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Author Topic: New to stock, made my first sale  (Read 3646 times)

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« on: April 24, 2020, 19:59 »
+3
AS for .99

Two weeks in. Seems the time for review is taking a while now. I've been a professional photographer since 2000 so a lot of this is going through old hard drives. I've got about 200 images up on 5 sites. I'm going to try shooting original content just for stock from here out and consider it another wing of my business ( I shoot advertising and corporate events ). I know financial prospects aren't high but the plan is when I have free days ( which are endless currently ) I'm going to go out and shoot specifically for stock based on some of the concepts or timely images that are in demand. If in a year or so it can be like $500/ month I'd be happy. Is that unrealistic?

Stock photo pros, if you could tell a newbie one lesson what would it be? And please don't say don't bother lol


« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2020, 10:11 »
+2
Write out your work flow from beginning to end. Keep looking at it as you shoot for stock. Gradually you will start seeing inefficiencies. Ie, one section takes you 4 steps, but thinking about it some more, you can reorganize it in to 2 steps. Stock photos is a volume game, therefore, you want to spend as little time as possible on each image, while keeping quality high. I personally spend a large amount of time and money always refining my work flow, because the end result is greater output with less cost and less time.

« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2020, 11:29 »
+12
Picked a heck of a time to start! :) It's probably not surprising given the economic disruption, but I see overall sales volume way down at the moment, so don't interpret slow sales as a reflection on your work specifically as it's not "normal" right now.

I would offer a couple of thoughts (and I'll put the one I think you should most pay attention to up top in case you want to have only one suggestion per contributor :) )

-Pay attention to keywording. If you've been a photographer for a while, I'll assume you haven't had to think about that, but if your images don't show up in searches, you won't sell, regardless of how great they are. Take your image's subject and do some searches on Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. When you see something similar to yours, look at the keywords the other images used and make sure you've covered all the bases. If you have photos of places, make sure neighborhood, city, state and region are there; for people, ethnicities, ages & gender and so on.

-If you're not good at cloning, stay away from anything with logos or brand names. No art on the walls or statues. No numbers on ship sails or license plates. If you do editorial, that doesn't apply obviously, but editorial typically doesn't sell in the volumes that commercial work does

-I assume you're used to editing your images before submitting them (given you shoot advertising) but look over your images at 100%; even though reviewing has become pretty terrible at some sites, rejections for noise or sensor spots or other technical flaws can be unexpected for photographers new to stock.

-Don't overlook boring but useful subjects. Stock is about useful images, not just a pretty face in front of a camera.

-You can chase trends, but those images age much more quickly - fashion, technology, food fads. Images can and do continue to sell for years if they are free of any obviously dated stuff

-I'm assuming you're already doing this, but make sure your keywords (and titles & descriptions) are in the JPEGs you upload. If not, they should be - not only to save you time now, but also to make life easier when a new agency comes along a year or two down the road and your portfolio's ready to go.

Oh, and congratulations on your first sale!
« Last Edit: April 25, 2020, 14:46 by Jo Ann Snover »

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2020, 11:34 »
+2
One big piece of advice. Read a good book (or two) about How to Get Started in Stock....

Steve

georgep7

« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2020, 12:39 »
0
Quote
I shoot advertising and corporate events

Hm!? some possible commercial content already in hard drives?
Or a possibility to shoot now-on regular work and for stock in between a job?

Here is an interesting reading:
https://www.shutterstock.com/contributorsupport/articles/kbat02/Known-Image-Restrictions?l=en_US&fs=RelatedArticle

Welcome :)

« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2020, 12:44 »
+10
One big piece of advice. Read a good book (or two) about How to Get Started in Stock....

Steve

Says the Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"... I see a conflict of interest  ;D

« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2020, 14:33 »
+6
One big piece of advice. Read a good book (or two) about How to Get Started in Stock....

Steve

Says the Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"... I see a conflict of interest  ;D

You're not the only one chuckling about that!!  ;D ;D ;D

« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2020, 14:38 »
+3
Picked a heck of a time to start! :) It's probably not surprising given the economic disruption, but I see overall sales volume way down at the moment, so don't interpret slow sales as a reflection on your work specifically as it's not "normal" right now.

I would offer a couple of thoughts (and I'll put the one I think you should most pay attention to up top in case you want to have only one suggestion per contributor :) )

-Pay attention to keywording. If you've been a photographer for a while, I'll assume you haven't had to think about that, but if your images don't show up in searches, you won't sell, regardless of how great they are. Take your image's subject and do some searches on Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. When you see something similar to yours, look at the keywords the other images used and make sure you've covered all the bases. If you have photos of places, make sure neighborhood, city, state and region are there; for people, ethnicities, ages & gender and so on.

