21 Aug 2008 10 Ways Microstock Coaching Can Increase Your Earnings
Meet Rasmus Rasmussen. Yes, that’s his real name. He’s a Diamond level exclusive contributor at iStockphoto where he’s also an inspector. He’s the author of the best book on microstock, Microstock Photographer’s Guide, which is available free via his blog. Yes, he ‘gets’ new media.
Rasmus is considering offering portfolio consultations to microstock contributors. To beta test the concept and proposed format he’s running a competition where three lucky microstockers will win a free consultation. I convinced Rasmus to use me as an alpha tester and we did a consultation last week.
From all that I learned during that session I’ve narrowed down the 10 best ways you can increase your microstock earnings with a coaching session from a proven microstock success like Rasmus.
1. Focus – Find or Refine your Niche
I found my niche during my coaching session. Or rather Rasmus found it for me. It was one of those things that’s obvious once it’s pointed out to you, but you never considered it yourself. I love travel and do a lot of it, so my portfolio has considerable geographical diversity. When Rasmus suggested ‘travel lifestyle’ I knew I would be happy specializing in that niche.
2. Refining your Contributions
I learned how inspectors think and what they look for in a photo. Being an iStockphoto inspector Rasmus was able to lend me their perspective (without revealing trade secrets – unfortunately). iStockphoto inspectors are some of the most selective and often spot obscure brands or blemishes that other agency reviewers miss, so if you can please them you’ll raise your acceptance rates everywhere.
3. Realize Where You Are
Seeing my portfolio through the eyes of another provided many insights. I saw how far I’d progressed when Rasmas compared some of my older images to newer ones. I also found the general feedback – that I had a “pretty good idea about stock” – to help me see I am no longer a beginner. Always focused on finding ways to improve doesn’t give you that perspective, so when it’s shown to you, you feel encouraged.
4. Learn your Strengths
By showing me what makes my best selling photos sell, I learned how to repeat the success. With this knowledge, creating higher selling photos is simply a matter of keeping those things in mind when I’m planning and shooting.
5. You Get Photography Tips
It’s the most basic expectation for a microstock portfolio consultation and Rasmus delivered. He provided specific tips on composition, what to include and exclude from a shot, and how to think from the perspective of a designer. All this came via examples from my own portfolio.
6. Understand How Others Have Achieved Success
By providing stories about himself and other contributors he knew through iStockphoto, Rasmus helped me understand different ways in which other microstockers have achieved their success. It was like ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Microstockers’ – the 5 minute version.
7. Get an Outside Perspective
Along with points 3 and 4 above, an outside observer will see problems and opportunities for improvement that you can’t see yourself. With the knowledge and insights that Rasmus provided I could share his perspective a little, which in addition to feeling a little weird at first, will also help me shape and improve my portfolio as I add more photos.
8. Thinking Strategically
I live from my microstock earnings in part and I write a blog about microstock, so I considered myself to already be quite a strategic thinker on the topic. But Rasmus thinks about a slightly different set of strategies – more about the design, style and the message of the photo – so I picked up these new areas of focus during the session.
9. You Get a Plan
While we didn’t map out any sort of plan during the session, I got all the pieces I need to plan my microstock future. I have a niche, knowledge of my strengths and areas for improvement, ideas on how to shape my portfolio, and extra strategies to think about. I had a distinct shift from convenience shooting to a deliberate and chosen direction.
10. You get Inspired
How can you not? Knowledge and insight helps you improve, so an effective microstock coaching session can only make you a better microstocker. I’m excited about using my new knowledge and shooting in my new niche and inspired about where I can go from here.
How to Maximize the Benefit of a Microstock Coaching Session
Rasmus calls it a consultation, which is exactly what it is, but by approaching it like a coaching session you can participate in directing the session and better customize your results. This means being prepared by knowing what you want to achieve and having specific questions that will produce those outcomes.
Rasmus suggested I send through three full size examples from my portfolio. I chose a person, product and place to provide a range of subjects and picked what I thought were my best images to ensure we’d waste time talking about things I already knew.
As you can see, preparation was a key factor in maximizing the value I received from the session. The hour passed extremely quickly, so my preparation saved a lot of critical time.
Register to Win Your Free Microstock Consultation with Rasmus
After the competition Rasmus will be charging a fee for each consultation, so entering is your chance to get one for free! Entries close at the end of the month, so register via Rasmus’s blog now.