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Author Topic: What are realistic expectations?  (Read 15958 times)

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CaptureLightUK

  • www.capturelight.co.uk

« on: May 25, 2015, 03:09 »
+1
Firstly I will say that I have read many many posts on this and other sites and have come into this industry with my eyes open.  In other words I don't expect to be a millionaire and retire next year on my earnings from microstock :D

What I am hoping for is a moderate regular income, dribbling each month, into the future i.e. a bit of a retirement pension of sorts.

I'm 54 and have been travelling and taking photos for decades and have many thousands of images on my hard drives.  Many of these, a future images, are from remote Land Rover expeditions to more remote locations.  Unfortunately many good images  were taken a few years ago on lower megapixel cameras and won't pass muster.  In the last few years I have been specifically trying to produce images that would interest others rather than just for my own album.  At the same time I have been developing my photography business with the aim of leaving the mundane day job and going full time pro.

I signed up for several agencies last year but only started uploading a few weeks ago.  I have now been accepted by several and, using the same images, have uploaded content as follows:

Shutterstock - 17 active, 10 pending (50% acceptance although some of these were newbie commercial/editorial errors on my part which won't happen again)
Alamy - 18 active, 5 pending (100% acceptance)
Dreamstime - 13 Active, 23 pending (100% acceptance)
Bigstock - 11 active, 10 pending (42% acceptance :( ???)
Fotolia - 13 active, 17 pending (100% acceptance)
Depositphotos - 0 active, 25 pending (n/a)
123rf - 1 active, 14 approved, 23 pending (88% acceptance)
Canstock - 0 active, 36 pending (n/a)
iStock - application process has been down for several days.  3 images now uploaded (Yesterday) for review/acceptance.

I have found some of the reviews to be very contrary and way off base in some cases.  In addition there are complete inconsistencies both within and between agencies.  However, reading various posts on here I can see that that is the norm.

I am trying to process and upload 5 - 10 images per day until my HDDs are exhausted and then I shall start shooting some specific stock shots (white background etc.), in my small studio, as regularly as I can. 

I surprised myself with just how excited I was to earn my first 25c ;D, after just a few days,and have since gone on to quadruple that turnover and now have a whole dollar ::).  These were all on SS with 2 images (1x1 and 1x3).

So, to my question; if I want to earn say $5000 per year, how many images will I need to have online?  Can I, realistically expect a steady dribble year in, year out if I stop uploading regularly?

It's a long post (sorry about that) but hopefully answers to this post will help other newbies in managing their expectations ;D

Cheers
Ralph
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 04:30 by CaptureLightUK »


« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2015, 04:06 »
+9

So, to my question; if I want to earn say $5000 per year, how many images will I need to have online?  Can I, realistically expect a steady dribble year in, year out if I stop uploading regularly?

It's a long post (sorry about that) but hopefully answers to this post will help other newbies in managing their expectations ;D

Cheers
Ralph


You will need several thousand images, how many will depend on subject matter, less if you have high quality lifestyle and much, much more if you do travel/landscape/small studio snaps.

No, if you stop uploading, your income will drop, on some agencies it will drop extremely fast.

The only chance might be if you are an expexrt at a certain subject, say you are a medical doctor in a specialised field and can produce high quality content in a certain niche that other people dont have access too, like a whole porftolio filled with thousands of surgery images, brain tumor removal etc...

But if you want to build another portfolio of travel images, chances are somebody else has already been there before you and the quality is much higher.

What stock can give you, however, is enough money to pay for all your gear. And it is also a good learning experience to improve your work.

So I would continue to upload, learn from what the customers download and then see if you can make a stable 200 dollars a month. Once you reach that, you will have enough experience to understand where you can take your stock journey.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 04:11 by cobalt »

Semmick Photo

« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2015, 04:46 »
0
I make $10K per year with my portfolio. Have a look. I am on SS, BS, PD, CanStockPhoto and 123. Also on FAA, but thats not stock.

« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2015, 05:08 »
+6
I would say look on the first three years as a learning experience and take it from there. Thats what I did and the effort far outweighed the monetary reward. However, my skills improved greatly and I'm now in a position that while my "hourly rate" is still quite poor it's not so bad and I'm still on an upward path.

« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2015, 06:30 »
+11
Remember that the earnings per image uploaded are constantly declining, so once you hit your target you probably have to double your portfolio every three or four years just to keep going. If that means that you need 10,000 images by 2018 to hit your target you will need to get to 20,000 by 2021 and 40,000 by 2025.

In other words the long-term prospect is not good. My earnings have just about halved in the last five years, despite my portfolio probably having doubled in that time.

« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2015, 07:02 »
+2
What I am hoping for is a moderate regular income, dribbling each month, into the future i.e. a bit of a retirement pension of sorts.
Quote

If you like cat food, this might work.

Quote
I am trying to process and upload 5 - 10 images per day until my HDDs are exhausted and then I shall start shooting some specific stock shots (white background etc.), in my small studio, as regularly as I can. 

Honestly, "stuff on my hard drive" and "white background" things isn't going to work out very well these days.  Especially "travel" as people have already travelled there or live there, and have the time and equipment to do it much better already.

CaptureLightUK

  • www.capturelight.co.uk

« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2015, 08:26 »
+5
Thank you for your responses.

Cobalt; thanks for the honest guidance although I would question the comment about travel images.  I do go to some fairly remote locations where not that many people have been before.  As for quality?  Well that will have to be decided by the buyers ;).

Semmick; Thanks, I have looked at you portfolios and see that you have a high percentage of 'travel' photos.  It's excellent to hear that you can still earn a reasonable amount from them.  You have some excellent images there by the way ;D

Pauws99; I do see this as a slow train.  It will take me many months to upload my current 'back catalogue'.  At the same time I shall study what is selling and tailor my new images accordingly.  The 3 year tip is a good guide, thanks.

BaldricksTrousers; I did realise that it would drop off but maybe not quite by that amount :-\ . I don't really have a target in mind and I will not be dependant upon the income  so I will just have to work hard at it while I can and live off the declining income as long as it lasts :)

Sean; I'll just give up now then shall I?  Obviously none of the thousands photos I have taken in wild remote locations on various Land Rover expeditions are original or remotely as good as what's already online!  Thanks for the encouragement ???

« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2015, 08:58 »
+10
Thank you for your responses.

Cobalt; thanks for the honest guidance although I would question the comment about travel images.  I do go to some fairly remote locations where not that many people have been before.  As for quality?  Well that will have to be decided by the buyers ;).

Semmick; Thanks, I have looked at you portfolios and see that you have a high percentage of 'travel' photos.  It's excellent to hear that you can still earn a reasonable amount from them.  You have some excellent images there by the way ;D

Pauws99; I do see this as a slow train.  It will take me many months to upload my current 'back catalogue'.  At the same time I shall study what is selling and tailor my new images accordingly.  The 3 year tip is a good guide, thanks.

BaldricksTrousers; I did realise that it would drop off but maybe not quite by that amount :-\ . I don't really have a target in mind and I will not be dependant upon the income  so I will just have to work hard at it while I can and live off the declining income as long as it lasts :)

Sean; I'll just give up now then shall I?  Obviously none of the thousands photos I have taken in wild remote locations on various Land Rover expeditions are original or remotely as good as what's already online!  Thanks for the encouragement ???

The problem with remote locations is just that they are remote and probably have little demand. The idea behind microstock is to sell in volume. If you catch a native tackling a Bengal Tiger in a remote location then you probably have something. Not trying to be negative, just realistic. You can try it and you will figure out what works over time. Do a search for your locations and see what type of downloads they are getting.

« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2015, 09:06 »
+10
Cobalt; thanks for the honest guidance although I would question the comment about travel images.  I do go to some fairly remote locations where not that many people have been before.

Well, the problem you are facing:

1. If "not many people have been" there before, why would advertisers, travel magazines etc. want to license those images? Most licenses are sold for places that are regularly written about, start with New York, London, Tokyo etc. Places no one ever heard about will not be popular images.

2. When it comes to "remote locations" I typically think only travel enthusiasts are going there. And those are most likely the ones who spend money on travel and also money on photo equipment to create memories.

So in travel it's easy to face more competition than expected for a smaller market than thought.

I think food is another topic that heads heavily into the same direction. People create images of food that is so special no one writes articles about it.

In both those topics you will struggle to make reasonable amounts of royalties these days.

But: You can't know until you find out yourself. Maybe we're wrong and you're right. Maybe one of the places is becoming a hot spot tourist locations. But that's where all advice ends: No one can predict how many of your images it's going to take to make the amount of money you'd consider good.

« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2015, 09:20 »
+8
Sean; I'll just give up now then shall I?  Obviously none of the thousands photos I have taken in wild remote locations on various Land Rover expeditions are original or remotely as good as what's already online!  Thanks for the encouragement ???


Well, the title of the thread was "realistic expectations", not "happy thoughts and snowflake dreams".  The truth is that hard drive images not specifically shot for stock sales don't sell particularly well.  Your images here are ok for tourist travel images, but like mentioned, there are people who live everywhere you go that are better at capturing the essence of that area then you are.  http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-ucapturelightuk.html

There are factories in Russia and China that churn out nothing but stuff on white.  You're one guy aiming for 5 images a week. 

It's just that this plan is a little late for the game.

PS, plus your keywording needs help - words in bold are questionable:

 adventure, amundsen, arctic, atlantic, cape, centre, coast, continent, europe, european, explorer, monument, nature, nordic, north, northern, norway, norwegian, ocean, planet, point, polar, roald, scandinavia, scenic, sculpture, statue, summer, sun, symbolic, tourism, tourist, travel, view
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 09:23 by Sean Locke Photography »

« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2015, 09:55 »
0
PS, plus your keywording needs help - words in bold are questionable:

I agree with that, and also (having followed the link to your SS portfolio) am having a hard time understanding why you repeat words in the titles of your images, which then wind up in your URLs:

Isolated Bald Eagle portrait/Isolated Bald Eagle portrait/Isolated Bald Eagle portrait against a black background
Image ID: 277037633

Spring Crocus/Spring Crocus/Spring Crocus
Image ID: 277037630

Field of poppies/Field of poppies/Field of poppies in Norfolk
Image ID: 277037651

Is there a reason why you're doing that, or is it just an odd hiccough in the system?

« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2015, 10:10 »
+2
. . . If you catch a native tackling a Bengal Tiger in a remote location then you probably have something. . .
From what I've read the native in the remote area is just as likely to be selling you a ticket for the car park these days! :)


Seriously though there's some good advice here. The point about it all is the best times for microstock have gone. TYou need to manage your expectations.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 11:06 by Difydave »

« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2015, 10:18 »
+3
For what it's worth, we are relatively new to micro stock (my husband and I). He was a designer for years and never thought he could pull off stock until he got some more confidence. About a year ago, we plunged into the market with him doing the shooting and me doing most of the management of photos (I do his keywording, isn't he lucky!?!?!). He manages the video side of what we do and will also manage vectors once he gets those started.

We've been at this a year and are pleased with the results. A lot of our early images were from his hard drive, as is your situation. Many of his hard drive images have been duds and many of his older stuff is good but too small to sell. But some have been great sellers for us. We got about 600 images out of his hard drive of 20,000 files (he was picky about what he selected).

 Our goal is to make 10K a year doing this and we are a long, A LONG, way off. Our profits are growing steadily and the target seems feasible if we keep uploading. Short term (within three years) goals for us are 1,000 videos and 5,000 photos (we are at 150 videos and 850 photos).