-If you're not good at cloning, stay away from anything with logos or brand names. No numbers on ship sales or license plates. If you do editorial, that doesn't apply obviously, but editorial typically doesn't sell in the volumes that commercial work does

-I assume you're used to editing your images before submitting them (given you shoot advertising) but look over your images at 100%; even though reviewing has become pretty terrible at some sites, rejections for noise or sensor spots or other technical flaws can be unexpected for photographers new to stock.

-Don't overlook boring but useful subjects. Stock is about useful images, not just a pretty face in front of a camera.

-You can chase trends, but those images age much more quickly - fashion, technology, food fads. Images can and do continue to sell for years if they are free of any obviously dated stuff

-I'm assuming you're already doing this, but make sure your keywords (and titles & descriptions) are in the JPEGs you upload. If not, they should be - not only to save you time now, but also to make life easier when a new agency comes along a year or two down the road and your portfolio's ready to go.

Oh, and congratulations on your first sale!

Roger, our good friend Jo Ann has given you excellent advice, as she usually does. You'd be well advised to pay attention to her.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2020, 14:45 »
+5
I 100% agree with the comments from Jo Ann - especially not overlooking everyday activities and things. One very regular seller of mine is a shot of replacing the air filter in my heating system. There are always articles about the importance of regular household activities.

And yes, my tongue was in my cheek about the book! Sorry!

Steve

« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2020, 15:24 »
+4
Jo Ann gets my vote as perhaps the most level headed pragmatic person on this whiney little site. Her advice is always solid.

« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2020, 19:28 »
0
And yes, my tongue was in my cheek about the book! Sorry!

Steve

Yeah, Steve, we all knew that! :D

« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2020, 00:36 »
+3
You can make it. It will be harder now. Topics that are relevant now are probably under represented so there is an opportunity. The longer this lasts the less opportunity for creating new and useful images will exist. Books on stock images are probably not helpful now since those markets are shutdown. Travel, handshakes, crowds, hugs, etc... are just not going to be bought for a long while.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 00:38 by tickstock »

« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2020, 04:34 »
+4
Everything Jo Ann said.

My suggestion would be to document a complete process, i.e. baking a cake, all the stages, the fun of kids and adults baking together, then eating or bringing it as a gift to grandma. Write a little story line and organize your mood board accordingly.

Pick themes you know really well - building bicycles, gardening exotic flowers, your hometown etc...and build large galleries around a theme. Especially if you mix in a lot of localized content, you will have less problems with copy cats.

"Useful" is the main directive, not pretty,artsy or can it win awards and prizes. But since you have a background in advertising, this should be easy for you.


Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2020, 11:21 »
+2
Lots of good suggestions. I didn't see this, so I'll add:

Bright colors and well lighted sharp images will sell better most of the time.

If you are designing your subjects/compositions, watch for current color and style trends.

The best selling are generally not art or subtleties, but illustrative of concepts that have a solid simple message.

No one mentioned classical composition? Maybe too obvious.

Pick the best crop for the subject, now that agencies are rejecting multiple versions of the same or similar.

One best thing I'd advise anyone?

Don't do "best selling" or what sells or what everyone else does, that's already been done and over done.  :) If anyone can find anything that's different, a unique viewpoint, or unusual, which still fits the stock needs of many customers, that's a hit.

« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 01:37 »
+3
Don't do "best selling" or what sells or what everyone else does, that's already been done and over done.  :) If anyone can find anything that's different, a unique viewpoint, or unusual, which still fits the stock needs of many customers, that's a hit.

In addition to this: start with shooting what you're already good at and what you like. Chances are some of your area's are already some kind of niche, and if not, your images will at least have quality to battle competition. Explore further from there, as you learn what does well and what not.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2020, 08:24 »
+3
AS for .99

Two weeks in. Seems the time for review is taking a while now. I've been a professional photographer since 2000 so a lot of this is going through old hard drives. I've got about 200 images up on 5 sites. I'm going to try shooting original content just for stock from here out and consider it another wing of my business ( I shoot advertising and corporate events ). I know financial prospects aren't high but the plan is when I have free days ( which are endless currently ) I'm going to go out and shoot specifically for stock based on some of the concepts or timely images that are in demand. If in a year or so it can be like $500/ month I'd be happy. Is that unrealistic?

Stock photo pros, if you could tell a newbie one lesson what would it be? And please don't say don't bother lol

Don't bother. Oh wait...  :)  You've entered at a time when the gold rush is long over and the competition is extremely high for pennies. But successful people will always find a way to be successful. 

