I saw Richard St. John's video on TED.com today, where he talked about eight secrets of success. This talk is from 2005, but nothing seems to be changed in those 3 years. :)
St. John mentioned 8 traits, what help us to succeed in our lives. And I think they apply to stock photography as well, or even best. So I wanted to share them with you.
I have ever met a passionless photographer, not a professional, and much less a hobbyist. So it's easy to keep passion about photography alive when there's so much beauty around us and interesting subjects and lot of techniques to explore and develop. Maybe you need to find your passion among different genres or styles of photography. Find you passion and then chase it.
Microstock industry requires hard work. You need to develop your portfolio. Quality is most important, but as well is quantity. And that requires work. You are lucky if you know how to work hard and have fun at the same time. Then you are not a workaholic, but workafrolic, like St. John said.
That's the most true in photography than anywhere else. You need to keep things in focus. The better lens you have the sharper focus you can have. ;) But of course you have to focus on building up your portfolio, keep your eye on trends of design and fashion.
You need to learn to ignore distractions and concentrate on one thing, becoming an expert at it.
Don’t allow shyness or selfdoubt to disrupt or even stop you. Find ways how to push yourself beyond your limits (or the line where you think your limits are - usually they are much farther away from your comfort zone). Friends and family can help to push you, or your fellow photographers from stock sites. Ask them to do it.
Learn to be creative. Ideas are just thoughts that solve problems. Formulate the problem (f.e "I want to depict the wind") and then find a solution (shoot wind turbines, or trees bending in storm). You can find "problems" from dictionary, for example.
Find ways to improve your portfolio, your techniques. Strive to become the best at what you do. Practice, practice, practice.
Successful people provide something of value to people. It doesn't have to involve charity work. It’s delivering a service or product others need or want. And that's easy in stock industry, isn't it?
Never give up. Don't let yourself to be frighten by rejected photos, slow start of sales, seemingly much successful coophotographers (you don't know how, where or when they started). Don’t expect quick results (easy come, easy go). Don't be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble and fall, cause that's the way how we learned to walk. And see, how easy it's now. Are you shamed that you stumbled on your first steps? It's not a shame to make mistakes, it's a shame not to learn from them. A failure has been called "a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top." So don't let to fool yourself of other opinions. Just keep going and never give up.