Power of compounding

posted on 10th of march, 2009

Anyone looking into a retirement savings plan, or trying to pay down a mortgage knows the 'power' of compound interest. Compounding in general applies to stock photography to some degree.

If you maintain some growth in your uploading, no matter how small, you will benefit greatly and grow your sales much faster. Consider two brothers (all financial examples seem to have two siblings to compare!) - one uploads 20 images a month for 3 years. The 2nd uploads 10 a month at first, but promises himself to increase the uploading by 10% a month. At first the 2nd brother lags behind, uploading 10, then 11, then 12 images in the first three months, while the first brother uploads 60. But after 14 months they are dead even. After three years the first brother is adding 20 photos still, an overall portfolio increase of just 2.7%, while the 2nd brother is still adding about 10% to the total.

If you consider that the sales generated by your portfolio is relatively proportional to your total files online, you can see that adding 10% a month to your portfolio will add about 10% to your sales, too, over time.

So far, I've tried to practice what I preach. The exception is that I couldn't sit tight and do 10, 11, 12 in the beginning and quickly ramped up to 50 a month until I hit 500, then have been trying to add 10% a month. It is getting harder and harder, but by increasing uploads each month I've gotten to almost 1000 uploads (and 1000 sales) in just under a year. It gets harder and harder, of course - I 'have to' add 100 photos a month now to add 10%. I'm OK scaling back to 5% a month, but the point is to keep maintaining growth over time.

My advice is to keep increasing each month while you try to hit targets of 500, 1000. Trying to reach a target is good, but doing it while increasing your uploads each month will serve you even better over time.

Comments (13)

Comment by Bradcalkins on March 27, 2009

Gmargittai - I think that sales ARE roughly proportiional to how many picture you have online while you are small. If the database goes from 4 million to 5 million photos it has 'only' increased 25%. While I agree that to truly double your sales exposure you should need to keep up with the total number, meaning you need another 25% in reality. But keep in mind that the total number of photos is going up by maybe 10% a month. For a small portfolio it hardy makes a difference. If you have 20 photos you would have to add 22 in a month instead of 20 to actually double your exposure. BUT, you probably benefit from other factors like getting more accepted, better keywording, focusing more on what sells for you. All in all I think sales ARE roughly proportional to portfolio size until you hit thousands of photos online. My experience so far is that my # of downloads per 100 photos online has NOT gone down over time, it has gone up.

Comment by Gmargittai on March 27, 2009

Interesting article,
At the beginning I also thought that the sales are proportional with the amount of pictures one has on line. Big mistake. It would be true if you are the only photographer loading up pictures. In reality everybody is loading up pictures and you get ahead only if you upload faster than the amount of pictures online increases. If we assume that the market does not grow then the chance that your picture is downloaded decreases every day since there are more and more pictures the designers can choose from.
This does not mean one should stop uploading. Selling a picture is always a thrill, and the only way to improve your skills is do more, upload more.
Nobody should expect to get rich from stock photo. There are much better ways.
Just my two cents,

Comment by Reeddaigle on March 16, 2009

Thanks. Inspiring. And like Fultonsphoto, I wish I could compound my time, but that's one resource that's always fleeting. Especially since I'm always trying to do too many things at once. But going digital sure has sped up the process.

Comment by Bradcalkins on March 10, 2009

I am an electrical engineer... And yes Py2000, we are keeping the little guy - we are expecting another in April!

Comment by Eclecticelegance on March 10, 2009

Thank you very much for this very useful article!

Comment by Studioceja on March 10, 2009

If I keep submitting at my pace I will be able to retire rich on the day of my 45th Bday LOL. I fear however that some day the microstock industry will be replaced by the ________ industry. You fill in the blank! I say this because even now the microstock industry is hurting the typical stock industry, Right?

Comment by Studioceja on March 10, 2009

Wow sounds like my economics course :). You make a great point. I always to submit my daily limit on a daily basis.

I must say however that the time spent taking the photos, editing, cropping, uploading, keywording....... etc. sometimes isn't justified up front, but if you take into consideration the fact that it is an investment then it is justified.... why? well the image sits there and makes money for you :) and then all you have to do is request a payment Yipppy!!!!

Comment by Fultonsphoto on March 10, 2009

Good philosophy and one that will certainly pay, now if I could just compound my time :0)

Comment by Destinyvispro on March 10, 2009

Great advice Brad! Sadly, I haven't developed the artful discipline necessary to sit and work my photos. My illustrations come out at a rate that is significantly slower. I admire your work ethic. The payout certainly shows.

Comment by Py2000 on March 10, 2009

Please do not abandon your youngest.... I will adopt him as he is so cute... (j/k, assuming you are expecting another baby)

What's your day job by the way?

Comment by Creativei on March 10, 2009

Great strategy, I wish I had enough time, to clean up all my images, and upload them.

Comment by Bradcalkins on March 10, 2009

Thanks! He is my youngest - but only for another month!

Comment by Cleaper on March 10, 2009

Interesting blog. I am trying to keep to an uploading strategy also - I just wish I had more time! Great images too - what a cute baby!

Comments (13)

This article has been read 1023 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Brad Calkins.

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