09 Jul 2008 Promoting your Microstock Portfolio

Website Stock Photo, Guy ErwoodI often see people building websites to promote or ‘drive traffic’ to their microstock portfolios. I don’t think it would work for me.

I think it would work for people who are specialized in what they shoot and that topic fills a specific market, and also for excellent photographers with a reputation, brand and/or distinctive style.

Otherwise, buyers are much more likely to find microstock agencies before my own ‘promotion’ website when searching the web for photos. And there’s no guarantee that if I send them to my microstock portfolio they wouldn’t search around for better or more suitable images from other contributors.

For those who do, there are added benefits. You can send buyers to your microstock portfolios via referral links and earn from their purchases regardless of whether they buy your images or others. Additionally, even if they don’t end up buying one of your photos, the extra views and possible comments can help the your photos rate better at some agencies.

I’m curious to know what other microstock contributors think about the idea of promoting a portfolio by building a website. It’s been a while since we’ve had a poll here on Microstock Diaries, so I dug up the code and inserted some questions below. But first, here’s some the more interesting microstock portfolio promotion websites.

iofoto.com – the website of stock industry guru Ron Chapple‘s microstock brand, iofoto. Buyers instantly see a selection of great photos and referral links to the agencies where they’re available. Learn from the master.

andresr.com – the website of top microstocker Andres Rodriguez which features a gallery of photos but no portfolio links as it’s designed more for attracting models than buyers. Perhaps that’s one of his secrets of success!

miklav.com – the website of Belgian microstocker Mikhail Lavrenov who is also an industry commentator and previous Microstock Diaries guest poster. The ‘buy’ page links to print houses and for stock photos it links to Alamy and iStockphoto. A bit of everything.

openpathdesign.com – the website of designer Mike McDonald’s brand, Open Path Design. Features design examples, links to agency portfolios and an online store to buy directly. Now that’s leverage!

ccaetano.com – the website of Portuguese photographer and designer Carlos Caetano. It features a photo gallery and a Shutterstock search box at the top of the page. Other referral links target contributors.

If you promote your portfolio with a website I’d love to see it and hear how well you find it works. Leave a link and your experiences in the comments below.

Do you promote your microstock portfolio?

View Results

  • Han Cheng
    Posted at 12:17h, 09 July Reply

    I think you really have to post your best shots on your website in order to impress people. You cannot post every photos because they take up much space.

    This is one portfolio website that every shot impresses me.

  • Ann
    Posted at 12:29h, 09 July Reply

    How very useful and motivating that Lee gave specific photographer’s sites with overview of what services, features each contains.

    MicroStock Diaries has brought up a topic well worthy of reflection for stock photographers with websites or contemplating creating websites. My photo site definitely could, and should, be more effective in achieving goals of presenting and promoting my non-stock and stock work.

    For stock photographers very understandably dismayed by small profit realized by certain EL licenses, and for photographer’s that perhaps never happened to think of directly selling their photography on posters and other items, Lee’s inclusion of photogs’ websites that include links to print houses is very practical and useful. Once again, thank you, Lee.

  • Mikhail Lavrenov
    Posted at 08:28h, 11 July Reply

    First, thanks for listing my site, Lee!

    I think you are touching interesting subject in this post. With all marketing microstock agencies are doing, and with thousands microstock contributors I don’t think promoting anybody’s microstock portfolio via their website will work.

    What can work (and what really works, at least for some) is promoting microstock business in general and getting referrals via personal website/blog. Two great examples I know are Zastavkin and Dolgachov (I am not sure how well it works for you Lee). They both successfully built large communities of stock contributors and got great number of referrals.

    Running a community is great, but it takes much efforts; and it’s not easy to make a new community when the niche is already occupied. So many microstock contributors are trying to get referrals by publishing an article “how to earn money from your photos” on their websites. Most of them aren’t very successful because their articles don’t have much visibility. Possible solution to that (and that’s one of the things I am trying to do) is to get your site/article on top of search engines (using SEO and various promotion venues).

    Fine art prints is completely different story. There are not that many services focusing on printing fine-art photos on demand. Mainly redbubble, imagekind, and artistrising. Redbubble says very directly that while they provide the tool for selling artistic images, it’s up to the artists themselves to promote their art. Imagekind seems to be at similar position although they don’t say it so directly. That could possibly change now after Cafepress has bought Imagekind – perhaps they will do more marketing.

  • Mike McDonald
    Posted at 12:20h, 11 July Reply

    Damn. Now I guess I really need to finish up my website.

    Thanks for the link. 🙂

    I must say that in the roughly 2 months since I’ve started selling my vectors through my own website, I’ve been surprised at the response. I have had 6 sales so far of the complete Design Elements icon set, at $49 per sale. I’m not sure if these are from microstock buyers who came to my website and bought the icons at the discounted price as opposed to buying them from one of the micro companies, or just people who happened upon my website from somewhere else. Either way, it seems to be working well. I price the images at my site so that they are cheaper than at the microstock agencies, but more than what my royalty percentages would be if I sold them through the agencies. I make more on the sale, the buyer gets a discount, everyone is happy. I definitely plan to get more of my stuff available through my own website. It’s also an added incentive to promote the website, since the website itself if now a marketplace. If I promote the site well, I can get more sales directly through the site, more referrals, more click-throughs to the microstock sites, etc. I look at it more as promotion of my brand, with my website as the star attraction. From there, whether people buy from my store, from istock, from SXP, wherever, I benefit from it all.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 17:57h, 12 July Reply

      Wow! Thanks for posting that experience Mike. Six sales in two months with little active promotion is impressive.


  • nfsphoto
    Posted at 14:25h, 11 July Reply

    I’ve just recently put my stock photography website online at nfsphoto.com so can’t yet comment on how it impacts sales, if at all. But even if it doesn’t, I still think it’s good to have that online presence where you can direct potential buyers and/or models, and also collect referrals.

  • Zbynek Burival
    Posted at 07:45h, 12 July Reply

    Well, its not true that heavy competition of microstockers implies no reason for promoting your own photos. You would be surprised how many ppl hunt pictures directly via google and that doesnt work for microstock or other “mass storage”. Btw. because of pretty idiotic programing on their websites you cant search directly their keywords via google – extremely huge mystake. So properly built small web, regurarly updated (this is very important!), with valuable info and proper keyword and indexing could result in suprisingly high traffic in few months.

    There are hundreds of websites in the style “make money fast and easy, everyone can do it” = waste of time. But there are pretty few with real information (thanks Lee:) and those could bring you money. Its a lot of hard work and its a long run.

  • Marek
    Posted at 13:24h, 12 July Reply

    I am working on Colorado Water. It is a website in a form of photoblog showing my water related stock (rivers, dams, irrigation ditches, etc).

    These pictures are selling OK on microstock, some of them pretty well on SS if accepted. Generally, SS sees them as low commercial value. I am planning to link them directly to pictures in my Featurepics portfolio. Perhaps, it’s time to start working on a midstock portfolio.

  • Niki
    Posted at 14:28h, 19 April Reply

    I just started my own website for selling microstock photos:


    It took me 2 weeks of almost non-stop work but now it’s finished. I hope this idea will work in the near future when I upload more images, but in general I like the idea of independent marketing. I think the key is to bring more image search engine traffic directly to your site via images that catch the eye of the client who eventually buys it.
    Take a look

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