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Author Topic: How Many Hours Do you spend a week on Microstock?  (Read 7825 times)

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« on: June 21, 2007, 23:56 »
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I'm curious how much time people spend each week on microstock. This would include shooting, editing, posting and keywording. I've posted a few shots so far and it seems very time consuming with little or no return for the time I've invested. It seems to me that you would be better off working for minimum wage than posting photos to microstock. I've been spending 5-10 hours a week for the last two weeks to post about a dozen images to several sites with no sales yet.

It seems to me that even the most successful microstock people are not even going to come close to $7.50 an hour. I would guess more like $0.50 to $1.00 an hour.

Maybe it's too early to expect sales from a dozen shots but it would take hundreds of hours to generate the 500-1000 shots that many photographers have in their portfolios. It would be fine if I were shooting things that I enjoy shooting but I'm not. My birds, wildlife and nature shots aren't very marketable in microstock from what I've read in the forums here.

From my experience so far I don't think microstock is a good fit for me. I guess I have to be a bit more patient and wait and see. This is also a very slow period for sales so my timing is not ideal to start posting.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Greg


« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2007, 00:22 »
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You can credit (blame?) the recent New York Times article about microstock to get me interested in trying it myself. I wonder how many newbies started in microstock this month because of that article and others from the media.

« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2007, 00:25 »
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Greg, these are very good questions and in my opinion, they are VERY valid.  I went through a period over the last year where I had to examine what I was doing and why.

I don't know how long you've been doing this, or what your experience is over time so I'm not sure how to  analyze questions.  I will say the following....

The things that helped me go forward included analyzing what experienced photographers do and looking back at my portfolio.

Looking back at my portfolio is the biggest key.  I started with micros in October 2005.  Those images that I posted then are still selling.  I've also observed the portfolios of those in the micros and macros - and I'm seeing the same thing.  I'm also seeing that over time, the return is there.


Here's my analysis....Think of it as buying a bond.  In the beginning, you spend (as an example) $1,000 on that bond.  Over time, you get a dividend (monthly, quarterly, annual interest).  The more bonds you have, the more money you will make.  Think of every image as a bond.

« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2007, 00:28 »
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Nice analogy, wysiwyg!!

« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2007, 00:29 »
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It seems to me that even the most successful microstock people are not even going to come close to $7.50 an hour. I would guess more like $0.50 to $1.00 an hour.

Greg

You are so very wrong !!!

« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007, 00:41 »
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Hmmm....

Based on sales so far, the three year asset value of every image I submit is around $70.

If I assume that planning, taking and processing takes an average of three hours per picture, the 'value' I am earning is $23.33 per hour.

These numbers assume that after three years every picture is worthless.  Actually, many of them will continue to sell for five years, some for ten years and some 'for ever'.

If I create, process and submit 20 pictures in a week, I 'know' based on numbers so far that I am 'earning $1400' which will come to me over a three year period.

Of course as I am a newbie I am still on the minumum commissions at most agencies.  Clearly once I clear a few hurdles my 'earnings per picture' will be 50% higher.

Added to that is the pricing pressure of the industry, which is pushing up prices at 20% per annum.

« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 00:42 »
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That's good news to hear! It looks like the best selling images involve models. So how can you make a profit after paying models their fees? I hope I'm not diverging too much from the original post. Don't models charge $50.00 an hour or more? I'm not sure where I got that figure so I could be totally wrong but it sounds a reasonable rate to me.

« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007, 01:21 »
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Wrong question, although relevant.

The correct question would be: 'How many saleable and commercial images can I create with my model in an hour....?'

When you have the answer to that question you can work out what your model is 'worth'.

« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007, 01:30 »
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Hi Greg and welcome to microstock.

I have been doing this for 2 and a half years and have a 6000+ photo portfolio in various sites. I CAN tell you that you CAN earn money from this. I earn several times more here than I would on any full time day job (in London, UK). This was my dream job when I started doing it and from the beginning I knew where I wanted to be and achieved it with a lot of effort.

