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Author Topic: techniques for marketing or improving visability  (Read 10337 times)

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« on: April 13, 2010, 08:10 »
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Are there any marketing tips or techniques to improve downloads or visibility to potential microstock customers?  Obviously shooting more and better images is a start, but once you have the images up there, is there anything you can do? 

Is there any advantage to uploading a shoot in small groups on different days to spread out their appearance in 'recent uploads' or should you get the images up as quickly as possible (or upload limits allow).

Are there different strategies depending on the type of images?  The majority of my images (both assignment and stock) is work with models:  http://www.shutterstock.com/g/danhowell


« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 08:22 »
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I'm not going to give away any of my "strategies", but I would venture you might have better luck moving away from "girls in bras and swimsuits standing around" to something more useful or conceptual.

« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 08:49 »
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Mr. Locke is correct; less lingerie more teenage girl, young families etc.
Other than that proper key-wording is vital to your images being found.

You do nice work... you just need to shoot more of what the buyers need for their projects.

« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 09:21 »
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Interesting comments considering those images about about 30% of the images on that site, but account for about 50% of the downloads I have had to date.

Something I will and do consider when setting up shoots.  Most of my recent shoots that are available for microstock have been fitness and lifestyle so I will have to wait and see about their performance.  However, most of my shooting is not available for microstock due to model release restriction.  Most of my work is on assignment for magazines and catalogs with agency models who either don't sign stock releases or do so only at prohibitive rates.  My personality or celebrity work goes straight to a macro/editorial stock agency. 

« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 10:11 »
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...you just need to shoot more of what the buyers need for their projects.

That is good advice!
So you can read their mind?

« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2010, 10:20 »
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...you just need to shoot more of what the buyers need for their projects.

That is good advice!
So you can read their mind?

It is not difficult to do a bit of research. Most stock sites have a page showing the best selling images.
Or you can just go straight to the portfolios of Yuri Arcurs, Monkey Business, SJLocke etc, etc to see what the top image makers are doing.

The OP is a pro. Fully capable of producing the same sort of work if he so wishes.

vonkara

« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 10:36 »
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Yea but copying end to nothing. Don't try to beat the old monkey's at doing faces is my advice. Find your own style mixed with research about what can sell, and more important, what haven't been done yet.

« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 10:44 »
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I think a variety is the best plan of attack. Children, babies, senior citizens, people in active lifestyles, education, etc.

I agree, I think you have the skills, Dan...your photos are professional, that's for sure. You are just trying to make some bucks off of things you have shot for other people, and that is limiting you. Setting up your own shoots for stock, with model releases, would be the way to go, IMHO.

« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 11:05 »
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One of the downsides to using multiple agencies is that you have to develop a unique strategy for each one. Although there are techniques they have in common, in order to maximize your exposure at any given agency you'll need to do things that are specific to it. I'm not an independent anymore, so I don't mind sharing a few pointers for some of the agencies I used to contribute to.

Shutterstock: Timing your submissions to get a high rank in the "New" search is critical. A good habit to get into is to monitor how long it takes (in hours) from the time you submit an image to the time it takes for it to appear in the search results. Adjust your submission times accordingly. Ideally you'll want your images to "go live" on Sunday through Wednesday nights (EST). Also, Shutterstock reviews images in batches based on the oldest image you have in the queue: by submitting just one image at the most opportune time you will ensure that all your images in that batch will be reviewed with it.

Dreamstime: I found this agency's search to be the most confounding - I think they want to be seen as "the good guys", and arrange things to spread sales across as many contributors as possible. Their search engine uses titles and descriptions together with keywords, so you need adjust these to suit. A common mistake is to use the same title and description for similar images - by doing this you're tying your images to the same search terms, which may not be optimal for images that have more than one readily-identifiable use. A good technique is to mix-and-match varying (but pertinent) conceptual keywords in your titles and descriptions, thereby increasing your exposure across multiple search terms.

Fotolia: Keyword order is of primary importance here - their search engine places extra weight on the first seven keywords, so you need to put the same kind of some thought into keyword order here as you do with titles and descriptions on Dreamstime.

Image Exclusivity: If you've "won the lottery" on an image at Dreamstime or Fotolia, check to see how it's doing at other agencies - it may be more profitable for you to list it exclusively at one agency than to have it listed across multiple ones.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 11:26 by sharply_done »

« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 11:45 »
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The OP is a pro. Fully capable of producing the same sort of work if he so wishes.

