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This is probably a question on everyone's mind, so I thought we could have general discussion on what we all think are best ways to increase/maintain sales.

 

These are my tips:

 

  1. For me, RPI (return per image) is everything. I am constantly looking for niches and areas where I can get the highest RPI for my uploads.  The key to this, I find, is regular analysis of my port, sales, trends, and comparison of the performance of my sets to each other.
  2. The other good thing about RPIs is: if you can maintain a minimum 50c RPI per month (for example), you then know for every 500 or 1,000 images you add to your port, you will add $250 to $500 to your monthly income. If your RPI goes down, then you know you are adding too many images of the wrong type.
  3. Upload, upload, upload. Although at this time of the year, my uploads are down a bit due to other commitments, I think an average 40 to 50 images per week (2,000+ per year) is feasible for a full-time stock photographer.
  4. I believe constant uploads helps to increase sales because you are continually putting new stock in front of buyers, who even if they do not buy those, might add them to their light-boxes, or take a walk through your portfolio and discover other images to buy.
  5. Planning and preparation. I spend at least 20% of my time allocated to stock photography in planning and preparation. I couldn't do the above if it wasn't for this important time allocation.

I am interested in what others have to contribute on this topic. So, what do you say?

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Will be different for each genre of photography people are involved in I guess. For example, holiday still life images will need different planning to landscapes or nature images.

 

From my point of view with landscapes, it is all about seasons and locations. I will plan for next years seasons i.e. I will shoot this Summer for upload next Spring so I get fresh Summer images in front of buyers three months before next Summer. I will also research locations by what is popular when searching for more generic locations. For example, I will Google British Holidays(vacations) and see what locations are popular. I will also watch trending news items for locations e.g. Greece is getting a lot of bad press so some Brits will look for locations for staycations to replicate Greece so British Riviera will be more popular along with historic sites (I am going to Cornwall and Devon in September to shoot for next year) so fresh up to date images are available.

 

I plan locations based on my RM portfolio and stock gets the leftovers. Single RM sales can cover the cost of the trip, stock sales also do well but take a much longer time frame to cover the cost of the trip so it is not financially viable for me to plan locations based on what stock sites will sell.

 

I would honestly say that for a location shoot I will spend 10 working days planning it meticulously down to travel arrangements, accommodation plans, driving routes, etc for a 5 day shoot. I will research the best locations, viewpoints, sun positions and times, tide times, access permissions required, back up locations for weather, back up locations for unforeseen events (e.g. roadworks blocking access).

 

Obviously for seasonal still life images and the like, that planning is not necessary, but you still need to do the financial planning, purchase props, source backgrounds, etc. I have done some still life shoots, some food photography and I actually find it a lot harder than landscapes - I struggle with the composition and "seeing" the images I want. I know in my head what I want to achieve but I lose patience with setting up the reality to achieve the vision. With landscapes I find composition relatively easy, I can see numerous images at one location within minutes of arriving there. I will also spend a lot of time post processing to get the image how I want it. My wife thinks I am too much of a perfectionist for selling images on stock sites, but I process all of my images with the aim of selling RM, stock just gets the images that don't make the cut in RM.

 

I don't measure by RPI, I measure by how long it takes me to cover the cost of my outlay. It is the return on investment I am interested in, goes back to my days of working in the City I guess.

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Yes, John, that is correct. I use RPIs in two ways: Total sales $$ (for that month) divided by total number of images in your port (you can do this for either monthly, quarterly, or annual RPI) - and I also use it to compare performance of sets.

 

The latter is a bit more subjective, but it gives me an indication of what sets are doing better and what sets are oversaturated and to stop uploading to. Its subjective, because its a cumulative total (not monthly) and you have to build in a time factor to make sure your comparisons are fair. And you have to also be careful that you don't have just one or two images that have done well, and all the others that you are adding are not.

 

But I use the second way (RPI per set) to look for new areas to upload to. If you want to try something new, just create a new set (you don't have to publish it) add about 20 images and wait a little while, then compare to your other sets.

 

I don't use RPD (return per download - Sales/ no of DLs) because it doesn't tell me much. It just tells me how individual images perform, but not how specific types of images do.

