Apologies to my readers for not writing for a long time. Thus this year-end post will include several notes I would have normally posted between April and the year end.
I just made a major WordPress upgrade before writing this post. All seems to work fine.
Looking back in May my friend photographer and I organized a studio session with the same model I mentioned in November of 2010. This time it was done at home. Although we were not very happy with the stylist the model performed great and I am happy with the result. And the whole evening was very joyful.
For a number of reasons I didn’t upload any new stock photos from July until the end of the year (except uploading my existing portfolio to some new sites). Following up my April blog post I need to mention that I was doing surprisingly good at microstock despite the break in uploads. I didn’t experience any decline and I even had growth of sales in September and October. November was lower; and traditionally December is always lower.
Now I have made some new pictures and I’ll start uploading them in January – hopefully the sales will grow again.
Speaking about new photos I had an outdoor session at the end of November with a very kind “weather-proof” model. It was a dark grey overcast, it was raining/drizzling most of the day, and the wind was strong. The temperature was around 8 degrees (centigrade). Nevertheless we decided to go ahead with the planned outdoor shoot. Fast lens and a strobe helped to make it a sunny day – at least on pictures 🙂
In 2009 I had a studio session with a handsome blond man – most of it was a spa theme. (It was done during the photographers meeting in Yuri Arcurs studio in Denmark in August 2009).
I was expecting the pictures to sell well – good subject, handsome blond man, positive emotions…. However the sales were not impressive during several months.
Usually I don’t go back to the photographs already processed and submitted, but in this case I was really curious. So I looked at similar photos from the other authors that were selling well and tried to analyze what was wrong with mine.
I noticed that the skin tone on my pictures was too red though the white balance was technically correct. It was very hot in the studio, so the model was truly sweat and red. So I selected several un-processed photos from that session and edited them differently than the first time – made them higher contrast and different skin tone.
I also re-did the keywords as a noticed some difference between my pictures and other ones.
My original batch included several tens pictures. Newly edited was 5 or 6. However the trick worked well. When I submitted the new pictures, not only they started to sell well, but the original ones started to sell better too. Now, a year later I see the man in spa selling several times a week.
Many micrstock photographers reported reaching a plateau in sales at certain point. I experienced it myself several times. I mean I continued to upload new photos but my sales per month remain flat.
On the other hand, if I stop uploading for a long time my sales remain flat too, though at a lower level. Some other photographers mentioned the same phenomenon: they stopped uploading for some reason, sales drop at first (up to 30% or less), but then they remain stable for a long time.
For example, Jonathan Ross has mentioned that he continues to get a stable income after he didn’t upload to microstock for 2 years.
The conclusion from these 2 observations is simple:
Every portfolio has a threshold. If you supply the number of photos above the threshold your sales will grow. If you supply below the threshold the sales will stay flat.
The threshold goes up with the growth of sales.
My current threshold is around 60 photos/month. If I upload 50 in a month, the sales remain flat; if I upload 75 or more I am starting to see the growth. Thus I am trying to produce 80-100 photos a month. And I know I will need to produce more than that when I’ll reach a new level in a few months, to keep the sales growing.
The good thing about microstock for me is that I see the result each time I am starting to put more efforts. I mean when I start uploading 80-100 pictures a month my sales start to grow. Unfortunately I haven’t been able until recently to keep up the pace. Microstock is my part time activity and there has always been some other priorities emerging…
Now I keep the pace for 3 months and it works well: February was my BME in microstock in general and in iStock, thanks to several EL sales at IS and good sales at Alamy. Now March is closing tonight – it is not my BME in general but it was a good solid month with BME in Dreamstime.
So my 2 short-term objectives are to keep the pace of uploads and to go beyond 100 photos/month mark.
One picture from my last session: