Pillars of microstock success

I am not the most successful contributor here on DT. My "excuse" is lack of time. And it is not first time that I pretend to write smart tutorials. I believe that Yuri Arcurs wouldn't learn anything from me. But there are plenty of people here that have less then 94 images online (which I have so far), that have less then 90 sells (which I have), and that maybe don't have any clue how to proceed. Some of this writing may, I believe, help someone to get its own direction in microstocking. Anyhow, here is a study of elements which I think are important to become successful. Some of them are basic, and some are kind of additional effort.

I will skip the part about skills. If you can't make a photo or you don't know how to draw an illustration then you should try to advance (evolve) in that direction first. There are numbers of techniques you may use to produce something usable and sellable. From scanning your hand drawing, through photography and computer aided illustrations and 3D renders.

If you have any creative imaging power, you registered here on DT, studied how the system work (uploading, approving, rejecting, managing account etc.) then you are ready to go.

Production at first

© Maigi
At the beginning you will probably upload some of your previously done work with intention to honor your effort. Good luck with this, editors will select the ones they fit in their database. Other images that will eventually be refused are good to get picture of how it works and what may be wrong. You need to be persistent in learning, specifically for technical correctness of your work.

When you run out of images, you will start to produce more. Now, some research can do only good to your microstock adventure. There are 10 millions of images on DT so start searching and analyzing what sells and what doesn't. Get the ideas, set your goals, and start. Take care of technical perfection.

Your products should be uploaded and eventually accepted by DT editors, pumping up your portfolio.

In order to increase your chances to earn from microstock, you must be dedicated to increase number of images in your portfolio. Production stage ends with this. Produce as many as possible high quality usable images that will pass the process and finish in your DT portfolio.

Your products on the shelves

© Wuqa
Your portfolio is your shelf in DT shopping center. Millions of people are moving around searching for something they want to buy.

What about price? It is pretty well already defined by DT and you cannot change it. But you can affect your earnings per image considering a few details. Larger images gets higher price. So if you make sure that you submit as much as possible megapixels at maximum quality, there are chances that your image will be available in extremely large and more expensive format. Another thing is to upload additional format which sells at highest price. Raw formats for photos and vector format for illustrations. Think about that.

BUT...! You are not the only one here. There are tens of thousands of portfolios, and many of them have the same or the similar products to yours. This means you have competitors here. First thing you want to do is to expose your images to potential buyer.

DT solves this as expected. There is a search engine which can point buyers to the products the like. Your products are already catalogued with lots for useful data and properties like colors, size, type of license etc. thanks to DT systems and editors. But there is one part of data that no one will do for you. Keywords, title, description....

"I knew you will get to this!" you say, but this is how it works. It just can't be pointed enough. It is similar than real shopping. In large centers you can ask salesman if they have frozen peas. He will point you to the area where you can find variety of frozen peas from different producers and of different quality. Or maybe you can ask for more wide term like "food". So those are the keywords.

In order to increase your chances to earn from microstock, make sure that your product is well described through keywords, its title and description. This will bring your product closer to buyer. Make sure that keywords explains product thoroughly. Comparing to above shopping example, your potential buyer may ask for "those small green balls". I will stop here about keywords, just search the blogs for keywords and you will find plenty of advices here on DT.


Well, now you have product, described well. This means that you offered it successfully. There are limited numbers of people who search exactly your product in a day. They will buy yours, or similar to yours based on their own discretion. If you did everything well your chances to earn is at some kind of maximum. What else can make your success even better? Simple - bringing more people to the shop. DT offers few ways to promote different subjects and pages. Scroll to the bottom of this page and you can find all you need under Referral program link.

Now, to the point of promotion. With your portfolio you are part of community. Your shelves are in the same shopping center as all others. Calculation is simple. The more crowded shopping center is the more chances you have to sell something.

Nice thing is that we need to have some images in blog articles. It promotes you or someone else. Anyhow, it promotes Dreamstime. If you checked my article about SEO (as well as many other articles on the subject) you will understand that DT is very well optimized for master search engines on internet. All images, blogs, are indexed in search engines which brings people here while they search for stuff. You may consider Referral program as one way to promote everything here.

On one of my sites www.fotografski.com is used Dreamstime API to make a simple search engine that search images from DT database. Things like that may give you additional earnings from referrals, while links from your page adds to Dreamstime off-site SEO. Counting all others that uses any kind of promotion from their pages, DT site has descent off-site SEO, which means that your keywords from DT may have more value even in master search engines.

In order to increase your chances to earn from microstock, don't hesitate to promote your images , your portfolio, an the entire Dreamstime site. We need loooooooots of people here.


Once in portfolio, well described and promoted, your images will do the work. But, as in any other business you should control what is going on, analyze and if necessary make some corrections. There is not much things you can rely on, but you have some numbers on your portfolio.

Checking the views counter comparing to time can bring some conclusions. Zero count on views for a long time may mean that you have bad and ineffective keywording or your subject is not wanted at all. You can distinguish that by searching for the same subject and see if similar products have some views and downloads. Another situatuion is big difference between views and downloads. If your views are around thousand and downloads are low, then it is something with your product. Can you make better one on the same subject, same keywording etc.?

Don't neglect your online images as finished business, from time to time you may come up with a new keyword or better title, so take time and correct things if it can benefit the image performance. Improving keywords are almost the same as uploading new image.


At some point this is pretty much game of numbers.

- You will not sell if you don't have product to sell. More quality products you have, more chance to earn - Fill up your portfolio constantly.

- You will not sell if your products are invisible. More relevant keywords and descriptions, more chances your images will be found, more earnings you get - Do a proper exposure

- You will not sell if there are no buyers. More buyers on Dreamstime, more chances to be found and sold - Promote, promote, promote...

At the beginning I claimed that I am not successful on DT, at least not in a way that I earn any significant money. Since I am so smart that I could write this article, how come that I didn't use all the principles myself?

Well there is one of the most difficult elements in microstock business. Human nature. As I said, my "excuse" is lack of time. I am using quotes around excuse because we all use excuses for why we don't do something. We can find thousands of reasons to say "I can't". But honestly we need only ONE reason to say "I can". It is all in decision, determination, dedication, persistency, maintenance, whatever.

Taking this into account, being successful in microstock appears to be serious business by all it's elements. It takes knowledge, skills, time to develop, goals, patience, dealing with failures all the way.

Yuri Arcurs has almost 30.000 images in his DT portfolio. Serious business.

Photo credits: Aleksandar Horvat, Ricky Corey, Martin Degryse, Greenstockcreative, Helder Almeida, Luminis, Maigi, Payphoto, Wuqa.

Your article must be written in English

December 08, 2010


Nice article, congratulations :)

November 30, 2010


Good blog! Congratulations!!!

November 27, 2010


Excellent article... all those new here should read it. David.

November 18, 2010


thanks for sharing.

November 18, 2010


Thanks for sharing!

November 18, 2010


nice article

November 18, 2010


Graeat blog! Thank you for sharing!

November 18, 2010


Thank you, this is very interesting

November 17, 2010


Interesting blog!

November 17, 2010


Great blog.

November 17, 2010


This is a great blog... Nicely done!!!

November 17, 2010


Good post. Hits the important business side of stock sales.

November 17, 2010


Thank you for sharing!

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