123rf sales may not be at the same levels as Shutterstock, or Dreamstime, but for the comparatively small effort required it may still be worth it. There is a small ‘to do’ list however, if you want to get the most out of your images on 123rf.
- Use the ‘My Fave Images’ tool. 123rf allows you to mark 5% of your portfolio as your favourite. This is not a way to show off what you you think is the best in your portfolio, but an opportunity to increase exposure of certain images. Images which you mark as ‘faved’ are given better positions in search. Therefore you could mark images which are not selling well and hopefully get a few sales out of them. I change my favourite images usually about once a month. Last month from 178 images online at 123rf, I had 12 images downloaded, 8 of those were marked as my favourite images. (Update: This feature has since been removed from 123rf)
- In general I would not recommend giving images away for free as an attempt to gain more exposure. However, 123rf is the only site where you might want to give it a go occasionally, because you can give images for a limited time and at limited resolution. The images can only be downloaded at 400 pixels on the longest side and you can choose to offer them for free anywhere from 1 day to 30 days. This may lead people to the rest of your content, plus the images you offer for free may also get bought. 400 pixels isn’t very large and often buyers need larger sizes. One of the 12 images I sold last month was bought whilst it was being offered for free. I still wouldn’t spend too much time on this though, it’s more important to spend time on producing good work.
- On 123rf, once you have chosen the keywords for your images and the images are accepted, you don’t have the option of re-editing them. So choose them carefully. I tend to use a lot of keywords and when I re-edit my keywords on other sites, more often or not I reduce the amount. Sometimes less is better. On 123rf, maybe it’s wiser to just put the strongest keywords in, I’m not saying it has to be a small amount, but just concentrate more on relevancy and don’t take chances with keywords which you think might be appropriate. ‘Think as a buyer’ as they say.
One nice time saver on 123rf is that there are no categories to choose from. Maybe I’ve missed the point of categories, but I don’t see how they are necessary, especially for generic categories like ‘people’ or ‘nature’. Surely buyers can find what they want more easily with specific keywords such as ‘people on the beach’, or they could type in ‘people’ if they are just looking for random pictures of people.
Each agency has its own character. Some agencies are entertaining, some agencies act as your mentor, other agencies are aloof or even intolerant. Some agencies just make you paranoid, primarily for those who are constantly trying to figure them out. Maybe the agencies should put disclaimers on their sites, something like this, ‘Warning: ‘Those who try to figure us out, do so at their own risk. We are not responsible for any mental anguish incurred.’ Here’s a comment by a contributor which I read on the Microstock Group forum, which put a smile on my face, “I concluded that there’s a really tough reviewer out there and another one who’s really easy on me. So I’ve taken to submitting at specific times of the day in hope that I’ll hit the more forgiving one. Or maybe it’s all a coincidence. Or maybe I’m the victim of a psychological experiment designed to drive me mad.”
123rf I would simply describe as low key, at least on the contributor side. Upload your images with ease and get on with the other things you want to do in life. Out of all the agencies, I probably spend the least amount of time on 123rf. Ok payouts might not be as frequent as in other places, but I didn’t have to jump through as many hoops to get my images there. In fact it’s really simple, even for a simpleton like me. I don’t even have to consider for my keyword ‘cattle’ whether I mean a ‘domestic cattle’, ‘Santa Getruti cattle’ or a ‘Blonde D’ Aquitaine’. Trying to get images online with some agencies, reminds me of the Krypton Factor, a British game show, the title of which “is a reference to Superman’s home planet Krypton, perceiving that the contestants had strong superhuman “powers” for taking part in the challenges they were set.” So if you happen to witness Yuri Arcurs discreetly entering a phone booth, he might just be about to start work.
Update: Mmm regrettably 123rf announced on February 15, 2012 that most contributor commissions will be cut, new commission rates will start from 30%. The previous commission rates for contributors was 50%. What a pity! (See this post for news on 123rf’s commission cuts)