The biggest thing keeping us going is that we feel like we have to try this out or will regret having not tried. We often talk about how much better off we might be if we had started the stock stuff back in its heyday, which according to everyone here, we have missed. But life is what it is. We didn't do it then and we are trying it now. Between this and side gigs with graphic design, my husband has never been happier making just the amount of money we need him to make.

Good luck to you as you learn and keep plugging away!

PS. At some point I know I should share ports with everyone. It's just that this is me talking here and it's my husband's work and I feel odd opening up his work to likely criticism (even helpful criticism). Someday, hopefully!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 10:20 by Stock Wife »

shudderstok

« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2015, 11:15 »
+3
For what it's worth, we are relatively new to micro stock (my husband and I). He was a designer for years and never thought he could pull off stock until he got some more confidence. About a year ago, we plunged into the market with him doing the shooting and me doing most of the management of photos (I do his keywording, isn't he lucky!?!?!). He manages the video side of what we do and will also manage vectors once he gets those started.

We've been at this a year and are pleased with the results. A lot of our early images were from his hard drive, as is your situation. Many of his hard drive images have been duds and many of his older stuff is good but too small to sell. But some have been great sellers for us. We got about 600 images out of his hard drive of 20,000 files (he was picky about what he selected).

 Our goal is to make 10K a year doing this and we are a long, A LONG, way off. Our profits are growing steadily and the target seems feasible if we keep uploading. Short term (within three years) goals for us are 1,000 videos and 5,000 photos (we are at 150 videos and 850 photos).

The biggest thing keeping us going is that we feel like we have to try this out or will regret having not tried. We often talk about how much better off we might be if we had started the stock stuff back in its heyday, which according to everyone here, we have missed. But life is what it is. We didn't do it then and we are trying it now. Between this and side gigs with graphic design, my husband has never been happier making just the amount of money we need him to make.

Good luck to you as you learn and keep plugging away!

PS. At some point I know I should share ports with everyone. It's just that this is me talking here and it's my husband's work and I feel odd opening up his work to likely criticism (even helpful criticism). Someday, hopefully!

Keep being picky, it will pay off. selecting 600 out of 20,000 is smart. i do it all the time and make a very handsome living from it, the key, it's really simple - quality.

Don't listen to everyone here. There are a lot of souls who actually are quite vocal but don't actually get it. the heyday of stock was way before these people think microstock is a heyday, so ignore it. the vocal minority.

why share your port? keep it private. just shoot what you love, get them up there and with a good tight edit, persistence, and diligence you might succeed. it has always been hard work, and i do mean hard work in the original heyday, it got easy for a few in the second so called heyday, and now i think all is happening is they too are finding it is very hard work hence the it's too late nonsense. make your own heyday by doing what most successful people do, work your *ss off.

good luck!

Semmick Photo

« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2015, 11:17 »
+5
You're giving someone who wants to get into microstock advice based on Macro stock. Times changed. Stop living in the past.

shudderstok

« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2015, 11:21 »
+4
You're giving someone who wants to get into microstock advice based on Macro stock. Times changed. Stop living in the past.

actually i am giving them sound advice from an internationally published award winning photographer who has made a great living in both macro stock and micro stock. it is called encouragement. this advice is all about living in the present and encouraging a newbie to work hard, tightly edit, and maybe they will make it. is that too much information for you?

Semmick Photo

« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2015, 11:48 »
+7
No,  my comprehension of your info is fine . I  don't need advice from the dinosaurs. Editing your images is good advice in general. I  just think you need numbers to make it. Times changed. 50 million is your competition not 300 thousand.


shudderstok

« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2015, 12:17 »
+6
No,  my comprehension of your info is fine . I  don't need advice from the dinosaurs. Editing your images is good advice in general. I  just think you need numbers to make it. Times changed. 50 million is your competition not 300 thousand.

