Back in the Seventies and Eighties I founded and ran several Fleet Street photo agencies specialising in stock images of celebrities from pop stars to politicians. These were syndicated to the National and International press and Television. These days I am active in the Microstock world and this blog charts my journey as well as, hopefully, providing inspiration and ideas to others. Image buyers should also find this blog useful with links to my portfolios and regular updates on new uploads. Unless otherwise stated all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Comments are very welcome but will be reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Redbubble popping up some sales:

Margaret Thatcher - sold as T shirt
As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I signed up with Print On Demand (POD) site Redbubble.com in May. With around 190 images uploaded so far I have already had three sales of products featuring my photographs which is a very encouraging start for just a few weeks. Sold so far are a T Shirt featuring Margaret Thatcher, A laptop cover featuring the Poll Tax Riots and finally a babies one piece outfit featuring cruise liner Norwegian Jade.

The site is very well presented and sets off the various products extremely well. These products cover a large range but include prints and posters, t shirts, skirts, scarves, bags, leggings, mugs, phone and laptop covers, calendars, duvet covers, greeting cards, and more.

Signing up is totally free and you get to set your margin (how much you will make per sale) over and above the basic manufacturing price. How much you set is entirely up to you but obviously the higher you set it the greater the cost to the customer and, therefore, may reduce your sales. You can choose the same margin across your range of products or vary it for each individual item (this can be changed at any time). For now I have mainly set a 30% margin with a higher 50% for greetings cards and stickers. You can also choose your currency to get paid in when you sign up -in my case £GBP and there is a very reasonable payout level of £20 to reach before you are paid.
Poll Tax Riots - sold as laptop cover

Uploading is quick and simple but only one image at a time - this isn't really a disadvantage as having uploaded you then have to spend a few minutes editing your image for the various products and adding your caption and keyword information. To edit you will see a series of templates which show how your image will look on the product. These can each be changed to optimise the look of your product. Obviously, prints and posters etc are going to look OK to start with but for something like leggings or a skirt you will want to do some work. Top tip here is to use the "repeat" button and then the "image size" slider. This will then produce multiple repeats of your image across the garment. Vary the size until your image forms a pleasing pattern. For some items such as a laptop cover you will find that an upright format photo will be cut off and only cover a strip in the centre. Again, use the repeat/size controls to fill across the product until it looks good.

Don't forget to fill out your profile details and include an avatar - this is your sales platform so tell potential customers something about yourself and your work. You can also group your images into collections (e.g. "Halki, Nisyros and Tilos islands") and these collections will show on your profile. Even better, you can choose to highlight images from one of your collections across the top of your profile (changing the collection highlighted whenever you want).
Norwegian Jade - sold as baby outfit

There is quite a lot to learn and get to grips with on the site so take the time to explore and understand the various features. Don't worry, if you get stuck there is an active forum with a help section! Find the forum by clicking on the Redbubble logo at the top left of the page. This takes you to the home page where you will find the link to the forum at the bottom of the list on the left side.

Each time you get a sale you will get an email giving you the details and you can also access your sales information on your account page.

I'm certainly excited by the possibilities here and, so far, consider Redbubble to be a worthy addition to my roster of agents. I'll obviously keep updating in my regular posts (if) and when I have further sales.

You can view my portfolio here www.redbubble.com/people/davidfowler

Do check out the site whether you're a buyer or contributor and I hope you find it interesting. Regards, David.


May Sales Updates:

Anti Austerity march, Hastings
Straight into the May sales to bring me up to date before the end of June is upon us :)

May proved a fairly weak month with even my first place agency Shutterstock down from last month and a much lower number of the higher paying On Demand sales and three modest SOD sales.

Istock leapt to second place with 8 credit downloads and an astonishing 42 subscription and PP sales. PP sales came back strongly after their crash last month.

