Saturday, April 4, 2009

Get started with microstock!

Hi there!

My name's Andy and I'm here to introduce you to microstock business -- selling pictures online!
I do both sell and buy images and photographies. Been here for a while, seen hot and cold.

This is a quick and easy guide to understand what is all this about.

Not sure what it is? Would like to know more details? You came to the right place! Hold on to your seat as we get started right away!

What is all about stock photography?

Imagine you need a picture of a walrus for a presentation depicting your boss. That way you (or your company) hires a photographer which travels to a location and takes the picture, considering the photographer is still among the living. Now, bear in mind all the travel and time expenses which forms a solid price of the picture. + the author's fee

That's where stock photography comes into play.

Instead of dealing with a photographer or bunch of photo-companies, you can double-click to a stock photos website and get access to a huuuuge collection of photos. You may even find a nice giraffe picture for your administrator.

Why would you wanna pay $800 for a photograph if you just want to once use it in your presentation?

That's where microstock photography comes into play.

Stock or microstock?

Stock - expensive area of photography. You will have a competition with real professionals equipped with a zillion $ worth of gear and ready to sell photos from hundred to couple of thousand bucks. Tough choice to begin with.

Microstock - you may find either pros, or amateur artists selling their products online at a much cheaper price. Due to recent boom of WWW and cheaper technology, now almost everyone can purchase a digital stuff to create images. Why not join them?
I will cover more details about microstock in here.

Who needs this?

Everyone with an interest of quickly acquiring images for presentations, brochures, web sites design and... anything you can imagine. Ad agencies, government sector, freelancers-designers, you name it.
All they care is getting quality pictures at a lower price for an instant use after the purchase. That plain and easy.

What to submit?

When you choose to sign up with one of microstock agencies, take your time to go through a tutorial or guidelines they offer. They usually have this section about what they require most at the moment and which categories are in high demand.
Those usually include photos / pictures of groups -- family on a picnick, friends at a party, colleagues at work, business partners, etc. Bear in mind that you want to submit images that sell, that somebody buys them, not the ones you like (or be happy person and make these come together).

What not to submit?

Internet is full of easily made images -- computers, pets, feet, hands, skies, abstracts. Usually, you will find a very huge competition in the categories and thus it is recommended to omit those with crowded galleries. Agencies also say that in their "not to submit" guides.

Anything with copyright policy is also to be avoided -- cars, toys, food packages. Anything you spell with capital letter.

Again, check a submit list at an agency you are signing up with, they have them. Make sure to look through them carefully, you will spare lots of rejections later.
And to mention, don't submit anything that is below a quality standards -- pixels required (1000 x 1000 px = 1 000 000 px = 1 Mpx) , anti-aliasing edges, closed vectors, JPG artifacts, noise.

Generally, avoid blurry / over exposed photographs, low resolution scans of your work or low polygon 3D renders. Do a good job from the start now and that will pay off later.


Okay, there basically are three major license types:
  • royalty free -- person who buys an image can only use it, not sell it;
  • rights managed -- usually buyers pay a certain fee if they want to use pictures in larger quantities. Also, sellers (and that means you) have more control over their images -- where and how to sell.
  • extended -- sellers cannot submit images to other agencies. You get certain bonus from the agency you are exclusive with (i.e. have extended licence).
When taking shots (painting) of persons, bear in mind that they have to sign a paper (model release) which you have to scan and upload along with photos to an agency. Same applies if you are the photographer and the model. A bit more of endeavor, but totally worth it.

Tags, descriptions?

Take your time when describing your image. That is how buyers find your image. Make clear and concise description, put in tags (key phrases) under which your image will be found. Some agencies have tag limit, be cautious.
A very useful link regarding tags.

Ready to go?

That's it! Don't waste your time deciding on where to go and read all those mile-lenghty reviews about the agencies. There are several worth your time and I will mention them shortly. Hop in!
If you do everything with care, nothing can go wrong. You will fill yourself later with the needed info, believe me.

You're an artist to sell images?

Shutterstock is a great place to start! They are very quick when talking about approving images, the user's interface is nicely done, very huge artists community, and you quickly notice your sales going up -- excellent place for a kick start! (more advanced)
Dreamstime is another great place to start selling your art (vectors, scans, 3D renders, photos). They have less requirements for kick-start -- no need photo ID and rejection rate is very low. But keep in mind, the revenues are not that big as you could expect in shutterstock. (more suitable for beginners)

Want to only buy images?
Wish you a prosperous business!