I often see articles written about microstock by people who clearly have no clue about the industry. And when I say often, I come across articles like these once or twice a week. With all the misinformation, it’s not surprising that Microstock has many misconceptions that simply won’t go away.
Images are downloaded at a low cost, that’s generally true. However, people often write giving the impression that once an image is sold the contributor won’t receive further revenue from the image. What they often don’t make clear is that it’s not actually the image which is being sold, but a license to use the image, and a successful image can be licensed hundreds or thousands of times across several market places.
Another misconception is the belief that because these licenses are cheap, microstock images can’t be very good, and anyone can produce images and make money if they submit them to microstock agencies. Wrong! Don’t believe it. You don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at this from information Shutterstock released for its forthcoming IPO.
“Less than 20% of contributor applicants who applied in 2011 were approved as contributors to shutterstock.com, and less than 60% of images uploaded by approved contributors in 2011 satisfied our rigorous acceptance requirements.”
Want to earn a decent income with your hobby of taking photos? Well good luck to you! However, it’s not luck that you need for a decent income in microstock, it’s commitment, and the level of commitment should not be underestimated.
I’m a hobbyist photographer myself, the income I receive from the few hundred images I have on the microstock agencies would be reasonable, if I didn’t do things like put petrol in my car, wear clothes and eat. I probably won’t ever make a serious income from the microstock industry unless I devote more time in developing my photography skills, including post-processing techniques; spend more time researching the kind of images which are in high demand and then set about producing these high quality, highly commercial images in vast quantities. Do not underestimate the dedication and time required, or you will be disappointed and eventually become disinterested like most people who try microstock. Remember the 80% of applicants which failed to get accepted by Shutterstock last year. Maybe there were a few in there who read one of the countless write ups saying how easy it all is.
The really successful microstock contributors are as professional as you can get, despite the numerous articles brandishing all microstockers as bunch of happy snappers. Here are a few quotes from an article published this week, it’s a really typical example of so many blogs and articles written about microstock. The full article is here..(Update: The site no longer exists) http://freeimagespicture.com/free-pictures/microstock-photography-and-how-to-make-money-selling-photos/. The English is a little broken at times, but you can still understand the meaning.
“For starters, mainly students, Microstock is the most appropriate group to beginning their photography career…Unlike stock photography agencies, there are no strict standards celebrated in accepting pictures.”
There are no strict standards huh? You’ll think differently after you try it. And microstock agencies are stock photography agencies, images are stocked, licensed and downloaded, by the truck load.
He goes on to say, “Microstock guarantees the sale of any and every photo and a chance to consequence large by the sale of your countless pictures.”
He’s saying that all your images will sell and you will earn lots of cash, ‘it’s as easy as that’ kind of statement. There are those who earn a lot, the ones who are really dedicated and treat it as a business, but I think the majority of people who try microstock don’t earn a great deal, and most don’t earn enough to make it their only job. It really requires an enormous effort and a lot of time to become a truly successful microstock photographer or artist.
Also, if your images manage to get past the “rigorous” reviewing processes, this still doesn’t mean that they will sell a lot or even sell at all. The competition is extremely stiff and generally the best images rise to the top. If you are thinking of submitting images to microstock agencies, with the hope of making lots of money, go to any of the leading agencies, do a search with a keyword of your choice using the ‘most downloaded’ or ‘most popular’ filters, if you think you can or have produced work as good as what you see, or better, then go for it. If you can’t match or better the work that’s already there, then you probably have a long road ahead of you.
To those who keep writing blogs and articles about microstock, proclaiming to have knowledgeable information which is in fact mostly misleading supposition…Give it a rest!