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From what I can see there are a number of factors that affect stock sales.  Since Alamy ensures a minimum quality level is met by all contributors I’ll ignore it as a factor.  Subject matter and proper keywords are also clearly important but for the sake of this discussion let’s assume subject and keywords are adequate.

 

Looking through the forum discussions I see constant references to a minimum portfolio size as being an important factor in regular sales, but I also wonder if there isn’t also a time component affecting sales.  If say, 3000 images represent the smallest portfolio that will generate consistent monthly sales, how long must those images be posted before they begin to generate a significant number of sales?   A month? six months? a year?

 

Also, is 3000 images a fair estimate of the minimum portfolio size needed to generate regular sales?

 

Lynn Palmer 

 

lynn-palmer.artistwebsites.com

Edited by Lynn Palmer
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Many photographers will be getting sales as soon as they've uploaded a few pix... but they may not know for months. Long lead-times for many publishing jobs, plus delays in reporting - then paying for - usages, means there'll always be a time-lag. For making regular sales (ie getting a payout every month), then, yes, 3,000+ pix may be required...

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It really depends on what you mean by regular sales. if you mean 2-3 per month on average you can do that with 1000 images. I'm not sure where the oft quoted three thousand images comes from. Of course you can do much better than that with the right pictures.

 

If you look at the "how was your June" thread (or any preceding month) you will get an idea of how many images people sell per thousand per month.

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Thank you John and John...

 

I've been following the discussions and so far find it difficult to discern clear trends or useful statistics.  Everything you've both mentioned is pertinent.  How many sales I consider regular sales depends on how big the sales are...one sale of $1500, three sales of $500, 10 sales of $150 or I shudder to think, five hundred $3 sales.  Out of $1500 I'll be lucky to see $1200 after taxes and then I must pay for equipment and maintenance, gas and living expenses.  A couple times contributors have discussed $1/picture/year.  If that is the case then I would need at least 40-50,000 images to pay taxes, equipment, travel and basic living expenses.  More if I want to enjoy life.  I can post like a maniac for 5 years and develop a large portfolio but I'd like to have some idea of what "large enough" is.  I haven't even addressed posting the same images on multiple sites which I suppose is necessary to maximize profits.

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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I can post like a maniac for 5 years and develop a large portfolio but I'd like to have some idea of what "large enough" is.

 

If you can tell me what the world of stock will be like in five years time, I'll tell you how big a portfolio you'll need to make a living. Bottom line: nobody knows... :unsure:

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Fair enough John, how about in today's world?

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Yet another John is about to chime in. Sorry about that.

 

Speaking from my own experience, I find that it is getting increasingly more difficult to predict month-to-month sales. For the last two years, my average number of monthly sales was fairly consistent. But this year the numbers are all over the place, and my totals -- sales and income -- are down over 50% from Jan. to July of last year despite my having added several hundred images. Scientists tell us that systems tend to get more volatile as they get larger. That certainly seems to be the case with Alamy. The ups and downs seem much more pronounced than they were a few years ago. As the Alamy collection continues to balloon, I think that "diverse enough" may now be more important than "large enough" when it comes to determining the content of your collection and its earning power.

 

Just my two pixels' worth...

Edited by John Mitchell

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JUST MY OPINION,

 

I think that the number of images online by any one individual photographer is much less important than the quality of each image, the IPTC information with the image and the rarity of the image (availability of similar images elsewhere). I've also never understood the idea of $ per image per year? But I'm not what most would consider a " Stock Photographer"

 

I believe the best way to see more images licensed more often is to upload better images with the best IPTC (captions and keywording) possible.

 

But what do I know....

Edited by Chuck Nacke
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Yes, keywording is the one big opportunity (after pressing the shutter...) to make our pix standing out. I see pix which are wrongly captioned, or given inappropriate keywords... which will produce nothing except 'wrong hits' and a plummetting rank.

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Thank you to all for sharing your experience. 

 

I've been posting images for 14 months on FAA with minor success and I've just started posting on Alamy about two weeks ago.  I keep hearing how the market is changing...more difficult to predict...sales are erratic, etc.  This may be true but I'm determined to make it work and will invest a great deal of time and effort to achieve my goals. 

