The key to stock photo success?

The truth is, there is no magic formula or silver bullet out there. It’s really about plugging away, little-by-little, learning and improving as you go.

Which is actually great if you’re busy, because you really just need a few minutes a day to do it.

Breakfast Stock Club reader Cynthia Baldauf is a wonderful example of this. She consistently inched forward with uploading images and eventually surpassed $10,000 in sales!

Along the way, she has picked up some awesome tips to share. Take it away Cynthia!

8 lessons from my first $10,000 in stock photo sales
By Stock Photographer, Cynthia Baldauf

I waited almost two years to start uploading regularly after I joined iStock.  Why? I was frightened of learning something new… of being rejected and the criticism that came with that rejection. Getting started is truly the hardest part. Just DO IT!

Get started with stock photography

Once I finally got started and eventually hit that first $10,000 in sales, I realized:

1.) Rejection and the criticism are the best teachers in the world. It’s your own, very private “school of photography.” I took rejections to heart and did everything in my power to learn to correct them.

2.) Don’t try to be good at everything! Stick to shooting what you love and what truly interests you. Then it doesn’t seem like a job, but more a “pursuit of happiness.” For me it was horses, cowboys, flowers & pets.

3.) It is a journey. Think of it as a slow steady walk rather than a foot race. Reaching 1,000 images online — and now up to $40,000 in sales so far — was something I did one image at a time.

4.) A perfect image doesn’t mean a saleable image. For several years my top selling image was more of a snapshot of my mother’s garden than it was a work of art. Then my mother submitted it to a Scott’s Fertilizer contest & she won a free trip to England! I am still puzzled.

Garden stock photo

5.) It’s all about the keywords. Without excellent, well thought-out keywords, your images are invisible to buyers. Make keywords a priority. The time and effort will pay off.

6.) Don’t get cute in the caption/title of your images. The title words are also utilized in the search. If you caption your picture of a kitten as “Pretty Baby”… a lot of buyers will be irritated when they are searching for baby images and your kitten image pops up. If you caption a cowboy throwing a rope as “A throw and a miss” instead of “Cowboy throwing a rope” your hopes for an effective buyer search may go unrewarded. Keep it simple and call it what it is… in easy terms.

7.) Some rules are meant to be broken. Most agencies say don’t bother uploading pet images or garden and flower images. I completely ignore this, but try hard to create images that are unique and not run-of-the-mill.

Cat stock photography

8.)  Don’t get discouraged. A volume of quality images is necessary. And this will take time. Just put your head down and UPLOAD. Up-front, it can be time consuming, but once sales start to gain momentum, your images will start appearing higher in the searches. Stock photo sites use some crazy secret logarithm that combines how frequently you upload, your image volume and your buyer success rates.  It takes time for your stats to improve.

Getting started is the only way to move forward!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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