My latest images for sale at Shutterstock:

Thursday, 30 December 2010


I have been getting some questions from friends on Facebook about uploading so thought I would expand on my answers a bit here to try and keep all the info in one place.

It seems that for exclusive iStockers contemplating independence the foremost worry is the amount of time and effort involved in uploading to multiple sites. Before I became independent I was told by an indie contact that they were able to upload their images to nine other sites in the time it took to upload to iStock alone. My experience so far bears that out. I think the upload interface at iStock is archaic and probably would have been changed for the better years ago were it not for Deepmeta. As most of you should know, Deepmeta is Franky De Meyer's excellent prog which allows automation and batch processing of the iStock upload procedure. You point it at your images, keyword and categorise, attach releases and go to bed. In the morning the new images are all there, sitting in your upload queue.

The question I was asked was 'do other sites have an equivalent to Deepmeta'. Well no, (I don't think so) because they don't need one - the upload interface acts in much the same way. I have written on here a few times about the benefits of putting keywords into metadata- it is a bit of a lifesaver and so far all my sites read this data without problems. Also all the sites allow multiple uploads, though I haven't tried to upload in batches of more than ten. These images then go into a 'holding area' from where you chose categories, attach releases (stored on the agency's site) and submit. You can do this days or weeks later, but some sites delete unfinished uploads after a month. I tend to set a batch to upload while I am cooking dinner or whatever, then categorise and submit at a later time when I am able to concentrate on it properly. The time consuming part (ie data transfer) does not require you to be present while it is going on.

Several sites then allow autofilling of categories from a previous image, which makes the uploading of a series very quick indeed. Others leave the last categories chosen in the selection box for the next image or have an easily accessible shortlist of recently chosen categories you can pick from.

Shutterstock seems to read the description info from CNX metadata as the title, which maybe deliberate as they don't also have a description field. I just leave it as the site chooses it and try and keep my descriptions fairly terse. Unfortunately Bigstock require the description to be a minimum of seven words. This is a bit of a pain as I always forget and write a minimal description with Shutterstock's titles in mind. It is easy to correct during upload to Bigstock, but it adds time and is worth remembering when you are adding keyword/description info to the metadata. Somewhere between seven and twenty words is probably ideal.

There are other ways of uploading such as FTP, which is supposed to make things even easier yet, but I haven't had chance to get my head round the technology to make that work so far. Hopefully a techy, newly-independent person will come by shortly and tell us all how to do it.

'Well,' I hear you say, 'if it is all so quick and simple then why haven't you uploaded more images so far?!' My answer to that would be that for uploading in quantity to multiple sites the following is required:

1 - The time and head space to keep track of what image needs to go where.
2 - Good quality internet access without restrictive bandwidth limits.
3 - All your images on the same computer, in the same place at the same time.

Number three I still don't have, number two I got three days ago and number one might happen sometime towards the end of 2011, but I'm not counting on it.

Other things to mention re Shutterstock:
As I have said before, they don't like images which have been cropped at all.
They also don't seem to find images taken on a D300 with an F2.8 lens with no sharpening (then sharpened in RAW) to be crisp enough for them at full res. There doesn't seem to be any penalty for having a low acceptance rate and all images are effectively 'can resubmit' so I am just sending them at full res for now, but will downsize and resubmit the rejections later. I am still only getting about half accepted there. They will also reject your images for a host of other reasons - they rejected one of my best-selling iStock images today for 'limited commercial value'. I don't think there is really much that can be done about this - it's just how it is. There is a box which allows for comments to the reviewer to be made, so I might try resubmitting with a plea and link to iS, but I am not going to hold my breath.
Ken (picturelake) told me that I was the first person he had heard of that was accepted to Shutterstock at the first attempt. In order to get through you need to have seven of your ten submissions accepted. If you fail at this then you will have to wait a full month before you can reapply. My advice is to chose your ten images very very carefully and downsize if necessary. They need to be your most punchy 'stocky' images as well as technically top-drawer.