 

Between images already online and those awaiting keywording, I should have 500-600 images online within the week.  That should be enough images to test my subject variety, keywords, captions, etc.  Within another week or two my portfolio will be representative of the types of images I shoot. You will find cows in fields, cute cats and sun rays filtering through leaves but I also do industrial, construction and urban subjects.  For the most part I think my keywording is acceptable...at least I hope so.  If you see I'm making consistent mistakes let me know and I'll make corrections where possible. I'm most worried about global errors that would apply to all my images. 

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It depends on your portfolio and your subject matter.

 

I have over 3,000 images - I have yet to see regular sales at Alamy - collection spread over multiple agencies and I see regular sales.  My CTR lately has been in-line with Alamy's.  As John #3 mentioned, sales are all over the place these days for some reason.  Some images that are more commercially oriented are going to get licensed frequently.  Images of a newsworthy nature can be licensed immediately, then maybe one year after the event, then maybe to textbooks.  It all depends on what you shoot and what your style is.  Images of real people, doing real things are going to be more marketable.

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Thank you for taking a look Jeff.  In the past I've avoided people shots due to lack of model releases.  I will be posting more now that I have a venue for selling them. Taking the image you singled out as an example, how do my keywords and captions look?  You seem to include more keywords for your images than most other contributors. 

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Last year I started to upload thousands of images to Alamy. Now I have over 23.000 images online (two pseudos: niceprospects and niceprospects-prime). My portfolio consists mainly of Southeast Asia (65%) and some European countries (35%). Subject are general travel photography (landmarks, landscapes, people, etc.)

 

My total number of sales were only 17 with a gross turnover of 1.000$ since the beginning of this year. I find it pretty depressing. My total CTR is also only 0,20! Although I carefully keyword.

 

As has been stated before I do not think that there is a general rule. Subjects, quality, portfolio size, keywording - it all plays an important role when talking about sales and success.

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3000 images of a niche subject might make some sales, 3000 images of a wide range of topics will make many more sales. Also helps if the images are good pictures rather than just sharp, well exposed photos.

Really depends on what the buyer is looking to illustrate and how much competition there is for that subject. Regardless of the standard of photography, good keywording is the "key" to unlock regular sales

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Thank you Philippe!  I've implemented your suggestions with a couple alterations to make them fit the character limits.  I remember thinking when I posted that I needed to add the scientific classification.  Unfortunately beyond identifying him as a Pelican I wasn't certain of what type and didn't realize he was a juvenile.

 

I am somewhat confused about the intent of the keywording.  Am I trying to cast a broad net (e.g. 27,414 results) and get mostly views by disinterested buyers or do I want 200 views by likely buyers?  As a new member I'm guessing my images will be on page 2000 of the 27,414 search results with little chance of being found.  Also, doesn't the first example destroy my CTR since most won't zoom the image?

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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As a newcomer, Lynn, you'll start with a median rank: ie half-way up. To achieve an upward trajectory you need to keep posting saleable pix, not too many similars, and keyword appropriately. There are a lot of pix in the collection which will never be seen by buyers, because the photographer uploads rubbish and doesn't think like a buyer.

 

They used to say that half of every advertising budget is wasted... but no-one knows which half! Keywording is another 'black art'; no-one is 100% sure about the best way to approach it. You want to attract views... but only from those who want your pix (or something similar). How you keyword is up to you. There are those who go minimal, and others who fill every category field.

 

I try for the middle way... using words that people actually use. So it's 'dusk' and 'evening' rather than 'crepuscule'. I try not to list things that do not actually appear in the pic. If the location is unlikely to be important, I leave it out (or just put it in the 'location' field). Etc...

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First off there is a big difference between a "quailty" image and technical quality. Alamy accepts images purely on digital merit (no dust spots, sharp, etc.) without regard to image's creative quality or saleability. I typically average 50-60 sales per mouth at each of my various edited agencies with about 3000-4000 images per agency. I don't average that at Alamy with three times the images. Of course I'm not in the Novel or newspaper schemes either and that will impact the count.

 

Becasue Alamy is not an edited agency it must use all sorts of ranking algorims and techniques (like creative, RF ratios) to bring more saleable or creative images up to the front pages. When I search a specific topic on Getty, my images appear in the first few pages in a typical search return of 3000 - 4000 images and MOST of the images on those first few pages are highly saleable. Not so on Alamy. With the same search terms I'm on page five or higher (same number of images per page) with a search return of 20,000-30,000. And there's no way you can consider most of the images on those first five pages highly saleable. The keywording for my images in both agencies is very similar, but my edited agencies allow for various annotated searches. So it would seem that having properly keyworded and highly saleable images may not necessarily mean a similar level of success. I feel that buyers never get to see many outstanding images that are too far down the list. Even with a median rank you'll still be on page 50 with a search return of 10,000 (very common on Alamy). Few buyers ever get that far into a search.

