Taking Part in Deactivation Day? picWorkflow can help.

Bored businessman behind laptop

This week I’ve been getting a lot of requests for help from people deactivating their images/portfolios on iStock as part of Deactivation Day as a result of iStock’s crazy Google-drive partnership ripoff.

I only have a tiny portfolio on iStock (52 images) because their submission process is such an inefficient time-sink anyway but will be removing 48 of them, keeping the last 4 images till I reach payout before removing them too.

How can picWorkflow help you?

For anyone using picWorkflow to upload their images to other agencies I’m offering free storage for a month or so (usually a week, but I’ll round up to the end of the following month from your contact), and will provide free distribution credits to anyone using picWorkflow to distribute more than 200 images.

Just signup for picWorkflow (or use your existing account), add your agencies, upload via FTP and import your images (or wait 24 hours for them to be imported automatically), then drop me an email to bob@picWorkflow.com from your registered email address. I’ll extend storage for all your recent imports, and credit your account with distribution credits for any pending-auth upload tasks you have active when I receive your email.

Suggestions and Tips:

picWorkflow also offers keywording (and re-keywording), captioning, and retouching, with a focus on metadata for non-exclusive imagery. I can’t discount these services as they’re already as low-cost as is realistically possible (the keyworders and captioners work really hard, and take ~90% of the paid amount) but be assured our keyworders know their stuff and if you choose to use any of these services we’ll do our very best to ensure you’re 100% pleased with the results.

You can also speed up your image submissions using the picWorkflow microstock submission assistant browser plugin for Firefox.

You may also want to check out my recommendations on previous post written specifically for people leaving iStock which includes lots of tips on optimising your distribution/workflow, my video tutorial for people new to picWorkflow, and my full list of agencies to sell photos and illustrations through now. I’d also like to put in notable mentions for Shutterstock and Depositphotos, both of which sell like crazy for me (far outpacing my RPI on iStock and most other sites).

A lot of people are fed up of constantly getting royally-screwed by iStock over and over, will you be taking part in Deactivation Day and which agency/agencies are you moving to?

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How To Sell Photos: A Complete Guide

There’s recently been a lot more people using picWorkflow, many of whom may have missed out on some of my earlier posts about the stock-photo/microstock industry, so I figured it’s time for a review post listing some of the most useful previous posts covering various techniques, tips and advice on both getting started in microstock and improving sales of your stock photos and illustrations in your existing portfolio.

Beginning Microstock

My guide on how the industry has developed over the last few years: Is there still money in Microstock photography?

Must-read Microstock blogs covering all the latest news and changes in the industry, as well as thoughts, tips and tricks, processing tutorials and all kinds of other useful info.

Must-follow Microstock bloggers, agencies and knowledge-leaders who announce the news/events, share what they know, and give you access to everything you need.

My Top 10 tips for new microstock photographers.

A complete (90min+) video of how microstock has developed in the last few years, and where it seems to be moving in the near future.

Finding/Refining a Market for Your Images

A massive TOP 1000 Image-buyers Searches, gathered over more than a year and with some decent niches highlighted.

A few review posts of picNiche data showing some excellent photography niche subjects, photoshoot ideas, subjects with a lot of opportunities for sales, some science-themed shoot ideas, some more stock ideas. And just to balance it out, some photo subjects you should either avoid, or be prepared for very challenging competition in the field.

Some awesome blog posts from others on choosing what to shoot for stock sales.

Improving Your Workflow/Process

Use Image Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to maximize your visibility to image-buyers.

A huge list of stock photo agencies to sell photos with to choose from.

Spring-clean your stock portfolio for better buyer-targeting and improved sales (conversion/performance) on the agency’s search engines.

My HUGE guide to improving your photography workflow, everything from basic prep through to uploading and submission processing.

Have I missed anything? Tell me in the comments 🙂

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Stock Performer Giveaway!

With picWorkflow I’ve spent a LOT of time trying to come up with a viable, and reliable stats/analytics service for microstock and I’ve come to a conclusion… it’s damned near impossible to do well. Keeping up with changes in the agency pages, and collecting/collating all your image data into a usable form which offers real value is really difficult. In fact, it’s beyond my ability to implement and maintain.

Stock Performer Logo
The same cannot be said for Luis and Oliver at Stock Performer… Their tool for analysing your microstock sales and performance really is FANTASTIC, well built, easy to use, well maintained and damned good to look at too… I can’t recommend it enough.

