Online creative marketplaces seem to pop up often. Most are laughable jokes that devalue creative work to the point of absurdity. They all seem to promise great things, in theory, but in practice they are just filled with potential clients looking for professional service for the price of a latte.
Togally, which launched in early June of 2015, is a bit different. They seem to be leveraging a business model similar to online dating rather than the spec work style systems most creative marketplaces seem to love. This allows them to keep prices a bit higher (only a bit) than your usual creative marketplace.
Plenty of Photographers
Currently, Togally is only operating in Los Angeles and San Diego which pigeonholes their reach quite a bit but it seems they are eager to expand when they are ready. At the time of this article they have 56 photographers in Los Angeles and 106 in San Diego.
Similar to a free online dating site like “Plenty of Fish,” photographers are given profiles where they attach a short description and some images to allow them to begin looking for potential dates (err… I mean clients) using search tools and algorithms to match them with the most suitable clients.
Not So Plenty Of Clients
Togally seems to have done a great job of attracting photographers to their service but don’t seem to have done nearly as good of a job finding clients, unfortunately. At the time of this article there were a total of 53 available gigs in their system waiting for photographers which means the ratio of photographers to jobs is almost 3:1. Togally almost certainly is not going to be getting you much work unless they vastly increase their photographer to client ratio.
As aforementioned, Togally’s business model is designed to, somewhat, preserve the value of the photography they are helping sell. Togally is unlike most marketplaces which devalue creative services to almost nothing, instead operating at only modestly, ridiculous, prices.
For example, their standard headshot session costs $100 for a 1 hour shoot that includes 10 final images. Which is certainly much lower than usual professional headshot pricing but if they actually could deliver on their promise to eliminate any need to ever worry about marketing, sales, billing, etc they would vastly lower a photographer’s cost of doing business and increase his or her billable throughout.
Unfortunately, however, the pricing is probably still too low to be business viable for most photographers looking to earn more than they would by flipping burgers, especially once you consider that Togally drains 20% off the top of each gig as a fee.
Beneath Togally’s beautifully crafted interface and wonderfully branded exterior it does have a few darker corners that I couldn’t help but notice. The main one being the “Terms of Service” which has some pretty concerning clauses:
“Photography Personnel may have the option to upgrade their account and obtain additional services, such as a more prominent profile, targeted advertisements, and other special promotions or offers.”
This one specifically concerned me as it seems like a part of their business model eventually will involve some sort of additional fees to photographers to “boost” their marketing within the Togally platform. Tools like this are staples of the online dating world and Togally seems to be planning to embrace it. Unfortunately, this undermines their claim that they will eliminate the need for marketing, rather they will simply shift it to having to be done on their domain, at their prices.
Note: At the time of writing this article Togally does not appear to have offered any “additional services” yet.
“By submitting User Submissions for publication on the Services, you irrevocably grant us a non-exclusive, fully paid-up, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, adapt, publish, translate and distribute such User Submissions”
This clause is relatively consistent with a lot of social media and online dating sites but seems very concerning, to me, in regard to a company designed to market photography. I’m not sure how comfortable I would be granting Togally an unlimited license to do anything they want, forever, with any photos I upload into my portfolio on their website.
Note: Togally’s terms and service is very long, I would recommend anyone considering signing up read through it completely before signing up.
Togally seems like a, better than usual, creative marketplace to connect photographers to clients, but upon closer examination clearly still falls miles short of being a viable option for most photographers who are looking to earn a livable income in the photography world.
Like all services that boast to magically replace your need to market and search for clients, Togally seems to be filled with smoke and mirrors while plagued with little substance to deliver on their lofty promises.