I have been doing this as my main and only job for 1 year. I put slightly more hours than a normal day job because its also my hobby. (maybe about 50-60 a week in total?)  ;) I just love it!

About models, you can easily get TFP or TFCD models so you don't have to pay them anything. I've 104 people in my portfolio and they are more than happy with the prints. Also $50 spent on a model come back pretty fast if the photos are commercial.

My website:
http://www.andresr.com

« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007, 01:32 »
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I spend very little time (i spend way nmore time wasted at places like this  ;D )

The key is to get your workflow right.  YOu are spending far to much tme getting a photo on line. 

Take great pictures so they dont need much post processing.
Keyword etc into the IPTC so you dont have to repeat at each site.
Use FTP to upload to all sites at once (do something else while this is happening so you aren't watching paint dry).
Go through the actual submit process at each site.

« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2007, 01:37 »
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I should have added of course that there are people on this newsgroup who are far more experienced than me (and earn much more money).  Andresr is of course one of them and an excellent model worth following.......

« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2007, 01:45 »
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There definitely has been a change to my workflow. I've been posting a lot to Photosig where your image size is so small most artifacts don't show. Often what I've posted there gets rejected at microstocks because of noise and artifacts. Photosig has "taught" me to spend a lot of time post processing for contrast, saturation and sharpness that isn't necessary for stock. From what you and others have said the less processing the better when doing stock photography. I guess it's all part of the learning curve of stock. It will probably take me a few months to get up to speed.

« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2007, 02:03 »
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This past week?

0 hours, unless you count the time I spent reading the forums here or on the bun-fights over at the SS forums. :-).

Normally I'd probably only spend 2-3 hours a week on microstock, not including forums...  And I average  about $35/week.  $17.5/hour with a fairly non-specific and average quality (IMHO) portfolio.

Every now and then I get keen and actually take some new photos for stock (not often) and I might spend 20 or so hours that week keywording, editing etc.

It's a hobby for me...  I'm at the opposite end of the commitment scale from andresr I suppose, although I do make good money freelancing for a paper, and doing team sport photos, portraits etc, but few of the images from there are any good for stock...  And my own personal interest photos are a little too 'arty' for stock. :-).

Which reminds me, I've got some more stuff I should upload...   nah, next week.

« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2007, 05:01 »
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This past week?
that is a good point.  I have been doing a bit this month but technically, the previous 2 to 3 months I have done abosolute zero (as far as PP, Keywording, uploading goes).  yet I still brought in the money.

All of my photos i would be taking them regardless of microstock (not strictly true but I have never gone out just to take microstock photos - ie. I might be travelling and taking some photos and see a good generic background which I take - time taken 1/250 of a second  ;D).

« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2007, 08:38 »
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I also might point out that if you have some kind of niche - like you work in a hospital/coal mine/police station and have access to an environment that the rest of us don't - you can really take advantage of the situation. 

« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2007, 09:35 »
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Greg,

Welcome! Yeah. Microstock is getting a lot of press these days. This morning WCBS Radio's Kim Komando did a 30-second report on microstock (without referring to it as microstock :)).

The others here have given you a great perspective on microstock, and I believe there is still a lot of growth for the industry. It is maturing quickly, but it still young and there is plenty of opportunity for success.

-Steve

« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2007, 14:06 »
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Hear hear!  I spent a lot of time building my portfolio and learning the trade in the beginning, but now I don't have to spend nearly as much time.  2/3 of my living is made from earnings from microstock and growing every month.   


« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2007, 18:00 »
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Unfortunately, in articles like the NY Times' and even in the marketing of the micro-sites themselves, one thing they never seem to give you the sense of is that this really and truly does require a dirty 4-letter word......W-O-R-K !!  They make it sound like, "Hey, just grab some of those old pictures that are gathering dust, upload them, and bam! you've got lots of cash rolling in!."  But that is far, far, far from the truth. It is a real investment, and like any investment you will get out of it what you put into it over time, even if it doesn't seem like that at first. You raised an interesting question about how many photog's might venture into stock because of the Times article. Well, if that number's 1K or 100K, it doesn't really matter; if they're not going to put the work in that this field requires they won't hang around very long. One other thing they don't tell you is that it really, and I mean REALLY, helps to have a good understanding of photography before you get too involved in this business (the photo end of it, not talking about illustrations).  If you already know photography, good. If not, it's a wise thing to start now to learn all you can about photography and implement it every chance you get.  Believe it or not, you CAN make money at this, but you have to make the decision for yourself whether you want to stick with it or not  ;).

« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2007, 19:52 »
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Good point Hugh. What surprised me most about Kim Komando's 30-second report this morning is that she made the point to say that is not easy being accepted to these sites. And that the images are very high quality.

« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2007, 20:24 »
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Yep - bloody hard work.

Excuse me - I'm off to the studio for another two hour session.......

« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2007, 21:08 »
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Thanks everyone for all the comments. The consensus seems to be that microstock is hard work and is not a get rich quick scheme. Unfortunately the media seems to the emphasis on the money and not the work. I'm not going to expect to make money overnight. My strategy will be to post a few images a week and gradually build up a portfolio over 6 months to a year.

What do people think the market is for aircraft flight shots? I've been taking quite a few lately of jets at a nearby airport. The major problem with jets is that they all have the airline's logo on them. I was even rejected at Istock because of the GE logo on the turbines themselves. So there is a lot of time required to clone out the logos and other copyrighted items on the jets. Frontier airlines is one of the worst because their logo surrounds the windows. It would be difficult to do a good job of cloning their name out.

Thanks again everyone for all your responses to my post.

Greg

« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2007, 22:51 »
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Photosig has "taught" me to spend a lot of time post processing for contrast, saturation and sharpness that isn't necessary for stock. From what you and others have said the less processing the better when doing stock photography.

I have a personal opinion that its not the truth. Just looking at top sellers at any site you will notice  that post processing is important part of the game.   

« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2007, 00:44 »
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Photosig has "taught" me to spend a lot of time post processing for contrast, saturation and sharpness that isn't necessary for stock. From what you and others have said the less processing the better when doing stock photography.

I have a personal opinion that its not the truth. Just looking at top sellers at any site you will notice  that post processing is important part of the game.   

I'd have to agree, post processing is very important, and quite a few of the top selling images that are not vectors have thumbnails that 'pop' out of a lineup of similar search hits..

Not that I can talk, I'll do as little as possible! :-).

Edit:  That is, I do as little as possible with microstock...  For commercial commission work I might spent an hour per image making it just right.  I spend more time editing sports photos for the paper than I do most stock, and it's being printed using a 100lpi screen on newsprint, which hides most sins!

I imagine someone like andresr will concur, you need to put the time in to have the image 'perfect' for microstock if you want better than average sales.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2007, 00:47 by chellyar »

« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2007, 01:25 »
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Photosig has "taught" me to spend a lot of time post processing for contrast, saturation and sharpness that isn't necessary for stock. From what you and others have said the less processing the better when doing stock photography.

I have a personal opinion that its not the truth. Just looking at top sellers at any site you will notice  that post processing is important part of the game.   
Yep.

« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2007, 02:16 »
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I guess what I meant to say that for Photosig the shots that got the best reviews were post processed the most - probably more than necessary. In my opinion people prefer overly saturated colors that look artificial to me. If you boost the saturation that much then you get increased noise which will get you rejected in microstock. Also for Photosig I was processing for a final size of about 800 x 800 pixels. At that size artifacts will most likely be hidden. When shots are judged at 100% crops there is little room for technical flaws.


 

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