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Getting into Microstock: Part 1 – Pros and Cons of Microstock

This is first of the posts of the series -”Getting into Microstock”. In this post I explain about pros and cons of getting into microstock. The inspiration behind this post is – helping others get a better picture of Microstock world from my experience.

Pros and cons of microstock:
For pros, see “Below are the reasons why I chose microstock” part of my previous post.

Below are a list of cons. Actually these are not cons, but are some basic requirements.

  1. Need to build a sizable portfolio: Microstock is not a get rich-quick-scheme! Income will be decent only when there are sizable number of images in your portfolio in the top microstock sites. So there is a lot of hardwork to be put in initailly to build the portfolio. Generally, I think around 1000+ images in top 10 microstock websites should generate at least $1000 per month. NOTE: How much you earn per image directly depends on the quality of the image. There are people with massive portfolio with lesser downloads and there are people who have a handful of images with massive number of downloads!!!
  2. Need to learn what sells: Getting images accepted for sale in many of the microstock agencies is easy (some agencies like MostPhotos.com do not even review the images), but getting images sold is going to take time to understand. Initially, not only most my images were getting rejected, but also, those which got accepeted were not getting sold at all. But I persisted. I was constantly seeing the top selling images of everybody, of individuals, what top contributors were creating freshly, etc., and slowly understood what to shoot and what to create. This, I reckon, gives you fastest knowledge to succeed in microstock!

    NOTE: I keep doing this everyday! Learning never stops and should never too!
  3. Need to learn image manipulation tips and tricks: You should also be willing to learn tips and tricks in softwares like photoshop, illustrator, etc. More tricks you have in your bag, the more the chances you can manipulate the images and make them even better. If you see the top selling images, most are not directly from the camera! I have learnt great many tricks after entering Microstock world.
    Where to learn these tricks and tips?
    Internet is loaded with these. Just search for “Creating water in photoshop” to know how to create your own water! As an example of what can be achieved in Photoshop, here’s an image of a single lime slice “repeated”(or copied and pasted many times) using photoshop to create a feeling that many slices are actually painstaking arranged like this. So you can do wonders learning photoshop tricks!
    Slices of vibrant lemon for backgrounds
    © Photographer: Mnsanthoshkumar | Agency: Dreamstime.com
  4. Should not take rejections personally: Most of the microstock sites review the images uploaded by photographers. Only when the images are good enough technically and commercially, they are accepted.  It can be really tough to digest if your first attempt at getting images into any microstock website gets rejected. But rejection is part of the game all the time. Many of my images rejected at some sites sell very well at other sites. And even today, many of my images get rejected! So the mantra in microstock is – just keep creating good images and if they get rejected, just move on. Only if the rejections are too many, then deeper reflection is required.
  5. Need to adjust to income fluctuations: As in any business, the income every month will not be constant. But you can generally hope to keep earning better incomes if you constantly upload your images/files and also keep enhancing your skills.
  6. Microstock work also has lot of boring work: The next job after you capture your favorite picture, is to upload the image to microstock agency website. But before that, you need to fill the metadata (keywords, title of the image, description of the image, etc.). Keywording an image properly is crucial for its online success and hence should not be done in a hurry. And then the image should uploaded to the agency website. And then another wait for the agency to review the image and accept or reject it. All these steps are not only laborious, but sometimes are extremely boring too.

In my next post, I will discuss what are some of the requirements to be a microstocker apart from those discussed here!

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