 

All in all, it's part of my planning/preparation: I do my RPIs-by-Set quarterly so I have a good idea of what I am going to shoot in the next three months.

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For me, alas, it's pretty much brute force. I've set a goal of adding 1,000 new editorial images per month to my port since May, & have pretty much met that goal. As a result I've got an RPI of about $.05/image/month. I still shoot commercial--food, conceptual, etc., but it leaves me wondering whether or not my port is so completely lopsided in favor of news that the commercial images get lost in the editorial maelstrom.

 

Every so often I pause & look at what's selling on the commercial end. Sometimes I get inspired & sometimes the result even pays off, but the pull of getting out to shoot news, the inertia of doing one type of photography vs. another is difficult to overcome.

 

andy

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Andy, that's a seriously impressive upload rate.

 

Quick question about your rpi. When you refer to your strategy as resulting in an rpi of 0.05, are you meaning that is because your portfolio is new or because editorial images earn much less?

 

I have recently started submitting editorial images so interested how their earnings might compare to typical commercial stuff.

 

Thanks

James

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I'm not Andy, but I have a fair amt of editorial images in my port as well (probably a bit over half of my port) and the sales can vary. Mainly it's the basic downloads at what ever level you'r at (25¢ for new contributors) but I also get ODD and SOD's on the editorials. If the person doesn't have a subscription, I'm guessing they pay more because I've gotten as much as $10 for one of the editorial images. So it depends on the type of subscription the buyer has and what size image they are purchasing.

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For me, alas, it's pretty much brute force. I've set a goal of adding 1,000 new editorial images per month to my port since May, & have pretty much met that goal. As a result I've got an RPI of about $.05/image/month. I still shoot commercial--food, conceptual, etc., but it leaves me wondering whether or not my port is so completely lopsided in favor of news that the commercial images get lost in the editorial maelstrom.

 

Every so often I pause & look at what's selling on the commercial end. Sometimes I get inspired & sometimes the result even pays off, but the pull of getting out to shoot news, the inertia of doing one type of photography vs. another is difficult to overcome.

 

andy

andy, i don't know if SS is the place for ed.News stuff as compared to the wire services and "G" I have a friend who has over 45,000 Images of red carpet and Barely makes a Living Here. He was with wire image when they first started and made a small fortune until 10,000 Kids with Video Cameras got in along with TMZ, I asked why Video and they say stills are dead and video Pays more.. In the alley behind My house everyday something is going on and 50 Guys Yelling at someone.Gotta be tough. respect!!

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Andy, that's a seriously impressive upload rate.

 

Quick question about your rpi. When you refer to your strategy as resulting in an rpi of 0.05, are you meaning that is because your portfolio is new or because editorial images earn much less?

 

I have recently started submitting editorial images so interested how their earnings might compare to typical commercial stuff.

 

Thanks

James

 

Hi James,

 

I do think editorial by & large sell less frequently than commercial shots, given a rough equivalence in quality. I think in order to be successful a largely editorial port has to be several times larger than a commercial one in part because the majority of sales are subscrition & partly because SS is primarily a commercial stock agency.

 

That said, my half-dozen all time best sellers vary between commercial & editorial.

 

My last two ELs were editorial--one of Hillary Clinton on Roosevelt Island, the other a horrible, horrible shot I did more than two years ago in McCarren Park for a pet rescue event. It was done in bright sun, from an awkward angle. The volunteer wore blue & with the grass it caused fringing. Hard to believe now that I submitted it, that it was accepted or that someone thought it worth the extra dollars. But they did.

 

So, you never  know....

 

andy

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andy, i don't know if SS is the place for ed.News stuff as compared to the wire services and "G" I have a friend who has over 45,000 Images of red carpet and Barely makes a Living Here. He was with wire image when they first started and made a small fortune until 10,000 Kids with Video Cameras got in along with TMZ, I asked why Video and they say stills are dead and video Pays more.. In the alley behind My house everyday something is going on and 50 Guys Yelling at someone.Gotta be tough. respect!!

 

Good point, Laurin.