Regarding $500 per month. It depends on the salability of your work. Highly sellable images may only need a few hundred. If you're like most people you'll need thousands of images to hit $500 p/m.

50%

« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2020, 07:39 »
+4
If you start today in Microstock and you wanna make 500,- a month I don't think it is possible with a few hundred images you need to be in the thousands. It's not all about sale-ability it's also about search rank in the agencies and with 300 million images at Shutterstock it's very hard to get a good search rank even with very good pictures.


« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2020, 19:32 »
+1
Quote
I shoot advertising and corporate events

Hm!? some possible commercial content already in hard drives?
Or a possibility to shoot now-on regular work and for stock in between a job?



Drink shots, people toasting (hands only), locations from different travel jobs, food, you name it. I deliver these images to clients and then after that they just sit on my hard drive. May as well put them to work. I own them.

« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2020, 19:42 »
0
Picked a heck of a time to start! :) It's probably not surprising given the economic disruption, but I see overall sales volume way down at the moment, so don't interpret slow sales as a reflection on your work specifically as it's not "normal" right now.

I would offer a couple of thoughts (and I'll put the one I think you should most pay attention to up top in case you want to have only one suggestion per contributor :) )

-Pay attention to keywording. If you've been a photographer for a while, I'll assume you haven't had to think about that, but if your images don't show up in searches, you won't sell, regardless of how great they are. Take your image's subject and do some searches on Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. When you see something similar to yours, look at the keywords the other images used and make sure you've covered all the bases. If you have photos of places, make sure neighborhood, city, state and region are there; for people, ethnicities, ages & gender and so on.

-If you're not good at cloning, stay away from anything with logos or brand names. No art on the walls or statues. No numbers on ship sails or license plates. If you do editorial, that doesn't apply obviously, but editorial typically doesn't sell in the volumes that commercial work does

-I assume you're used to editing your images before submitting them (given you shoot advertising) but look over your images at 100%; even though reviewing has become pretty terrible at some sites, rejections for noise or sensor spots or other technical flaws can be unexpected for photographers new to stock.

-Don't overlook boring but useful subjects. Stock is about useful images, not just a pretty face in front of a camera.

-You can chase trends, but those images age much more quickly - fashion, technology, food fads. Images can and do continue to sell for years if they are free of any obviously dated stuff

-I'm assuming you're already doing this, but make sure your keywords (and titles & descriptions) are in the JPEGs you upload. If not, they should be - not only to save you time now, but also to make life easier when a new agency comes along a year or two down the road and your portfolio's ready to go.

Oh, and congratulations on your first sale!

Thank you Jo Ann. Most of this I either assumed or am getting accustomed to. One thing I really need to work on is workflow with keywording. It's taking me a LOT of time. Right now I'm with 4 agencies and basically redoing keywording for each image for each agency. It's one of the areas I realize I need to be saving a lot more time with.

Can someone explain the process of having keywords in the meta of jpgs as Jo Ann described? I've seen other mention this but still not quite getting it. Are you doing a batch of keywords for the image, saving in meta, then copying and pasting for each image on the various stock sites? Do you just separate by a comma?

Also, from what I've seen on here most people use Lightroom for their workflow. I use CaptureOne but I'm sure I can figure it out on there. Just not used to incorporating meta outside of the camera settings.

« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2020, 19:52 »
+1
If you start today in Microstock and you wanna make 500,- a month I don't think it is possible with a few hundred images you need to be in the thousands. It's not all about sale-ability it's also about search rank in the agencies and with 300 million images at Shutterstock it's very hard to get a good search rank even with very good pictures.

I've been adding new content already. Shot a coronavirus curbside testing station the other day. A family in their yard and putting on masks. A family managing their chicken coup. Industrial shapes repeating. Also shooting stuff from briefs.

A little disappointing that I have around $10 in sales so far but I don't have much else going on right now. Occasionally I'm getting images that could work for my advertising portfolio. Like the husband and wife I shot in front of their home wearing designer face masks while he held a pitchfork, a play on the classic "American Gothic". May be too conceptual for stock but I think some of my advertising clients will get a kick out of it.

Thank you everyone for the helpful advice!

« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2020, 22:12 »
+4
Roger, first don't pay a lot of attention to most of the folks on MicrostockGroup. Seems many of the people here love to complain about the Stock business. Yes you will not get rich ,well most likely not but then never say never. Yes sells are lower than what they were 10 years ago. I still sell images every day of the year. I still get excited at 38 cents or 600 bucks per sell. Very few at 600 bucks , now and then one comes through Alamy. As long as sites send me money each month I will keep doing this until I die. Roger shoot what your think is interesting . If you find your subject interesting most likely others will too and buy it. The boot picture below I have sold over 3000 times.You just don't know what will sell.  Good luck.. Stock is Fun...W.Scott McGill

« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2020, 01:24 »
0

Can someone explain the process of having keywords in the meta of jpgs as Jo Ann described? I've seen other mention this but still not quite getting it. Are you doing a batch of keywords for the image, saving in meta, then copying and pasting for each image on the various stock sites? Do you just separate by a comma?


Several ways to do this. You can add your keywords directly in Lightroom for instance. Many people use StockSubmitter for keywording and uploading. Personally, I personally use XPiks for editing my titles, descriptions and keywords because it's barebone, simple and it works. Uploading to iStock/Getty via Deepmeta is a bit more time consuming, as they have predefined keywording system, but it can also help you with suggesting keywords for other sites. And keep in mind that for AS the order of your keywords matters (first 10 have more importance in their search algorithm)

Hope this helps.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2020, 08:12 »
+1
I did a detailed explanation of my workflow for creating, editing and uploading images back in 2017, but it is still pretty accurate:

https://backyardsilver.com/my-current-workflow/

Steve

« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2020, 15:07 »
+3
...One thing I really need to work on is workflow with keywording. It's taking me a LOT of time. Right now I'm with 4 agencies and basically redoing keywording for each image for each agency.

...Do you just separate by a comma?

Also, from what I've seen on here most people use Lightroom for their workflow. I use CaptureOne...

Steve has given you a detailed rundown of his workflow. Mine is simpler (but I don't deal with the volume Steve does) - I don't use anything other than Capture One and Photoshop.

I used to use Lightroom but never keyworded there anyway - just used it as a RAW converter. Every image I upload to a stock site goes through Photoshop, even though there is more and more work that gets done in the RAW processing as time goes by. So Photoshop is where I keyword.

I always start with the most important keywords first (helps for Adobe Stock and Alamy) and a sense for what those will be develops over time, but the basics are pretty obvious. You type in words or phrases separated by commas. Most sites (Dreamstime is one of the holdouts but I stopped uploading there when their sales fell off a cliff) support multi-word keywords. Photoshop will display saved keywords as semi-colon separated, but all the sites read either separator without a problem.

Keywords saved in the PSD are copied into JPEGs when you save as.

If I have a subject that I've covered before, I sometimes start by copying and pasting a set of old keywords. Mostly to make sure I don't leave anything out, but you do have to be sure to remove anything not applicable. Some people keep databases of keywords to ensure they're consistent.

Sometimes figuring out the best terminology for your subject is worthwhile. For example, if you do a search on SS for lady eating you get about 140K results. woman eating is just shy of 1 million. I settled on woman as the term I use. iStock used Mature Woman as its CV term but older woman is used as well.

Shutterstock shows you your top performers and the top keywords used to find them (and I know that's not all that useful until you've sold more). That has told me that house outsells home - I include both but put house in the first 10.

Try to come up with one set of data - title, description, keywords - that is universal. SS takes the description only. AS takes the title only (but I cut and paste the description from my Mac's "Info" window for the file). Some sites have a minimum or maximum number of words, so try to avoid breaching any of those rules if you can.

Even though almost all the sites strip out copyright information from your metadata, I always include that too (in Photoshop's file info).

Bottom line is that the metadata is part of your stock image and lives with it for as long as it's a viable stock image. Sites come and go, and we accommodate them as best we can :)

« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2020, 15:28 »
+3
If you start today in Microstock and you wanna make 500,- a month I don't think it is possible with a few hundred images you need to be in the thousands. It's not all about sale-ability it's also about search rank in the agencies and with 300 million images at Shutterstock it's very hard to get a good search rank even with very good pictures.

I've been adding new content already. Shot a coronavirus curbside testing station the other day. A family in their yard and putting on masks. A family managing their chicken coup. Industrial shapes repeating. Also shooting stuff from briefs.

A little disappointing that I have around $10 in sales so far but I don't have much else going on right now. Occasionally I'm getting images that could work for my advertising portfolio. Like the husband and wife I shot in front of their home wearing designer face masks while he held a pitchfork, a play on the classic "American Gothic". May be too conceptual for stock but I think some of my advertising clients will get a kick out of it.

Thank you everyone for the helpful advice!

Are these all released?  If not, they sound a little invasive.  Plus a "designer mask" would need a release.


 

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