Alright, that's a topic you may be getting sick of. It's certainly one of the least fun aspects of selling microstock photos as well (only topped by the waiting for sales), but in spite of all this (or perhaps because
of all this) - it desires continuous attention and revision. So, here it comes - one more tip to help you with your keywords.
A while back Dreamstime released a feature which allows you to download a spreadsheet file of all your sales up to the end of the month before the current one (ie. it's not real-time and is generated at the end of each month). You can find the Excel Archive link on the Earning Page
or on the Statistics Page
. I know many of you are using it, but I suspect there's also people who just didn't bother... yet.
Now, back to the main point. Download that archive, unzip it and open it in whatever document editing program you're using. Click on the Buyer searched after
field and filter out all records which have "n/a" as value in this field. In OpenOffice.org you do this by selecting a field from this column, then go to Data > Filter > Standard Filter... As a condition choose "<>" and as value type "n/a" (without the quotes, of course). This will show you only the sales for which there is keyword data. It's much easier to inspect them this way. Plus, the spreadsheet file groups all keywords used to buy a given image on one line (that's on the first sheet - Total Earnings).
Next step: make yourself a good portion of hot coffee (chocolate, or tea - whichever you prefer; pops are also allowed) and get ready for reading. :)
I'd long suspected what I saw in my last reading of the file, but never took the time to carefully confirm it. I'm pretty sure you'll come to very similar conclusions such as mine:
1) - The vast majority of keywords used were very simple and basic
(ie. "coffee", "research", "depression"). None of the complicated terms I have here and there were actually used to find my image. So, buyers like it simple.
2) - Rarely did I see a combination of three or more keywords used together.
This means that the one or two-word terms must be spot on, in order for the buyer to find your image.
3) - Many of my files with high download rate had (as percentage) more different keywords used compared to those with fewer downloads.
This means that going back down to 10 keywords will eventually limit my sales. Somewhere between 15 and 25 keywords should be the optimal balance for most subjects.
4) - Much more often than not, the keywords used for download of my images were either also present in my titles or I had used a synonym for them in the title.
This means that titles such as "Aaah!" or "Ouuuuch!" might not be the smartest thing to use. Neither are sentences like "What do you want?". If it's a woman experiencing some sort of pain - why not call it "Woman in Pain"? But! Don't make your titles a mere list of keywords either - that we refuse during review. ;)
I suppose some of you will come up with more important observations, should you take the time to go through this information. For now I'm sitting here in amazement of the fact that (in general) we often have far more information available than we end up using... out of lack of time, not paying attention, or maybe even pure laziness. If I would like to take my microstock adventure (or any other one, for that matter) successful, then I need to start using all the data I have available.
Other times we end up fixed on one particular piece of information that's not available (and might never be) and as a result lose precious time and effort.
Share your findings, remarks and life wisdom in the comments section, please. :) I hope this has been helpful.