6 months, tips for newbies

Well, I've passed the 6 month mark on DT and have to say that I am very pleased with how things have gone. I started out my first month with a single sale which encouraged me to keep uploading. Other sales have followed and ultimately led me to terminate other sites I was working with and go exclusive. I've now got over 500 images online and over 300 sales.

I've found the community here very encouraging and fun to work with. Photographers and illustrators working together to advance to a common goal is refreshing.

Here are some tips and tidbits of information for newbies thinking about joining:

1. UPLOAD! You'll see this piece of advice on the message boards whenever anyone asks about how to grow sales. It doesn't really matter what your skill level or quality of images the bottom line is that if you have twice as many pictures, you probably sell twice as much. It is that simple. I recommend anyone starting out make a goal of uploading a certain number of images per month. Even at 20 photos a month you'll have 240 images in a year.

2. Patience. Things go slowly initially, but as long as you keep uploading you'll start to grow sales. Most seem to take about 4-6 months to see real success (meaning a payout). From there things grow quickly if you keep uploading.

3. Acceptance ratio. Your acceptance ratio helps get you higher in the search results, so you'll do well to try to keep this high. People seem to range from 20% to 90% so try to aim for at least the middle. In the early days of submitting, go a little slower until you figure things out. There is nothing worse than getting 10 similar images rejected for the same reason. Likewise, when you first submit with a new model release just submit one photo in case you've done the release wrong. You can resubmit, but it doesn't take away the failed submission in your ratio.

4. Subjects. While it is nice when your favorite photos are accepted it is even better if you submit things that meet the buyers needs. Try to consider what the photos might be used for, and browse magazines, etc. and try to imagine your submissions getting used in the ads. Isolated (pure white background) images help save buyers time, and fit into any ad easily. DT evaluates each image on its own merits, so you can submit flowers and landscapes as long as you have outstanding images.

5. Keywords. DT makes it very easy to keep track of your sales, keywords used to find your photos, number of view, etc. Spend some time learning how to keyword. Lots of keywords gets you more views, but views are not downloads. Ideally you would have lots of downloads and few views. A view without a purchase is probably wasted time for the buyer. Good keywording will get you sales. Learn from the keywords buyers actually use to find your photos in the management area. Go back and re-keyword after you have learned and gained some experience. Never give up on your first uploads...

6. Seasons. If it is your first year, you are probably going to be submitting right 'in the season'. These kinds of photos will potentially take almost a year to come into demand again. That is why it really takes a year to get a good feel for how your portfolio does. In the meantime - keep uploading for next year!

7. Assignments. Consider submitting for assignments once you get 50 uploads. It gives you some free exposure, and a single download of a level 5 image will probably be the first big sale you get.

8. Subscriptions. One thing I didn't understand about subscriptions: a person with a subscription can buy your photo at any size (including RAW) or any level for the same low price. You'll typically get about $0.42 for such a sale. Don't be surprised when you have a level 2 or 5 image and it still goes for $0.42 cents.

Good luck and welcome to DT everyone!

Photo credits: , Brad Calkins.

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March 03, 2010


Thanks for stopping by! Of note is that #7 is no longer quite true, the subscription price doubles when it gets to level 3, and triples at level 5... A key point though is that subscription buyers don't pay extra for the RAW file.

March 03, 2010


Newbie or oldie - very good info

March 03, 2010


Thanks a lot for this very helpful tips!

February 28, 2010


Thanks, helpful indeed!

December 18, 2009


Great point to take note. Thanks.

July 14, 2009


Great points! Also, I think playing the Stock Rank game helps too.

June 19, 2009


I should follow up and point out that since I wrote this I have discovered an important point. I have maintained in the past that more images means more sales. This is true to a point, but a larger factor can be the search engine itself. Dreamstime tinkers with the placement in search results from time to time (as do other sites) to optimize revenue and other things. This can change your individual placement a lot - impacting your sales much more than your latest uploads. Other things affect your sales on a monthly basis as well. Thus, while I still believe more images gets more sales, it is hard to compare from month to month due to the large number of factors involved.

June 17, 2009


Very perfect article.

June 16, 2009


You're welcome!

June 16, 2009


Thnx for the tips! It was really helpful! :D

June 10, 2009


very helpful, thanks alot :)

June 09, 2009


Thank you for raising lots of good points! I enjoyed reading this a lot.

June 09, 2009


I enjoyed this article, Brad. You have listed some great tips, and I am going to take them to heart, especially the one about continuing to upload and waiting a year to see how things go.

January 30, 2009


Thank you for having written a very useful blog. I am just a rookie in DT, but I will keep in mind your suggestions in order to work better.
Best wishes and "Play it again, Sam!".

January 30, 2009


So glad to of found your blog,great help.
Have a great year

December 17, 2008


Very useful! Thank you for the ideas!

November 19, 2008


I am so new at not only photography but computers as well. So thankful Brad for your words of encouragement to newcomers. Have began uploading and reading all I can to understand how to do all this correctly. Looking forward to this new experience.

November 17, 2008


Hi Brad,
This is acctually what I want to do with my photography...I just didnt know it...your artical was very informative and I really need to know more...

Thanks for letting me know what I finally want to do

November 13, 2008


Great article! Definitely useful! And now some advanced tips, please? ;)

November 10, 2008


Another useful thing to know is that the first photo that is approved of your model will be used for the thumbnail that shows up under models. Models won't have a thumbnail until a single portrait is approved - meaning if your model only appears in group photos they won't have a thumbnail on your profile page.

November 03, 2008


Once again, thanks for the feedback! I'm glad people are finding this useful :)

November 02, 2008


What an encouraging, useful article for newbies. I didn't know acceptance ratios were used to place photos in searches. Very informative well written article.

November 02, 2008


Great Blog mate, and very useful, I have written a blog to keyword your images, so readers kindly check if that blog helps.

October 30, 2008


Hi Brad
Thanks for your comments. I think I'll take your advice and concentrate on uploads - I've set myself a target of 200 by the end of the year, currently on 4.
So I won't worry about downloads for now.
Thanks a lot

October 30, 2008


Hi Brad, Thanks for your tips a lot. I was just ready to write my questions on the forum how to get more sales and when entering the blog section for the first time just found your tips ! Thanks a lot. I was strongly discouraged after earning 6 $ during 3 months maybe or so and was considering my decision to give up Dreamstime. My pictures are selling quite well on other webistes but here it's really bad, was wondering how other people get so many sales. So, now, I will keep uploading and will try to be patient for a year hopefully :-)

October 30, 2008


Really great tips! Thanks for sharing with us! It's very helpful.

October 29, 2008


Thanks everyone for the comments and good wishes! Best of luck to you too...

October 29, 2008


Good to read this! Thanks for the information and wish you lots of success.

October 29, 2008


Hey Brad. Great tips. Congrats on your success. All the best in the future.

October 29, 2008


Hey Brad, nice variety of advice from your experience. Your portfolio is selling really well, congratulations. :) At the end of #5, you comment on never giving up on old images. How true that is. In the last few hours I've had 3 purchases of images I considered pulling from circulation or not uploading at all.

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