I have 21 images online - Why ain't I a millionaire?

posted on 18th of december, 2012

As a contributor who has put a lot of effort into learning about stock photography, studying my craft, investing in equipment and building my portfolio over the past two years, I think there is nothing that gets under my skin more then a slacker, whiner complaining about how their portfolio of 10 shots of isolated tomatoes or a snapshot of their cat sleeping on the couch isn't selling.

Just because your wife bought you a semi-professional camera, your mom asks you to take pictures at the family barbecue and microstock agencies such as Dreamstime allow anyone with any level of experience and background participate in this market place, doesn't mean anyone owes you anything just because you took the time to post your photos.

Microstock is a market place for real business people come to purchase images for building websites, illustrating blogs and selling products. Its not amateur hour. Just because amateurs are allowed to participate doesn't mean the business drops down to amateur quality.

Amateurs are allowed into this business model for one reason - to make the price point of imagery lower. It is only because technology prices have dropped to the point that amateurs can afford professional equipment, that amateurs are allowed to participate. But the image quality demands have not changed.

No one needs or wants crummy snapshots. If you are not selling as many images as you thought you would be selling then look around at your competition here on Dreamstime. Are you images up to the quality level of your fellow contributors?

Are you producing and submitting image that you like or images that image buyers want and need?

Are you taking pictures of pretty flowers in your garden? Take a look at the millions of floral shots already on Dreamstime. Are your's better that what already exists?

We are in the company of professional photographers who do this for a living or put their "extra" photographs in microstock. Amateurs can at least do their homework strive to accomplish images at professional level. Its your choice - cry and whine or do something to improve your skills.

This is no get rich quick plan. To make a decent return in microstock takes effort, perseverance and a large, diverse portfolio full of images that buyer need and want. So dry your crocodile tears and go out there and make some great stock images.

Click "useful" if you like this "kick in the butt" blog.

Comments (51)

Posted by Peanutroaster on December 19, 2012
Agreed. When you get people wanting short cut answers to techniques you yourself figured out by doing research, experimentation and spending money on equipment - you have to ask yourself -why provide the easy answer? Maybe the ability to use the forums should have an upload requirement of at least 20 images online.
Posted by BCritchley on December 19, 2012
Touching on Wisconsinart's post. I think it could be the reason that most people that have been here for a while with success eventually move away from the forum. I find it very frustrating sometimes ( I really shouldn't ). You see certain people posting, asking questions but not learning anything or even responding to the help offered. I even find myself questioning the time given to answer questions on the new members thread, would it be better spent creating new imagery and give your time to those that have at least worked out the basics themselves and a helping hand will actually help them build a portfolio.
Posted by Mgkuijpers on December 19, 2012
Good story, spot on !
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
Certainly is a good incentive to get your images off your hard drive and out into the world.
Posted by Gmargittai on December 18, 2012
My 2c on this: Don't even think about starting in this microstock "business" if you don't like photography for what it is. Just an art form. People like to express themselves and would do it without any payment.
One cool thing about microstock, is that some of the pictures have a (small) commercial value which enabled companies like DT to commercialize them and for their self interest give meaningful and constructive feedback for the artists.
Another cool thing is that there is a numerical value of success. The amount of downloads and money a photo makes gives an objective way of measuring your art.

So now I can judge my photo skills just as I can judge my physical abilities in the gym. How many calories am I able to burn in 30 minutes? Oh I improved from last month by 5%. Good.
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
Good motto and goal!
Posted by Chanevy on December 18, 2012
@peanutroaster-I want to get so good that every image I post sells tons :-) Reach for the stars, you may not reach them, but at least you will get as high as you can. That's my motto.
Posted by Chanevy on December 18, 2012
IMO there is a huge difference between asking for help and complaining. You can tell right away by the response somebody makes to constructive criticism. Some will thank the other posters and try to apply what they learn-others will explain over and over why none of what is said could possibly apply to their photos.
Posted by Positiveflash on December 18, 2012
I didn't start this adventure on DT thinking I would make bunches of money, and I have never considered complaining on the forums about not getting sales. I have asked direction though.

I get the fact that I still have alot to learn, but I think I can say that I have improved with each upload. I believe thats where most new members fail, they dont want to improve.

As a new member I hope that you do not consider asking for help or trying to get direction as complaining even if it is the 500th thread of- why did all 50 of my images get rejected.

Just my random thoughts.

Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
Thanks for stopping by Wisconsinart. Anyone needing further straight up talk, check out some of Wisconsinart's classic blogs!
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
You can't concentrate on that one shot that is going to sell tons. Just provide a wide range of useful images.
Posted by Chanevy on December 18, 2012
I'm confused. Do I need to add thousands of tomatos, or apples, or is it flowers and butterflies to my port to make millions?????

Well said! I'm am still struggling to achieve pro level skills. But at least I work at it and don't whine. There is a HUGE difference between a shot that is good enough to get accepted and given a chance and a shot that will actually bring in high sales. That's true on most sites, I think. Anyway, I am thankful for DT and the people that have helped me learn, even if it has been a huge bust to my poor lil ego.
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
Brad, you know you just encouraged dozens of inspiring stock photographers to run out to the supermarket....
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
I just sold a crummy shot of an apple on a bad "halfway white background" from my early days of uploading. Oh man... And for the record, my name is not Brett!
Posted by Wisconsinart on December 18, 2012
Don't worry, many of us notice all the excuses that make the portfolio itself exempt.

Now if we could eliminate the "I had a sale!" and "My image was accepted!" posts we could perhaps start having some real professional grade discussions around here. I still have a lot to learn.
Posted by Deniskelly on December 18, 2012
There's some excellent advice here, which all contributors would do well to heed. I try to, but often fail.

I think the one of the reasons people submit mediocre images is that they are often approved. The positive feedback a newbie gets when their isolated tomato, pretty flower or "crummy snapshot" is approved must give them the idea that their standard of photography is good enough for the microstock marketplace. When I look back at the standard of some of my first approvals, I can only conclude that DT editors were being kind to me, to encourage me to keep on submitting!
Posted by Bradcalkins on December 18, 2012
Don't knock the isolated tomato - I've read so many blogs that use the poor isolated tomato as the poster child for bad stock photos ideas that I decided to upload an isolated tomato shot and guess what? - it is level 5 now :)
Posted by Bobbrooky on December 18, 2012
Very well written Brett, and congratulations on winning the assignement recently.
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 18, 2012
We've all been at that delusional period where we think were great and then we wake up, look around and realise there is a lot of room for improvement. Some just are still stuck there.
Posted by Gunaleite on December 18, 2012
Perfect article! Very useful in the time when definition of photographer sometimes is "someone with dslr and large lens" not "someone who knows how to use dslr".. and other type of cameras.
Posted by BCritchley on December 18, 2012
Well said :) I was certainly a very naive newbie back in 2009 when I thought I was the dogs, why because friends and family ( who can't take pictures and no nothing about the technical side to producing high quality imagery ) told me I was a great photographer. Well DT slapped me hard in the face and for that I'm truly grateful as since putting in the time, reading blogs, contributing on the forum, reading external web articles, buying books, working on editing skills etc the rewards have been very evident for me. where would I be without DT, still participating in very average picture comps on Facebook, winning some and thinking I was a pro photographer. Now at least I know I'm not a pro but a keen amateur and with an award in a national photo competition, very recent winner of DT's last assignment, a record for me 21 sales yesterday etc things are moving in the wright direction for me. What additional advice would I give the newbies here, spend more time reading blogs and learning...(More)

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Comments (51)

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Photo credits: Ayeletkeshet, Peanutroaster.

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