05 Jun 2015 Keywording Services for Microstockers

You’re a photographer. You understand that keywording is vital to getting your photos in front of photo buyers, but it requires a totally different skill set and you’d much prefer to be creating more images.

Fortunately there are many solutions which will get you away from the computer and back behind the camera without great expense. But there’s some questions you need to ask first.

Am I Ready to Outsource My Keywording?

  • Am I producing enough photos to justify outsourcing my keywording?  Or too many?
  • Am I earning enough from my photos to cover the cost?
  • Do my photos have enough variety to justify using anything other than a few basic keyword lists?
  • How effective am I at keywording myself, or could a specialist achieve better results?

If you conclude that outsourcing your keywording might work for you, you still need to consider the cost and the logistics.

How Much Does Keywording Cost?

Prices can range from a fraction of a cent up to $2 per image depending on the service you choose.  As with everything, you get what you pay for. Usually.

But beyond the price, other aspects such as quality, workflow integration and turn-around time are just as important to a serious stock photo producer.

How Does it Work?

Some workflow management applications have a very easy and time-saving system, like picWorkflow and Words for Images, where you can upload your files through http/flash, using previews by FTP or with a Lightroom Export plugin, which also delivers processed files directly to the microstock agencies of your preference among the listed.

Other stock photo related service providers have a more old school process.  ProImageExperts, for example, has a custom uploading tool, a button that becomes available after placing and paying for your order online. The return of the completed files is within 3 working days, and you download them from their server into your hard-drive.

Not Ready for a Paid Service?

If you’re not interested in paying to outsource your keywording, there’s a variety of products that help you get it done, or do it better, and are totally free.

Photokeywords, the service that Yuri Arcurs bought and put on his website, is one of them.

And two features, Keyword Research and  Keyword Comparison, are available in Microstock Group, under the Tools tab.

PicNiche is resourceful for keywording too: a free feature from picWorkflow -an older creation by the same developer that is now integrated to the latest-, PicNiche is a search engine tool that helps you find unexplored niches for your photos by analysing the number of results and sales result images for a given keyword. High sales for a few images is a sign of a viable market, and likewise, low sales for lots of competition indicates a saturated market.

Premium Options

Microstock Solutions: The same company that provides outsourced reviewing services to half the top microstock agencies also provides keywording services for many of the industry’s top producers.  If you’re a high volume producer and know the value of a high quality service, get in touch with Mark Mistein at Microstock Solutions to discuss your options.

picWorkflow: while known primarily as a file uploading service, picWorkflow has a full keywording service built in. It’s bid-based, so the higher you bid, the more you attract better-performing keyworders. You can decide the amount of keywords you want per image too, so for an average of say 40 keywords, the cost can be at 20 to 80 cents per file.

ProImageExperts: It is an outsourcing photography post-production company. Keywording prices start at 96 cents per image.  The service includes captions, titles and descriptions.

Words for Images: A small outsourcing company providing keywording for a variety of different producers. They deliver custom services, but their prices are roughly from $1 per image for microstock agencies and from $1.50 for Alamy in particular.

There’s also Keedup, which focuses in editorial images -news and celebrity.

What Do Top Microstockers Use?

Yuri Arcurs has his own proprietary systems (separate from his public keywording tool) which he’s built and refined over the years.  He doesn’t talk about them much.

Andres Rodriguez does his own keywording with his own database of keywords which he constantly refines.

Elnur Amikishiyev the king of high-volume-low-margin microstock production, finds paid services cost prohibitive given his business model.  He, or an assistant, do the work themselves using free tools, but it’s still a major bottleneck for him.

So, wether you decide to invest in paid keywording services or to use free software to do it yourself, there’s lots of options to choose from.

What do you think about keywording tools? Drop me a comment and let me know if you find them useful and what keywording process you’re following.

  • Eric B
    Posted at 18:05h, 05 June Reply

    I rely heavily on Adobe Bridge for keywording. I have a customize KW tree with related terms and words. I then use a plugin to export them from working files and reimport into the files to upload. It’s an amazing process that I’ve developed, but it requires very little work after entering metadata (still hard).

  • Dmitry B
    Posted at 04:13h, 12 June Reply

    StockSubmitter also has free keywording feature with an option to keyword multiple similar images with different keywords at once.
    It can save results of the keywording directly into the files.

  • Bob Davies
    Posted at 17:19h, 12 June Reply

    Thanks for the mention 🙂

    After working with somewhere around 40 keyworders since 2011, I’ve come to believe that Keywording is not something you can learn/teach at all… you’re either born with it, or not as the case may be. It seems more and more like a natural ability to apply the process of weighing up which keywords make sense, how to differentiate images, how to be clear and focussed, while still being able to apply concepts, and most importantly when to stop.

    Keywording is always tough, it’s so hard to judge good keywords from bad, even when it’s entirely human-generated. I’ve been trying to nail keyword suggestion algorithms for years but it’s really difficult to separate the signal from the noise.

    You mention the old picNiche tool, but I’ve intentionally retired the toolbar and stripped the old keyword-list, but do have a new keyword suggestion tool for anyone who is interested. It’s not really production-level, but it’s the most advanced algorithm I’ve built yet (multiple keywords, comma-separated will give better relations the more keywords you use).

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 18:21h, 12 June Reply

      Thanks for that Bob! I’m checking out your new one now.

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