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My first month here. Sharing experiences and would love some feedback


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Hi all. I'm seeing people writing about the start of their Shutterstock journey here and as a beginner I've found their stories interesting and helpful so I wanted to share my experiences too. I'm a hobbyist photographer and I'm new to stock photography. I started uploading one month ago and I've been uploading 3-5 pictures a day and have 136 images in my port. I've made 11 sales and have earned $5.63 so far. First two weeks went without a single sale and I was almost ready to give up, but then sales started to slowly pour in - first two images a week, then 3 and, finally, last Friday I sold 3 images in one day (probably won't happen again any time soon...)!

My uploading speed has been pretty slow because I want to learn what kind of images sell to avoid uploading and keywording images that have very little chance of selling. That's why I've been trying to upload different kind of images. I've sold two cat photos so I think I'll keep uploading them despite the market being saturated in that area. I've sold only one nature photo and one photo with a person in it so far. Of course, one month is not enough to make any conclusions yet so I will continue uploading different kind of things to see if I can find my niche.

One thing that is giving me a headache is that I don't really understand where my images would be used so I'm unsure how to crop images. Do I want to crop them tightly so they look better in search results or should I leave more space around the subject to allow the buyer to make the final decision on composition?

I'm thinking of starting uploading videos too, but the review process is so ridiculously slow that it is really killing my motivation and I'm not sure if videos even sell at all.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my journey so far although seeing what is being bought and where is giving me much more joy than the $0.25 I'm usually getting... It would be nice to make this a meaningful source of income one day and I'd really appreciate any advice and tips from more experienced users if someone could take a look at my port. Thank you for reading!

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A Fellow Finn, welcome! :)

I think you have already an advance as of living in Finland because there's not that much competition. Images of Helsinki is probably only high competition subject in Finland but even that is far from the levels of Paris for example. There is still lot of opportunities here for travel photography that have high possibility to sell well. For example, my Turku images are selling very well all over the world. There's lot of Finnish buyers too! 

I'd say not to worry too much about cropping, but think of making different variations. Some tighter shots and different angles and some with copy space so that the buyer can add their own text on the image. But don't make too many similars. 3-4 max variations maybe.

Videos do sell! It is much more slower than with images but makes much better money per sale. Just keep on uploading 👍

I have some tips on my blog too to consider: https://jamoimages.com/stock-photography-tips/

Best of Luck Natalia! :)

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Thanks Jarmo! :)

Looks like I should try shooting travel photos of Tampere (my nearest big city)! The amount of great photos of Tampere on Shutterstock is much smaller than I assumed. I never bothered to check that before thinking that there would be an overwhelming amount, so thanks for the tip! Have you tried photographing any events in Finland (protest marches, parades etc)? Are there any buyers for editorial photos like that?

I think I'll try uploading some more videos to see if I can sell one at some point. The reviewing process took almost a week for my first video and I'm on 5th day waiting for approval of my next two! I guess I should just keep uploading videos without waiting for the approval of previously submitted videos. Fast review process of commercial photos made the learning of what is accepted and what is not very fast and easy, but with videos it's not as iterative due to slow review times.

I've been reading your blog and I've found your earnings reports very interesting! I think I'll start uploading to AS as well at some point (mainly to get free Photoshop and Lightroom licenses if they continue giving them to contributors, I use a very old version of Lightroom and free editing software at the moment).

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25 minutes ago, Natalia Leinonen said:

Thanks Jarmo! :)

Looks like I should try shooting travel photos of Tampere (my nearest big city)! The amount of great photos of Tampere on Shutterstock is much smaller than I assumed. I never bothered to check that before thinking that there would be an overwhelming amount, so thanks for the tip! Have you tried photographing any events in Finland (protest marches, parades etc)? Are there any buyers for editorial photos like that?

I think I'll try uploading some more videos to see if I can sell one at some point. The reviewing process took almost a week for my first video and I'm on 5th day waiting for approval of my next two! I guess I should just keep uploading videos without waiting for the approval of previously submitted videos. Fast review process of commercial photos made the learning of what is accepted and what is not very fast and easy, but with videos it's not as iterative due to slow review times.