 

I don't know, either. SS makes noise about covering more news, events, etc... Then they do away with the RC program (which never seemed to do anything for anybody anway:).

 

I do shoot for other agencies, a couple with a more breaking news outlet & string for some of the local outlets. Recently started contributing to one, in fact, that's part of G. So we'll see where that goes.

 

I'm very fortunate insofar as I don't have to make a living from SS, but rather use it as one part of my income (which, I suppose, is typical here--least these days). My model for SS is Lev Radin. I spent most of a day standing next to him covering the Wenjian Liu funeral, had no idea at the time he was an SS guy, lol! In addition to events, Lev does lots of fashion. Of late I've been trying to add sports & red carpet to my output, in addition to politics, news & events. Problem, of course, is getting credentialed for these events. Stock agencies, however large, carry no weight with PR reps.

 

Of course, like everyone else around here, I keep my nose to the ground, sniffing out whatever new opportunities I can find. It's definitely a scavanger hunt these days.

 

Don't know what to say about video. I don't doubt it's become a major factor in sales & usage. I know a couple of guys who cover events & only do videos. For me, however, I don't think the return I've gotten on mine really justifies the workflow disruption playing with video presents.

 

andy

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Just came through from Microstock Diaries:

 

Is it Too Late to Get Started in Microstock?

 

http://www.microstockdiaries.com/is-it-too-late-to-get-started-in-microstock.html?utm_source=Microstock+Diaries&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=afbbfe5c9d-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_722185f52b-afbbfe5c9d-424684033

 

 

Interesting read

 

... including:

 

Scott Braut, Adobe

I believe it’s still the “early days” of stock. What is happening at the highest level? There are millions of existing stock customers, ranging from individual designers to large enterprises consuming content at different price points. The purchase workflows are becoming seamless, using the Adobe Stock and Photoshop integration as one example, with the potential to reach millions of new customers worldwide. Content marketing is expected to go from an industry in the “tens of billions of dollars” to hundreds of billions by 2019. Video consumption, ad spending and engagement continue to surpass record highs. There are large markets that are still emerging. I’ve only heard customers say, “We need more content.”  

At the same time, contributors need to think strategically about their portfolios. Popular topics see the greatest volume of submissions. Aesthetics change. New markets and audiences emerge. It’s important to have a unique or original aesthetic, to focus on commercial value, to optimize your metadata, and to evolve portfolios with demand. – Scott Braut

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I don't have any there either. This is my main site and what ever SS rejects I upload to IS. I only started that though so I've only got a little over 40 images there. And only a few of those are the same as I have here (mainly ones that've never really sold well here). My slice is a sliver :)

 

That said, if what you've posted above is accurate, we are in the eye of the storm of microstock so to speak. And the sales are a coming? I sure hope so.

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Upload, upload, upload. Although at this time of the year, my uploads are down a bit due to other commitments, I think an average 40 to 50 images per week (2,000+ per year) is feasible for a full-time stock photographer.

 

I am interested in what others have to contribute on this topic. So, what do you say?

 

Man I wish, as a fractal artist whose renders take 4-5 hours at a time, I could submit that many at a time. Though my renders used to take 8+ hours until only recently, so maybe I will be able to increase it from just a few a week to 15+. 15 every week is still 795, which would be great for me because my port is currently under 220. =P

 

FT is still my bread and butter in regards to sales, but SS is catching up fast. DP is down right awful, I don't even like looking at it. 

 

I am making more fractals that I know are popular, so I'm focusing more on niches recently. For example, I'm doing a lot of lightning pieces right now, with no end in sight. I may stop when I finally get bored of making lightning, but regardless, I do want to try dominating that niche as much as possible. Then I'll move to the next one; haven't figured out what it will be. Snow maybe? Something fall/winter themed for sure. 

 

I'm also considering making fractal/abstract videos. Short ones from 15 seconds up to 1 minuet. I'll have to see what's popular.

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Andi you're not supposed to use the full names of the competitors, it's a no-no. Use their initials instead.

