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Importance of proper processing

Young man in spa

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.

Growth of sales

Happy Successful Young Businesswoman

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.