Saturday, April 12, 2008

Microstock: a new source of money?

I found a new blog today, Microstock Diaries, and it's gotten me thinking about other ways that I could be making money with my photography. In the photography industry, microstock is a sub-niche of stock photography where you sell your photos for small amounts of money (on the order of $0.50 to $1 per download) under the guise of making the money up on volume. Microstock serves as an interesting niche, in my eyes. It provides a low barrier to entry as far as I can see and it's something I can do in my off time as long as I can come up with useful photos for it.

I'm in the process of reading through Microstock Diaries' postings for the last year so I can understand a bit more about some of the benefits and pitfalls experienced by people already in that market. Right now it looks like the market is something that will only be a supplemental income, assuming I can produce a moderate amount of photos each month that are new and refreshing. This market appears pretty daunting at first glance just because of the sheer number of photographers already filling the voids. The "guideline" I've seen is that you can probably earn about a dollar per picture per month of sales, but it's not clear how "good" you have to be to get into significant quantities of images. I can see this becoming a very intensive and competitive "job" if I'm not careful. (I already have a full time job, I'm not sure I want a second.)

Right now I'm looking at iStockPhoto and ShutterStock, but there appear to be a dozen different agencies doing this. Some of these places look like they want exclusive access to the photos, which means I wouldn't be able to cross-post them to make more money. I need to look at that more closely to figure out if that's a good proposition for me. It's all about maximizing my intake while reducing my output, especially considering my limited time to do this.

I'm going to set a few goals at this point. Nothing fancy, mostly things I need to do to feel more confident about this whole thing.

  1. Read through the rest of Microstock Diaries.
  2. Look over the usage terms of the various stock agencies.
  3. Open up an account on one or two services.
  4. Set a goal of 25 or 50 photos uploaded based on my current portfolio.
  5. PROFIT!

So, we'll see what happens with this. Could be interesting or it could be a big flop.

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