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Author Topic: Entering Microstock in 2009/2010? Pointless or Not so Pointless?  (Read 11025 times)

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anc

« on: June 22, 2010, 15:51 »
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Hi! I am new to the forum and started on Microstock 3 months ago. I am now up to a point where  with with 80 files on Shutterstock I earn 80 dollars a month, and with 30 at Istock I earn 30 dollars a month. Before taxes etc.

I want to increase my efforts and in the next 12 months make it a sort of minimum UK wage (1000 a month)

I know most people are reluctant to discuss earnings etc.

My question and discussion is - I am entering into Microstock in 2010. I have read various articles about the subject and the subject is "Can someone entering into Microstock in 2010 have much success?"

Has anyone started microstock in 2009/2010 and are making $1000 plus a month?

Is it worth the effort, is it worth my effort for the next 12 months?

Please encrypt exact details on what you make if you must or find it necessary - but please enlighten me on Microstock 2010!

Thanks in advance!

It is an exciting game to play!


ap

« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 16:01 »
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Hi! I am new to the forum and started on Microstock 3 months ago. I am now up to a point where  with with 80 files on Shutterstock I earn 80 dollars a month, and with 30 at Istock I earn 30 dollars a month. Before taxes etc.

I want to increase my efforts and in the next 12 months make it a sort of minimum UK wage (1000 a month)

hi anc,

it seems that you're rpi (return per image) is over $1 a month across two agencies. i think those are extremely encouraging stats for your port. basically, if you increase your port to a thousand, maintaining the same rpi, you should be able to achieve what you want.

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 16:38 »
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I agree with AP.  Very impressive that you are earning $1/image in your portfolio per month at two of the top three sites. 

As to your general question if it is reasonable to earn 1k pounds (isn't that about $1500?) per month in a years time, that sounds extremely ambitious to me.   

I know it took me probably over two years and 8+ sites to be making that kind of money on a consistent basis.   And that was when there was much less competition. 

However I won't say it's impossible.  Everyone's experience is different and highly dependent on what you are offering.  If you are doing vectors or video rather than only photographs then your chances are probably better. 

ap

« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 16:48 »
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I know it took me probably over two years and 8+ sites to be making that kind of money on a consistent basis.   And that was when there was much less competition.  

i'm surprised you had a slow start, but it seems that it took a sharp trajectory upwards sometimes thereafter. i guess you don't have to be a rocket from the very beginning.  i hope this will eventually happen to my port.  :) right now it's like watching paint dry.

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 17:25 »
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i'm surprised you had a slow start

It didn't feel like a slow start at the time.  I was quite happy with my growth.   But then, I didn't ever expect to be making a living at this.  I don't think many people did when I started in 2005.  

For the past couple of years microstock has been continuously pimped as a get rich quick proposition.  I don't think it ever was that, and certainly less so now than ever before.  

ap

« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 17:28 »
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It didn't feel like a slow start at the time.  I was quite happy with my growth.   But then, I didn't ever expect to be making a living at this.  I don't think many people did when I started in 2005.  

oh, i meant slow compared to your later, faster growth. i wouldn't mind having your 'slow start', that's for sure.

anc

« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 17:36 »
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Sorry correction to my post ---  at shutterstock i have 120 images. so not quite 1 dollar each month per image for shutterstock - but istock i do get 1 dollar per month per image several months in a row.

I hope to keep working on it and achieve my goal of 1000 GBP a month in a year.

Anyone else who has started microstock in last 1-3 years and having success in earnings?

Wish I joined in 2003! But I hope to persist and make it.

« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 17:58 »
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Love to see you're portfolio, any chance of a link ??   Might be able to learn from it !  Very slow start here, but as expected :)

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 17:58 »
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If you have $1 RPI at istock you're either submitting mostly illustrations or you've been pretty selective in uploading some saleable photos.

If you're going to get to $1000 based on your RPI you're going to need to shoot/upload/get-accepted at least 900+ images over the next year. Given most newer people usually have 75% acceptance rate or less you'll need to produce 1,200+ images.

And it's pretty common that when newer people start going gung-ho submitting images they focus on quantity over quality which tends to drop their RPI from too many similars or questionable subjects. If it drops to 50 cents you now need 2,000+ images.

