Are you wondering why you're not getting very many sales? Or are you an old pro with stock but wondering why sales are decreasing? I have some tips that will hopefully be of help.
I am new to stock but I have 30 years experience doing freelance art. It is always a struggle to be true to your creative self and to produce work that will sell. That is the first thing to consider: Are you creating images that you like and/or motivate your creative being or trying to produce images that sell? There is no need to compromise, you just may need to consider going the route of art galleries for what gives you personal satisfaction and change hats when you're doing stock.
OK... today we're going to work on images that will sell as stock. When this door first opened, you may have perhaps ran out and bought a hard hat to make some construction-worker images, took pictures of the salad you had for lunch, uploaded snapshots from your vacation, etc. Now they just sit there, not getting many view let alone selling. But they're good images, right?
Here's a little trick: Let's say you took a bunch of pictures of your cat and were thrilled when they were accepted. Go into DT's search engine and keyword CAT. Sort by images with the most downloads. Then sort again by least downloads. You can do this for any subject, BABY, CONSTRUCTION WORKER, etc. It's easy to tell the difference of what is selling and why compared to those that aren't. Where do YOUR images fall within this spectrum?
How about you experienced sellers? I've seen comments in the forums for how some seem to be selling less and less. I think the answer lies in this: The Golden Age of Online Stock is over. You signed up 2-3 years ago, made a lot of sales, and rested on your laurels. If you play with the search feature, you will find a lot of images from 2-3 years ago that would never be accepted today. Shadows from flash, poor composition, poor subject, etc. It's just back then there was less competition and the constraints for what would be accepted was more lax. You may need to consider updating your portfolio with images that can compete in today's market.
No matter how successful you are, you need to be your toughest critic. Could you have taken a picture better? Even the mildest of egos can hold you back. Here is a picture I submitted of the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was smug in thinking I had a winner because it was a unique image to DT; the image had no competition! When the image was accepted I let out an evil laugh and patted myself on the back for being so smart. The image got lots of views but no sales.
I ended up going back, took some more photographs, and submitted the other one shown here. BAM! Four sales! Can you see the difference between the two and why one is selling and the other isn't?
Essentially, this is almost like playing the "Stock Game." (Search for the Stock Game on DT if you don't know what that is). But what you're doing here is taking YOUR images and comparing them to equivalent images that are selling. Once you see the difference, you will know what to do. Allow competition and self criticism to make you a better photographer or illustrator. Discover the Sales within you! :-)