11 tips for the new contributors to increase sales

Portrait of a photographer covering her face with camera.

I started to contribute to microstock photography agencies in 2013 (shortly after the birth of my elder son). The hobby of stay-at-home mum has turned into my main job ( except taking care of my family of course :-)). Based on my 4 years experience I made a simple list of a few tips that could be useful to everybody who wants to start to make money from microstock.

1. Enjoy your job. If you want to build a new solid portfolio from a scratch you’re going to have a long road ahead of you.This is a profession you should be enjoying or you can be finished (and burned out) before you really start.

2. Technical quality. Be sure that you are uploading only technically perfect photos/vectors/footage (the microstock inspectors are especially extremely sensitive to noise in photography and bitmaps and open path in vectors). Before you start upload check carefully the guidelines of every image agency.

3. Find a "free" niche. Microstock is a tough business. There is a huge competition there, but finding an undersupplied (and desired) topic gives you better chance to succeed.

4. Non-exclusivity. I think that exclusivity is not an option nowadays. My advice is: Sell through at least 3 - 7 major microstock agencies.

5. Patience and Endurance. Microstock earnings are not „fast money“. Don’t expect for this to be a quickly profitable job. Most of the beginners stop submitting during their first year. Microstock is a test of endurance and patience. You need to be extremely patient and persistent to succeed in this business.

6. Keywording is crucial. Most of the contributors hate this part of the workflow (I am not an exception) but do not underestimate it. Nobody will find even a great picture without a proper keywording. If you want your pictures to be found you need accurate keywords to be associated with.

7. Think as a microstocker. If you are a talented photographer it doesn’t mean you will be automatically a successful microstock contributor. You have to learn to adapt to the microstock market needs or your images would be rejected for a laconic reason - „low commercial value“. This job is more about craft than art. Your images should be attractive to a wide audience and versatile.

8. Contribute regularly. I upload at least 5 - 10 new vectors every week and take a break only when I am ill or at Christmas. Set your own realistic short and long time goals and reach them.

9. Quality and quantity. Produce and upload the high-quality products as much as you can. You need to build at least 1000+ (or better 3000+) portfolio of a good quality to achieve a decent steady income.

10. Inspire yourself but DO NOT COPY. I like the book Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon. It is funny, inspiratory and true. Inspire yourselves by the best (everybody does) but DO NOT COPY or use the work of anybody else (if somebody notices and complaints the agency will definitely ban your account).

11. Work on yourself. Learn and improve your skills any time you can.

Follow these tips and I assure you that you will start your microstock career the right way and will be able to earn money (at least a nice pocket money) doing what you love.

If you’re a microstock photographer already, what are your tips?

Photo credits: Scyther5.

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Great advise, thank you.


Very useful advise, thank you.


Great blog, thanks for sharing, very useful for all users.


Thank you for this advices.


Thank you very much for your exhausting tips.


I am happy that it helps!


Use tips is always helpful! Thank you!


Helpful tips!


Amazing tips and useful blog well done

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