Every year the requirements get higher, the competition grows and get better, and the sites try to give contributors less of the pie. I'd say for you to get where you want in a year this would need to become close to a full time job, or second full time job.

So can you have success entering in 2010? It depends. How much time, motivation, patience, and other income do you have?

Not trying to take the wind out of your sails but rather give you a realistic view of what some of us have already run into.

« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 21:15 »
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My question and discussion is - I am entering into Microstock in 2010. I have read various articles about the subject and the subject is "Can someone entering into Microstock in 2010 have much success?"

I definitely think the answer is no.  Stay out.  Nothing to be seen here.

« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 21:52 »
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I know of an istock exclusive who joined in Jan '09, has 1353 files and about 4500 dls since. A lot of his port is Vetta so I'm guessing he's making about what you want. He's otherwise a successful professional lifestyle and fashion photographer.

« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 23:02 »
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Can it be done, yes. Will it be likely or easy? no.

I was making about 1$/image /month on IS. then they did a best match switcheroo and it took a lot more images to crawl up to making more (but much lower RPI), then they did another best match change and I was back to the same $ total but now with 10X the images I had before the first swap... This is sort of taking the high and low points of the graph, so not statistically very valid, but IS income can take a brutal hit w/o much notice.

Also SS RPI tends to drop off over time, although at least one submitter here that started recently has managed to maintain RPI for over a year while increasing their port.

I guess it mostly depends on how dependably you can submit high quality in demand images. (or video or vectors).

good luck.

« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 23:14 »
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I want to increase my efforts and in the next 12 months make it a sort of minimum UK wage (1000 a month)

I am entering into Microstock in 2010. I have read various articles about the subject and the subject is "Can someone entering into Microstock in 2010 have much success?"

Is it worth the effort, is it worth my effort for the next 12 months?


If you are already a professional photographer, have really GREAT and ORIGINAL images, then perhaps you may reach your goal.  Otherwise, forget about it because the answer is definitely NO.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 23:18 by Digital66 »

« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2010, 00:36 »
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Hi! I am new to the forum and started on Microstock 3 months ago. I am now up to a point where  with with 80 files on Shutterstock I earn 80 dollars a month, and with 30 at Istock I earn 30 dollars a month. Before taxes etc.
Well I earn 100-150$ per month on SS with 1044 images now, and 30$ on IS with 555 images. This means that your images must be the nec plus ultra, and that mine are crap. If you earn that amount with that quantity of images, you should continue by all means. If you put 800 instead of 80 images on SS, you will earn there 800$ per month, so hurry up! Why are you asking advice here, since (a) you can do the math and (b) most here are just, ahem, regulars.  ;)

Could we perhaps have a link to your portfolio, par hasard, por favor, Bitte Schn, 请 ?  :P
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 00:44 by FD-amateur »

« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2010, 01:03 »
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Hi! I am new to the forum and started on Microstock 3 months ago. I am now up to a point where  with with 80 files on Shutterstock I earn 80 dollars a month, and with 30 at Istock I earn 30 dollars a month. Before taxes etc.
Well I earn 100-150$ per month on SS with 1044 images now, and 30$ on IS with 555 images. This means that your images must be the nec plus ultra, and that mine are crap. If you earn that amount with that quantity of images, you should continue by all means. If you put 800 instead of 80 images on SS, you will earn there 800$ per month, so hurry up! Why are you asking advice here, since (a) you can do the math and (b) most here are just, ahem, regulars.  ;)

Could we perhaps have a link to your portfolio, par hasard, por favor, Bitte Schn, 请 ?  :P

I am giving all my efforts in microstock regarding my gear and expenses, and I am still far from that kind of RPI..! Like FD-amateur said why are you asking us if it is possible??.. if you are having that experience why not???.. you must have a nice portfolio :)

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2010, 01:44 »
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the earnings you postes are a good start

and trying for the next 12 months seems like a great way to find out: you will then decide whether it's worth or not

in my opinion, it is!

it's not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort, but in the end it's still possible to start in microstock now; when I started in 2007 some people were already saying it was too late and since then I've heard the overwhelming question "the future of microstock?" a thousand times but we're still here after all

that said, the majority of people starting now and looking for an easy and fast way to get rich without effort are failing miserably (luckily), but  you don't seem to be in that number
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 05:02 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

vonkara

« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2010, 02:06 »
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You will struggle IMO. I think that the learning curve is not possible anymore. "Struggle" still mean possible though


« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2010, 03:04 »
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There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism to good natured encouragement to sjlocke's half-joking answer "No - nothing to be seen here" (I think deep down we all wish were were the last one to enter microstock and new competition will suddenly stop).