I am not trying to be rude here and I am not expert either but the WB looks way off on 90% of his images.
Doesn't it or it is just me?!?
Maybe he did that on purpose? (or I have to recalibrate my monitor)

WarrenPrice

« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 11:52 »
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One of the downsides to using multiple agencies is that you have to develop a unique strategy for each one. Although there are techniques they have in common, in order to maximize your exposure at any given agency you'll need to do things that are specific to it. I'm not an independent anymore, so I don't mind sharing a few pointers for some of the agencies I used to contribute to.

Shutterstock: Timing your submissions to get a high rank in the "New" search is critical. A good habit to get into is to monitor how long it takes (in hours) from the time you submit an image to the time it takes for it to appear in the search results. Adjust your submission times accordingly. Ideally you'll want your images to "go live" on Sunday through Wednesday nights (EST). Also, Shutterstock reviews images in batches based on the oldest image you have in the queue: by submitting just one image at the most opportune time you will ensure that all your images in that batch will be reviewed with it.

Dreamstime: I found this agency's search to be the most confounding - I think they want to be seen as "the good guys", and arrange things to spread sales across as many contributors as possible. Their search engine uses titles and descriptions together with keywords, so you need adjust these to suit. A common mistake is to use the same title and description for similar images - by doing this you're tying your images to the same search terms, which may not be optimal for images that have more than one readily-identifiable use. A good technique is to mix-and-match varying (but pertinent) conceptual keywords in your titles and descriptions, thereby increasing your exposure across multiple search terms.

Fotolia: Keyword order is of primary importance here - their search engine places extra weight on the first seven keywords, so you need to put the same kind of some thought into keyword order here as you do with titles and descriptions on Dreamstime.

Image Exclusivity: If you've "won the lottery" on an image at Dreamstime or Fotolia, check to see how it's doing at other agencies - it may be more profitable for you to list it exclusively at one agency than to have it listed across multiple ones.

Excellent analysis, Sharply, and well written.  Blue heart for that one.   :)

« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 14:03 »
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One of the downsides to using multiple agencies is that you have to develop a unique strategy for each one. Although there are techniques they have in common, in order to maximize your exposure at any given agency you'll need to do things that are specific to it. I'm not an independent anymore, so I don't mind sharing a few pointers for some of the agencies I used to contribute to.


Thanks, this is the type of information I was hoping for.  I was not soliciting for critique of my images or the scope of things I shoot for microstock or my assignment work.  Thanks for getting to the heart of the question.  I'm sure that it will help many people.

« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 14:18 »
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On Istock you can add thumbnail links to related imges in the desciption.  DeepMeta makes this very easy:

http://www.deepmeta.com/GettingStarted/ImageLinking/

« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 14:21 »
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...  I'm sure that it will help many people.

Not really - I've written stuff like this before, only to have most people say doing things like these are a waste of time. The prevailing attitude here seems to be that time spent not planning, shooting, or processing is time ill-spent. The prevailing RPI here is also around $1 per image per month ...

« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2010, 14:32 »
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...  I'm sure that it will help many people.

Not really - I've written stuff like this before, only to have most people say doing things like these are a waste of time. The prevailing attitude here seems to be that time spent not planning, shooting, or processing is time ill-spent. The prevailing RPI here is also around $1 per image per month ...

"A good technique is to mix-and-match varying (but pertinent) conceptual keywords in your titles and descriptions, thereby increasing your exposure across multiple search terms."

This is particularly good information concerning Dreamstime.  Thanks for the insight.

« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2010, 14:34 »
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...  I'm sure that it will help many people.

Not really - I've written stuff like this before, only to have most people say doing things like these are a waste of time. The prevailing attitude here seems to be that time spent not planning, shooting, or processing is time ill-spent. The prevailing RPI here is also around $1 per image per month ...
Does someone need a hug?  ;D Seriously though, I agree with what you wrote. I think I do all those things.

« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2010, 14:55 »
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Excellent analysis, Sharply, and well written.  Blue heart for that one.   :)
Yes his info was excellent in educating our competition. Very correct but missing a second essential point for Shutterstock. Very conveniently, he left the strategy out for iStock. So he obviously doesn't like to educate his own competition, only the one of independents.  :P

« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2010, 15:15 »
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Shutterstock: Timing your submissions to get a high rank in the "New" search is critical. A good habit to get into is to monitor how long it takes (in hours) from the time you submit an image to the time it takes for it to appear in the search results. Adjust your submission times accordingly. Ideally you'll want your images to "go live" on Sunday through Wednesday nights (EST). Also, Shutterstock reviews images in batches based on the oldest image you have in the queue: by submitting just one image at the most opportune time you will ensure that all your images in that batch will be reviewed with it.

This strategy  only applies to situation when you have one huge upload once a week. If you upload small batches everyday it's quite likely than some of your images hit this oprtunity window automatically and you do no have to spent time watching when they appear in search engine.

