Well, I've passed the 6 month mark on DT and have to say that I am very pleased with how things have gone. I started out my first month with a single sale which encouraged me to keep uploading. Other sales have followed and ultimately led me to terminate other sites I was working with and go exclusive. I've now got over 500 images online and over 300 sales.
I've found the community here very encouraging and fun to work with. Photographers and illustrators working together to advance to a common goal is refreshing.
Here are some tips and tidbits of information for newbies thinking about joining:
1. UPLOAD! You'll see this piece of advice on the message boards whenever anyone asks about how to grow sales. It doesn't really matter what your skill level or quality of images the bottom line is that if you have twice as many pictures, you probably sell twice as much. It is that simple. I recommend anyone starting out make a goal of uploading a certain number of images per month. Even at 20 photos a month you'll have 240 images in a year.
2. Patience. Things go slowly initially, but as long as you keep uploading you'll start to grow sales. Most seem to take about 4-6 months to see real success (meaning a payout). From there things grow quickly if you keep uploading.
3. Acceptance ratio. Your acceptance ratio helps get you higher in the search results, so you'll do well to try to keep this high. People seem to range from 20% to 90% so try to aim for at least the middle. In the early days of submitting, go a little slower until you figure things out. There is nothing worse than getting 10 similar images rejected for the same reason. Likewise, when you first submit with a new model release just submit one photo in case you've done the release wrong. You can resubmit, but it doesn't take away the failed submission in your ratio.
4. Subjects. While it is nice when your favorite photos are accepted it is even better if you submit things that meet the buyers needs. Try to consider what the photos might be used for, and browse magazines, etc. and try to imagine your submissions getting used in the ads. Isolated (pure white background) images help save buyers time, and fit into any ad easily. DT evaluates each image on its own merits, so you can submit flowers and landscapes as long as you have outstanding images.
5. Keywords. DT makes it very easy to keep track of your sales, keywords used to find your photos, number of view, etc. Spend some time learning how to keyword. Lots of keywords gets you more views, but views are not downloads. Ideally you would have lots of downloads and few views. A view without a purchase is probably wasted time for the buyer. Good keywording will get you sales. Learn from the keywords buyers actually use to find your photos in the management area. Go back and re-keyword after you have learned and gained some experience. Never give up on your first uploads...
6. Seasons. If it is your first year, you are probably going to be submitting right 'in the season'. These kinds of photos will potentially take almost a year to come into demand again. That is why it really takes a year to get a good feel for how your portfolio does. In the meantime - keep uploading for next year!
7. Assignments. Consider submitting for assignments once you get 50 uploads. It gives you some free exposure, and a single download of a level 5 image will probably be the first big sale you get.
8. Subscriptions. One thing I didn't understand about subscriptions: a person with a subscription can buy your photo at any size (including RAW) or any level for the same low price. You'll typically get about $0.42 for such a sale. Don't be surprised when you have a level 2 or 5 image and it still goes for $0.42 cents.
Good luck and welcome to DT everyone!