23 Jun 2015 File Naming Conventions of Successful Microstock Contributors
Working inside a microstock agency, as I am with Canva, provides a variety of rich insights into how different microstock contributors work.
One such area of insight is how contributors organise their files.
Oh the Variety!
The most common file naming convention I saw is to use the filename from the camera.
Some prefaced the camera filename with some sort of batch ID, like “batch1-DSC_6034.JPG”, or “shoot1-CR_6034.JPG”
Others used the photo’s title or description, which made me suspect they thought there was some SEO benefit in doing so. That would be true if putting the files directly online via your own website, but doesn’t help at all when sending them to a microstock agency.
Some took the SEO strategy even further, using comma separated keywords as the filename. What a mess.
The most unusual I saw, more than once, was to use the abbreviations of agencies to which the file had already been uploaded, as the filename. A unique reference was included to avoid duplication. For example: “ss, is, ft, dt, bs, cs, ca, 6034.jpg”
But the best ones always had one thing in common. They used the date.
The ultimate format is the date, formatted year, month, day (yyyymmdd) so that file order is also date order. Obviously some ID or file number is added at the end so the filenames are unique. For example: “20141231-045.jpg”
Most microstock agencies don’t support file structures on their FTP servers, so most microstock contributors have been trained to not use them.
But our FTP server at Canva does, and quite a few contributors took advantage of this. And those who submitted by hard drive – which were a lot in the early days – also had their images in folders.
Again there was quite a variety of strategies. Some were organised by file type (JPGs for photos and EPS + JPG for illustrations). Others by shoot date or a batch number, and some by model (presumably to convenience of release matching).
And again, the easiest and most functional were organised by date, using the same format: yyyymmdd
Some append shoot descriptions and/or model names after the date, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea either.
Issues and Opportunities
Duplication isn’t an issue for most microstock agencies. Once uploaded, files are renamed with a unique ID from the database. But it leaves out some opportunities for the contributor, primarily having filenames which are not unique. There’s just no reference to the file that’s completely unique on your system. If a file is needed somewhere outside the filing system, perhaps for a special request or you need to make an edit, there’s a risk of the file losing its place.
As I saw more and more portfolios come through, I started to notice consistencies among the top-performing portfolios, and similarly consistencies among the lesser-performing ones. But of course there were exceptions.
Clearly file naming convention is not a ’cause’ of contributors doing well or doing poorly, but in my experience, it’s a reflection of the organisation and commitment of the contributor with a strong correlation to success.
What works for you?