14 Jun 2007 Microstock Goal Setting

Success in anything is always made easier by having a plan with specific and measurable goals. In fact, anything can be achieved by planning your work and working your plan. So here’s our goals for microstock, followed by our plan. But first, we take a look at the microstock goal-setting menu – microstock metrics.

Goal Metrics

Here are some of the metrics you may choose to measure. Once you have an idea of where you are with these metrics, you can set specific goals and track your progress toward achieving them.

Download Quantity The quantity of downloads your photos generate is a direct reflection of their popularity. Regardless of whether you’re selling your photos online for money, exposure or the thrill, you want lots of downloads. This can be measured by photo, by microstock agency, and by day/month.
Portfolio Size The quantity of photos you have in your portfolio is another direct contributor to your microstock success. Few sites approve weak photos, so it’s safe to assume that more photos in your portfolio will generate more downloads and more earnings.
High Sellers Those photos in your portfolio that sell 10 times more than the rest are your biggest asset. Pick a measure to determine what is a good seller for you. For us, any image that’s sold over 100 times is a high seller, but that might be lower or higher for you. Counting the quantity of high sellers will give you a good idea of how the quality of your portfolio changes over time.
Approval Ratio If you measure your approval rates you’ll be able to determine how the quality of your submissions is changing. Spread across multiple microstock websites, this becomes a more standardised and accurate reflection of reality.
Earnings Earnings are the end result for the majority of microstockers. Nothing reflects your performance, photo quality, keyword strategy and photo popularity better than your earnings at the end of the day/month/year.

Our Goals

$1,000 per month by December 2007.

We microstock for money. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways we earn. So our goals are all based on the earnings metric. However, we use the other metrics to know where to concentrate our efforts.

Download Quantity We monitor our download quantity only casually. The download to earnings ratio is different across the different microstock websites, and it can change over time – especially when agencies change their prices or commissions.
Portfolio Size We’ve concluded that image quality has a much greater impact than image quantity, so we are not particularly interested in the quantity of photos in our entire portfolio. We do track our portfolio size, but more to measure the comparative performance of the different microstock websites.
High Sellers While we don’t currently measure this numerically, we are focussed on our high sellers. We want to replicate their success, so we look at their quality and subject matter to direct our future photography.
Approval Ratio We’ve only just started to measure this, and see it as an indicator of the quality of our images and post processing. As we’re aiming for fewer quantity with higher quality, this is an important metric.
Earnings We measure our microstock earnings daily. This is our key performance indicator, and our only numeric goal.

Our Plan

To achieve our specific and measureable goal of earning over $1,000 per month by the end of 2007, we plan to:

  • Improve our photography knowledge and skill
  • Research what subjects that we are able to shoot sell most effectively
  • Shoot and contribute higher quality images
  • Upgrade our equipment

We will measure our success by:

  • Our quantity of high selling images
  • Our approval ratio
  • Our earnings

Achieving our goal will be difficult. We have been hovering around (mostly below) the half way point for over a year. However, goals are only effective when they force you to stretch yourself. You can’t make transformational leaps by doing what you’ve done in the past.

Also, goals communicated to others stand a better chance of being achieved. Certainly more than the ones that live inside your head. Telling people about the goals you’ve already achieved is easy. Telling them about the goals you don’t yet know if you can achieve is inspiring.

Your Turn

So what are your specific and measurable goals? And how will you communicate them to others so they don’t exist only inside your head?

3 Comments
  • Larry L
    Posted at 19:16h, 17 June Reply

    Very interesting site! I’ll be checking back!

    I’m a long time photo-hobbiest with a full time (non-photography) career. I’ve only been doing microstock for 4.5 months and am still really getting into the swing of it. My goals??

    Primarily, to force me to be more careful and precise. In several years of shooting for online contests (like BetterPhoto.com) I really got rather sloppy. Shooting full size (rather than cropping to 720×480 pixel is quite unforgiving, as are the submission reviewers. And to have images good enough for people to actually spend money on, well, that’s a challenge.

    But I’m also looking to have some fun, broaden my experience, and hopefully make a few bucks to support my photography habit.

    That’s one of the things I like about micro. There’s places for photographers with a wide range of goals…

  • David Schrader
    Posted at 22:43h, 21 June Reply

    I’m just getting into micro-stock and have enjoyed reading through your site. Your hard work is appreciated! I belong to iStock and recently joined Dreamstime. There’s been a few forum threads at iStock regarding the summer “slowdown” that many of the contributors (myself included) have been woefully experiencing. I also think that part of the problem is a multitude of bugs unleashed by the recent Search toolbar upgrade. I was wondering if you’ve experienced any drops in your downloads during the summer months? Might make an interesting short article…

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work…

    Dave Schrader

  • Lee Torrens
    Posted at 22:51h, 21 June Reply

    Hi David,

    Yes, June and July are reported as being consistently slow months for the market. They certainly were for us last year. This year is looking that way too with all our websites appearing like they’ll finish the month down on May. Watch for my Earnings post on the first of next month. I’ll talk about the mid-year slump there.

    Thanks for your kind words.

    – Lee

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