Sorry this has been such a long post - anyone still awake?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New forum site

I have opened a forum for us to discuss independence matters - you can find the link on this page in the right-hand pane (beneath the blog archive index). If that doesn't work then you can try this link:

Have at it ;-)

Monday, 27 December 2010

Passing the hat

With Christmas over and the New Year nearly upon us it seems that some disgruntled iStockers may be about to take action and become independent. It was good to hear yesterday that Josh (Doxadigital) had taken the plunge and given notice. If you don't know him already he is the originatior of the 'Push for' race thread on iS and an all-round good guy. He is also a bit of a stat-head, so in future expect some in-depth analysis (complete with pretty pictures) at this blog here.

I hate to do this, but now I'm afraid it is time to pass the hat. If you have found this blog useful then can I ask that you use my referral links when opening new accounts with other agencies. It won't cost you anything as the wee kickback I will receive will come directly from the agency. I can promise that there will be no hard feelings if you chose not to, but times are hard and so I thought I would ask... I did this when opening my accounts as a way of thanking a couple of my indie friends who had been generous with their time and information before I made the big leap. I think mostly this works by using the links at the top of this page to access the site, then move on to the 'become a contributor' link or whatever. I think some of them also require you to type in my referral code number so I will print those below. The two major ones are Shutterstock and Dreamstime so even if you only gave me the referral hit for those then I would be very grateful (click below to go to the registration page). ETA - Actually the only three I would get anything from are the ones below:

Shutterstock: ref=661795
Dreamstime: res2635685
Bigstock: pAatX27Xn4

Whatever happens it would be good to hear from any of you that do go indie over the coming months. I was thinking of using one of these free forum hosting sites to set up a wee indie forum for us all - do you think that would be useful? I know that some of these already exist, but I feel that we are a fairly unique group and the forums at iS can be a bit of a wrench to leave behind. I know that I don't feel that great about posting there anymore (in spite of having left on good terms), but that might not be the case for many of you.

Merry Christmas and thanks in advance to any of you who do use my referrals.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Big push for the New Year

My sales now seem to be winding down for Christmas so this is a good time to work on uploading with the aim of getting more sales in the New Year. I lost my uploading mojo for a wee bit there, but the EL at Veer has fired me up again.

I popped into the iStock forums today and was disturbed (but not surprised) to read that many contributors will not be making the RC goal and did not see the promised 50% of annual revenue in the last four months of the year. All I can say to you is - come and join me - this indie malarkey is fun and stress-free. The different sites give you different information regarding your sales, which taken as a whole can offer a very valuable insight into who is buying your images and where they hail from (via Shutterstock's excellent new world map feature) and also what keywords they used to find your image (via Dreamstime's sales log). I think in the long run this decision will make me a far better stock photographer.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

EL on Veer

Nice.... just got an EL on Veer, which with attendant L sale put about 47 bucks in the pot. Very, very nice.

Click here to sign up with Veer, you know you want to.....

Thursday, 2 December 2010

November stats

Once again apologies for the lack of posts here - things were just starting to improve when we had a massive snowfall here in Edinburgh which has made life tough in all sorts of new ways. So I am still not able to devote much time to stock and in particular uploading.

As you will see from the spreadsheet, my income for November was just a couple of bucks higher than October. I was exclusive at iStock for the first two weeks of October so I have managed to make a little headway with my independent earnings to compensate for that in November. Although my indie income figures aren't great, I think they are ok considering the relatively few images I have uploaded to each site. In image terms what I have online so far is about 10% of what I have available so I am still quite optimistic about earning considerably more as an indie than I did as an iStock exclusive.

The figure of $23 for Dreamstime has been inflated by the $14 I received from their 'dash for cash' type promotion, otherwise it would have been remarkably similar to my Fotolia earnings. I had one small EL in November on Fotolia, for which I received five credits or about five dollars (so not much really).

Veer have at last started reviewing my images and have so far accepted a high percentage of them. This is consistent with what I have heard about them from others. They didn't start reviewing these til the very end of the month, so the two sales I had there came from my tiny portfolio of nine initial application images. As such it does make me feel quite hopeful for my future earnings there. I like Veer. Give them a try, but remember to be very, very patient.