I’ve been asked the question “Is there still money in microstock?” three times, by three different people in the last week alone; and have had very similar questions over the last few months so I figured what a perfect time for a blog post.
If you’re one of those ‘pro’ photographers who has a hissy-fit when anyone criticises your work, stop reading now. If however you’re serious about making money in microstock, read on…
Who is asking this question?
This question is coming (to me at least) mainly from professional photographers, both stock and non-stock shooters who have yet to enter the microstock side of the market. Those who were hesistant to get involved early on due to microstock’s appearance as amateur-led, and through ignorance or distaste.
Some of these seasoned photographers are now seeing their traditional stock earnings drop and the number of and value of corporate and small-business assignments dropping. This is leading to the fear that they’ve ‘missed the boat’, and many are wondering how to go about getting into microstock at this stage, hoping mainly to enter as a pro and ‘take home’ a pro’s earnings.
I’ve also read a lot of articles, and particularly letters in print magazines, where traditional stock photographers have “tried” microstock and inevitably report that it’s not worth it. These photographers however all report more-or-less the same technique; they go into micro with only a few hundred images and/or with their second-tier content, for a few months, and expect, or even feel they deserve to be making Yuri-level earnings from their photos.
To these photographers in particular… NO there is no money in microstock for you. You’re too late and you’re not adaptable or resourceful enough to compete. Focus on what you’re good at, microstock is not for you. That is the best advice I have for you.
For everyone else, this is how to make money at microstock:
How to make money in microstock?
There are a few basic rules or guidelines of microstock photography (think of these like microstock-gravity, the fundamentals), these have applied pretty-much universally since about 2005-2007. Understand and accept these rules without sulking and you’re already ten-steps ahead.
- Everyone is equal (more-or-less)
- Quality is greater than quantity
- Quality AND quantity are greater than either alone
- Research and preparation are critical
- Getting work online is harder than you think
- Be objective… microstock is (mostly) NOT art
- Whilst it works, do more; when it fails, move on
If you can’t read that and ‘get it’, you’re too late. There is no money for you here. If however you understand enough to realise a half-assed effort is not enough, then perhaps there’s hope for you.
So in this order, here is the best advice in the world to make money in microstock:
- Stop whining about how unfair the world is and put everything you have into your portfolio… you will find there is TONS of money in microstock photography.
The second question I get immediately after this one is ALWAYS “What do I shoot?”… for that, read the rest of this blog, it’s all here.