First Sales and Their Importance

posted on 27th of may, 2008

No, this brief article is not about the first sales altogether and how they make you jump up to the ceiling and blow the windows out with screaming... ;) My goal is to point your attention to one of the statistic numbers which, as it seems, is often being neglected.

The Number. The number I'm talking about you can find on the Earnings page ( right above the table with downloaded images - at the right corner. It's the one which states how many of your on-line images actually make up for the number of sales you've had.

Why is it important? Well, when I think of this number I am always reminded of the Pareto Principle (click here for Wikipedia explanation). Of course, that principle in itself can be quite vague (and the percentages should be much more different when it comes to your microstock portfolio), but I try to use the idea of it and measure the success of my portfolio now mainly through that.

In other words... As with most other numbers, the higher the better. :) But what this number gives me is the number of images that actually bring profit to me. As an example, let's say you've got a portfolio of 1000 images and 700 sales. The correlation between these two already would give you the thumbs up - you're moving in the good direction. However, if the number of images which you've actually sold (The Number) is a mere 300 or something along that line, then you might want to consider a scrutiny check on your on-line images to see why only 30% of your production is selling.

So, back to the First Sales. By the amount of new files sold for the first time I measure my progress. The best days I have are those when I've sold mainly new images for the first time. This bring satisfaction to me because I see more of my work actually making up for the hours setting-up a shoot, post-processing, keywording, etc.
Because I (as most of your out there) tend to shoot in series, it also provides me with information as to which series is successful and which not so much.

But what about the Time?... some of you will say. Yes, of course time matters. All these thoughts of mine are in the context of time. I am more than happy when a very recent series starts to sell straight away, but I've also noticed that if a series doesn't start selling within 2-to-(max)4 months, then it just doesn't do so well for the long term. While, at the same time, the successful series is already moving closer to a next level and providing even more profit. For portfolios which are older than 2 years The Number should be above the 60-70% given that the competition back then wasn't as severe as it is becoming now.

So, as you read through this and think of your portfolio, consider:

- in the past one week, how many images have sold for the first time?
- what is the percentage of images that have actually sold at all from your portfolio?
- if you consider the latter being too low (under 30-40% for a year-old portfolio or so), then dig deeper...
- the digging deeper should be basically trying to find out what you ought to change in your work, in order to affect positively The Number.
- make a long-term (say 6-7months) commitment to increase The Number by a certain percentage.
- once that time passes - re-evaluate again.
- also, see how The Number is affected by the amount of images you upload per month... if you upload a LOT then soon after The Number should also start increasing significantly.

So, this is basically how a small number from among the stats on your account can open a brand new way of looking at your microstock business. Don't underestimate it.

Comments (3)

Posted by Cleaper on June 17, 2008
Really useful and interesting thanks! I will dig deeper!!
Posted by Achilles on May 29, 2008
Relating the files that actually sell with the number of files online is a very good tip. Some are new downloads, some are popular files already but their number and connection to the portfolio says a lot about the diversity and selectivity of the photographer. Submitting something just in hope it sells is a BAD strategy. All popular portfolios have a very high number of different files being downloaded. Trying to increase the parameter made by total online files divided by different files sold monthly is definitely the recipe to success. VERY good article, useful!
Posted by Complexdesignpl on May 28, 2008
First step is almost always the most important.

This article has been read 2123 times. 9 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Monika Wisniewska.

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