Instant Visuals is the brain child of Nhlamulo Chabalala, a web developer and digital marketing specialist
So, imagine you are a Digital Marketing Agency tasked with developing a website and a digital campaign for an African client. The client states that their target market are Africans and they would like the imagery on the website and campaign to speak to that audience. You search the web for authentically African images but cannot find much, and those that you find either cost an arm and a leg or they only depict poverty and the struggles of Africans. This is how the Idea of Instant Visuals came about. We wanted to build a repository of authentically African Images shot by African Photographers from all walks of life. We focus more on the beauty of Africa, the rich cultures, the people and the beautiful cities and villages in which they live, as opposed to just the struggles and poverty.
Instant Visuals is the brain child of Nhlamulo Chabalala, a web developer and digital marketing specialist, who is also a part time photographer, from Pretoria, South Africa. As a digital marketing specialist who often needs to source images for clients for various purposes, Nhlamulo quickly noticed that it was challenging to find authentically African images that an African market can relate to. More often than not, he would have to hire a photographer to go and shoot specific images or go out and take the images himself. Before long, he had built up quite large repository of images, which he would then sell only to private clients. He soon realized that he might not be the only one faced with the challenge of finding authentically African images and decided to make these available for sale online. As the demand for the images grew, an opportunity came to light. He then decided to put more resources into growing the repository and instead of selling the images, offer them for free so that anyone can use them.
When the website was initially created, it was meant to just focus providing authentically African images. We soon realized that, with our limited resources, our content was limited to just South African content, but we wanted to cover all of Africa, even the corners that our inhouse photographers could not reach. This led to the birth of several content generation ideas, some of which did not work out.
Our first idea was to just buy content from African photographers. However, o we found that our monthly budget would quickly get depleted and this meant we were still not generating new content fast enough. We also had situations in which people were trying to sell us content that is not their own, which would lead to some legal issues further down the line.
Eventually we came up with the ‘Find a Photographer’ feature, which worked wonders. So, instead of buying content from Photographers, we would just barter for the content. The ‘Find a Photographer’ feature is an ecosystem in which Instant Visuals and our participating Photographers feed off of each other’s skills. Instant Visuals provides African Photographers with a platform on which they can advertise their services and get more clients and in tun they provide us with content. So a Photographer will go on the website and request to be a listed photographer, we will then ask them to upload at least 10 images and create their profile. We then run ads on Social Media and Search Engines and target people who are looking for a photographer. Users can then use the ‘Find a Photographer’ feature to search for photographers, filtering by location, and contact the photographer that appeals to them.
It wasn’t long before we had aspiring models asking if we could also create a ‘find a model’ feature. We saw this as an opportunity to generate content even faster so we made some modifications to the ‘Find a Photographer’ feature to include submissions from models.
Instant Visuals does not charge Models or Photographers for being listed, nor does it charge users for downloading and using our images for any purpose. So how do we make money to sustain this ambitious project. Well, all our revenue comes from selling advertising space. The website only just recently launched so at the moment we are just breaking even. But this will soon change when we implement our aggressive marketing campaign and get the website out to the world.
We want to educate the world about Africa. We hope to one day be a one-stop shop for all things African. Whether you want to learn about the massai Tribe of Kenya, looking for holiday African destinations or simply need an image of a girl in African Traditional Fashion, we hope to one day have all this available under one roof.
We have already begun writing articles educating people on some African cultures and have recently partnered with an App that is dedicated to teaching people African languages.
We are unfortunately still a very small team so the chip is turning quite slowly, but we are making progress towards our goals nonetheless.