23 Jul 2008 Can a Little Maintenance Increase your Microstock Earnings?

Spanner Stock Photo, Sylwia KucharskaIf, like me, you’ve assumed you can just upload and forget your microstock photos, you may be missing out on the opportunity to increase the earnings from your existing portfolio.

Lately I’ve heard from a few people who go back over their portfolio looking for ways to make improvements. They look for details they can change to make a photo more visible in the search results or photos they can improve by repeating the post-processing.

The concept goes like this: over time you gain knowledge and improve your skills. It makes sense that the images you uploaded in the past could earn more if you applied your current knowledge and skills. Fortunately, most microstock agencies give you at least some opportunity to do so. Here’s some ideas.

Repeat the post-processing

Look back over your portfolio for photos you can improve with the skills you’ve gained since they were first uploaded. If you still have the original RAW file you can often make significant improvements which will help it sell more frequently.

Update your keywords

There are now helpful keyword tools like PhotoKeywords and PicNiche which will help you identify keywords you may have missed or keywords that could be more lucrative. This can boost the photos ranking the search results and subsequently boost sales and earnings.

Update descriptions and titles

It’s debatable whether titles and descriptions have a significant impact on sales performance or not. Some agencies appear to take them into account when assessing keyword relevance, so it’s possible some refinements would help. You may also be able to add information to the description that’s helpful for buyers, or address any concerns by adding information to the description.

Use the 80-20 Rule

20% of your photos will generate 80% of your sales. Focusing your maintenance on these images will maximize the return on your maintenance time.

There may also be photos which you can move into the top 20% with a little improvement. Look for images whose thumbnails don’t stand out among the others for relevant keyword searches, or images that initially sold well before declining in sales rate.

Which Agencies Permit Maintenance?

Some agencies lock down photos once they’re submitted for various reasons. In this situation you may consider deleting the original photo and uploading the improved photo, but consider how this may effect search positions when the history of views and sales is wiped.

Most will at least allow you to update the keywords and descriptions, while StockXpert actually has a facility for replacing an image with a ‘better’ version.

What’s Your Experience?

Have you undertaken maintenance on your microstock portfolios? If so, how were the results?

  • Rasmus
    Posted at 19:08h, 23 July Reply

    Definitely yes! Revamping keywords or even re-processing old photos has helped some of my older images a lot in the past. In some cases though, it’s just not worth the effort and you’ll be better off re-shooting. This, I’ve found, is especially true with photos that are old enough, that your current skills far outshine your old photos.

    Doing portfolio maintenance is very important. I would suggest going over your portfolio every six months or so.

  • Jarrod
    Posted at 09:28h, 24 July Reply

    I agree – I have taken advantage of the PhotoKeywords tool to add keywords (some obvious, in retrospect) to slow moving images. While these images have not become overnight best-sellers, they have moved out of the basement.

  • pdtnc
    Posted at 12:41h, 24 July Reply

    I’ve done a little, but I feel i could do more… with the time.
    I think rationalising your keywords and adding sensible descriptive titles / descriptions is a good idea 🙂

  • kickstand
    Posted at 15:09h, 24 July Reply

    I would never delete a good-selling photo. You never know how the selling history affects your search rankings.

    If it’s not clear how to replace the photo, try contacting the site administrators and ask them how you can do it. Sometimes you can submit a new image with a note “please replace file xxxxxx”. Certainly “fixing” an image would be to both their benefit and yours.

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