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Whats your thoughts on improving sales from my images?!


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Hi all, Hope you had a decent and healthy start to the new year - and 2021 will be huge improvement over the one just gone!

I have been with Alamy since around 15 years, and despite a constant fall in commission, have so far stayed with them. In the last ten years on teh 1300 images I have up here, I made a average sale of just under 5 a year. Obviously nothing to make a living of. Most of my images are from China and editiorial. I have been a live news contributor. 

After working on the picture desk of the Asia hub of one for the four major news wires I have changed the way I keyword, following some of the methology on the picture desk. But the agency and Alamy are of course not using the same search algorithms (or clients). At the end of last year, I decided to do more in the way of Sale Optimisation. So over 65% of all my images now have a meaningful caption (which includes the key 5 W's), and I completed the Optional Info for those as well and completed 50 keywords, with 10 supertags. (not sure if anyone of us can see the keywords...)

My QC rating is 2 solid dark stars, one light (whatever that means..out of 5?). It may be low due to having a past of uploading via FTP from location and on a few occasions having to re-upload due to some errors.  The CTR for the last month is: "Total CTR for O. Geibel: 0.96" (fo the last 12 months).

Archive of images here

I plan to:

1. upload more editorial archive pictures of pollution and industrial production of China (another 1000 pictures this year)
2. optimize the remaining 35%
3. opt out of the "personal use including single copy, non-retail wall art prints" ( ...I may not really understand how to use this, or where the money is made here)

Any critique and thoughts most welcome. 

Edited by Olli
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Hi.

 

I think your images are generally solid.  Your number of image is probably misleading, as you have many many duplication. Which happens on Live News submission, especially when you cover the same subject day after day, like for the Beijing Pollution of 2015.  I would probably cull so of these to leave your best images.

 

As i have actually mentioned before in response to one of your post, but which may have been lost 

 

optimizing your caption and KW is actually a good idea, however this is not done with the colour codes from Alamy.  It's done by having a descriptive caption that includes what is in the image, which means sometimes having to remove some of the filler information from Live News captions- i often have situational stuff that i don't want to be searchable only in "extra info" 

it means maximising KW and supertags, 

It means making some validation once in a while if you are getting too many false positive figuring do you really need the marginal KW in first place. 

 

 

One of the thing i notice is the fact you use the same Caption and KW for a set of image. so you may have images that end up giving false results in searches, and people just skipping because you make their work harder.   It is probably worth being specific.  I'll take one set for example

 

XILINGOL, China. 05-OCT-2013. Harvesting of carrots South of Xilin Gol. Large scale vegetable farming is receiving increased investment as China is looking to further reduce dependence on food imports.

 

 

 

One of the image has "Woman pulling carrots out by hand"

Another "Men load bags of carrots on tractor"

A few "Tractor driving down carrot field"

more "Group of farm pickers harvesting up carrot in large field"

 

To me, This is optimisation what is in the SPECIFIC image.  

 

 

You have many images of fashion show catwalk, not one identifies the specific model.  If someone is looking for that girl (if i remember well they were all female model) they likely will not find your image.  Again, Optimisation.  Not sure why anyone would be looking for these images using "Week" or "751" as a Keyword. Image ID: DH4WYW

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, meanderingemu said:

Hi.

 

I think your images are generally solid.  Your number of image is probably misleading, as you have many many duplication. Which happens on Live News submission, especially when you cover the same subject day after day, like for the Beijing Pollution of 2015.  I would probably cull so of these to leave your best images.

 

As i have actually mentioned before in response to one of your post, but which may have been lost 

 

optimizing your caption and KW is actually a good idea, however this is not done with the colour codes from Alamy.  It's done by having a descriptive caption that includes what is in the image, which means sometimes having to remove some of the filler information from Live News captions- i often have situational stuff that i don't want to be searchable only in "extra info" 

it means maximising KW and supertags, 

It means making some validation once in a while if you are getting too many false positive figuring do you really need the marginal KW in first place. 

 

 

One of the thing i notice is the fact you use the same Caption and KW for a set of image. so you may have images that end up giving false results in searches, and people just skipping because you make their work harder.   It is probably worth being specific.  I'll take one set for example

 

XILINGOL, China. 05-OCT-2013. Harvesting of carrots South of Xilin Gol. Large scale vegetable farming is receiving increased investment as China is looking to further reduce dependence on food imports.

 

 

 

One of the image has "Woman pulling carrots out by hand"

Another "Men load bags of carrots on tractor"

A few "Tractor driving down carrot field"

more "Group of farm pickers harvesting up carrot in large field"

 

To me, This is optimisation what is in the SPECIFIC image.  