Want a free Sparrow membership? (Winner has now been chosen, congratulations to Oleg M!).

Stock Performer

Stock Performer is an analytics and statistics service for Microstockers started by Oliver Rivo and Luis Alvarez. It strives to offer the best microstock analytics service and has gained the trust of many top-notch photographers, amongst them Andres Rodriguez, PressMaster and Joshua Hodge.

Stock Performer captures in real time your sales amongst the 5 big agencies and additionally supports iStockphoto’s partner programs (including sales on Getty Images). On top of seeing all your sales in one place, its Collections feature allows you to group them into shootings or themes and extract meaningful reports. Identify your strengths with the Top Sales feature clearly seeing how your big earners come and go, as well as seeing how market trends evolve, giving you time to produce exactly what customers are asking for.

New sign ups automatically get a complete one month free trial.
Check out Stock Performer and decide for yourself!

Sparrow Package Giveaway

The Sparrow Package is Stock Performer’s offer for microstockers who need accurate and real time sales data from all supported agencies. The Sparrow package allows you to see exactly what you upload each month and the complete sales data for those uploads. Each file is presented with complete historical data and the basic metrics. If you are a demanding microstocker who needs clarity on your sales, then the Sparrow Package is for you!

I have 1 free sparrow package subscription to give away! (I won in their random drawing, but I’m a beta member anyway so figured I’d pass it on to one of lovely people on picWorkflow) 🙂
To enter to win the Stock Performer Sparrow Package, simply comment on this post and let me know your thoughts and experience of Stock Performer, or of microstock analytics in general.

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GeoStockPhoto: The Marketplace for Geotagged Photos

Introducing a new and interesting agency to the stock photo community today: GeoStockPhoto.

Geotagging isn’t all that new (flickr have been doing it for a decade), but using geo-tags (latitude and longitude embedded in each file) to help image-buyers find and purchase images certainly is. It’s something I hear from designers quite often that they’d like to be able to search for images of specific locations, actually by location, GeoStockPhoto are doing that, and I think it’s a great niche to be in.

If you have images of specific locations and want to find a good market for them, I think these guys are targeting just the right market to sell your images. As a nice bonus, all uploads from picWorkflow to GeoStockPhoto are free.

Here’s some more about GeoStockPhoto from their team:

GeoStockPhoto: the only dedicated marketplace for geotagged photos

A groundbreaking service in the world of photography: set your price and licence for your own pictures.

GeoStockPhoto hosts pictures from every corner of the world, displaying information about the place they have been shot in. That is why photos appear as spots on a big map, calling for your attention and stirring your curiosity.

The best is yet to come: submitting pictures on GeoStockPhoto allows you to set your price and licence, which can be modified at any time. Here is the great deal: photographers get up to 85% revenues on each sold photo!

Contributing is free and easy. Go to geostockphoto.com, and create an account filling up the form or using your Facebook login. Photos can be uploaded also via picWorkflow or FTP, in a simple and fast way.

GeoStockPhoto offers you a million good reasons for joining the community! New subscribers will get a special GeoStockPhoto welcome gift: 100x100x100. Just so: upload at least 100 photos and get 100% revenues for 100 days, starting from sales opening (coming very soon!). Exclusive conditions, only for you and only on GeoStockPhoto!

GeoStockPhoto is growing day by day also on social networks! You’ll find them on:
Twitter: @GeoStockPhoto
Facebook: facebook.com/geostockphoto

Check them out at GeoStockPhoto.com or contact them on: info@geostockphoto.com.

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How to Earn More Money from Wedding Photography

Wedding on a rainy day by AfroDad

There has been a lot of pressure on wedding photographers over the last few years, with the reduction in cost of equipment with prosumer-level DSLR cameras and easier access and marketing to potential customers through social media, craigslist, gumtree and other classified ad platforms. Even with people relying on their friends and family to capture most of celebrations with their point and shoots or mobile phone cameras (especially with services like instagram and their popular filters/effects), professional wedding photographers are facing  changing demands and a financial squeeze.

Here’s 11 simple ways to improve your earnings from wedding shoots:

First step: Whine less

If you’re first instinct after reading this post (or any other about any type of commercial photography) is to comment on how unfair it is that the market is saturated with ‘weekend warriors’ or other negative terms, don’t bother, don’t waste your time.
Wedding photography is a marketplace, marketplaces are capitalist, capitalism is not fair, markets change… Get over it and move forward to constructive thoughts that will help your business. The people who do well in changing markets don’t waste time worrying about how it used to be, they shut up and get on with dealing how it is now.