 

Woops forgot about that, thanks for reminding me. I fixed it. =)

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Just starting uploading to FT.  Delayed doing so for a long time because they don't accept editorial and that's most of what I have on SS.  But, so far, I have a 100 percent acceptance rate on FT, which is a far cry from what I have here.  The affiliation with the software company is intriguing.  With its marketing prowess, that could mean more customers and more sales.

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Just starting uploading to FT.  Delayed doing so for a long time because they don't accept editorial and that's most of what I have on SS.  But, so far, I have a 100 percent acceptance rate on FT, which is a far cry from what I have here.  The affiliation with the software company is intriguing.  With its marketing prowess, that could mean more customers and more sales.

 

I'm exactly the same as you. Editorial is my priority but my gut tells me not to get left behind with possible developments at FT/AD , so I have started to upload my rf shots. Got exited when my first upload had a sale within a couple of days, but nothing since.

 

Do you have a big editorial portfolio on SS, how are sales going?

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I'm exactly the same as you. Editorial is my priority but my gut tells me not to get left behind with possible developments at FT/AD , so I have started to upload my rf shots. Got exited when my first upload had a sale within a couple of days, but nothing since. Do you have a big editorial portfolio on SS, how are sales going?

I have slow, but steady, sales in one specific editorial category.  My portfolio is pretty small -- 828 images -- but I have a day-job that soaks up a lot of my time.  I don't think I'll ever reach the levels I hoped for when I started, but I do sell more editorial than I do RF.  That may be because I have more editorial shots in my portfolio, due largely to more editorial being approved over time than RF.  Maybe SS will become my site for editorial and I'll use the other sites for my RF stuff, which has a high rejection rate here, but is accepted elsewhere. 

 

Edit:  Yikes!  My images were just approved today by FT and I had two sales before my tax form was processed.  Hope that's a sign of things to come!

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"

  1. For me, RPI (return per image) is everything. I am constantly looking for niches and areas where I can get the highest RPI for my uploads.  The key to this, I find, is regular analysis of my port, sales, trends, and comparison of the performance of my sets to each other.
  2. The other good thing about RPIs is: if you can maintain a minimum 50c RPI per month (for example), you then know for every 500 or 1,000 images you add to your port, you will add $250 to $500 to your monthly income. If your RPI goes down, then you know you are adding too many images of the wrong type.
  3. Upload, upload, upload. Although at this time of the year, my uploads are down a bit due to other commitments, I think an average 40 to 50 images per week (2,000+ per year) is feasible for a full-time stock photographer.
  4. I believe constant uploads helps to increase sales because you are continually putting new stock in front of buyers, who even if they do not buy those, might add them to their light-boxes, or take a walk through your portfolio and discover other images to buy.
  5. Planning and preparation. I spend at least 20% of my time allocated to stock photography in planning and preparation. I couldn't do the above if it wasn't for this important time allocation."

1. Yes, a under supplied niche can give ideas for themes, but it may be undersupplied because buyers don't want images of those themes.

2. Not at all.  There is not really any correlation between past performance and performance of new uploads.  And it isn't necessarily because they're of the wrong type.  It could be that the search algorithm  has changed.  It could be any number of factors that you have no control of.

3. Uploading useless content just to hit a certain number won't help.  Uploads must be of a certain quality of concept, theme and usefullness.

4. Most buyers are looking for a specific image and don't walk through people's portfolios, but there may be a little truth to that.

5. Yes, stock photography does take work.

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I have slow, but steady, sales in one specific editorial category.  My portfolio is pretty small -- 828 images -- but I have a day-job that soaks up a lot of my time.  I don't think I'll ever reach the levels I hoped for when I started, but I do sell more editorial than I do RF.  That may be because I have more editorial shots in my portfolio, due largely to more editorial being approved over time than RF.  Maybe SS will become my site for editorial and I'll use the other sites for my RF stuff, which has a high rejection rate here, but is accepted elsewhere. 

 

Edit:  Yikes!  My images were just approved today by FT and I had two sales before my tax form was processed.  Hope that's a sign of things to come!

 

I just applied there yesterday too (submitted my first batch anyway). How long does it take them to do the review process? Wondering how long it'll take before I know if I'm accepted or not :)

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