Remember back in high school when the seniors voted for most popular and most likely to succeed? Where are they now right? The most popular has been married four times and the most likely to succeed works at the supermarket bagging groceries. But that nerdy kid everyone picked on started his own Internet company and is married to a supermodel. You never can tell what the future may bring.
Looking at my earning recently I was struck by how little my most popular image has made. This background image has sold seven times so far but every sale was a subscription sale. Indeed the word background and images for backgrounds are in demand stock images. They are also not likely to be the end product after the designers finish with them.
In comparison this black and white vintage car image has earned just as much as the mist background but it did it with one subscription sale and two extra small purchases, perhaps for a blog.
Then we have this one that has only sold twice but once was a large image and once was a 50 credit print extended license. So what does this tell us about sales verse earnings? Well, its not always the number of sales that leads to earnings.
Which brings me to another concept. In economics class back in college we learned about the concept of "barriers to entry". Barriers to entry refers to how difficult it is for competitors to enter a market. For example these days any web based business has a lot lower barriers to entry than a physical factory for example. An online magazine has a lower barrier to entry than a printed magazine.
Stock photography has a much lower barrier than in the past. Low barriers to entry drive down the profits because of the ease that competition can flood the market.
You can also apply the concept to the types of photographs you take. What do you think the barriers of entry are to taking a photograph of a tomato? Even if tomato photographs are the most popular images among buyers, they can be taken with relative ease. Just about everyone on the planet these days has access to a ripe tomato even in the dead of winter.
So as you might guess, there are plenty of tomato pictures available on Dreamstime and elsewhere so the earning potential on a tomato photograph is very low.
Take a picture of something alive, in the right place, at the right time and in someplace not accessible to the masses and you have the potential to earn a higher profit.
The golden combination would be something rare but also highly in demand such as Wisconsinart's elusive Bigfoot photo. Get a photo like that and its worth its weight in gold. Provided you keyword it well.