Expand what you shoot and how you shoot it

Don’t just turn up on the day of wedding, shoot the ceremony, then leave… Focus on the surrounding events of the day, the preparation and dressing of the bride and groom, the meal and the family, the after-party, even if just the arrival of the extra guests and the first dance.

Also arrange for the engagement shoot, or separate studio sessions of the bachelor and bachelorette with dressing up, make-up and other enhancements to give the couple memories of themselves before they tied the knot. Post-wedding shoots also offer a lot for newly wedded couple, morning-after shots showing the afterglow of the wedding night are a popular move lately, even if shot long after the wedding. Remember a good wedding photographer need not be forgotten soon after the wedding day, there are countless happy memories to be captured for a young married couple.

Be more creative

So many wedding photographers are stuck in their existing style of images, usually the ‘classic’ shots of the couple walking down the aisle, or standing at the altar. Walking on a beach or riverbank, through gardens or parks near the venue and the family and friend group-shots are all common (and must-have) images.

There’s so much more you can capture beyond what your DSLR produces as-standard, consider filters and alternative lenses, different setups, and take a good look at the environment you’re shooting in to find those areas which uniquely capture the venue, the time of year, the town/city you’re in and even landmarks you might take for granted as a local may be items the new couple would want to keep for a long-term memory.

Offer value-added print-services

Typical wedding photo print offerings include a couple of large prints for the new couple, for their family, an album and maybe some wallet-sizes. You can however ‘enrich’ this typical offering by including various other options (even if they’re a little gimmicky) such as mugs, hats, cellphone covers, mousepads, keyrings (great as fillers for the guests gift-bags), cigarette tins and lighters, you can even go-extreme and get thongs printed 😉

There are tons of places online where you can get these printed and delivered direct; I use Custom Dropshipper (through my own store), they have a huge range and their prices are insanely cheap, though I don’t use them for the high-end prints their widgets/gadgets and extras are excellent. You can even get a customised usb-drive, memory stick printed with the wedding details or a photo of the couple and deliver any digital prints on that.

Shoot many more weddings

Want to make more money? Of course you do, probably the most obvious way is to actually shoot more weddings. This may sound easy, but finding them can be difficult especially if you live in a big city where there is a lot of competition… take advantage of the classifieds boards yourself and build your price list so it’s flexible. Have a low-end offering for people without a large wedding budget with plenty of room for expansion and customisation for those more affluent customers.

The major issue of course with shooting more weddings is processing the images (it takes a lot longer to adjust and retouch the images from a shoot than it does to actually shoot them on the day), take advantage of photo retouching services to increase the number of photos you can handle, and to reduce the time it takes to deliver your images to the newly married couple.

Most couples don’t want to wait months for their wedding pictures, leverage the low cost and flexibility of picWorkflow to get your images done and delivered in perfect condition AND quickly. From as little as one dollar an image for basic processing versus perhaps 20 minutes to an hour of your time, you can hugely increase the number of images you can handle and how fast you can deliver.

Build your reputation for word-of-mouth referrals

There are a few ways to improve your reputation as a wedding photographer, and garner those word-of-mouth referrals which are so important to your business:

  • Be friendly, nobody wants a miserable lurker at their wedding. Wear a smile on the day, and follow-up with the couple on the progress of their images.
  • Be professional, just because you’re not actually IN the pictures, doesn’t mean you can turn up to shoot in a t-shirt and jeans. Dress the part to fit in with their wedding party.
  • Put something nice in with the bill, even if it’s just a note saying “I was delighted to be a part of your big day” or “Congratulations, you guys make such a lovely couple” (even if they both look like trolls ;)), make them feel special and you’ll sure find them returning less issues with retouching surcharges or other fees.
  • Put something a little extra in the deliverables, if they wanted an 18×12 but could only afford the 16, if it only costs you a couple of extra bucks include an 18 anyway with a little card saying it’s an extra gift. Not only will they remember the extra gesture and pass on your name to friends, but will have a little story to go with it about how nice you were.
  • Have business cards to give out at the wedding in-case anyone else takes a liking to you and asks about your services. Don’t go shoving them in everyone’s face, but leave a couple on the bar or other heavily trafficked spots just so people can pick one up.
  • When it comes to the group-shots, be a take-charge guy (or girl), or at least recruit someone from their family to shout some orders at the family and get everyone organised. Particularly try to recruit the patriarch or matriarch to get things organised, after the ceremony everyone is going to want to get to the food as fast as possible and if you can get those group shots done before anyone even notices their stomach is rumbling they’ll remember you.

