Five years, and 20,000 sales later...

I always had a thing for nice round numbers, so it is with some satisfaction that I hit 20,000 sales right around my 5 year anniversary! When I started out I never would have guessed I would get to this point, but I also completely underestimated how much effort would be required to get here. I should clarify that a bit - it isn't so much effort that was required, but steady effort. Stock photography is a bit of a numbers game, so doing a few more images a month adds up to hundreds of additional images for sale after five years.

Here are a few tips and recommendations for reaching your goals:

1. Take stock early on and decide if this is for you. There is no shame in admitting that $12 a month isn't enough to sustain the effort you are making. For some the money doesn't really matter, they appreciate the learning experience and public recognition of their work - and that is fine - but take note every now and then if this is the most rewarding way to spend your time on photography. I decided early on that I would have a go of it, and if I hadn't seen progress and terms of sales I would have stopped.

2. Decide if you are going to adapt your style to sell, and if not, if your current style is suited to stock. Not all subjects are going to return the income per image online to justify the effort.

3. Keep at it, but don't burn out. You really need to keeping generating images on a monthly basis. That doesn't mean to sacrifice quality for quantity, but to reach goals you need to produce content - and your goals (and content) will dictate whether you need to produce 5 images a month, or 500.

4. Learn the way images are found. There is no use in having great images that no one can find. Keywording is a very under-appreciated skill, and the cause of most of the complaints of 'no sales' in the boards. Keep in mind that if you aren't exclusive, you have to work even harder to be found - either with standout work, or standout keywording.

5. Don't go overboard on equipment. Some will argue that a new full frame camera and quality lens makes all the difference, but to me that only adds a few additional types of photos that lesser gear can't do. Do you want to spend $4K on gear to add 5% more photos a month? Concentrate on content and lighting, and you can make do with a basic camera and macro lens and one light. When you are making enough to justify the gear, then buy it - not before.

6. Think generic. Not in the sense of taking the same shot everyone else has done before, but in the sense of having many uses for your images. Especially on Dreamstime, getting multiple sales on an image pays off. The name of the game in stock is multiple sales per image.

7. Write a blog! If you can't think of ways to illustrate a blog with your own images, you aren't producing images anyone else can use :)

I think there is still room for newcomers with original content, but there is no question that the barrier to entry is higher than it used to be - but that is more due to the large number of images for sale, not due to better gear (in my opinion). You can still work magic with a bit of creativity - as many images as there are, I'm still surprised when I come up with another 30-50 images each month :)

Good luck everyone, and thanks DT!

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September 11, 2013

Bradcalkins

Thanks!

September 11, 2013

Fengshang520

Very good advice, thank you for sharing, and congratulations to you!

June 05, 2013

Mudplucker

Just found this and it's great ! and it's true, you're also a great writer ! Congrats on the 20k sales too...

May 30, 2013

Adeliepenguin

Sorry I am slow with the congratulations. I am just catching up after a few weeks away. 20,000 sales--what an important milestone, and impressive achievement. You have always been an inspiration since I first joined Dreamstime, and very helpful--I am glad you decided early on to have a go of it:)

May 29, 2013

Bradcalkins

Thanks!

May 29, 2013

Melonstone

That's a real achievement Brad, well done!

May 22, 2013

Suyerry

Congratulations on such a big accomplishment! Must feel fantastic! :)

May 22, 2013

Teabum

Great achievement, very inspirational. Thanks for sharing :)

May 21, 2013

Ewapix

Congratulations, and thank you for your interesting text. All the best - and many more sales in future.

May 21, 2013

Yuritz

Congrats,surely a great achivment!

May 21, 2013

Gheburaseye

20.000 sales! Very good! I saw Your profile and I see some interesting data! Thanks for that "suggestions" ;)

May 18, 2013

FabioConcetta

Congratulations!

May 13, 2013

Talanis

Congrats Brad :)

May 12, 2013

Egomezta

Congratulations, you're doing great. Thanks for sharing this blog.

May 11, 2013

Meryll

Well diserved Brad. You show us the direction, thanks for sharing of your experiences.

May 09, 2013

Alvera

One big USEFUL click from me. Thanks.

May 09, 2013

Imagerybycharly

Congrats!

May 09, 2013

Iwhitwo

Great accomplishments and advice Brad, congratulations.

May 08, 2013

Bradcalkins

Am I cyber stalking? LOL.

More like cyber 'stocking' :)

Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

May 08, 2013

Peanutroaster

Great job Brad! Steady work is right! I would point out that there are many markets for photography and artwork. If your style doesn't fit stock you might look other markets. Or do as I do and participate in several markets.

May 08, 2013

Komar

Excellent work Brad :)

May 08, 2013

Amdizdarevic

Awesome photos and awesome blog. Congratulations!

May 08, 2013

Suyerry

Congrats Brad! Awesome work! Thanks for the tips, very helpful! :-)

May 08, 2013

Karenfoleyphotography

Awesome achievement! Many congrats, K-

May 08, 2013

Luissantos84

Brad Calkins... What else? :D

May 08, 2013

TMarchev

I hope you more 20k sales:)

May 08, 2013

Lejoch

Not only you are a great photographer, but you're also very good in writing blogs! Congratulations!

May 08, 2013

Clearvista

Congratulations with your amazing sales. A great blog and very helpful to all.

May 08, 2013

Kezza53

Very encouraging...thank you for sharing! Congratulations Brad...awesome work!

May 08, 2013

Rosariomanzo

Useful and inspiring. Congrats on your milestone.

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This article has been read 2638 times. Photo credits: Brad Calkins.