Dreamstime: I found this agency's search to be the most confounding - I think they want to be seen as "the good guys", and arrange things to spread sales across as many contributors as possible. Their search engine uses titles and descriptions together with keywords, so you need adjust these to suit. A common mistake is to use the same title and description for similar images - by doing this you're tying your images to the same search terms, which may not be optimal for images that have more than one readily-identifiable use. A good technique is to mix-and-match varying (but pertinent) conceptual keywords in your titles and descriptions, thereby increasing your exposure across multiple search terms.

I guess common mistake is submitting images from one series together. You should better off if you toss them randomly into different batches.

Fotolia: Keyword order is of primary importance here - their search engine places extra weight on the first seven keywords, so you need to put the same kind of some thought into keyword order here as you do with titles and descriptions on Dreamstime.

Hard to maintain different keywords for different agencies.  Maybe if you uploading directly from software used to manage images it could reorder keywords for you?

Image Exclusivity: If you've "won the lottery" on an image at Dreamstime or Fotolia, check to see how it's doing at other agencies - it may be more profitable for you to list it exclusively at one agency than to have it listed across multiple ones.

That's very valid point.

« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2010, 16:46 »
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I was not soliciting for critique of my images or the scope of things I shoot for microstock or my assignment work.

Well, I am sorry, I am just trying to help!

lisafx

« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2010, 18:57 »
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Fotolia: Keyword order is of primary importance here - their search engine places extra weight on the first seven keywords, so you need to put the same kind of some thought into keyword order here as you do with titles and descriptions on Dreamstime.

Hard to maintain different keywords for different agencies.  Maybe if you uploading directly from software used to manage images it could reorder keywords for you?


^^  There is no reason to maintain different keywords at different agencies (other than Istock, of course).   I always front-load my keywords.  It helps at Fotolia and doesn't hurt anywhere else.

Great list Sharply!  (although FD is right that Istock is conspicuously absent from the list ;))

One thing you can do at IS is lightbox images from a particular model or shoot and create links to similar images in your description field.  Sometimes that will translate to sales of multiple images from a series.

Other than that for IS there isn't a whole lot you can do.  The default search has more to do with whether or not you get sales than most anything else (assuming good keywords).
 
« Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 19:00 by lisafx »

« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2010, 19:13 »
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Good reply Sharply_done. Good advice. O f course he didn't include iStock -his mother didn't raise a dumny.
Smiling jack

« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2010, 20:51 »
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I'll let sjlocke chime in on good exposure techniques on iStock. <insert winky face here>

« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2010, 21:02 »
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One thing you can do at IS is lightbox images from a particular model or shoot and create links to similar images in your description field.  Sometimes that will translate to sales of multiple images from a series.

Other than that for IS there isn't a whole lot you can do.  The default search has more to do with whether or not you get sales than most anything else (assuming good keywords).
 
Thanks for that additional info.

« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2010, 21:05 »
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I'll let sjlocke chime in on good exposure techniques on iStock. <insert winky face here>


All my iStock tips are here: http://seanlockedigitalimagery.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/youve-been-accepted/

For free!

« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2010, 01:28 »
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I'll let sjlocke chime in on good exposure techniques on iStock. <insert winky face here>
The honorable gentlemen Locke has always been very frank on why he doesn't like to educate competitors.

In respect for the OP who seems to be a top photographer, judging by his work, and with top models - I should complement the Shutterstock strategy by hammering on diversity in every upload batch. As new images are exposed prominently for a short period, you shouldn't upload a row of similars in one batch, but add some different content. This way the halo effect of your new images will be maximized over your whole portfolio.

I'm still waiting for the iStock strategy though. Does anobody knows what are the working hours of the rough feathered guy?  ::)

« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2010, 01:51 »
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Dreamstime:

Delete similar images with only few sales, delete images which have not sold in a while. That might help according to Achilles. I have deleted over 50% of my portfolio and so far the past days have been quite good. Don't know how it will play out long term. But no regrets about getting rid of the crappy images/no sellers/slow sellers. If there are good photos which should be good sellers but have not been downloaded, let them be rekeyworded by Dt's Keyword service. This will give them a new start.

« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2010, 04:38 »
0
One of the downsides to using multiple agencies is that you have to develop a unique strategy for each one. Although there are techniques they have in common, in order to maximize your exposure at any given agency you'll need to do things that are specific to it. I'm not an independent anymore, so I don't mind sharing a few pointers for some of the agencies I used to contribute to.

