I know you are looking for passive income streams, although going through the headache of fighting for quality entries seems proactive. Sending your photos to the right people might quicken the hunt.
Maybe I dream to big?
Injury. stupid dirty hands. A sweater (that my grandmother knit in 1960s) that is too big for me and a mug that is too small for the photo. Not to mention the uneaven weathering on the wood (the back of a trailer we use for hauling wood) and I didn't bother to sweep off the extra ditritus. I just plopped my tea down on the leaves that were already there, got my tripod, took the shot with the self timer, then drank my cold tea.
It's not professional. But it is me!
Okay, so yeh... my photo is poking fun at these professional shots. But then again, I'm also showing off how good they are! These people are professionals. They spent a lot of time seeking out the location, light, time, sweater, all to create a specific mood. They know the trends. They shoot the photo at the right time. They know what they are doing.
I actually like your photo better than the more "commercial" ones, Raven. Far more interesting and evocative, and makes you take a second look and see more details. The others are "yawn, another stock image, yawn". But, alas, I don't buy Shutterstock images.
Have you ever considered making cards? There are a few local artists from near my hometown that make extra income selling cards on consignment at local shops. I have bought a few for "very special" thank you cards, as they are expensive, at $6-10 each. But they seem to do well with the summer tourist crowd. They have them (probably on consignment) at various local art and gift stores, restaurants, etc. I've even seen people do boxed sets of say 5 cards (for example - 5 animals in the snow as a christmas card set, or whatever). Take out your hands and add "Thank you" in the right text, and you'd have a really nice, unique fall-themed thank you card. Or leave in your hands and it's a "Get well soon" card
One of my friends is a card-a-holic from Vancouver and actively searches out stationary shops and Etsy for neat and unique cards. I've seen a brisk business selling unique cards at a few events in downtown Toronto. Not exactly "passive" income though. I remember there being a lot of quirky stores in downtown Victoria, and in Sidney that might be interested. I've seen a few styles of cards that seem to do well - "local" but not overly commercial scenery (like an ACTUAL canoe, blemishes and all, on a lake, rather than a "perfect" canoe on a "perfect" lake, or an authentically grubby and graffiti'd Toronto street scene), cute animals, and quirky/funny/sarcastic. Anyway, those would be a "print off a bunch, then return in a month and see how they did" sort of thing. Another option would be prints - there's a local photographer that seems to do a decent business selling prints at our local art festival. His stuff isn't my style, but I know a lot of people who have some of his prints.
You're on the right track.
Raven did say she's looking for a passive income stream.
Hard for me to think that way.
I like the idea of local cards at local merchant's idea.
My employer, a trucking company, started having a small turnstile of occasion cards, birthday, thinking of you, etc. I grabbed a couple, but the next thing is finding a mailbox at a truck stop.
I still like the idea of it though.
I used to belong to sendoutcards.com, it was great sending pictures of my then infant son to family. All from online. Maybe they would love a new line of photos.
That idea made me think of "How'd We Do?" photo postcards. Contact local merchant's, or ones a thousand miles away. See if they would like to try a unique way for customers to tell them how they did, areas for improvement, or calling out an exceptional customer service individual. A simple postcard with a beautiful picture of their food, a sign for the business, etc.
Seems every fast food business wants your two cents, and will give you a free food item for your feedback using their register receipt.
Wouldn't some businesses love to take that to the next level? Maybe a photo of a 10 percent off sign, "please take a minute to get 10 percent off your next order", no need to keep track of this postcard, just drop it off in any mailbox, your discount will be waiting for you the next time you come in.
I think the cards thing is neat, but I know too much about the distribution chain to see that this is not passive income. It's great for people who have that much free time, at the time of day when their contacts are at work. But I don't.
As it's active income, it might be worth starting another thread about it.
My interest with stock photography is in passive income. Think about it like a pension. Every month, money arrives in the bank account. I could be sick in bed all month or on vacation, and I still get money delivered to me once a month, on schedule. That's what passive income is.
So far, it's going well. I'm selling more photos than I expected, much earlier than I expected. It takes a few moments per photo and some of the photos are now selling more than once. I'm making more sales than predicted for this few photos, so I'm very happy with the path it is taking.
