Stock photography is a great way to diversify your services and make a little income on the side. Unfortunately, there are many critical errors you can make when submitting photos to stock sites that greatly diminish your ability to sell photos.
If you want to maximize your profits and ensure your stock photos perform well, avoid these common pitfalls.
Mistake #1: Not Tagging
Not tagging your stock photos is like not putting your phone number on your business card or website. If your photos don’t have tags, users won’t be able to find them in their searches on stock sites.
To ensure that users find your photos, each one you upload should have appropriate titles and tags. The operative word here is appropriate. Tag-stuffing is a big no-no and will earn you a reputation as being dishonest. It might get you banned from stock photography sites as well. So if you have a photo of a family in a park, don’t tag it with “sunset” or “beach” or another highly popular tag that doesn’t fit. Use the appropriate words to describe your photo and users that are looking for photos of a family in a park are sure to find your images.
Mistake #2: Wrong File Sizes
The name of the stock photography game is usability, and tiny photos don’t meet that guideline. Each stock site has slightly different requirements regarding file size, but to maximize the potential for your photos to be downloaded, bigger is better. Avoid cropping your images such that they are smaller than about 600x600 pixels, and aim for your photos to be 300 dpi. Uploading your photos in the highest possible resolution will give potential users the ability to blow the image up or shrink it down to fit their needs, all without worrying about losing photo quality. That usability will translate into more sales for you.
Mistake #3: Uploading Anything and Everything
Stock photography sites each have their own threshold for whether or not a photo is good enough to be included on their site. However, even if every photo you’ve ever taken meets the site’s quality guidelines, that doesn’t mean you should upload them all. Instead, focus on developing a collection of only your very best photos. Doing so will give your account a much more professional look, and people that view your stock photos won’t be overwhelmed with hundreds of so-so shots that they have to sift through. Although “bigger is better” applies to the size and resolution of each photo, your collection of stock photos will be better off if you pare it down to just your very best work.
Mistake #4: Letting Things Get Stale
The lure of stock photography is that there isn’t a ton of ongoing work that needs to be done. Unlike working with a client, there aren’t a lot of phone calls, emails to return, and photo shoots to reschedule when working with a stock site.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can upload your best work and forget about it. Your collection of stock photos should be curated and maintained just like your portfolio. Check it regularly and refresh it with new images. If you’ve got images in your collection that just aren’t performing well, consider what you can do to improve their appeal. They may only require a small edit to make them more attractive to users, or they may need to be replaced altogether.
The point is that you can’t just upload photos and expect them to sell. Monitor how your photos are doing in terms of downloads, see what other photographers are doing in terms of their most popular subject matter, and adjust your strategy to fit the needs and wants of today’s consumer. Those needs and wants change all the time, so you need to curate your collection, upload only high-quality photos, and tag them appropriately if you’re to maximize your profits.