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View Full Version : Further ramblings on stock from a beginner


sponner
10th November 2011, 10:30 AM
Following on from the post in the for sale section here are updated thoughts of a newbie for anyone considering stock, a few people have expressed an interest.

Firstly it is not easy money it takes time and effort even for an accomplished photographer, I am not encouraging anyone to give it a go!

The rewards per sale are small, in fact can be miniscule. Some people are not comfortable with that and feel it devalues the work of photographers. For me that genie was out of the bottle before I even had a camera.

Stock isn't art. What is "good" for stock is usually a pretty boring image, I enjoy the whole process seeing it as a challenge, many people would probably find it boring. Nature, landscapes, flowers etc. are difficult to get accepted as they are saturated subjects. The best stock images can be used to illustrate a concept, prose not poetry sums it up nicely.

Each agency has different quirks and consistency, even within an agency, is sadly lacking when it comes to image acceptance. All the worthwhile agencies quality control submissions and reject images that don't meet their standards. Even great photographers will get rejections, you need a very thick skin and an ego that can take a few knocks.

Taking good pics is only half the battle, there is then keywording and uploading. Adding keywords to the IPTC data is VITAL, there are tools to assist in this and in the uploading process to several agaencies but it is still time consuming.

In short it's a weird business and don't expect to get rich quick. Havbing said all that I am happy with the return on my investment (spare time) so far and the returns seem to be growing nicely.

Ill post thoughts on specific agencies next

sponner
10th November 2011, 10:56 AM
Agencies.

Each agency is slightly different, Ill post a resume of my experiences below.

For transparency I point out that the links are referal links for some of the agencies. If people sign up from them and make some money I woiuld get a small referal commssion, typically 10% of teh contributor's commission for a limited period. There is no downside for anyone signing up this way but I just want to make it clear so people don't think I am on the make!

For a beginner I would sign up to the following first.

Dreamstime
referal link - http://www.dreamstime.com/register-resi2709173

One of the top six agencies with no initial test submission. Reviews are quite tough but fair (my acceptance ratio is just under 50%). Often accept images other agencies reject but don't like a series of similar images and submission process is fiddly. At the low end of worthwhile earnigns for me, on a par with 123rf and canstock, payout at $100, not made it yet, things are getting better, I think it takes time for earnings to grow here.

Fotolia.
no referals - http://en.fotolia.com/Info/Contributors/GeneralInformation

Another top 6 agency, slightly better than DT for me income wise. Slightly easier reviews (60% accpetance)and submission process than DT, again there is no intitial exam, just upload away. They prefer straightforward record shots with no out of focus areas due to dof etc. Unlike everyone else who work in dollars they operate in credits, for those working in one credit is 0.75p with payout at 50 credits (One payout so far for me). Don't sign up in dollars as a credit is only $1 i.e 60 odd pence. Their forum has a great section called Acadamy Board" where experienced contributors give feedback on rejected images, I learnt a lot lurking there.

123RF
referal link - http://www.123rf.com/#sponner

Top 6 which seems to have improved sales dramatically for me in last 3 months, just hitting $50 payout. Fair reviews (if a little inconsistent) but a really simple submission process, i.e. just upload and forget it! Require ID and an initial test submission of 10 images, probably best to wait until 10 approved at Fotolia and use them.

Canstock
referal - http://www.canstockphoto.com?r=75298' title='Stock Photography'

Slow sales but the occassional better one makes up for this, on a par with DT and 123 for me. Easy reviews (90% acceptance rate) and, lkike 123 hardly any effort to upload.

sponner
10th November 2011, 11:18 AM
Once I was regularly getting a good level of acceptance at Fotolia and Dreamstime I would then pitch for the agencies with greater earning potential, DON'T try these until you are confident you have your head around the image requirements.

Shutterstock
referal link - http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=676129

By far and away my best earner despite the eye-wateringly low starting commissions $0.25c for the majority of sales with the odd ones at $0.81 and $1.88 and the occassional $28 to cheer you up!
BUT, they are very picky what they take, I have only managed to get 64 images up there. Even so it doesn't take long until payout of $100 comes round again, earnings $15-$50 range per month off those few medicocre pics.
There is also a tough initial submission process to pass, advice on how to get through this is available.

iStockphoto
no referal - http://www.istockphoto.com/

This is, by all accounts the second highest earning agency. For me it hasn't happened! Very tough initial entrance submission exam and once in equally tough image reviews. I have got a few accepted but sales for me are slow. I get the impression the site prefers you to be an exclusive contributor to them and penalises non-exclusives like me. It is one of the major players with great potential, I just haven't got my head around it here yet.

sponner
10th November 2011, 11:31 AM
Others

Alamy
no referal - http://www.alamy.com/default.asp

Alamy is a diferent kettle of fish. There is an entrance exam, not too hard and they dont review for image content, just quality, any technically profficient image will be accepted. The single sale image potential is much higher (my best commission is $160) and they pay 60% of the purchase price to the photographer. Slow sales but with that higher potential, I need one more reasonable sale to hit the $250 payout. Weird submission process and I have not fully got my head around this agency yet.