I took it as a photo exercise to play with composition and to try to get the white balance right. I failed at the white balance but uploaded it anyway with the idea someone would buy it as a good example of how not to take a photo on a white background.
I did a google search of where this photo shows up on the internet and I found it here.
I've slowed down on my uploading because of the Holiday Season means I haven't had any time at my computer.
But I wanted to give an update. I have a little over 200 photos on Alamy and on Shutterstock. Most of those photos are exclusive to that site, with about 20% shared on both. So that's really closer to 350 photos for sale on stock photography.
On Shutterstock, I'm selling at least two a week now. With an average income of $4 per month over the last 2 months. December has had more sales, but most of them are subscription so the amount I get per sale is lower.
It's still a long way before I get enough sales on Shutterstock to meet the minimum for payment (which is $35).
The photos that sell best on SS so far are ones I don't like much. They aren't technically good photos and are usually of defective or ugly things. Which tells me a lot. I noticed that most images for sale on stock sites are as perfect as possible. A search of "rain barrels" gives beautiful, clean, artistic, and inspiring images. It made me feel bad. Mine don't look like that. They are practical and used. They look like this.
Although there's some gratification of seeing the images out there in the world and knowing that what I create is useful to someone, it's still rough to know that I'm getting so little per sale. It's very hard to see the sweater for the stitch. Knitting one stitch creates a tiny amount of cloth. The average handknit sweater is roughly 100,000 stitches. When you think of it that way, it's amazing that we have anything to wear. But a knitter makes one stitch at a time and the sweater grows. Like the power of trickle charging a battery or crowdfunding.
As for Alamy, no sales yet. My clickthrough rate for October was high, but plumeted since then. I've been focusing on images that would be good for books or magazines so I understand the sales there take a lot longer.
They have a much easier system for uploading photos and adding keywords. They also have really good statistics that I can use to look up what keywords are working and what is not.
December was a slow month. On shutterstock, my sales were less than half the previous two months and still no sales on alamy. I'm still making two sales a week, but the sales for December were 25c intead of the dollar something I was getting before.
I'm not feeling a lot of motivation to upload photos this week, but I'll get over it. There are a lot of photos building up on my hard drive waiting for a quick edit and keyword. But I'm also thinking of getting a software that will load the keywords directly into the picture instead of having to type them in each time I upload.
This is my thinking today. On Shutterstock, my beautiful photos don't sell. Why? Because so many people make more beautiful photos than I could ever make.
However, on Shutterstock, my ugly photos sell. Today I sold this:
But when I do a search for similar images, there aren't many. The ones I find are perfect - beyond reality - or far more grubby than one would normally find in their home. If I was blogging, I would want something just grubby enough to look real but not too messy to scare people.
So today I'm thinking that my niche is to take photos of ugly things. I seem to do this pretty well.
back in the days of film I was member of both ASMP and NPPA and had two agents that dealt with stock photos and assignments, Agency France Press and silver image, never made too much money off stock photos, paydays are from assignments and things like events usually an assignment say for example gymnastics national championships, you get paid for travel, time, and then get a space rate based on what is published and where. or an editor will negotiate a flat rate for a job but you'll get your images sent back to agency to be kept on file for stock requests. or just going to events and shopping around for buyers, for example I remember one year going to Daytona Bike week and cashing in big time selling covers and a couple double trucks to easy rider and Lady Biker Magazines, big magazines like National Geographic, Newsweek, business week, time and the like also pay well. Ive had pictures published all over the world and won a bunch of awards, but I'm still a near nobody in the world of photography. There are a million people who want the one job. Of course today nearly everybody in the world has a camera with them at all times. there are billions of pictures on the internet. If your pictures stand out and have great or unique subject matter someone might have a use for them and you might be able to make some money from them if you deal with a trustworthy agent. Still today some of the top magazine photographers in the world still use fujichrome from what I understand.
good luck to any of you who want to put you pictures up for stock
This month (January 2020), I finally got 300 images uploaded to each Alamy and Shutterstock. Things are very slowly starting to ...well, starting to start. Slowly. That said, the general consensus on the internet is not to expect any sales until you reach 700 images, so I think I'm ahead of the game by getting sales so early.