But I'll add my experience to the pool of answers.  I'm halfway through Year 2, and up until hitting a rough patch in April that is continuing (whether it's an early start to the normal Summer Slowdown or larger, more troubling signs for the market) I've had consistent growth and am earning more than your stated goal.  I'm hardly the most talented microstocker in terms of my skills, but I think my greatest asset is my awareness of the importance of marketing.  If you have a similar drive to figure out what is selling and why, and can find some underserved niches the rest of us haven't spotted (yet), you can have some great success here.  But heed everyone's advice that it will NOT be easy, and WILL be a lot of work.

« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2010, 03:31 »
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There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism
We don't know whether he is a photographer or an illustrator. Good illustrations always have a much higher RPI than photos, and while everybody can push a button on a cam, illustrators' talents are scarce. That gives him a great competitive advantage, and that's why I asked, out of curiosity, for his port links.

« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2010, 06:53 »
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He/She seems to want more information than he/she is willing to share.  Why no link to his/her IS port?  Without knowing what kind of stuff is there you can't make much of a recommendation (maybe it is all images/illustrations/vectors of oil spills or Afghanistan!)  Looks like fishing without a license to me.

fred

« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2010, 07:49 »
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The earnings at the very start of your microstock "career" don't necessarily reflect a linear growth over time compared to the amount of images.

At some point many of us "plateaued". After 4 or 5 years of submitting it appeared that it doesn't really matter how many more images you throw at the agencies, not more money will come out of it.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and while you're in this game you always have to re-direct yourself and your style to supply the current market with what it wants. Don't expect that your best seller now will sell as well in two years time.

The answer to your initial question is yes, you can do it. Entering the industry at this point will require a full-time job approach, which means producing really good images all the time from now on until you either realize it's working or, well, ... not.

I've seen people starting microstock in 2009 and by now they make $1000 a month just at iStock with less than 500 images. The key is to create images that the market needs. That is the true challenge to figure that out. But if you do some smart research you can find that out pretty fast.

« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2010, 08:33 »
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There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism
... everybody can push a button on a cam, illustrators' talents are scarce.
Come on!!!  >:(

Pushing a button on a camera doesn't make anyone a photographer!   Knowledge and talent are necessary to be a good photographer and have success.

« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2010, 08:45 »
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There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism
... everybody can push a button on a cam, illustrators' talents are scarce.
Come on!!!  >:(

Pushing a button on a camera doesn't make anyone a photographer!   Knowledge and talent are necessary to be a good photographer and have success.

Quote
"The camera is the least important thing in photography"
Julius Shulman, 2009

« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2010, 08:52 »
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I think the point isn't "anyone can take a picture"... it's more like "many people can learn to become a good photographer" or for that matter, a good practitioner of Illustrator, 3d programs, videography, etc.  Having the technical skills is now like having a high school diploma. It only gets you in the door.  To be successful, one has to put on a business person's hat and figure out what will make him/her different from the thousands of others going after the same buyers.  Most will fail at this and wonder why.  "Hey, I'm an acclaimed photographer, my work has won awards, yadda, yadda, yadda."  The problem is, shots of puppy dogs and rainbows will only take you so far.  What about your work will help a business person sell his products or services?  Motivate his team? 

A technically perfect shot will sell less than one that is flawed yet effectively communicates a concept.

lisafx

« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2010, 12:06 »
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Pushing a button on a camera doesn't make anyone a photographer!   Knowledge and talent are necessary to be a good photographer and have success.

I completely agree.  Anyone can take a picture, but it takes skill to make a good picture and a combination of skill and talent to make great pictures.

But I do think that the line between people who can take good stock photos and those who just think they can is blurry. 

OTOH the line between people who can draw well and people who can't is pretty darn sharp.  There are far fewer illustrators because everybody and their cousin doesn't imagine they are good at it - unlike photography.

« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2010, 12:25 »
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Pushing a button on a camera doesn't make anyone a photographer!   Knowledge and talent are necessary to be a good photographer and have success.

I completely agree.  Anyone can take a picture, but it takes skill to make a good picture and a combination of skill and talent to make great pictures.

But I do think that the line between people who can take good stock photos and those who just think they can is blurry.  

OTOH the line between people who can draw well and people who can't is pretty darn sharp.  There are far fewer illustrators because everybody and their cousin doesn't imagine they are good at it - unlike photography.

Just go to the thephotoforum.com and look at some of the critique threads. Some images are really so so so bad and the posters really believe that they are phenomenal artists - BECAUSE their neighbors said so!

Some members responding to the posts, call the animal by its name but will be called as rude and unprofessional for destroying somebody's self esteem (simply by being honest...). Other members do (also) think that using almost every filter in Photoshop can only enhance the quality of a photo and applaud to obvious photoshop-raped images.

It's always subjective.

However, the buyers will decide if the subjective opinion will prevail in the long run aiming for some income.

« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2010, 13:00 »
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no portfolio link, what are you working on? objects, travel, people, illustrations?


anc

« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2010, 18:44 »
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hey guys, wow i didnt check the forum for a day and a half and so many replies!

thank you for all of your replies and advice.

Yeah -  I am reluctant to show you my portfolios because I think a lot of newer people like me will want to copy my images to get the same RPI.

Perhaps in 12 months I will post links to my IS portfolio once lots of my images have gold flames and newer images which are copies of mine will not have a chance to overtake mine. As right now if someone copied my images they could overtake mine in downloads when I spent a lot of my time looking into what is not on Istock to find a niche. Does that makes sense to everyone or is that totally dickish? Some of my images for closely related keywords there are only 5 images similar to them! So I want my niches to have some time for my images to become the leaders before I show anyone my portfolio and open up the door to copycats. Not implying that any of you are - but in my first few weeks as a newbie I myself thought "duuuh why not make the same images as the top sellers" until I did it with one image and got pretty much no sales - as the ones I copied had blue flames, and which one would you rather download a blue flamed image or a brand new one?

I am not a photographer though I do 3D images and photoshop created images.

As you have been so kind in giving me advice without me showing my portfolios I will try and tell you what has worked for me so far (bearing in mind I am so new and green it is not funny and not in anyway trying to be know best on the subject) ---- I make generic images on subjects which there are not much of on istock.

For example say a graphic designer is doing a poster for a veterinarian and they need an image of a dog, if I make a generic 3D cartoon dog it is probably more likely to be downloaded than a photo of a border collie. Why? Because what if the graphic designer is in, i dont know, egypt - where they dont have border collies, or hollywood where most of their customers have Maltese dogs --- my generic dog has more chance of being downloaded more times internationally. So that is what I have found successful for me so far - creating generic images and before creating them checking how many of that type of image are on istock so i dont completely waste my time.

Now saying that I don't think that my portfolio has proved it will survive or continue yet. As i think I said before it has been consistent for 3 months which is nothing seeing some of your ports.

No vectors but I would like to in the future.

I do think my SS portfolio will drop in RPI. as already after such short time my first images I uploaded are not getting downloaded anymore! shame!

But I am confident in IS will keep going strong for me the more I add.

I am going to persist and work very hard at it. I wish I had the finances to do it full time but I don't :( - however with my fiance away for 2 months I do have some free time to work hard!

Thanks again for all the advice. I hope to create a portfolio as good as some of the great microstockers who have commented on this thread.

So I will keep working hard on it --- and if I fail ---well it was fun anyway, its funny to get a kick every time I log into my portfolios at my day job and see a little increase in earnings

anc

« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2010, 18:51 »
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oh also i found it quite natural to think of ideas for images - as I am a graphic designer and have worked in graphic design and marketing for 5 years so it comes easy to me "I wish I had a blahhh graphic" or "if I was doing a promotion piece on a self help book I would want an image of a blaaaah" etc.

I love the fact that our customers are graphic designers!

I think, correct me if im wrong but creating images which are smart and interesting but also instantly communicate a message or idea is very important. As thats what I look out for as a graphic designer - what images instantly communicate what I am trying to communicate.

« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2010, 19:27 »
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There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism
... everybody can push a button on a cam, illustrators' talents are scarce.
Come on!!!  >:(
Pushing a button on a camera doesn't make anyone a photographer!   Knowledge and talent are necessary to be a good photographer and have success.
I should have added a smiley. The fact is that there much less (good) illustrators than there are photographers, and that illustrations are in demand.

« Reply #30 on: June 23, 2010, 19:54 »
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I think it's do-able.  Imho you need some luck with image placement and avoid uploading similars (they are their own competition in placement). Having at least one pretty good seller helps too in attracting traffic to your portfolio i'd guess...

« Reply #31 on: June 23, 2010, 19:55 »
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Yeah -  I am reluctant to show you my portfolios because I think a lot of newer people like me will want to copy my images to get the same RPI.
If you are an illustrator and if you developed your own style, it's hardly possible to get successful copiers. In photography, it's much easier to copy, depending on the setting. Apart from style and technical skill, the choice of your concepts (if they fill in a niche) could pose a vulnerability though. Although we are a community, we are also competitors, at least some. Your concern is fair enough.
I am not a photographer though I do 3D images and photoshop created images.
Well that says enough. Illustrations in general have a much higher RPI, and if you mastered a style and you found subjects that the market likes, you will certainly continue your success. It would have been totally different if you were a photographer shooting more of the same. Being a graphic designer gives you a buyer's feeling of what is needed and missing, which is more than most of us have.
I do think my SS portfolio will drop in RPI. as already after such short time my first images I uploaded are not getting downloaded anymore! shame!
You will have to live with that. You'll get a higher exposure as new contributor for a while, plus that new images get a boost. After that, they fall back on a baseline. You'll have to keep feeding the beast to keep it going. It will be compensated by iStock that only takes off after a while.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 20:06 by FD-regular »

« Reply #32 on: June 23, 2010, 20:05 »
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If you are an illustrator and if you developed your own style, it's hardly possible to get successful copiers.
Except when people download your vectors and and use bits and pieces of them and reupload them as their own.  :-[

« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2010, 20:09 »
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And the million and one glossy buttons, Apple-esque silos, swirly Xmas tree or whatever style is in vogue this week.

« Reply #34 on: June 23, 2010, 20:11 »
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If you are an illustrator and if you developed your own style, it's hardly possible to get successful copiers.
Except when people download your vectors and and use bits and pieces of them and reupload them as their own.  :-[
Not being an illustrator, I wasn't aware of this kind of reverse engineering. Does it really happen? Well, there are angels and *insult removed* everywhere. I was thinking of OP stating he does 3D. If he bought his models, he is quite vulnerable too. No matter if he prefers to keep his links private for now. If he gets flames on IS, soon enough the guild of copiers will find him.

« Reply #35 on: June 23, 2010, 20:23 »
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Yep, it happens. Probably not as much on IS, but on SS it seems to happen quite a bit. These images get on to the free pirate sites and it is open season. There is actually a thread now in the SS Illustrator forums about this. You are probably safer with 3D, but there's always someone out there trying to make a quick buck on someone else's work.

« Reply #36 on: June 23, 2010, 20:27 »
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time to come out with a newer, harder to copy style....


« Reply #37 on: June 23, 2010, 21:41 »
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time to come out with a newer, harder to copy style....

Not me. Nobody would bother to copy my stuff. I'm not a home run hitter.  Just base hits. :D

« Reply #38 on: June 25, 2010, 10:50 »
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time to come out with a newer, harder to copy style....

Not me. Nobody would bother to copy my stuff. I'm not a home run hitter.  Just base hits. :D

Cory - I LOVE your stuff.  Just clicked through and added as a fave.  Looks like grand slams to me.

« Reply #39 on: June 25, 2010, 11:48 »
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Aww shucks.  :)  I guess I'm just jealous of all those people that create those quadruple blue flame images at IS. But, I have a lot of fun doing my own style and the money isn't bad either.

lisafx

« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2010, 12:30 »
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Congrats on being both smart and talented ANC.    Considering that you have a design background, are good at coming up with original concepts, and are producing illustrations, which the average person can't do well, if at all, then I think you have an excellent chance to meet your income goals!

And no, it is not "dickish" to not share your portfolio links.  If you have discovered a niche you WILL be copied as soon as it becomes obvious your images are selling well. 


 

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