Now here is a milestone worthy of marking - I just reached my first $1,000 in sales. This month also marks my one year anniversary with Dreamstime, 600+ sales and 1,354+ uploads. And importantly my acceptance rate has gone from about 20 percent to around 70 percent. So I must be learning something!
Like anyone starting out in micro-stock the learning curve has been steep in the beginning. I think my favorite part of being a contributor has been the learning process. When you have the motivation of actually selling your photos, it spurs one to take more and more photographs and to be on the look out for opportunities to take photos. The more photos you take, the more feedback you get, the faster you learn.
You also learn to edit your work. If you only have 10 photos to choose from, how good is that "best" photo going to be? But if you are taking hundreds of photographs, you'll be able to pick out the outstanding photographs from the batch. The more you look at the top selling photographs on DT and the more feedback you get from your own portfolio (via sales, not from other DTers telling you how great your photos are) the better you get at deciding which photos have stock potential.
Microstock provides a great opportunity to receive unbiased feedback. When someone is willing to pay money for one of your images it carries so much more meaning then when your best friends says "oh that's a neat photo".
Early on I figured out shooting RAW and using Photoshop and Lightroom to develop and enhance photographs right out of the camera. Something that all of your competitors do, so its a must.
I'm in the game to earn an income eventually so the requirement to have a large and diversified portfolio spurred me to try new things and new directions including studio photography. At first I didn't think I'd ever deal with model releases and people photography. Now I've discovered that I really like doing people photography and hopefully buyers will like my efforts.