Shutterstock- once I got over 100 images, I was averaging 1 sale a week. When I got over 200 images listed for sale, I was averaging 2 sales a week. At 300 images, I'm now averaging 3 sales a week. But due to the algorithm, the more sales I get, the more sales I get.
However, this month I've more than doubled my sales but my income has gone way down. In the start, most of my sales were on-demand, so I was getting $1.88 per image. Now this month, all of my sales are subscription, so I'm getting $0.25 per image. Sucks. But it's microstock and I did expect the very low returns. Some of the images have already sold 5 times and I'm grooving the idea of making something once and people buying it again and again. I also noticed on SS that my beautiful photos aren't doing well at all! But my ugly images are.
But I'm also having trouble with similar image restrictions. Let's say I want to show an old electric outlet. One side is the hot screws, the other side are the not-hot (silver coloured) and on the bottom is the ground screw. Then there's the back and the front. And finally, a great big pile. That's at least 6 images of the same item that I could see being useful to someone. Maybe a tutorial on a blog or a booklet on how to (or how not to) install the electric thingy. Add a woman's hand into those pictures and I have 6 more images. And add a man's hand (maybe an old one with spots?) and we have a total of 18 images. But SS only wants one because the others are too similar. This is frustrating me, especially when they have many, many, many images that are almost exact duplicates - only with different colour filters. The application of their rules is inconsistent.
Alamy- I have two pending sales, but not for much. Nowhere near enough to make the payout if the sales go through. But it's extremely satisfying to know my work is useful enough for someone to spend money on it. Or at least say they are going to spend money on it. It will be interesting to watch how this goes.
I've stopped uploading duplicates between Alamy and SS because I noticed that once I upload to Alamy, the SS one might start selling. I expect someone would rather spend $1 than $20 for an image. Alamy is focusing on my more beautiful and creative work as well as mostly textile tutorials.
A lot of my early uploads to Alamy were photography exercises. Learning to play with light and different settings on the camera. The thing is, with Alamy, I still haven't found my groove. I have identified some empty niches that I can fill. But for Alamy, I'm still poking around to find what works. Uploading small bits of this and that. With SS, I found my groove pretty quickly. But Alamy is slower to show results.
What I see here is a future "How to" or a "Guess What I Learned About Selling Stock Photos"(I kinda like that title, but it's yours if you want it.)
Between the hands on, and the chatrooms, and all the studying, I think you probably already can write the 2.0 version. Give it a year and you will have the encyclopedia version. Seriously, sell an electronic copy that gets all updates. A hard copy that includes photos you uploaded, with watermarks. And access to the updated digital version.
I was racking my brain for possible host beneficiary ideas. You mentioned electrical outlets. What if you went looking for electrical product companies, electricians, etcetera that have blogs? What do they already use for photos? Do they have a Facebook following?
It would be really easy to do research on these types, then see what they like by what they already have/use. Then go to your stock photo outlets to see what they already have, and what gaps you could fill.
January was pretty disheartening on Shutterstock. My goal was to upload 100 approved photos that month, and I did! But I had a lot of trouble with quality control and some pretty weird rejections like overediting on images that were right out of camera.
I suspect a lot of the problem with SS reviewers was that my photos weren't as pretty as they are used to. They were pretty grim images of mould, dust, dirt, and destruction. Sometimes the dust got mistaken for noise or artefacts.
My rejection rate went up 5% to 50% on Jan 1st. I decided to keep persevering as many of the images I want to upload don't have anything like them on SS yet. Finding an empty niche is probably the only way I'll make an income at this. Some of them I had to submit two or three times, being extra careful to re-check the image and edit it if needed, before uploading again.
But the interesting thing is, the ones I took the extra effort to re-upload two, three, or four times before they get through quality control - those ones that were rejected the most, are actually the ones that sold. Most of them sold within a week of being uploaded. This is crazy, as it usually takes much longer than that.
This one got misfocus and noise rejections, and then a title rejection, then a bunch of other ones, but I kept going and it's sold twice already:
But I couldn't get the other images past their reviews because they were too similar. One showed the silver screws, and one showed the ground screw, so I would assume the blogger or customer could use all three. But Shutterstock felt no.