Well, I guess that is where you and I are very different. I am so grateful for all the advise I got from dinosaurs. My two apprenticeships with those fossils taught me how to be a good photographer. Without all of their knowledge, and my willingness to learn from dinosaurs, I really don't think I'd be where I am today.

As for numbers, I can verify that you don't need numbers to make it. That may be the case though if you have not done an edit tightly and dilute your numbers with mediocrity. The competition has always been there, and it has always been a tough go in the stock world, both present and past, but what can I say, I should quite wasting my breath cause you really are closed to learning from those who have experience, or as you say dinosaurs.




« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2015, 12:24 »
+3
Hey, hey, now. I appreciate the varied advice and opinions. I haven't been on MSG long enough but it's not hard to figure out where the vocal people are coming from. I can now filter the advice recognizing those perspectives. For us, we know numbers are going to be important. We're not the super amazing, made just for stock, kind of shooters. We are more than just shooters wandering around the neighborhood taking snapshots but we are out to enjoy what we shoot. And given the potential low return of investment, we aren't going to be hiring models anytime soon.

Anyways, thanks to you both for your thoughts. And to the OP, again I say, good luck!

Semmick Photo

« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2015, 12:30 »
+3
I do take advice from experienced people. Nice people. Not from anonymous people putting down others.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2015, 13:13 »
+11
It depends on how much supply and demand there is for your work. If I had make an estimate based on what you're shown so far I'd say you'd need at least 3,000 or maybe 4,000 nicely edited and properly keyworded images to get $5,000 per year. And that's across the top five sites not per site. It may take a year or two before you reach stable revenue to understand how your images perform. You also need to consider that most people's revenue doesn't stay the same after they stop submitting images. It almost always drops which means if you wanted to maintain that yearly amount you'd need to keep submitting images.

Plus, the trends in microstock don't look good for long term performance. Minus a small percentage of people, things seem to be headed downward pretty quickly for most people including myself. If your work is truly unique and difficult to shoot you may want to consider finding a macro agency that specializes in your subjects. And that's especially true if there's low demand. This way if you get infrequent sales at least you're getting hundreds per sale instead of pennies. If it looks like I'm trying to discourage you from microstock well, yes, I am. The trends are working against your goal and I think you may be disappointed with the results after investing years of hard work. I say this because that's my experience and where I am today.

cuppacoffee

« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2015, 13:18 »
0
"...am having a hard time understanding why you repeat words in the titles of your images, which then wind up in your URLs..."

Some SEO algorithms reward repeating words with more weight. It is recommended (on some sites) to repeat the most important words in the titles, descriptions, image names and keywords. It's known as keyword density. Here from a SEO expert (and the experts disagree so take it with a grain of salt):

Some webmasters claim that you should try for good keyword density, a theoretical desirable ratio of the number of times your keywords appear to the total number of words on the page. Like most SEO topics, this one is hotly debated. The truth is that no one outside of the engines really knows under what circumstances keyword density is evaluated and how it winds up being evaluated when it is.

« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2015, 13:24 »
+1
As usual the thread is degenerating - time to take the useful advice at the beginning and do the only worthwhile test of your images - put them up for sale and see what happens :D

shudderstok

« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2015, 13:29 »
-2
I do take advice from experienced people. Nice people. Not from anonymous people putting down others.

at your rate of 7 posts a day, i think you crave attention.

that said, this is my last post on MSG. signing off for good here. this forum is so predictable.

good luck all.

« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2015, 13:44 »
+13
I do take advice from experienced people. Nice people. Not from anonymous people putting down others.
at your rate of 7 posts a day, i think you crave attention.
that said, this is my last post on MSG. signing off for good here. this forum is so predictable.
good luck all.
How many times have you left MSG?  I've lost count. ;D

I wonder what your new nickname will be next time you come back...


 

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