Consider images from each shoot for stock

Do you have hundreds of images of the venue, the table or the meals, the flowers or other event accessories… anything not needing a model or property release, get them selling on stock, selling microstock is pretty easy (if you can shoot a good quality image) and makes for a nice little earner to see you through the slow winters.

Have a query from a couple on a tight budget and feeling like you’d get their business if you were selling at a slightly lower price point? If they’re reasonably good looking (at least to guy/girl next door standard, i.e. not trolls) then offer a small discount if they’ll sign a model release each. It’s rather unreasonable to extend this to friends and family but if you can get some good images of the young couple in their fine-and-fancies to sell for stock, you can make up that difference easily. There are a lot of wedding images of couples on microstock, but not a lot of really good ones.

Leverage social media (properly)

There’s a lot of fear about social media among photographers, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read or been told variations of “the customer asked me to remove my watermark from the facebook photos so they can print them”.

Stop being afraid of facebook, twitter, pinterest and others… use them to your advantage. First off you should be getting a handful of images up on facebook immediately (literally on the day if possible, or within a couple of days at the most).

Setup a facebook page for your business, and focus on uploading at least 1 or 2 of just the bride and groom, and a handful of the friends and family group shots (resized to at-most 1024 pixels on the longest side) within this first couple of days. Tag the bride and groom yourself, and make sure you have setup the permissions so they can tag their family and friends. Each of these images should have a clear but subtle watermark, ideally designed so it sits in the image unobtrusively.

Try to think like this… if they want to print the social-media images themselves, would they feel the need to ask you to remove the watermark? If so, it’s too intrusive. Essentially, you want their friends and family who wouldn’t otherwise buy the professional-level prints you offer to have the option of using the facebook photos, but without minding that they’re printing them with your name on, but if in future they (or anyone else) wonders who shot them your name is visible. Essentially your watermark should sit in ‘copyspace’ within the image, not directly over the main elements.

Social media presents you with an opportunity to connect with, and stay in touch with more customers (and potential customers) than ever before. Take control of that opportunity.

Raise your prices

Wedding photographers aren’t usually the best ‘business-minded people’ around, mostly tending towards the creative side of things, but to do well you have to be wary of not undervaluing your work. Most people understand that “you get what you pay for” and this is essentially why professional photographers shouldn’t be worrying about the new competition, make it clear to your potential customers that you provide a premium service… and that your prices are a reflection of that. If you really are a ‘good’ photographer your work will stand up to the high price and people will be happy to pay it.

Don’t reduce your prices, increase them, and make the price really worth it. Customers will almost always ask for a discount so build this into your pricing structure, offer addons, and most-importantly offer opt-outs for people who want lower pricing and support them in your business.

With a flexible structure you begin to learn not only what customers really want from you, but also what they don’t want. Consider this along with which offerings/products/packages make the higher margins for you, then focus on selling those. A really good wedding photographer can make some offering for almost any budget, you need to learn to do this too.

Improve your website

If your website has thousands of images of every wedding you’ve ever shot and every other personal photo you’ve ever taken, it’s failing you… if it has just 6 images (or if you don’t have a website at all, shame on you), it’s failing you…

Your website should be clean, clear of distractions, and contain no more than 50-80 of the best wedding photos you’ve ever shot. Don’t include your stock portfolio, your travel/holiday images, or photos of your own friends, family, breakfast, house. Include only those images which show-off best how you shoot a wedding. Break them down into simple categories ideally inline with the various packages you offer and one-or-two examples of the extras you can provide.

Every page should have your name (or business name) at the top along with your phone number and email address. It should be at something like bobs-wedding-photos.com (this will also help with search engines), NEVER use a gmail, hotmail, yahoo or other bulk-provider email address. All your images should have a subtle watermark as described above, and should have some text captions describing when, where, who, how each image was shot (again useful for search engines, but also for humans to read). It should have a plain off-white or off-black background and be quick to load (don’t use flash) and easy to navigate.

I also suggest including a blog so you can write about your recent weddings or other shoots and update it at least once a week with a short post (If you can’t update it, don’t bother with the blog part). I’m quite liking Tumblr for this type of thing lately since it’s free, it’s easy to setup, it doesn’t intrude on your site’s design, you can point your own domain name at it, and you can either buy a photo-friendly theme for a few bucks or have your own designed. I customised my own theme for a few images from my microstock portfolio in less than  an hour. Tumblr’s social integration also makes it easy to ‘follow’ people and have people ‘follow’ you.