 

Therefore given Alamy's huge (and growing) volumn of images, its ranking algorisms, ratios and present search capabilities, I feel it's way tougher to get my Alamy sales (both quantity and $$$) up to the level of my edited agency sales with the same amount of images. I'm thinking I'll need maybe five or six times the quantity.

 

I do think if you're in the Novel and newspaper schemes and have 3000 properly keyworded and saleable images you will make regular sales (how many depends on what you shoot). But it's all in the definition of regular. My definition of "regular" sales is based on my edited agency sales. My goal is to try and move my Alamy sales up to the level of my edited agency sales. Under the present conditions that means I'll need to upload way more images.

Edited by MichaelD
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I'll always post some images of particular interest to me; subjects related to sustainable products and design, historic preservation, architecture, construction and travel. Hopefully images of this type will have some sales potential.

 

Except for occasional trips I'm currently limited to subjects in or near Florida. Within these constraints I'll attempt to create a portfolio that is varied and interesting, and moving forward I'll include more people working, enjoying recreational activities, etc.

 

I don't think I'm posting too many of any given subject but let me know if I'm wrong.

 

Thanks again to each of you that are responding. I've been reading every post carefully and with interest.

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MichaelD, can I ask which edited agencies you deal with? Which do you find best? Do the types of images/subjects you post vary greatly from agency to agency?

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At Arterra - my little agency - I have a photographer who sells on a daily basis with 4000 images online. Another photographer with 2000 images sells ........ one or two images per month. Difference, one is a fulltime pro who shoots with the CLIENT in mind, the other is an amateur photographer who delivers good quality but shoots only what HE likes (sunrays shining through trees in forest, cows in meadow covered in morning mist, mushroom silhouetted against autumn leaf, etc).

Lets say, you submit on day one already 3000 pictures. You can see zooms the second day, but you'll see money on your account two to three months later.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

+1

 

It's a combination of saleability, image quality, great keywording & search positioning - but mostly saleability. I've got a new contributor with around 350 images yet they regularly sell 5-10 images here each month, because they shoot for the market. Simple as that.

 

As I've always said, to make $$ photographers need to treat stock as a business. Treating it as a hobby where the output from the camera is what the photographer likes, but is not directed at the market into which it's being sold and then expecting to make $$ is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

 

This forum (and the last one) is littered with threads moaning about low or infrequent sales. Unfortunately the the cure (which most do not want to accept) is a mirror. The person who you see looking back at you is to blame, not anyone else.

 

J

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I believe that if you happen to have the image that the client wants at a quality equal or better than your peers then your image will sell. I have a few which sell regularly and many that have only sold once or twice and loads and loads that have never sold or even been zoomed.

 

A friend has less than 800 images and has regular sales on two image locations.

 

I have a relatively large portfolio but in the context of Alamy it is not statistically significant. I sell on average about 7 images a month but about 4,000 of my images have never even had a zoom, let alone a sale.

 

I guess in my long winded way I am trying to say that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. The problem is deciding on which ones to kiss.

 

dov

Edited by dov makabaw

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you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. The problem is deciding on which ones to kiss.

 

Princes are easy to find: talking to flowers, flying helicopters. Princesses, on the other hand...

Edited by John Morrison

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First thank you to those that have given me a plus one...

 

Working backwards, Philippe, I'm rushing off to see if I can figure out your magic keyword that doubled sales:-)

 

Reading back through all the comments it sounds like images including everyday human interactions, a story if you will, sell best. In the past I've shot for different purposes and shot around the people. Now I have to retrain myself to capture them instead.

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One of the advantages of being a "mature" female photographer is invisibility. Generally I can take a picture of a cute kid's encounter with a furry white dog without being jailed for stalking. However I still question Canon's judgement for marketing L-series zoom lenses with a creamy white finish. It always draws unwanted attention.

 

I have a discrete G12 p&s camera but assumed it's on the unapproved camera list even though it shoots cr2. Doesn't the Sony RX100 have a small sensor as well?

Edited by Lynn Palmer

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The G12 is up for sale but until I see some sales a new second camera will have to wait.

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