So here I am in February. January was the best sales month yet but also the most work fighting through quality control. I'm feeling quite discouraged to upload more to SS. I have a few hundred images sitting on my machine ready... but now the rejections are getting to be unrelated to the image, I feel like it's so much more effort to upload.
I get photos rejected from shutterstock all the time. Usually because the subject is not in focus, but when I zoom in on the image it is clearly in focus. I’ve learned not to take personally, just move on and keep uploading new work.
As for similar images, try uploading them separately. Like some photos of the outlet box, and then some veggies being chopped, and then more of the outlet box a few days later.
January was slow for me too, but better than last year. I average 50 cents a sale.
I took a couple of months off uploading images but sales remained steady on shutterstock. I didn't get any more sales on Alamy but Alamy has a more detailed statistics I can use with keywords potential customers search for which gives me good ideas for future images.
For the most part, I was focusing on images for my future use, so I don't want to upload them to stock. But I did take a lot of images of some home renos and these are doing well on Shutterstock. I can organize my shutterstock images into 'sets' and I can see which kind of image is making the most money.
I started uploading again this month and I have to say, I'm getting really frustrated with Shutterstock. I suspect my style isn't a good match for them. They have a strong anti-simular image policy. Which means if I'm doing a series of images (like for a tutorial), they will reject all but one. But my series are showing very specific highly technical elements (like 4 different angles of a dead fish or 5 different steps of the knit stitch). So I'm thinking it's time soon to research a new microstock company to upload to.
Mike Feddersen wrote:
Maybe it's time for you to be the "stock photo" company, you would like to submit photos to?
Not sure how that would be considered passive income.
I would have to create the company, find a way to deal with payments, promotion, constant customer relationships...
It's much more passive to use an existing platform with an existing customer base.
Stock photography for me has two motivations
1. the review process gives me direct feedback on how to improve my photography. It's been awesome.
2. It's a retirement investment. I put the photos online and do nothing else. They sell over time, and money trickle charges my retirement savings.
April was my best month on Shutterstock by almost double any previous month. It was looking that if I kept up 10 to 60 min a week at uploading images, I should be making an extra hundred or so a month by the end of the year.
But yesterday was an interesting announcement on Shutterstock. They are changing their fee structure to reflect a percentage of what the customer pays rather than a flat rate.
Whereas before, I was getting $0.25 per subscription sale (1.88 per buy on demand - which was just under half my sales). I will now be getting an unknown amount that can range between $0.10-17.69 (probably mostly in the 10-cent range).
But the advantage is, as the sales increase throughout the year, so too does the percentage you earn. AND the level/tier/whatever you are on resets each Jan. To me, this makes it much better for small fry like myself to enter into the game and start earning a larger amount. But also, this means less passive income as I would need to be more active and consistent in my uploading, especially at the start of every year.
That seems like a lot of bother to me that I have to plan to upload more at specific times of the year rather than just doing it whenever I feel like it.
So anyway, I'm going to wait and see what happens from here. It might be that SS isn't worth my bother anymore or it may be that it's a change for the better. But I can't feel motivated to upload more stock there until I can see how things will play out.
I'd never thought of finding these passive revenues, or what did you call them? And never by way of photos. I take a bazillion each month, it seems. As I'm out and about at the moment, I will plan on reading this entire thread when I have a larger screen.
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” —Ronald Reagan
It looks like the new ShutterStock pricing is 10cents for a subscription and 30cents for on-demand. That's a lot less than the 25cents and the $1.88 I was getting before. At this rate, I'm not sure it's worth my effort to upload there anymore, but I'll wait and see a while longer. Things might get better.
It looks like I'm going to get my first Shutterstock payout in a few days.
I should have go it months ago, but I couldn't figure out the American tax forms. Finally, after getting seriously frustrated, I contacted SS help and they replied in 3 minutes with a solution.
This is really good timing and I'm going to invest that money into learning a new skill. So... sort of like saving for my retirement, but maybe a bit more like a treat.
I haven't uploaded anything since they changed the pay structure at SS, and I'm very busy right now to do it. I'm still on the fence if it's worth uploading for $0.10 per regular sale or not. It might be.