Shutterstock: Timing your submissions to get a high rank in the "New" search is critical. A good habit to get into is to monitor how long it takes (in hours) from the time you submit an image to the time it takes for it to appear in the search results. Adjust your submission times accordingly. Ideally you'll want your images to "go live" on Sunday through Wednesday nights (EST). Also, Shutterstock reviews images in batches based on the oldest image you have in the queue: by submitting just one image at the most opportune time you will ensure that all your images in that batch will be reviewed with it.

Dreamstime: I found this agency's search to be the most confounding - I think they want to be seen as "the good guys", and arrange things to spread sales across as many contributors as possible. Their search engine uses titles and descriptions together with keywords, so you need adjust these to suit. A common mistake is to use the same title and description for similar images - by doing this you're tying your images to the same search terms, which may not be optimal for images that have more than one readily-identifiable use. A good technique is to mix-and-match varying (but pertinent) conceptual keywords in your titles and descriptions, thereby increasing your exposure across multiple search terms.

Fotolia: Keyword order is of primary importance here - their search engine places extra weight on the first seven keywords, so you need to put the same kind of some thought into keyword order here as you do with titles and descriptions on Dreamstime.

Image Exclusivity: If you've "won the lottery" on an image at Dreamstime or Fotolia, check to see how it's doing at other agencies - it may be more profitable for you to list it exclusively at one agency than to have it listed across multiple ones.

To be honest Sharply I think you're just adding to and confirming yet another ton of myths about microstock. People love to believe that there are significant other elements to explain their lack of success, rather than just the saleability of their images __ but really there aren't.

If your stuff isn't selling as well as you think it should it is highly unlikely to be because you haven't employed the correct 'strategy' for the particular agency. It'll be because your stuff isn't as good as what is already available to the buyers.

Shutterstock __ It really makes sod all difference when you choose to upload. For starters you can't actually predict how long it will take for your images to be inspected which can be anything from 4 hours to 4 days. I believe most subscribers know perfectly well how the various sort options work and how to seek out the best stuff. New uploads will be highly visible in the first few pages of 'Newest First' for several days, comfortably a working week, and that's where LT subscribers will be looking. Good images will generally be discovered although FD's tip about not uploading series of images together is accurate.

Dreamstime - Yes, titles and descriptions are very important but DT have such a piss-poor default sort-order that it is something of a lottery anyway. Their significance as a major player is slowly ebbing, month by month.

Fotolia - I know FT have stated themselves that keyword order is important and indeed the first 7 keywords are highlighted in bold, etc when you click on an image. Unfortunately it doesn't actually make any difference to where the image appears in the default sort-order. This is very easy for anyone to prove. Just take a couple of your own newish images from a series and modify the keyword orders of one of them to be 'wrong', then see if their sort order position changes relative to each other (it won't). You can also see that keyword order has no effect on virtually every search that throws up bizarre results. Try a search on 'ribs roast' for example __ the images of lambs in a field do not have those keywords highlighted but they are still very prominent. The default sort order position at FT is determined by the sales/views ratio and newness and has nothing to do with keyword order.

Over the years I've had a few suspicions myself about how things might be distorted within microstock __ but one by one, as evidence has appeared, those 'beliefs' have been disproven. There was once a particularly successful contributor at IS and I used to wonder whether their extraordinary success was in part down to their keywording. Keywords at IS were invisible in those days. Then they made keywords visible and we all found that actually the contributor in question had very ordinary keywording skills. Disappointingly their success was entirely down to the quality of the images! I used to assume that the sort-order at IS (and probably everything else too!) was so skewed towards exclusives that no independent contributor could ever hope to challenge those at the very top (or even be allowed to) __ then along came Yuri who comprehensively blew that theory out of the water.

An individual's success or otherwise at microstock is probably at least 98% down to the saleability of their images. About the only 'strategy' that will make any difference is the title thing at DT. It is tempting to think that luck plays a significant part too as we all have images that do well on some agencies and not on others. However that element almost certainly works in both directions and probably evens out in the greater scheme of things. It is not something that a contributor can influence anyway.

« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2010, 07:27 »
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As new images are exposed prominently for a short period, you shouldn't upload a row of similars in one batch, but add some different content. This way the halo effect of your new images will be maximized over your whole portfolio.
thanks, I'll give that a try.

« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2010, 08:44 »
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To be honest Sharply I think you're just adding to and confirming yet another ton of myths about microstock. People love to believe that there are significant other elements to explain their lack of success, rather than just the saleability of their images __ but really there aren't.
If your stuff isn't selling as well as you think it should it is highly unlikely to be because you haven't employed the correct 'strategy' for the particular agency. It'll be because your stuff isn't as good as what is already available to the buyers.


BINGO

Good reply gostwick


 

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