Microstock Photography – A new Approach to ensure success?

For the past four or five years that I’ve been submitting to the Microstock Photography market I had always said it was a numbers game. Therefore the more images that you uploaded to the libraries or agencies the more downloads you would get resulting in higher earnings.

But I feel that over the past year that has changed. You now, more than ever need to target a niche. And then dominate that niche. You see the wherever you look on the internet the picture quality has increased. This is just the same for the libraries. The overall quality has shot up and therefore we need to submit a higher quality image.

Fortunately, in recent months, the demand for the pictures has exploded. With the present economic climate even the large companies are using microstock photography rather than employing the services of a professional photographer.

I am pretty sure that if you look at your online portfolio, as I did, you will realise that your images follow the 80-20 rule. That is that the top selling 20% of your online images rake in 80% of the money. I have now changed my approach to microstock photography. Instead of going out and shooting anything and I am now being very selective what I shoot for the microstock market. I am looking to increase the number of top selling images rather than just the number of images online. View my website...

Let’s assume we are going to concentrate on still-life and we are looking for a new subject. First I would look at what is topical either in the news or browsing on the internet. I’ve found that here in the UK the adverse weather is creating a quite a concern and that heating bills are shooting through the roof. So we could look at finances, bills, weather, heating, insulation etc. For arguments sake, I’ll go for heating bills how I can illustrate the subject with images.

I then search the subject for images that will give a spark of inspiration. Note I said inspiration and not to copy. If an image catches my eye I will study it and work out the variations and how I could make improve it or interpret the message in more suitable way. I do this until I have about twenty ideas that are all related to the subject.

I then make a shooting list and a list of props that I need to shoot all twenty ideas. After I have got the props I will then, and only then take my camera into my studio (converted garage) and begin shooting.

The great advantage of this methodical process is when it comes to uploading your images. You only need one set of categories and keywords. In addition you have a set of pictures that depict a topic that is in the news and already being searched. Also you will find that working in this way you will emerge from the photo session with far more pictures than you intended. Once you start your creative juices flowing, the ideas leap out at you rather than wondering what to shoot.

Another plus to this approach is that the photo buyer usually buys more than one image to illustrate the article of blog etc. If you are supplying over twenty images that hit the spot they are more likely to choose more than one image.

Of course you income is still related to the number of downloads. You can also put other images on as before but I can almost guarantee, if you take the time to research the subject, the niche subjects will be in the top 20% earning 80% of your income. You should, therefore, earn more money for less work. If you’re serious about microstock photography - Then maybe my new approach may work for you?

Photo credits: Gbphotostock.

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October 16, 2010


Very SMART! Many thanks for the insight. It makes sense to do a lot of research on what's "hot" and now and in demand.

September 29, 2010


Interesting....Good concept! Thanks!

September 29, 2010


Very good information!

September 29, 2010


Very well put, Gordon. I have found that some of my more unusual images sell the best and it was a surprise to me that buyers were interested in an elderly flasher, for example! What would be great, from a buyer's point of view, would be if DT and other companies were more rigorous about turning down images for "Not wanted in stock" or "Too many similar images already on site". DT is actually the best for this and appreciate what I learn from it.

September 29, 2010


nice concept

September 29, 2010


Excellent article, and for those who began his adventure in microstock, both for the more experienced, fully agree with what you say, I also use your system to work, more quality and less unnecessary images that probably will not ever sell.

September 28, 2010


Great blog! Very well written :)

September 28, 2010


Amen Gordon! This is the approach contributors need to take, rather than the "throw everything plus the kitchen sink" at the editors and the buying public. I put a lot of thought into every image I upload to Dreamstime...who can use it and to what purpose.

September 28, 2010


Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your ideas! :-)

September 28, 2010


Great ideas,thanks for sharing.

September 28, 2010



September 28, 2010


nice blog,thanks for sharing your experience

September 28, 2010


Definately something I'll keep in mind, thanks.

September 28, 2010


Great blog!

September 28, 2010


Great blog! You are so right about the 80-20 rule :) Thanks for sharing!

September 28, 2010


Great blog! I agree with you... I have few sales by now, but my best seller picture is a ceoncept illustration, so I can say that yes, stop for a while to think before making a picture is the right way ;)

September 27, 2010


You really got me wondering on this one - I had to check and it turns out I'm working on the 80/30 'rule' (30% of my images account for 80% of revenue). The funny thing about the 80/20 rule is that it isn't a rule :)

September 27, 2010


You are right.......... I have found the same..........but your sales ratio speaks for itself........ that numbers of uploads are far less important than the quality. David

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