The secret of microstock and the 35c sale

Sexy, gorgeous young model soaked from head to toe, tropical ocean sunset, lighting stands weighed down in a rock pool and makeup artist/stylist warning me of large swells – what more could you ask for from life as a photographer? Well certainly more than 35 cents! Come on, 3 lots of heart and soul went into creating that stunning 21MP masterpiece!

We’ve all been there I suspect and you wonder why we carry on? Then you catch yourself really chuffed with a $2.40 sale and a few moments later realise how sad it is you are now celebrating $2.40 for all that work. I went through constant phases of being grumpy about every sale, feeling exploited and undervalued. But niggling away at the back of my mind was the fact that so many people were doing it and so many were having a good time, so perhaps I was missing something and should hang in there just a little longer. Grump, grump!

After 2 and half years I have only in the last 6-8 months discovered the secret that now allows me to sleep easy and enjoy being a microstock tog. Basically I learned to detach myself emotionally from the pictures.

To do this I thought back to when I worked as an IT tech for ADT fixing 3 broken PCs a day from security branches all over the country. I was really good at my job, not only fixing the faults but giving each machine a careful health check, spotting/fixing things that might become a problem later on and sending the equipment back out to the field engineers.

I never got emotionally attached to the computers or the work I had put in to each one, all I needed was my salary on time at the end of the month and I was as happy as Larry!

So basically, I now apply this mindset to microstock. My camera is one of my work tools, models become my work colleagues, my pictures get sent away once they are ready (just like the PCs) and end of the month I get paid, just like any other job. The upside is I absolutely love my job, working on shoots gives me such a high and unlike any other job I can easily do this 7 days a week without complaint. I’ve learned to look at my portfolio as a whole rather than individual works. At the end of the month I just say “my portfolio has earned me X dollars”. I don’t get hung up on how many 35 cents made up the X.

So now I work happy and free to enjoy every shoot. I am able to ignore single sales and drop the grumpy and instead look at the final total and know I’m in a job I enjoy. I can still feel proud of my work but at the end of the day it is work. In my opinion, that’s the secret when you get into bed with microstock! Hope this helps others who are still struggling with the concept of the 35 cent sale!!

Photo credits: Darrinhenry.

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Hey Yadamons no worries, so nice to hear it's useful info and to get everyone elses comments as well. Great portfolio by the way, all quality stuff.


Thanks a lot, this secret are very helpfull for me.


Thanks Snamfoto for the feedback. The sunflower was hit and miss, tried it with 2 other models before this but the effect was a bit strained. But this one definately works I thought so only used this shoot.


Beautiful works, especially with sunflower.


Thanks for sharing!!!


Now if only the camera equipment just cost 35 cents. ;-)


I think the key messages here are to construct your portfolio, not single images, and to have fun on the process.
Those are two great tips. I totally agree.


Afagundes, absolutely. It's actually reassuring when you realise we all share the approach to this even though we are spread around the world.


I think the key messages here are to construct your portfolio, not single images, and to have fun on the process.
Those are two great tips.


Yuritz, great point and I agree totally. Microstock allows us all to get involved in turning a hobby into a paying one. And like you say, if you want to get more serious it can eventually become a full time job. It's all up to the us and how far we want to take it.


That`s a good thinking! Thanks for sharing this!


Great work! Most important is to enjoy what you do.


Think everyone here understand what you're meaning,you pay lots of attention,take lots of time on a pic and then someone just click on it and buy for 35 cent;it's surely that makes you think.
On the other hand,lots more people (like me) now are able to get payed for something they love to do,but that's not a job;or others who started shooting hoping to make it their future job


Great performance!


Thanks for sharing, great blog


Great blog, nice ideas and a great perspective.


Also, it's not $0.35 but many $0.35s + many $2.40s so, in the end, not so bad


Definately with you Diavata! I got my first flash last Christmas and followed it up by a second in March and even got a light cube a few weeks back... It will take a while before it pays for itself but the learning curve is great fun, challenging but I love it!


Llareggub, thats a good point actually and I agree with you totally. Another huge plus is microstock has helped make me a better photographer. I think much more technical now before I press the button.

I started with photography 2 years ago and bought my first flash in february last year. I never had done any studio shooting, but if I look at what I know now, technically, compaired to back then, then this whole microstock thing (incl. the 35 cents) make it all worthwhile.


Llareggub, that's a good point actually and I agree with you totally. Another huge plus is microstock has helped make me a better photographer. I think much more technical now before I press the button.


A very helthy view point, if you view Microstock as a business it is very difficult to justify expense and time. However if you enjoy taking potographs then why not generate some revenue from them, that is most definately my view, I know I am not going to get rich but I am definately becoming a better photographer and earning a few coins too!


I agree about what you wrote! Congratulations for your pictures!


Wonderful way to put it in perspective - a job we can all enjoy! Thanks.

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