It’s been almost 2 years since I last uploaded new images for stock, and in that time there have been a few agencies emerge where I see real opportunities for new sales and a better reach.
Though I’d love to get back to shooting/illustrating more, I know it’s just not feasible at the moment (farrr too busy trying to make picWorkflow awesome! ), so I figured the best thing I could do would be to clean out the lesser-works from my existing portfolio, and distribute only the best of what I have.
The last few weeks I’ve spoken with many photographers (at StockInRussia and MicrostockExpo) about my own (fair-to-middling) portfolio, and figured I had about 2000-2500 images across the 10 main agencies. I expected to cut this by a few hundred, but read on to find out how much
Making the CUT
I’ve had my entire portfolio in Lightroom since their earliest betas (I used to use PS elements) so digging through my portfolio was pretty easy:
- Clean out those random images we all collect but either I don’t own, or were just ‘sketches’
- Sort and stack my catalogue (by shoot-time) to filter out absolute duplicates/copies
- Rename a couple of Lightroom colour-labels (I went with simply ‘Stockable’ and ‘Stock Uploaded’, since I will manage the other statuses in picWorkflow later)
- I then stepped through all 12,000 or-so images (about half photos, half illustrations/renders) and picked the cream of the crop (Assigned key:9 to set Stockable colour-flag). I expected it to take about 8 hours, but actually took just less than 4 hours…
Some tips on selection:
- It was actually pretty handy that I hadn’t looked at a lot of these images in a couple of years. There was no (or very little) ‘emotional’ connection to the images, so I could view them ‘as a buyer’ on their technical and content merits alone
- I could see the very poor quality of many of my earlier images (particularly my first 40 or so illustrations were awful)
- If I knew and image had sold at least a handful of times, I favoured it on getting in, even if I wasn’t that keen on the image itself, it was clearly useful to someone.
- I kept in mind that I will be retitling and re-keywording (the keywords I found on earlier images were mostly useless) most of these images (and retouching some of them too), so if I didn’t think it was worth spending 20 minutes (or 30 cents on picWorkflow keywording purchase) to keyword the image, it would be dropped
- The image had to look ‘good enough’ in thumbnail view as it did large-scale
- I had to feel at least a little bit ‘proud’ of the image, and that it makes me feel like it was a successful piece
- My goal used to be essentially ‘to be accepted by the reviewer’, this was flawed thinking. My goal now is now to ‘upload images which will sell’!
- After filtering all these, I came out with 479 images which met all my quality criteria, that’s OVER 2000 images dropped, but I’m not worried
- Agency’s search algorithms already favour higher conversion rates (if a searcher views, and then they buy, your ranking improves). This will become even more important in future!
- As agencies have many millions of images now, the quality of metadata is crucial. Good metadata really does lead to more sales
- Submission takes time, although I’m adding this to pw soon too, it’s not ready yet, so will be doing this 500 myself
- Re-captioning and re-keywording all 479 images is not quick, though I will do some myself, even if I sent the whole lot through the picWorkflow keywording service it would still only cost $191 at the most (captions AND keywords), with much of that refunded after the keyword-audits.
- Not expensive at all, but with my RPI currently around 50-60c a month (indicative of my portfolio quality), still a 1 month investment.
- With better metadata and higher-quality images, I can expect my RPI to be better on the 6 new agencies I am uploading to.
- Once the selection was done, I fired up my picWorkflow Lightroom Microstock export plugin and exported them (had to fix the Lightroom keyword export bug first) all to my picWorkflow account (I have only 100kB upstream at home, so took a few hours).
- Now I have them in picWorkflow I am checking for spelling errors, incomplete or short titles/descriptions, and images with too many or too few keywords. Once I’m happy I’ve given them the once-over, I’ll submit for keywording.
- I already set them for distribution to my 6 new agencies, and they have good submission phases… with my good quality metadata and only my best images. I’m confident of good sales on most of them
Now over the next 3-6 months, I will watch how well this new smaller portfolio does, then go through the main agencies and start deleting or adding my new replacement metadata to a lot of my non-sellers from there too
What about you?
If you trimmed your stock portfolio today… how many would you cut?
Would you (could you) drop four-fifths of your portfolio too?