Looking back, 2017 was a great year! Highlights were visiting and capturing unique images of Ecuador, Israel, Dolomites and Dubai, as well as of course publishing the Brutally Honest Guide. It hasn’t all been chocolate and roses though, as I’ll discuss in this article. But first, the good.
As per Master Steve Heap’s advice on Backyard Silver, I’m slowly looking to add a few more Microstock agencies along the way where I’ll submit non-premium images. Everywhere and RF! However, I hold a firm opinion that “premium” images should not go on Micros and have written about this numerous times.
In fact, Steve submits to a whopping 17 Agencies, which seems like administrative overkill but we both recommend a handy piece of software known as Stocksubmitter. According to Steve’s detailed blog post, whether you submit to one agency or 17 is pretty much the same. Although there’s some admin in setting Stocksubmitter up and linking it with agencies, it will really save you a lot of time and frustration!
I currently submit to the following 8 agencies in Midstock, Print On Demand and Micros.
Arcangel Images (semi-exclusive), Robert Harding (exclusive), Alamy
Shutterstock, Adobe Stock / Fotolia, Dreamstime (hesitantly)
Print on Demand
Fine Art America, Photo4me (started contributing just last week)
I’m an One-Man Army Photography Machine
This year has been superb in terms of the number of new images accepted, on the verge of obsession – in fact, about 1500. My Shutterstock portfolio leads the pack with just over 4800 images, with Alamy not too far behind.
Although I’m shooting almost everyday and have a huge volume of work, I’ve resisted the temptation to rush through my workflow. I keep telling myself to really slow down and take my time with post-processing and focus on keywording to an excellent standard, even getting professional help by means of Clemency Wright Consulting.
Since 95% of my images aren’t editorial breaking news, there’s not a huge hurry to get them up and to market. So whether I submit them today (rushed and mediocre post-processing and keywording) or in a few days, with a higher standard, it won’t make a huge difference and I’ll make much more in the long run.
Creating new concepts
I’ve also come up with some cool concepts that are selling regularly, such as passport composites.
Also, made effort to keep up with trends as much as possible, including GDPR, Selfie Addiction and using predictions for the next 20 years to create profitable stock photos. I keep stressing to always check out what’s going on in the news and quickly create stock concepts, such as increased airport security:
Dreamstime’s Late Christmas Present
In November I found out that Dreamstime was running a blog competition with prize money. Subsequently, I submitted a small blog post entitled “Can You Make a Living from Stock Photography?” speculatively. Yesterday, casually looking through my account on there as I do on most days, I see +$300 so I figured that my small post won the competition with the most likes/views!
Thank you DT (now I feel bad since I bashed them a few months ago for getting rid of their extended licenses).
Now for the bad…
No sales at Arcangel
The bad news is that I’m still pending downloads at Arcangel Images. They’re a nice friendly agency and seem to have a good marketing strategy within a niche market, yet wtf? I’ve had no choice but to duplicate some content on their non-exclusive Rights-Managed collection (known as “NX”).
I currently have 579 images on there, most are exclusive. I have a number in mind that isn’t too far off. If I reach that number and I don’t have at least one download…that’s it, I’m moving on….
Two months later and my application is still pending, causing some people to rant over at the MicrostockGroupForum’s respective thread. I suppose this is unfortunate since I lost on potential profits from those images that are stuck there which would be exclusive in case I’m accepted, but in a way it’s good since it means that they’re carefully assessing the suitability of applicants. I took the opportunity to submit the maximum 100 images, thus potentially increasing my chance to get in than if I were to submit the minimum of 25.
I hope for good news in the new year but expecting a rejection. Isn’t the secret to happiness lowered expectations?
Fine Art America
I’ve added a good 500+ images on there and getting lots of views. I suppose it’s only a matter of time…here’s some of the most viewed images, suggesting they’ll be one of the first images to sell as wall-hangers:
Another finalist position at yet another competition. More specifically, the Travel Photographer of the Year. If I told you the number of times I’ve been shortlisted and didn’t win you’d probably ask me why do I bother? I’ll just have to keep on trying until I win. Better luck next year.
“Vanity Gallery” Took My Money
I wrote about getting sucked into a ‘Vanity Gallery’ scheme. It could have been much much worse, but still an ugly episode that caused me a lot of stress and some financial losses. Looking at this from another perspective, perhaps this could easily go on the “Good” pile since it was a lesson learned, as well as a cautionary tale to others.
Goals for 2018
Considering many contributors are reporting reduced earnings, year on year, these goals are incredibly ambitious. Nevertheless, I believe that I can do it – just need to keep working hard and smart!
Publish those damn earnings
My main goal for next year is to start reporting my earnings in more detail. This is something I’ve been hesitant to do but in the spirit of being Brutally Honest, I’ll just say fuck it and do it anyway. It will also help me to think more about comparing stats month-on-month and between agencies & different types of images.
Other goals include:
- Consistently reach $700/month at Shutterstock alone (I’ve come close in 2017)
- Consistently reach $400/month at Alamy
- My first sale at Arcangel (really, this should be the easiest goal)
- My first POD sales at Fine Art America & Photo4me (should only be matter of time)
- Upload 10 footage videos a month (at this stage, I’m more concerned about improving technically which should lead to downloads)
- Purchase a drone and learn how to use it to a professional level
- Capture more street-style portraits, such as this beautiful mixed-race (Brazilian indigenous with northern European) lady I caught in Belo Horizonte, Brazil:
That’s a wrap.
Did you have a good year? Are you making any goals? Please comment below!
Happy New Year!