123RF came in third with 11 downloads though without the boost from LEL sales that I had last month. They also updated their uploader which from my perspective didn't seem to have any advantages over the old version. On the contrary, the first seven images I uploaded proved tricky as there just seems no way to include punctuation in the caption field. This is important because they require a specific format for editorial captions (which include comma and dash signs). I have put these in dozens of times but when clicking to save they just disappear. I'm fully expecting them to be rejected for this -that is if they ever get around to reviewing them (been three weeks now).
Protest against zero hour contracts at Sports Direct, Hastings

In fourth place were Bigstock with 14 downloads -pretty much all subs again.

Fifth place went to FineArtAmerica with a sale of two greetings cards. These were of the local island bus on the Greek island of Paxos which I visited last year. Not a fortune but a pleasing sale all the same as it is one of my favourite Greek islands.

Now for the big disappointment of the month. In Sixth place were Dreamstime with just 6 downloads. These were all 35c subscription sales bringing a total for the month of just $2.10 -my worst month ever on DT (even my first month there in September 2009 produced nearly £6 in sales). What happened there? Thankfully June is showing improvements but I am at a loss to account for that May dive.

Finally in Seventh place I got one of my irregular sales on Canstock photo - a 30c subscription. If they ever start taking Editorial images this could become a much better seller for me but meanwhile I'll just add non editorials as and when I have them.
Greetings from Paxos: card sales at FineArtAmerica

Much of May was dominated by my signing up to Redbubble.com and learning all about how that works. I'll be posting an article on that soon -but early results are encouraging :)

The other event in May was, of course, a General Election here in Britain when to a lot of peoples surprise the Conservative party won a (small) outright majority. None of the opinion polls had predicted anything of the kind so the result was unexpected. This led to a number of protests and anti austerity marches across the UK, including here in Hastings. I photographed the march and have already had several sales on Shutterstock as a result. Regards, David.




April Sales Updates:

Rum tum at Pirates Day, Hastings
A tad late I know with my April updates but on the principle of better late than never I'm getting this posted now.

Inevitably, in first place were Shutterstock with a very strong month of downloads with a good number of On Demand sales and one good Single Sale (nothing on the scale of last month, sadly).

Jumping into second place this month were 123RF with 10 downloads -several higher paying LEL licences pushed the dollar value up here.

Closed down Phones 4 U, Hastings
Dreamstime ranked third with 10 downloads.

Istock were in fourth place with 5 credit downloads and 18 subscription/PP sales. The PP sales were very low this month with just three sales showing up. New uploads brought my Istock portfolio up to 966 images.

Bigstock brought up the rear in fifth place with 9 downloads (virtually all subsciption sales).

Copperfield Clog morris at Jack In The Green, Hastings
Fotolia and the rest didn't produce any sales in April and I am still awaiting the elusive second sale at Picfair.

Uploading in April included a set of a Phones 4 U branch in Hastings. This mobile phone chain closed down a while back so the images have some historic relevance. I also worked on some more images from last year's Jack In The Green festival (ahead of this years event in May). Finally, backtracking to 2012, I uploaded another fun image from the Pirates Day event -with a heavily pregnant young woman getting into the spirit of the occasion :) Regards, David.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

March Sales Updates:

Poll Tax Riots, London -top Micro sale
March proved to be not only my Best Month Ever (BME) on my Number One agency Shutterstock but also my BME in Microstock.

So beginning with star performer Shutterstock the start of the month saw not only an Enhanced Download of the Tentertainment music festival (at $28) but on the very same day my highest ever sale with a Single Download of the Poll Tax Riots in London. Shutterstock Terms of Service do not allow me to give the exact amount -let's just say it wasn't a million miles away from $100 in commission. After that great start the rest of the month saw a bumper crop of On Demand downloads and above average subscription downloads. Images sold were a good mix of the usual suspects -Margaret Thatcher (the anniversary of her death is in April), Professor Stephen Hawking (new biopic film winning awards), Tentertainment music festival (the season of outdoor events and festivals approaches) and a host of Greek Island images (time to book that holiday). A few more months like that on SS would be very welcome.

