One year with DT, what I've learned!

posted on 22nd of february, 2010

WOW! It has been one year already! Many may just think of DT as being a place to earn money, but it is much more than that. When I began my DT membership, I submitted every other photo I had. The result: dozens of refusals. This opened my eyes up. I looked at my photos more carefully. The result: my previously favorite images were chucked because I saw how horrible they really were (uneven focus, bad comp, CA, noise, etc.). My photographic eye was developed to a much more mature level. This is one thing that is extremely important to know when building a portfolio:

Quality over Quantity

This is often stressed on DT forums and blogs. It is definitely true. I have seen tiny, but high quality portfolios that have over 10d. per image! On the flipside of that, I have seen portfolios that have hundreds of images, and only a couple dozen sales. Through my experience on here, I have learned that buyers want quality, not quantity. They want to find what they need as quickly as possible and as relevant as possible and as high quality as possible. They don't want to weed through irrelevant, junky results.

Although I am NOT an expert at this yet, I am learning what to look for when choosing an image to upload.

This brings me into my next point:

Choose which images to upload carefully.

As I mentioned above, my frenzy to upload images when I registered on DT resulted in numerous refusals and a poor acceptance ratio. I am still recovering from this poor acceptance ratio, and probably won't be back to a respectable acceptance ratio for a couple years. The next thing I'm going to talk about is directly related to this.

Use refusals as learning experiences.

When you get a refusal e-mail, or look at your refusals page after a batch of images has been reviewed, do just say, "Bummer. That didn't get accepted. Too bad." Notice that DT reviewers give you the reasons your image was refused. It is very helpful because with this, you can either fix the image and resubmit, or just learn from it and try to improve in the future.

I find that my refusals often carried a common theme. In my case, they were mostly, "Poor optical performance..." I used this to pinpoint the issue. I was using a budget P&S. I researched what CA, IS and all those other terms meant. Because DT refused my images due to "poor optical performance", I was able to learn what I needed to fix this. I purchased a DSLR and am currently working on upgrading my "arsenal" to high quality glass that has minimal CA, and fabulous sharpness. I appreciate the honest critique I get from DT that I could not easily get elsewhere. For that I will say, "Thanks for all of my refusals, DT!" :)

Reasons why I like DT

DT is great for a few different reasons. I like having my images online for friends, family, and other interested people to see, but they actually make money for me in the process.

As mentioned above, I actually appreciate the honest critique I get from the DT reviewers. It provides me with many more learning experiences.

I also like browsing others photos, and seeing what sells well, and looking at the photographic technique used in their photographs. It helps me improve my photography.

As I mentioned already, this is a way for me to make money off of my photos, and to possibly even get a little more public!

My past year on DT

Between February 22, 2009-2010, I have uploaded 60 photos and recieved 22 sales.

Set Goals!

A very important thing to do is to SET GOALS. Here are my goals for February 22, 2011.

»Have 120 Uploads (I was going to do 100 uploads, but I think I'll challenge myself with 120!)

»Have recieved 50 Sales total (Not that I can help it, but it's still a goal...maybe more of a hope!)

»Have an improved acceptance ratio, maybe up to 30%! LOL! In other words, more uploads accepted, less refused.

Hopefully you learned something from my experiences. This has definitely been an adventure, and I'm looking forward to the one ahead!

Here are my first and last (as I am writing this) photos:

Comments (14)

Posted by Elimitchell on March 02, 2010
I'm glad you found my experiences helpful, Trottola! Maybe through my errors, others can learn and try to avoid them.
Posted by Trottola on March 02, 2010
I agree with you. I think this year in Dt hs been very helpful ffor me too. Great post.
Posted by Elimitchell on March 01, 2010
Thanks Ben! What you said about goals is definitely right.
Posted by Gilmourbto2001 on March 01, 2010
Setting goals is the best way to achieve them. Nice work and wonderful post.
Posted by Elimitchell on February 23, 2010
That's another reason I need to upload more. I can't upload as many as I want because my acceptance ratio is so bad. It shows how bad choices and mistakes can hurt for a long time, but as I said, refusals are chances for learning experiences! :)
Posted by Bradcalkins on February 23, 2010
It is hard to say what would happen if you stopped uploading. I am pretty steady, with fairly constant uploads each month (about 50). I think that if you stopped uploading you would continue to reap sales for some time, as long as you had sales and some higher level files to begin with...
Posted by Elimitchell on February 23, 2010
Thanks for the comments, Brad and Derek.

Yes, Brad, quality doesn't have to be in small quantity. But what I was getting at was that we should not disregard quality to get quantity.

Do you find that it takes constant updating of your portfolio to keep a consistent number of sales per month?
Posted by Delaol on February 23, 2010
Wow, totally agree with the learning process through the images that get refused.
I've only been on here for only a few months and have learnt so much. I used to get refusal after refusal, but have now started to learn my lesson and am now feeling that its worth it, after getting images accepted and even a couple of sales.
Best Stock Photo site i have ever looked at and i'm staying as long as they'll have me !! Thanks DT
Posted by Bradcalkins on February 23, 2010
Be a little careful on using DPI as a benchmark - there are more factors than just quality that go into it. Time inevitably marches it upwards. Working against dpi is new uploads. All things being equal, an active uploader will have a lower dpi, and higher revenue.

I personally use 'downloads per 100 images online' from the last month as a benchmark, not all time. As well, when it comes to stock it isn't necessarily a choice between quantity and quality - you just have to look at Yuri Arcurs to see someone producing 'quality' in large 'quantity' - relative to the rest of us :) To me it is really a time/quantity/quality triangle... (Uniqueness is another factor - you can have many high quality images of a similar subject and it won't give the same results as a similar number of diversified images.)
Posted by Elimitchell on February 22, 2010
Thanks for all your comments!
Posted by Kenishirotie on February 22, 2010
50 total sales in a year should be achievable if you also consider those subscription sales. Wish you all the best in year 2010.
Posted by Linqong on February 22, 2010
Thank you for your experience!
I believe you'll have more sales!
Posted by Davidwatmough on February 22, 2010
I agree with you and could have written the same post myself having just reached 100 sales and 416 images over roughly the same period.
Judgment of what will be accepted and what will sell is tricky and sometimes surprising. Learning from rejections is crucial. David.
Posted by Almaterra on February 22, 2010
Thanks for your opinion and good luck in your adventure

Comments (14)

This article has been read 2264 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Elimitchell.

About me

Whether the subject is a soaring eagle, snowy Mount McKinley or a blooming Dahlia, ever since I began photography a few years ago I have discovered details through the viewfinder that I would not have seen otherwise. Through my photography, I hope share these incredible facets of Creation with others.

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