 

 

You have many images of fashion show catwalk, not one identifies the specific model.  If someone is looking for that girl (if i remember well they were all female model) they likely will not find your image.  Again, Optimisation.  Not sure why anyone would be looking for these images using "Week" or "751" as a Keyword. Image ID: DH4WYW

 

 

 

 

Good advice this, I need to do this too and remove the Alamy Live News specific stuff

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1 minute ago, BradleyPhoto said:

Good advice this, I need to do this too and remove the Alamy Live News specific stuff

 

 

thanks...  of course, I also need to take my own advice....  

 

No Netflix until a go through my last 5 submissions.  (who am i kidding)

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On 08/01/2021 at 18:42, BradleyPhoto said:

Good advice this, I need to do this too and remove the Alamy Live News specific stuff


Thanks, I imagine you mean this: "location, date, creditline" by Alamy Live News specific stuff? 

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2 hours ago, Olli said:


Thanks, I imagine you mean this: "location, date, creditline" by Alamy Live News specific stuff? 

Yes and I do think with live news images I’ve  often put extra info in the caption that I’m not sure as relevant for general stock.

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On 08/01/2021 at 14:21, meanderingemu said:

Hi.

 

I think your images are generally solid.  Your number of image is probably misleading, as you have many many duplication. Which happens on Live News submission, especially when you cover the same subject day after day, like for the Beijing Pollution of 2015.  I would probably cull so of these to leave your best images....

 

 

 

 

Hello and thanks for your critique. All taken on board. I like to reply and explain a little about the points you mentioned. 

1. Totally agree that keywords are best incorporated into a meaningful and informative caption/description. The reality of it is, that this is not my main job here. So when I add images I do them usually as a set, and try and use a caption that can be used for all. Obviously there are always a few images where the caption is not entirely accurate. I decided to live with that so far, as it means not spending vast amounts of extra time on it.

2. I see a number of totally unrelated images all the time when doing searches, and I agree its annoying (seeing a picture of a tower in Tokyo when searching Beijing Skyline for example) - but I think its not totally unavoidable and also offers a little extra for clients. If a client for example looks for more of a concept shot to illustrate something, where a number of images show up, where the concept is addressed, but its not specific for a subject or location. Searching for 'Week' and getting images of a fashion show might however not fall into that 😉

3. Many of the fashion shows in China are saturated with models, who are not famous. Adding their names would be a nightmare and useless. From an editorial viewpoint, no one cares about the model (unless they a Naomi Campell or Heidi Klum..). They all look for the designer, and line of clothing. (BTW, 751, 798 and some other cryptic names are art/design districts in Beijing)

4. Having less being more would be the way I agree. I will try and keep variations down and only increase them if the topic/subject is unique or rare on coverage.

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23 hours ago, Olli said:

The reality of it is, that this is not my main job here. So when I add images I do them usually as a set, and try and use a caption that can be used for all. Obviously there are always a few images where the caption is not entirely accurate. I decided to live with that so far, as it means not spending vast amounts of extra time on it.

You asked how you can improve sales from your images – little point then in ignoring the advice you’ve been given. Using blanket captions will reduce your saleability, furthermore, if you’re not prepared to put in the time to properly caption and keyword, how can you possibly expect to increase your sales?

 

 

23 hours ago, Olli said:

I see a number of totally unrelated images all the time when doing searches, and I agree its annoying (seeing a picture of a tower in Tokyo when searching Beijing Skyline for example) - but I think its not totally unavoidable and also offers a little extra for clients. If a client for example looks for more of a concept shot to illustrate something, where a number of images show up, where the concept is addressed, but its not specific for a subject or location.

No, unrelated keywording doesn’t offer “a little extra to clients”, however it will lower your ranking here on Alamy. The lower your rank, the further down the search results you will be. How often when you were on picture desks did you scan much beyond the first couple of pages of images? There are 230 million images on Alamy, your input amounts to 0.00043%. To make sales in such tiny odds the single most important thing you can do is to is make your images the easiest to find.

 

 

23 hours ago, Olli said:

751, 798 and some other cryptic names are art/design districts in Beijing

Interesting, but would anyone, particularly in the West, ever search for these terms? If yes, keep them in. If no, take them out.

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23 hours ago, Olli said:

1. The reality of it is, that this is not my main job here. So when I add images I do them usually as a set, and try and use a caption that can be used for all. Obviously there are always a few images where the caption is not entirely accurate. I decided to live with that so far, as it means not spending vast amounts of extra time on it.

By not captioning properly, you're wasting your time.  This may not be your main job, but at least treat Alamy with respect.

 

23 hours ago, Olli said:


2. I see a number of totally unrelated images all the time when doing searches, and I agree its annoying (seeing a picture of a tower in Tokyo when searching Beijing Skyline for example) - but I think its not totally unavoidable and also offers a little extra for clients. If a client for example looks for more of a concept shot to illustrate something, where a number of images show up, where the concept is addressed, but its not specific for a subject or location.