Istock took second place with a strong 10 credit downloads and a further 22 Sub/PP sales.
Margaret Thatcher -a timeless selling image

In third place were Dreamstime with 12 downloads and unusually $0.49 in referral earnings when one of my very few referred photographers got some sales. A diversion here on Referrals -this is when an agency gives you a "thank you" for sending a new contributor (or buyer) their way in the form of a few cents when the contributor makes a sale or a buyer purchases an image. Some of my portfolio links on the right here contain a code that tells the agency the referral came via me. Not all agencies do this and most limit the time for which you receive these. Way back in 2008, when I started this blog, I had hopes that hordes of grateful readers would sign up with my links and generate some additional income. Sadly, I think my grand total amounts to around four contributors and somewhat less than $1.00 in earnings! Oh well.......

Tentertainment - music festivals and Summer image
123rf came in fourth place with a slightly perkier 11 downloads. Mainly subs.

Bigstock were fifth with 12 downloads. These were all subs with not a credit sale to be seen.

Finally, Fotolia produced 3 downloads to come in sixth and final place for my selling agencies this month.

Obviously, March was an exceptional month due to that one big exceptional sale and isn't really an indicator of anything. That said, April looked to be starting well until it all crashed to a near halt for this Easter weekend. I'll see how things pick up after the holidays. Regards, David.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Persisting with Picfair:

The Sinceros -my most viewed image on Picfair
When I first posted about British photo agency Picfair back in November 2013 I was certainly full of hope for this new venture and even more so when I got my first sale just a couple of weeks later. So, time for an update.

Well, first the headline fact, I have yet to have had my second sale there despite my portfolio now numbering some 870 images. Am I giving up on them? Not at this stage and here is why.

Founded by former journalist Benji Lanyado in 2013 the site has gradually grown -both in the number of images available and the team itself. Very much a one man band at the start Picfair now has a number of people on its team which you can see on the "About" section of their site. Originally launched in Beta the site is now fully functioning as an image selling agency and received a substantial boost of investment last Summer (read about that here http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/08/picfair-raises-520k-to-take-on-getty-with-an-image-marketplace/ ). Ignore the "taking on Getty" headline -I'm pretty sure that they are not actually claiming that!

So what's great about Picfair? Well the two big attractions to me are firstly that there are no reviews to go through. You get the images online and for sale that you want, not filtered through somebody elses opinion or taste. Just like having your own photo selling site in fact. Secondly, and most importantly, you get to choose your own selling price and receive 100% of that amount (Picfair make their money by adding a percentage on top to the buyer -currently 20%).

This choose your own price feature does has its own set of issues, however. Firstly, some great photographers are setting their prices really low. I have seen some stunning images being offered at little above the minimum allowed pricing of £1. This doesn't make it easy for those of us trying to get a reasonable fee for our images. Which leads to the second (big) issue -just what should you price your images at? All mine are at a standard £10 per image. Now for a small use on a blog that's a high price compared to purchasing from a Micro site. However, the standard Picfair license doesn't offer any variations so that £10 image could just as easily be used on the front page of a National newspaper.

Ideally, I'd like to experiment with different price points to see if that makes a difference to sales, however what Picfair currently lacks is a global price change facility (unlike FineArtAmerica where you can reset your entire portfolio pricing with one click). You can, of course, edit your pricing image by image but there is no way I am doing that 870 times! I could try just changing the pricing on some images but I am really loathe to set up a two tier system suggesting that "these are my best ones at £10 and this is a bit rubbish at £2".

So, for now I am persisting with Picfair. It is still fairly early days for them as a business and I see no reason why the site will not gradually attract more buyers -especially given the fantastic quality of many of the images being submitted. The batch upload is quick and efficient (and they now offer FTP on request to those that want that -I don't) so they do not represent a big demand on my time to keep uploading. Hopefully, I'll have some sales news to report in the not too distant future. Regards, David. EDIT: Click on the comments below for a response from Picfair :)

Pro's: Choose your own pricing/No reviews/Prospects for growth
Con's: No global price change/ Uploading no longer works on IE9 (a minor gripe and maybe just me)