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Author Topic: Sales Strategy for Semi-Pro looking for Steady Sales  (Read 5870 times)

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« on: May 23, 2014, 09:30 »

I am new to the group.  :)

I decided this year (year two of a five year plan) to 'put my images out there' and have them start generating income. I am a design / media teacher, so I have lots of time to devote to my side business when school is out.

I posted a thread on LinkedIn a few weeks ago which led very quickly to a contract offer from Corbis. Robert Harding UK also seems interested, as is All Canada Photos.

FotoArabia is also interested in my Middle East portfolio from last year - but they are RF.

Reading the Corbis contract, I would be committing to a three year deal (option of exclusive, co-exclusive or non-exclusive) with a three year survival clause after termination. So a six year deal.

Since I have a small collection, almost no experience in selling stock, and the changed nature of the image market in recent years - do you think that signing the Corbis deal is a good strategy?



« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2014, 09:44 »
Hi Eric,

signing a deal and uploading content are two different things. A 6 year commitment is very extreme. This is a very fast paced industry and companies move up and down the success ladder at lightening speed. I certainly wouldnt commit my portfolio to just one agency for 6 years.

If possible, maybe try to negotiate a one year trial phase with corbis, just to get to know them. If they are really interested, they should be able to give you an individual contract with an early opt out possibility.

If not, then I would only give them non exclusive files in the beginning. Also ask them how many files a year they expect you to produce, i.e. what are their minimum requirements?

In the forum here we have Jonathan Ross from spacesimages/blend. Maybe send him a sitemail and ask his advice.

It takes time to find the right partner for your production.

Might also be worth applying to stocksy or Offset or other special collections in the industry.

« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2014, 10:06 »
I have no experience with Corbis as a contributor (except through Veer, their subsidiary - which I left at the end of March over their lack of an opt out to their partner program which I considered a very bad deal for contributors) but as an agency, they are a long way away from the top dog - I don't think it's a joke that people say they've never made a profit.

And I agree that 6 years is a very long time, even if it's non-exclusive (which will prevent you from accepting an exclusive deal elsewhere).

If your goal is to generate income, unless your images are really out of the ordinary (not talking about quality, but whether no one else has anything like this and it's work that might be sold as a stock image) RF will sell more than RM. You mention RF as a "but..." which suggests to me you don't like the idea.

Look at Shutterstock's images in your area. Do you see similar work to yours? That should give you a good idea of your relative bargaining position for your portfolio and its relative worth in the marketplace.

From the experience of others with Getty (which is the big dog), the "list" prices on the site are not even close to what the actual sale price is, so try not to give too much weight to the good feeling you get by having a high price tag attached to your work - it's the volume of sales and the actual sales price that will matter.

Good luck with finding a good home for your work.

« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2014, 10:23 »

From the experience of others with Getty (which is the big dog), the "list" prices on the site are not even close to what the actual sale price is, so try not to give too much weight to the good feeling you get by having a high price tag attached to your work - it's the volume of sales and the actual sales price that will matter.

I agree, the prices on the website are no indication of what you will really earn. It might be several 100 dollars, it might be a few cents. Even for RM. If you can, try to find an artist who is working with Corbis and can give you realistic insights of how much you might be earning.

A lot of artists make this mistake. They see their files priced for 500 dollars and think they will always earn 20% of that. And then they get a sales report with sales for 50 cents, 5 dollars,20 dollars etc...with an average of maybe 12-16 dollars. That is not too far from the average in the micros, especially if you add the much,much higher volume in sales.

Also macro agencies are very selective, so instead of having 20 files on a micro agency,you can maybe just place 3 files at a macro agency. And these have to be placed in one series together,so they all get the same time stamp in best match. With the micros you would have been free to spread the files over 2 or three years and so give the whole series a regular boost. Or deactivate them whenever you like if somebody wants to buy all rights to the files etc...

So your 3 files in macro have to bring in the same regular revenue as the full 20 image series on the micros.

It is very difficult to predict with what kind of license or what kind of business model  would make more money for your images. So I would suggest to explore all avenues to get an organic feeling for the market.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 13:18 by cobalt »

« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2014, 10:56 »
First of all, thank you all for your feedback.

Let me turn the table around for a moment. If we take the Corbis contract issue out of the discussion, so to speak, and pretend that I have one simple objective: "Monetize my small collection of nature and travel images ( newbielink: [nonactive]) as much as possible so that I can reinvest the income into the expansion of my collection."

Consensus in this thread seems to be that RF would likely provide higher income than RM. Correct?

Which company would you recommend based on my portfolio?

Thanks again,


« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2014, 11:02 »
That's tough.  A lot of people have very nice images of blurry water, trees, landmarks, and hillsides.  It would be hard to stand out in micro.  Hopefully "small collection" doesn't just mean the images on that portfolio page.  Those won't get you any where in micro.  Maybe try offset?