Er, no.  If a picture editor is looking for a certain pic and something else turns up in results, he/she will become extremely annoyed, so saying 'it offers a little extra for clients' is ridiculous and just plain wrong.

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On 10/01/2021 at 11:25, Olli said:

So when I add images I do them usually as a set, and try and use a caption that can be used for all. Obviously there are always a few images where the caption is not entirely accurate. I decided to live with that so far, as it means not spending vast amounts of extra time on it.

The "extra time" taken to caption and keyword every image accurately is what makes the difference between making regular sales... and seeing your pix fall to the bottom of the barrel... 

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Thanks for all your inputs. My past work on the news wire picture desk is rather different from your standard picture editor I think. We almost never 'looked' for images, but instead verified and validated the images (that were already preselected) from the regional photographers, and doing live filing to the wire from events etc. So hence I mentioend it was rather different - not comparable to being a picture editor here I think.

So we all seem to agree that (ideally) the perfect caption will go a long way, so this is what I will focus on for future submission. My only 'concern' is that we have no idea of the algorithms used in Alamy Searches, determining what image will show at the top of the results. (CTR ranking, QC rank, past searches on topic, etc...). Hence we dont really know whether the caption or keyword or combination (at what ration!?) makes a picture appear at the top or not.

Furthermore, I have not been able to work out how the QC rating affect (if at all) the results - whats the range of the rating  (is it five solid stars at best? is it affected by only the techincal quality of the images or also by how many deletions, or rejectings one goes trhough?).

Also perhaps worth mentioning that all my images are RM, and I am opted out of "Novel Use", and only signed up for "Distribution" last year (also signed in for "Image Options"). Distribution is all except China. Overall I have made a middle four figure sum over the last ten years, so not unhappy, but just wondered whether it could be bettered.
 

Edited by Olli
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My tests have shown that caption has most weight, then supertags, then tags. Caption plus supertag gives the best results. I do think the sales record of an individual image makes a difference.

 

Paulette

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3 hours ago, Olli said:

So we all seem to agree that (ideally) the perfect caption will go a long way, so this is what I will focus on for future submission. My only 'concern' is that we have no idea of the algorithms used in Alamy Searches, determining what image will show at the top of the results. (CTR ranking, QC rank, past searches on topic, etc...). Hence we dont really know whether the caption or keyword or combination (at what ration!?) makes a picture appear at the top or not.

Furthermore, I have not been able to work out how the QC rating affect (if at all) the results - whats the range of the rating  (is it five solid stars at best? is it affected by only the techincal quality of the images or also by how many deletions, or rejectings one goes trhough?).

Also perhaps worth mentioning that all my images are RM, and I am opted out of "Novel Use", and only signed up for "Distribution" last year (also signed in for "Image Options"). Distribution is all except China. Overall I have made a middle four figure sum over the last ten years, so not unhappy, but just wondered whether it could be bettered.
 

Captions and keywords are far and away the most important route to sales success. You need to highlight all your "super keywords", and have as many relevant others too - but just to repeat, no irrelevant ones. There is no need to "optimise" the image - very few contributors manage even 20% of their ports "optimised". (Mine under 5%...)
In the end it's preferable to have fewer keywords than just keep bunging them in until you max out.  Images appear at the top of searches based on the contributor's ranking, which you'll gain by working at it - back to the captions and keywords etc. If you can ever figure out the exact formula for achieving top ranking here, you are in possession of the holy grail and will have people offering you their firstborn in exchange for the information. However, the more you sell, the more Alamy will like you - it makes obvious sense for them to favour those who make them money. As such, be careful what you opt in and opt out of - PU sales can be troublesome at times, but they all add up to another sale.

 

QC rating has no bearing on anything other than how quickly you clear QC - the more reliable your image quality, the faster you'll be on sale. With a 5* rating, your images are rarely checked at all, and go directly on sale - however this has no effect on your ranking.

 

Apart from the (now endlessly mentioned) captions and keywords -  increase the size of your port, ensuring it is free from duplicate images.

 

 

Edited by TeeCee
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3 hours ago, NYCat said:

My tests have shown that caption has most weight, then supertags, then tags. Caption plus supertag gives the best results. I do think the sales record of an individual image makes a difference.

Interesting... This would make sense, as it is now 'industry standard' (to my best knowledge neither Thomson Reuters or AFP add keywords, but they are extracted from the captions)

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There are differences of opinion on the weighting. Alamy intend captions to have a lower significance than tags. My tests show that they do.

Edited by spacecadet
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4 hours ago, Olli said:

Interesting... This would make sense, as it is now 'industry standard' (to my best knowledge neither Thomson Reuters or AFP add keywords, but they are extracted from the captions)

 

3 hours ago, spacecadet said:

There are differences of opinion on the weighting. Alamy intend captions to have a lower significance than tags. My tests show that they do.

