Microstock Photography – A new Approach to ensure success?

posted on 27th of september, 2010

For the past four or five years that I’ve been submitting to the Microstock Photography market I had always said it was a numbers game. Therefore the more images that you uploaded to the libraries or agencies the more downloads you would get resulting in higher earnings.

But I feel that over the past year that has changed. You now, more than ever need to target a niche. And then dominate that niche. You see the wherever you look on the internet the picture quality has increased. This is just the same for the libraries. The overall quality has shot up and therefore we need to submit a higher quality image.

Fortunately, in recent months, the demand for the pictures has exploded. With the present economic climate even the large companies are using microstock photography rather than employing the services of a professional photographer.

I am pretty sure that if you look at your online portfolio, as I did, you will realise that your images follow the 80-20 rule. That is that the top selling 20% of your online images rake in 80% of the money. I have now changed my approach to microstock photography. Instead of going out and shooting anything and I am now being very selective what I shoot for the microstock market. I am looking to increase the number of top selling images rather than just the number of images online.View my website...

Let’s assume we are going to concentrate on still-life and we are looking for a new subject. First I would look at what is topical either in the news or browsing on the internet. I’ve found that here in the UK the adverse weather is creating a quite a concern and that heating bills are shooting through the roof. So we could look at finances, bills, weather, heating, insulation etc. For arguments sake, I’ll go for heating bills how I can illustrate the subject with images.

I then search the subject for images that will give a spark of inspiration. Note I said inspiration and not to copy. If an image catches my eye I will study it and work out the variations and how I could make improve it or interpret the message in more suitable way. I do this until I have about twenty ideas that are all related to the subject.

I then make a shooting list and a list of props that I need to shoot all twenty ideas. After I have got the props I will then, and only then take my camera into my studio (converted garage) and begin shooting.

The great advantage of this methodical process is when it comes to uploading your images. You only need one set of categories and keywords. In addition you have a set of pictures that depict a topic that is in the news and already being searched. Also you will find that working in this way you will emerge from the photo session with far more pictures than you intended. Once you start your creative juices flowing, the ideas leap out at you rather than wondering what to shoot.

Another plus to this approach is that the photo buyer usually buys more than one image to illustrate the article of blog etc. If you are supplying over twenty images that hit the spot they are more likely to choose more than one image.

Of course you income is still related to the number of downloads. You can also put other images on as before but I can almost guarantee, if you take the time to research the subject, the niche subjects will be in the top 20% earning 80% of your income. You should, therefore, earn more money for less work. If you’re serious about microstock photography - Then maybe my new approach may work for you?

Comments (18)

Posted by MorganOliver on October 16, 2010
Very SMART! Many thanks for the insight. It makes sense to do a lot of research on what's "hot" and now and in demand.
Posted by Miele on September 29, 2010
Interesting....Good concept! Thanks!
Posted by Almaterra on September 29, 2010
Very good information!
Posted by Waxart on September 29, 2010
Very well put, Gordon. I have found that some of my more unusual images sell the best and it was a surprise to me that buyers were interested in an elderly flasher, for example! What would be great, from a buyer's point of view, would be if DT and other companies were more rigorous about turning down images for "Not wanted in stock" or "Too many similar images already on site". DT is actually the best for this and appreciate what I learn from it.
Posted by smartview27 on September 29, 2010
nice concept
Posted by Archidea on September 29, 2010
Excellent article, and for those who began his adventure in microstock, both for the more experienced, fully agree with what you say, I also use your system to work, more quality and less unnecessary images that probably will not ever sell.
Posted by iportret on September 28, 2010
Great blog! Very well written :)
Posted by Clarsen55 on September 28, 2010
Amen Gordon! This is the approach contributors need to take, rather than the "throw everything plus the kitchen sink" at the editors and the buying public. I put a lot of thought into every image I upload to Dreamstime...who can use it and to what purpose.
Posted by Crisferra on September 28, 2010
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your ideas! :-)
Posted by Arim44 on September 28, 2010
Great ideas,thanks for sharing.
Posted by Cristalloid on September 28, 2010
Posted by Yuritz on September 28, 2010
nice blog,thanks for sharing your experience
Posted by Rbilsland on September 28, 2010
Definately something I'll keep in mind, thanks.
Posted by Picstudio on September 28, 2010
Great blog!
Posted by Thanatonautii on September 28, 2010
Great blog! You are so right about the 80-20 rule :) Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Trottola on September 28, 2010
Great blog! I agree with you... I have few sales by now, but my best seller picture is a ceoncept illustration, so I can say that yes, stop for a while to think before making a picture is the right way ;)
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 27, 2010
You really got me wondering on this one - I had to check and it turns out I'm working on the 80/30 'rule' (30% of my images account for 80% of revenue). The funny thing about the 80/20 rule is that it isn't a rule :)
Posted by Davidwatmough on September 27, 2010
You are right.......... I have found the same..........but your sales ratio speaks for itself........ that numbers of uploads are far less important than the quality. David

Comments (18)

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Photo credits: Gbphotostock.

About me

From the age of sixteen I have worked in the construction industry developing an eye for design and an appreciation of fine architecture. But, my first passion is photography! I gained my Licentiate with The Royal Photographic Society way back in 1988. A passion that has grown, over the years, into an obsession. It was inevitable that at some point my two main interests would become one. Because of my love of buildings, architecture and furniture and drawing on my experience gained in the construction industry feel that I am in a position to take images that fully justify the subject a... [Read more]

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