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2014, 11:10 »

As Sean says, if that is the full extent of your portfolio, then your earnings will be low. I tend to take a similar type of image (but have 5000+ now) so it might be worth reading my blog where I regularly talk about the sites that work for me and the ones that don't. I've been revisiting my own strategy now that I have a solid batch of images on micro sites - all my new ones that are interesting, unusual or difficult to find go on my Symbio site, Alamy and Corbis. Only the generic shots now go on the micros. Still too early to say if that is a great strategy, but I'll let it run its course and try to keep as many different routes to market available.


« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2014, 14:41 »
Maybe you can find accurate numbers from Jim Pickerells site,but I am sure RF sales must be over 80% of stock revenue in the whole market. Ignoring RF means, you are ignoring the majority of sales.

Like others here have said, travel images is probably the most overcrowded genre unless what you have is extremely rare or unusually well done. There are hundreds of thousands of extremely talented photo enthusists who take lovely pictures on their vacations and then send them up to all the stock agencies. Just have a look at Shutterstock/istock/Fotolia and getty what kind of images they already have and if what you have is in any way better or even comparable to their midlevel quality.

The question is: do you just want to place images that you were taking for yourself on agencies to get a little additional income, or do you really want to produce stock on a regular basis and generate a reliable income stream?

If you are mostly interested in money, why not let the customer guide you? With that I mean upload 300 Rf files to agencies with high volume traffic and sales,i.e. the top 4 sites on the right and then simply observe what sells. Also try to create a regular upload flow of at least 10-20 images a week to get into the shoot.upload.repeat rythm. Have a look at the agencies request list, what they are really asking for and I am sure travel images is usually not on there.

And experiment with things you would maybe not normally shoot for yourself - food,lifestyle,photoshop collages etc...or add some editorial into the mix. Just experiment and have fun.

Then after a few months and with 1000 images online you will have a much better understanding how stock works,what the customers actually want to buy from you and if the whole regular production workflow is the right thing for you. And then might be a better time to look at adding exclusive images to certain agencies and trying RM etc...

Perhaps you stumble on a special niche related to a hobby you have - building canoes/canoe travel/family holidays or the classic - all about wine,wine production,people with wine,wine recipes. Or if you love to travel, specialize in one genre - mostly camping shots, or horseback riding journeys, holidays with elderly people or travelling with children.

There is no limit to what you can do with stock photography and once you have found a good combination of what you love to shoot and what your customers love to buy it is a fantastic way to earn a living. But you really need to just do it and experiment. It is very hard to predict how much you will earn otherwise.

And regular uploads are often more important than the most fantastic images. People with a decent midlevel quality that upload 50 files a week will usually outsell a superstar photographer who only uploads 50 images a year. You need to get your work seen, every agency is an individual marketplace and customers have to find you in the 200 000 images that are being uploaded every week in the industry.

I really love my job, but it is not for everyone. But it is worth trying if you love photography.


« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2014, 00:34 »
That's tough.  A lot of people have very nice images of blurry water, trees, landmarks, and hillsides.  It would be hard to stand out in micro.  Hopefully "small collection" doesn't just mean the images on that portfolio page.  Those won't get you any where in micro.  Maybe try offset?

i agree with sean on this, your work is nice, but it has been done by many before you (to the point of an over saturated market), so you are not really bringing a lot to the table that is new. also, i think that you have a lot of HDR images which is fine and artsy and all, but really has limited usage as a stock image.

« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2014, 02:52 »
The absence of people from locations makes them look very "microstocky" in my opinion. I don't know if people look for that sort of work on RM these days.

« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2014, 08:44 »
Very beautiful portfolio and it does remind me of photos on 500px. If I have the same portfolio, I would try for offset though. I have never contributed to Corbis but I think it's hard to get in so it's quite flattering to be given the opportunity.
You really have to give Offset a try. I don't think they require exclusivity but I could be wrong.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 20:22 by onepointfour »

« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2014, 23:34 »
When you say 6 years, being a 3 year deal + a 3 year "survival" clause, what does that survival clause actually entail?  Many agreements will include a boilerplate "survival" clause after termination, but this relates to ongoing obligations around things like maintaining confidentiality, effect of warranties or indemnities.  The survival clause may be unrelated to the duration of the term of the agreement.  Or is it perhaps a 3 year renewal term, and then the question is, at whose option?  You might want to re-read carefully to be sure whether it is really 3 or 6 years you are potentially committing to.

PS I think your photos are beautiful.


« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2014, 08:32 »
you certainly should go macro with your port and you can't compare Corbis to Veer in any way, Corbis is still the second best seller in the macro world after Getty and lately more steady than Getty which seems to be in a free fall. Corbis is certainly an okay choice. Don't expect miracles with a travel portfolio though regardless which outlet you choose.


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