I've been reading your blog and I've found your earnings reports very interesting! I think I'll start uploading to AS as well at some point (mainly to get free Photoshop and Lightroom licenses if they continue giving them to contributors, I use a very old version of Lightroom and free editing software at the moment).

Yes, you should absolutely try shooting Tampere. Try to make them as high quality as possible. Seek for beautiful light etc. The quality of the Tampere images drops fast already on the first page so make your images pop. You should be able to get your images on the first rows when you start getting downloads. 

I haven't been shooting on events that much, but I should more often. Generally my editorials do sell but I can't say for protests or parades etc. I believe though that there is a market for those too. Finnish news agencies do use stock photos.

I did shoot Vappu celebration couple of years back but uploaded those images exclusively on Alamy. One of the images sold approximately for $50. The buyer was some Italian magazine. So yes, there should be a market for finnish event photos... even worldwide. 

Yes, just keep on uploading you clips. The review sometimes takes some time. If you get rejected and you don't agree with that, try to submit once more and ad "previously submitted" note for the reviewer. It's kind of "I disagree" note. If you still get rejected, just forget it and move on. BTW. AS have been more loose with the footage reviews lately while SS sometimes have ridiculous rejections.

AS is good. It's been performing very well lately. They did offer a free CC photography plan subscription for a year for everyone who uploaded over 300 photos in 2019. Maybe this year too. So worth of trying I think.

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1 hour ago, Jarmo Piironen said:

Yes, you should absolutely try shooting Tampere. Try to make them as high quality as possible. Seek for beautiful light etc. The quality of the Tampere images drops fast already on the first page so make your images pop. You should be able to get your images on the first rows when you start getting downloads. 

I haven't been shooting on events that much, but I should more often. Generally my editorials do sell but I can't say for protests or parades etc. I believe though that there is a market for those too. Finnish news agencies do use stock photos.

I did shoot Vappu celebration couple of years back but uploaded those images exclusively on Alamy. One of the images sold approximately for $50. The buyer was some Italian magazine. So yes, there should be a market for finnish event photos... even worldwide. 

Yes, just keep on uploading you clips. The review sometimes takes some time. If you get rejected and you don't agree with that, try to submit once more and ad "previously submitted" note for the reviewer. It's kind of "I disagree" note. If you still get rejected, just forget it and move on. BTW. AS have been more loose with the footage reviews lately while SS sometimes have ridiculous rejections.

AS is good. It's been performing very well lately. They did offer a free CC photography plan subscription for a year for everyone who uploaded over 300 photos in 2019. Maybe this year too. So worth of trying I think.

This is really great information, thank you very much! This topic has already proved to be much more useful than I assumed. :)

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48 minutes ago, designerdivyagoyal said:

Hello,
I am new here and after reading your article, the thing which is bothering me is that 11 sales is a very good start for a profile but getting only $5.68 for 11 sales is little less for me. I have read all the policies and rules of payment but don't you feel the price is less. Wanted to know your opinion.  

Hi! The amount we're getting depends on the pricing plan under which the photo was bought. Photos bought under subscription plan give us only $0.25 and they are the majority.

Here's a screenshot of my earnings so far (sold a flower picture yesterday, another $0.25, yay!). I've had 10 subscriptions, 1 on demand and 1 single & other.

earnings.png.f00512713241cbb7b8dcf2c73f3e8d10.png

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22 minutes ago, Natalia Leinonen said:

Hi! The amount we're getting depends on the pricing plan under which the photo was bought. Photos bought under subscription plan give us only $0.25 and they are the majority.

Here's a screenshot of my earnings so far (sold a flower picture yesterday, another $0.25, yay!). I've had 10 subscriptions, 1 on demand and 1 single & other.

earnings.png.f00512713241cbb7b8dcf2c73f3e8d10.png

It's a great Start! Good luck.

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2 minutes ago, Natalia Leinonen said:

Thank you! And same to you! I hope to read about your experiences too at some point, since I have absolutely no idea how well illustrations like yours sell and it would be very interesting to know.

I am here to experience this as i was not too sure. You post gives us the hopes and will definitely post whenever my profile starts responding. Just trying hard to get recognition in this competitive space.

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