited My Bio and Removed All My Captions and Two Photos

Unsplash is not a place where every creator enjoys the same freedoms.

By design or not, individuals have more opportunities to contribute. Some can upload more than ten photos, and others can freely ask people to credit their work. If you’re a new kid on the block, you might not enjoy either of those privileges.

I had zero experience with SEO for Unsplash and only knew the platform through the lens of searching for free stock photos for my stories. When I finally got the photos ready for upload, I was inspired by the style of one man I knew was doing the same thing on the platform, Austin Diestel.

My profile was flagged for three reasons:

  • Asking for credits is apparently a big no-no, both in captions and bio.
  • Uploading similar photos, of which two were deleted.
  • I had to prove that the man in the photos was me.

The Unsplash staff was helpful and quick to resolve my issues. I didn’t ask any questions or try to point at others before I had a minute to explore the platform. The first eight photos went live on September 19, and by the end of the first week, I already had 60,000 views and 400 downloads.

Then, One Image Was Featured in the Editorial Feed and Made for an Additional 40,000 Views in Two Days

  • Platforms can decide if your work lives or dies. Upcoming creators can’t easily reach a wider audience if their work is not featured by some authority.
  • One photo, one story, or one video is usually what makes all the difference. 99% of your work is probably not the best stuff, but it’s worth churning it out for that one piece of content that takes your whole business to the next level.
  • You don’t have to be the best writer, best photographer, or the best business owner to help someone. Perfectionism is not your friend. Your lizard brain will try to tweak every detail indefinitely, don’t listen to it. The lizard brain is never satisfied. Ship your art as soon as it's ready.
  • Perseverance is the key. You’re about to face defeat in the content game. Try to stay alive until the next round if you can’t win. The more rounds you play, the greater the chance of success. True success comes from creating something awesome for others.

Best Digital Marketing Channel? Your Itch.

I scratched my back by creating these photos, and apparently others had the same itch. After 300+ articles this year, finding a fresh stock image became a time-consuming pain.

My stories are mostly about marketing, money, and personal development. And every time I search for “office, success, and smile,” I get the same overused photos you already see all around Medium and the internet. Your audience doesn’t want to see something it has seen a thousand times.

I rarely click on posts with the overused cover images.

Putting the two and two together and adding my girlfriend to the mix, I created the original 500 photos on my drive. I asked her to bring a camera the next time we go to the city. We fooled around, had some food, and took a few photos. I brought my laptop and a random book to add a freelance writer touch to the whole mix.

Neither of us is a professional photographer, not even the camera was ours.

Picture of a girl eating a salad in a window seat.
Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash

Digital Marketing Strategist: 200,000 People Needed the Same Photos

She fixed the frame, colors, and contrast by using Air Brush, a free app. The basic editing was more than enough for Unsplash moderators to accept the photos. I could finally use my images in my stories and freely share them with others.

“Scratch your own itch.” — Tim Ferriss

You have the full 190% permission to use any photo of me in the future, even if you’re making fun of what I do.

By adding free stock photos to my online content journey, I can offer more to my audience and possibly grow and expand to help other people. I hope I’m not a random generic face on the internet anymore. The more people use my stock images, the greater the chance for others to discover my work.

Stock image of a guy talking on a phone with a computer in front of him.
Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash

Creating More Stuff for Others Feels Rewarding in Itself (and Brings Free Web Traffic)

Creating something for others is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Even though Unsplash can bring more opportunities and get my face on across social media, Medium stories, and maybe even in Forbes or Fast company articles, the best reward is seeing that others actually have use of your work.

You immediately get a sense of accomplishment. My photos might not be perfect, professional, or even good, but someone looked at it and said, this is exactly what I need to round my story. The feeling of being able to help is a reward in itself.

I’ve had more business offers in the past two weeks than in the whole month beforehand. I can’t trace it to Unsplash, but genuinely giving stuff to others definitely plays a part in the grand scheme of things.

Money and opportunity follow helpful efforts, like in an arcade game. When you know how to create something awesome for others, you’re getting one step closer to success.

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