Back in the Seventies and Eighties I founded and ran several Fleet Street photo agencies specialising in stock images of celebrities from pop stars to politicians. These were syndicated to the National and International press and Television. These days I am active in the Microstock world and this blog charts my journey as well as, hopefully, providing inspiration and ideas to others. Image buyers should also find this blog useful with links to my portfolios and regular updates on new uploads. Unless otherwise stated all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Comments are very welcome but will be reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Now selling on

Finally signed up for a free account at Fineartamerica a few days ago. I'd been looking at them for a while but got a fresh prompt when photographer Lissandra mentioned on her blog Microstock Photography that she was selling there.
Put simply, they are a Print On Demand site specialising in prints, posters and postcards. As a photographer all you have to do is upload your images to them and add a description and keywords. You then set your price (whatever you want) for the various print options available. FAA take no commission at all (they make their money from marking up the printing costs) so if you get a sale you receive the full amount -usually the following month. FAA does all the work for you (e.g. arranging printing and despatch world wide).
I found the site very intuitive and easy to navigate. You have to upload a profile picture (anything you want) and there are options for adding biog details and other information about your work. Uploading of images (single or multiple) was quick and easy. The hard part was knowing what you should set as your pricing. I had a look through their forum for ideas and just went with a basic price structure I found there. Don't worry if you change your mind later -you can change your pricing at any time.
Downsides? Well the free account allows you to have 25 images for sale. For unlimited images you need the upgraded account for $30 per year which would soon be covered by a few sales. For the moment I'm just going with the free account to see how it goes but I'm pretty sure I'll want to upgrade soon.
Once you have images there you have the option of joining various groups and adding your images to them to increase exposure. These are, essentially, just like the "managed collections" on Dreamstime and are started and administered by fellow FAA contributors. This does mean that the admin can choose to accept or reject your image to their group. You can, of course, also start your own group/s.
What to upload? Well anything really -whatever you think somebody, somewhere might want on their wall. I went with the obvious things like landscapes and coastal scenes and a few wild card images like steam trains and even Margaret Thatcher (she still has her fans out there!).
Results so far after about a week -over 300 views and no sales but obviously it is very early days. It was certainly a lot of fun trying to pick images people might like and there is certainly a lot of potential to make some decent money there. I'll obviously update on any future sales. Meanwhile, here is a link for my profile page (it's not a referral link, though there is the opportunity to earn referral earnings if you upgrade to the paid membership).
See what you think (and feel free to order a print!). Regards, David.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

November sales updates:

A reasonable month overall in November despite the Thanksgiving holiday in the US (Shutterstock are the only site that give you an idea of where images were bought courtesy of their animated world map and judging from that most of my sales are outside the US).
So starting with Shutterstock, they produced a very neat 100 downloads ($58.20). Interesting to note that $30.15 of that came from the higher paying On Demand downloads.
Istockphoto pulled in 10 downloads ($15.98) and an additional $1.12 from 4 PP sales. My portfolio there continues to grow and I have now passed the 600 mark with, in the main, editorial images. I expect to reach my next payout in December - a far cry from the pre editorial days when sales were few.
Dreamstime did well with 18 downloads ($12.38) but a high number of sub sales pulled the earning down.
123rf managed 11 downloads ($6.17) again with a high proportion of sub sales. I will have to review 123 in January when (if?) they introduce their new commission rates/cuts. Being primarily editorial my images are not the ones that get massive sales and, consequently, I expect to drop to the minimum rate of 30% and only $0.22 for subs. Compared to the $0.33 I get for sub sales at SS that is very poor. Though not a big seller there, my portfolio currently fills editorial gaps in their library (Margaret Thatcher etc). We'll see.
Yaymicro sold an archive shot of Body Shop founder Anita Roddick paying a healthy 3.75 euros with an additional 2.48 euros coming from their Third Party programme.
Bigstock managed 4 downloads ($2.50) - a dissapointing result from them. On the plus side their wonky Bridge connector from SS got fixed and all images are now moved over.
Fotolia saw 4 sub sales netting 1 credit in commission. Best selling there seem to be my Greek island images though that is more a result of what I have uploaded and had accepted than any great industry insight.
Nothing from the rest in November. Veer continues to sit at $93 dollars in commission with no sign of even a sub sale to push me to payout level. Their upload has now been broken (for me) for two months -just "not processed/unknown error" messages after uploading. I emailed support but never got a reply.
Picturenation, sadly, reached the anniversary of my last sale there on November 30. Over 2k images, loads of views, nice friendly team -but nobody buying my images. I emailed them as well and, as ever, got a prompt reply from founder Jane Louise Green. Without breaking any confidences here suffice to say that sales there (overall) are fine -it's my portfolio that isn't selling. One theory we both explored is that buyers spot my images on PN and then look for them at cheaper prices on the micro sites. That's certainly a possibility. Either way uploading is quick and simple so I'm keeping on submitting there.
Uploading in November was down due to time constraints but one archive image that I added was from the 1991 Poll Tax Riots in London (pictured) That brought back some memories. Regards, David.
Edit: The Download Fairy appears to have paid a visit. Just days after writing about no sales on Picturenation I had two sales within hours. A 1989 image of British politician Sir Geoffrey Howe got first a Web Res sale (£0.40) then a High Res sale paying a pleasing £6 in commission. I'm assuming it was the same buyer. More of those please!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Shutterstock reaches 3000 downloads:

As I often say in my monthly sales updates Shutterstock is an agency that just keeps selling. Today I had my first download for December -which turns out to be exactly my sale number 3000 there. A rather appropriate image of a wing walker giving a wave was the one that did it. Part of the Breitling Wing Walking Team, this one was from the Eastbourne International Airshow (Airbourne) last August.
When I joined Shutterstock back in June 2009 I already knew their reputation for selling good volumes of photographs but the sheer scale of those sales has exceeded my expectations. With a portfolio now of just over 1500 images my monthly sales are coming close to payout each month (and reaching it if I have an Enhanced Download) making it by far my most successful agent -both in volume and cash terms.
Critics of the Microstock model frequently point to the starting commission at Shutterstock ($0.25) as an example of how worthless the business is. The reality is that Shutterstock demonstrates very nicely the low price/high volume basis of the industry. And, of course, it is not all about those subscription sales - On Demand, Single sales and Enhanced Downloads all help to push up the income.
I'm looking forward to growing my portfolio and sales at Shutterstock throughout 2013. Regards, David.