Free images - donate or not?

posted on 6th of september, 2009

After some of my portfolio images became one year old I decided to try this option. Some people wrote on message board this can be useful for sales, others objected, but you never know untill you see it with your own eyes.

So, my first donation was this image
, which is a part of my "clothespins patterns" series. I hoped to give other images of this series better visibility.
When the picture appeared in free section I noticed some pleasant things.
1. Free section has it's own search engine seperate from commercial. My picture appeared there on a very good position, because the amount of free images on site is in general very small compare to the amount of commercial.
2. On clicking my free image I, of course, could see other "clothespins" and "patterns", and which was the best - they were ONLY MINE, NO COMPETITOR'S IMAGES AROUND :) - unlike commercial search where your pictures can be surrounded by some very attractive works of other artists.
3. Within the next few days I got three sales of pictures visible on clicking the donated one. This photo

was sold twice. Before it had not even the views.
had views, but few. After "clothespins" became free, it got a sale as a "pattern". Both these pictures before were so unnoticed that I began to consider them unsuccessful, about which now, when they are at last demanded, I, of course, changed my mind ;)
I was incouraged and soon donated two more images:
. But these donations were not followed by any n/a sales. All images sold later were found by key-words in commercial section and had nothing to do with the ones which appeared on clicking the free ones. The first donated picture since then also didn't bring me any extras.

After this experiment my assumption is:
1. Donating free images doesn't make you "rich fast". It may bring you sales, but with no guarantee.
2. Still this option can be used as an easy opportunity to advertise.
3. Better treat it as long-term investment.
4. Donating images for free helps you analyze the needs of potential buyers much faster than by just selling. For free people upload easily and a lot, and you immediately find out which of your free pictures is more popular. Probably later you decide to enlarge your portfolio by working more on a popular concept.
5. There is always a chance that one of your free pictures "shoots" by accident and becomes well known by creeping all over. I personally know photographer whose career began to develop after one of his pictures was stolen from personal page and widely used internet (absolutely illegally), then appeared on bars and clubs' flyers (a shameless copyright violation), but after this violation people began to search this photographer to order him paid photosessions. With free images you help people to make you famous without breaking the law ;)

In life anything can happen and most of things happening to us are the results of many small steps, one of which can also be donating pictures for free. Why not?

Comments (10)

Posted by Hugy789 on February 16, 2010
Hi, great post.

Does anyone know if an image donated into the free section would still count as one of your 50 for going exclusive?

Thanks, Isaac
Posted by Deborah79 on September 07, 2009
I have so few accepted pictures :-( I thought it was not useful for me, but maybe I should change idea...
Thanks for let me know your point of view..
Posted by Julia161 on September 07, 2009
Hi, Digitalg.
Free image can not be transfered later back into commercial section. About this appears warning before you press the final "donate" button.
Posted by Digitalg on September 07, 2009
This is an option that I've been considering for some of my older images that don't sell for a while.
One consideration: I think you might get direct results (sales) from that donation if your portfolio has other comercial images related to the free one.
One question: Can an image be removed from free section back to regular RF without being deleted? Maybe only after sometime on the free section? that would be more inside my line of "promotional" issues.
Thanks for the info/insight
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 07, 2009
I don't think anyone should expect a big influx of sales from free images (people who find them are after free images, after all). They do bring traffic to Dreamstime, though, but probably the biggest benefit goes to those who have no free images. They give up nothing, but get the benefit of having more traffic. I'm not sure how anyone can know if offering an image for free actually resulted in sales. I've also noticed that free images seem to get high placement in Google searches, which could increase your exposure.
Posted by Titania1980 on September 07, 2009
I donated 2 that were approved years ago and:
1. Didn't have sales
2. I don't like them very much and since I don't want to delete pictures (It's enough hard to get something approved nowadays to begin to remove approved pics ;)) I prefer to donate 4 free

I have the illusion that they will bring some sales to my portfolio ;)
Posted by Creativei on September 07, 2009
Well I donated few and got some sales, and I consider it as a part of promoting my profile. You points are valid.
Posted by Mani33 on September 06, 2009
I couldn't donate any as I don't have any image older than a year!
But I would like to try it!
Posted by Littledesire on September 06, 2009
I've gave for free 9 of my images, all from different subjects. That way they advertise some of my other related to them images. Why not?
Posted by Doogiexxxx on September 06, 2009
there is no profit in free images

Comments (10)

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Photo credits: Julia161.

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