Agreed, in my time on newspapers we only used standard IPTC captions - however you're comparing news agencies with a stock library. Whilst Alamy does operate a news service (perhaps moreso now under PA ownership)  it's core business is stock. As with Mark above, in my experience the tags (keywords) are crucial to getting higher up the search result.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks all for the critique and thoughts and hints. I have not overhauled the entire archive, and already starting to see improvements. If a week is anything to go by (which I think it isnt), then the 1st week of Feb compares like this:

2020:
Your Views: 55
Average CTR: 1.82
Zooms: 1

2021:
Your Views: 129
Average CTR: 4.88
Zooms: 4

So hopefully this is going in the right direction. 

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  • 2 months later...
On 11/01/2021 at 15:17, NYCat said:

 I do think the sales record of an individual image makes a difference.

Most likely a correct assumption, seeing that I sold a particular image (of masked commuters in Beijing) and variant of it over and over.

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Knee how, Olli

 

There are many savvy photogs in this forum. And they've giving you and me and newbies solid, good advice. I will not comment on what you are doing, right or wrong. Instead, I'll just tell you what I do. 

 

I only submit common-access editorial stock images. I don't do Live News or have no model or property releases on any of my images. Yet I do make regular monthly sales, usually a few more than the expected one per thousand a month. I don't expect to get rich doing this; it just what I do as a retired assignment photographer.

 

I try not to use subjective terms in tags. Beautiful is subjective. Tall, small, or dark are not. I have no images with 50 tags, not one, but most have 10 super tags. I try to think like a guy searching for the right image. Buyers need to know what is shown in an image. When I worked in-house for American Airlines, I was both their photographer and their photo buyer. 

 

I value my PU sales. They are mostly for the full $19.99. What are buyers using them for? I couldn't care less. 

 

When I do a test search on a subject, one or more images of mine show up on the first few pages. Basically, what I'm saying is: less is sometimes more. 

 

Good luck,

 

Edo

 

 

Edited by Ed Rooney
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2FK7XT0 "Security police in military vehicle control the movement of Uighur (Uyghur) people in their very own land - were anyone who is disliked or flagged by computers may be imprisoned in a detention camp or prison for unspecified crimes or duration."

 

And the image shows a street intersection with one (what looks to be) police vehicle, stopped in the traffic? Your caption reads like propaganda, not a description of what is in the image. Not sure if that would help or hurt sales on Alamy.

 

GI

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On 01/05/2021 at 05:45, giphotostock said:

2FK7XT0 "Security police in military vehicle control the movement of Uighur (Uyghur) people in their very own land - were anyone who is disliked or flagged by computers may be imprisoned in a detention camp or prison for unspecified crimes or duration."

 

And the image shows a street intersection with one (what looks to be) police vehicle, stopped in the traffic? Your caption reads like propaganda, not a description of what is in the image. Not sure if that would help or hurt sales on Alamy.

 

GI


Thanks, good point. Had just read a particularly disturbing report about Xinjiang, and it got the better of me. Not even some of the words would benefit the search (imprisoned, computers, duration...) Removed it now. Thanks for flagging this.

 

On 29/04/2021 at 10:36, Ed Rooney said:

Knee how, Olli

 

There are many savvy photogs in this forum. And they've giving you and me and newbies solid, good advice. I will not comment on what you are doing, right or wrong. Instead, I'll just tell you what I do. 

 

I only submit common-access editorial stock images. I don't do Live News or have no model or property releases on any of my images. Yet I do make regular monthly sales, usually a few more than the expected one per thousand a month. I don't expect to get rich doing this; it just what I do as a retired assignment photographer.

 

I try not to use subjective terms in tags. Beautiful is subjective. Tall, small, or dark are not. I have no images with 50 tags, not one, but most have 10 super tags. I try to think like a guy searching for the right image. Buyers need to know what is shown in an image. When I worked in-house for American Airlines, I was both their photographer and their photo buyer. 

 

I value my PU sales. They are mostly for the full $19.99. What are buyers using them for? I couldn't care less. 

 

When I do a test search on a subject, one or more images of mine show up on the first few pages. Basically, what I'm saying is: less is sometimes more. 

 

Good luck,

 

Edo

 

 


Agreed too on the subjective terms in keywords. Might end up muddling the results. So far (3 months in ) my enhanced keyword overhaul has been resulted in better visibility though, but it remains to see if the sales go up too. But I am also not here to make a living from this (not from less than 2k images anyway). However, I thought its better to have them organised and available to people than sitting on my HD gathering dust.

And thanks, for asking, my knee is well! 
Ni ye hao ma?

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