Don’t compete… Be the leader!

The days when all you needed to make a living as a wedding photographer was a decent camera and a good eye are over, they’re long gone and are never coming back. If you really want to be a wedding photographer now you’re going to have to change, or get left behind.

There really is no competition between true professionals and the typical ‘craigslist photographer’ I hear everyone whining about. Stop competing for business… You can already offer more, be better, and make customers come to you because if you’re really going to make it you need to be more than someone with a ‘decent camera and a good eye’, be a professional, be a leader!

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Photo retouching service now available on picWorkflow

Photo retouching on picWorkflow

Perfect pictures every time, we don’t stop until you’re 100% happy!

How long does it take you to process an image from camera to ready-for-stock? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Half an hour? More? Stop wasting your time, get our team to do it for you.

At just $0.90 an image we don’t stop until you’re completely satisfied. And yes… that decimal point is in totally the right place… Just 90 cents an image! 🙂

Tons of additional edits available too…

Raw processing includes Color Correction, White Balance, Noise Management, and JPEG conversion. We can also choose the best images from your batches for a few cents each, or you can choose from any of these retouching tasks for anywhere between 25 cents and a couple of dollars each: Raw Processing, Dust Spotting, Brighten Eyes, Teeth Whitening, Facial Shine Removal, Stray Hair Removal, Merge Images, Remove Logos, Restoration and many many more.

Check out our retouching before and after gallery for all our tasks and the great results.

We give you total control over what you want or you can handover to us and let our experienced editors suggest what will be best for your images. Simply upload your images, uploading RAW files (we support all raw formats) will give the best results though you can send us just jpegs if you prefer, choose the retouching tasks you want done and even sketch your edits to have the images retouched for you by highly experienced retouchers (Our team handles 10,000+ images every day).

Pick up your camera and do what you love,
so we can do what we’re best at just for you.
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When do Microstock Photographers Upload Images?

For at least as long as I’ve been involved with microstock I’ve been running into forum posts and being sent emails asking when should microstock images be uploaded/submitted for two specific reasons:
1) The best time for reviewers to be ‘generous’ with acceptance.
2) The best time for accepted images to appear in front of the most buyers.
Usually the forum threads end up as long chains of speculation and superstition, so here’s a quick attempt to settle when ‘most’ photographers really do choose to upload their images 🙂

I can’t be hugely specific about a best time for each of the specific goals above, but with some digging around in the database here’s basic information about when microstock photographers actually distribute their images to the agencies:

Loading the Chart showing which day of the week photographers upload to microstock agencies

And a follow-up, when do most photographers upload to each specific agency:

Loading the Chart showing which day of the week photographers upload to each microstock agency

Both charts suggest a tuesday is the most popular day for uploading to microstock, although this timeline is probably equally indicative of a weekend-shoot, mid-week processing cycle as of anything else, and the differences between days whilst significant is not a clear majority for either the normal-average OR the more experienced contributors, suggests that ‘most’ photographers don’t have a ‘magic day’ to do their submissions. Hopefully that’s that question settled, though I doubt it, I’m sure this question will continue to pop up, it’s the one I hear second-most after the whole microstock copyright stripping thing 😉

My best answer… To sell more photos, submit your images when they are ready… no sooner, no later 😀

When do you upload? Do you have a ‘magic day’?

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Filesize and Resolution of Images Distributed for Microstock

Just a quick reference post to share some charts showing the most common file sizes and resolutions of images (photos and illustrations) distributed by Microstock contributors through picWorkflow.

File sizes of JPEG images distributed to microstock agencies

Loading the Chart showing File sizes of JPEG images distributed to microstock agencies

Interesting to see that 80% of files are 10meg or less, and on a steep curve. Whereas the megapixels show a broader distribution across a range of sizes.

Resolution in Megapixels of JPEG images distributed to microstock agencies

Loading the Chart showing Resolution in Megapixels of JPEG images distributed to microstock agencies

Interesting here that 12 and 10 megapixels dominate the chart (the most common prosumer DSLR resolutions) with 6 not far behind (the lowest size for each image to be acceptable to all agencies).

Not quite sure why the large number of images at 39 megapixels (it’s actually 38-40 megapixels, but my grouping algorithm averaged that sector out to 39), presumably this is a popular export size for illustrations, though not sure why.

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