Mostphotos
referal - www.mostphotos.com?ref=25491

A bit weird too. No image review at all but tiny sales(2 euro). I only still upload here as an off site back-up as you can dopwnload a zip of all your images. Who knows they may take off!

Print on demand

About a third of my income has come from designing business cards at zazzle and the art of business cards.

sponner
10th November 2011, 11:32 AM
I no longer upload to Bigstock, Yay, Panthermedia, Crestock, Deposit photos, or cutcaster, they weren';t worth it for me with my small portfolio.

Hope the above info is what folks were after, for those who don't like stock I have no axe to grind, please don't shoot the messenger!

Please bear in mind I am a newbie both to stock and photography in general, the above is just my take on teh whole thing after about a year of learning.

Zuiko
10th November 2011, 01:28 PM
Thanks for taking the trouble to write all this. I take it most of these ageccies don't have an exclusivity clause. Excuse my ignorance, but what is IPTC data? :o

raichea
10th November 2011, 02:45 PM
Great summary... appreciate the time it took you to provide it.

Many thanks, Steve.

sponner
10th November 2011, 05:31 PM
You can choose to be exclusive on the agencies listed but it is not compulsory.

Iptc data is a way of recording keywords, titles etc in the exif data of an image.

Crippledsandwich
10th November 2011, 08:43 PM
thank you for taking the time to put this together mate

jamie allan
10th November 2011, 11:03 PM
Sponner,
This is a really interesting and insightful thread - thanks for spending the time and energy in putting all this information on the forum.

sponner
11th November 2011, 12:07 AM
No bother.

TBH i spend far too much time faffing around on the interent rather than engaging in productive endeavours so this was a minor blip.

Damn wordbiz !!!!!(online scrabble)

Nick Temple-Fry
11th November 2011, 02:06 AM
Others

Alamy
no referal - http://www.alamy.com/default.asp

Alamy is a diferent kettle of fish. There is an entrance exam, not too hard and they dont review for image content, just quality, any technically profficient image will be accepted. The single sale image potential is much higher (my best commission is $160) and they pay 60% of the purchase price to the photographer. Slow sales but with that higher potential, I need one more reasonable sale to hit the $250 payout. Weird submission process and I have not fully got my head around this agency yet.



Well the 'entrance exam' to Alamy is not that hard - an initial submission of 4 images that pass the technical requirements (24mb or more, sharp, well exposed, not porn). Once through that exam your images are sampled (but beware the sampling process is quite good at spotting images that don't meet standards).

If you've got your head around the hyperfocal distances of your lenses and can produce sharp images (without using pp) then you should be OK. But it's not the 'great photos' that sell, it's the secondary editorial (the pub in which the footballer called his girlfriend a %$&$, the cop shop they were taken to after the fight). Practically everywhere has its 5 minutes of Warhol fame, and when it does the daily press wants photos (to break up the text), without the expense of sending out a photographer.

But the 'key' to Alamy is keywording, they operate a rank system. You only want your images to come up in the right searches, that way (if the prospective buyer 'zooms' or buys your image) your rank increases and you come up higher in searches.

Not a great way to wealth, a newspaper inclusion will only net you around 20 or so on average, but chances are you spend a lot of time wandering around with a camera, do you know that the Caravan Club wont be doing a feature on that area for their magazine 'en-route'?

Nick

Zuiko
11th November 2011, 02:10 AM
Well the 'entrance exam' to Alamy is not that hard - an initial submission of 4 images that pass the technical requirements (24mb or more, sharp, well exposed, not porn).
Nick

So that's what I've been doing wrong! :D

Nick Temple-Fry
11th November 2011, 02:21 AM
an initial submission of 4 images that pass the technical requirements (24mb or more, sharp, well exposed, not porn).

So that's what I've been doing wrong! :D

Well I've long believed you embody greatness John, alas self portraits on stock websites may represent a mistake.

Nick