One of the steps of your stock photography workflow may require a lot of patience from you. I’m talking about the wait after you submit photos to the stock photo agency. The review times can vary widely!
To recap, when you submit the photos, they are reviewed by a person or people before they are made public. The agencies do this for a variety of good reasons:
to ensure the photos are of sufficient quality (sharpness, composition, etc.);
to ensure the photos do not infringe on anyone’s rights;
to ensure you have supplied the appropriate model or property releases where applicable; and
to ensure the photos are suitable for selling as stock.
You can see why this takes manual intervention. With today’s technology, no machine can run all of these checks.
The problem is that these reviews can take a lot of time.
My Review Times
The following are my experiences with review times at six stock agencies.
123rf: well over 7 days
BigStockPhoto: about 1 day
CanStockPhoto: within a day
Dreamstime: about 7 days
iStock: well over 7 days
ShutterStock: within a day
I have a few observations about this:
The review time seems to have nothing to do with how “picky” an agency is.
Your images go into a queue, so you may have several batches in the queue that will get reviewed in a “first come, first served” order. Don’t expect them to be reviewed in one batch unless you submitted them that way.
Some times of the day seem to get even faster response from the faster agencies.
What Can You Do?
You may get preferential treatment if your images are marked as exclusive for that agency. I don’t know – I am not exclusive with any agency.
Just keep taking photos and submitting them… they will get reviewed eventually. The agencies get thousands and thousands of images daily so it does take time for them to review them, and since they don’t get paid until the image goes live and is purchased, they have a good incentive to review as quickly as they can.
Most Internet entrepreneurs know that having a mailing list is very important to your business. You can use social networks to reach out to potential customers, but you need a mailing list to maximize your reach.
Seven Reasons Why You Need a Mailing List
Email doesn’t come and go.
It’s yours, forever.
List members are more committed.
It’s easy to automate.
It converts well.
It drives traffic to your site(s).
Email is everywhere.
Email Doesn’t Come and Go
Today social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and WhatsApp are popular. But do you remember Myspace? Friendster? Digg? What’s next?
Building your marketing solely on a social network is dangerous, because today’s hot network may become tomorrow’s Myspace. Also, someone else makes the rules, so what works today on Facebook might not work tomorrow. It’s happened already – Facebook used to show all your posts to people who “liked” your page, but now only a small fraction of your posts ever get seen, unless you pay to boost your posts.
In contrast, email has been around for as long as the Internet has, and it isn’t owned by any one company. Which means…
Your Email List is Yours
Your email list is yours – not Facebook’s, not LinkedIn’s – yours. So you can send to it when you like, you can change email providers, and your list can come with you. Nobody can change the rules and take that away from you.
Of course, you need to use your mailing list responsibly. People have given you their trust by signing up for your list, so you must respect that and treat them well, or they’re going to unsubscribe.
But since they’ve signed up…
List Members are More Committed
By opting into your mailing list (probably through double opt-in), your list members have made a commitment to you and your business. People protect their email addresses and give them out a lot less frequently than they click “like” on a Facebook page. Naturally, your mailing list is filled with people who want to be on that list and want to hear from you.
Email Is Easy to Automate
There are several services – free or paid – to automate your mailouts. I use MailChimp; there’s also AWeber and Constant Contact among others. Right now I use the free version of MailChimp but as my list grows, I will switch to a paid version.
All of these services maintain your list of emails, but it’s your list and you can download the list and transfer it to a different service if you like. You can schedule emails to send whenever you like, so a good practice is to queue up some emails so you always have some “in the pipe”… especially for times when you go on vacation or are otherwise engaged.
With paid services, you can automate “drip campaigns” to send sequences of email messages to new subscribers or for sales campaigns. You set up a series of emails, determine the interval between emails, and the service does the rest. In many cases you can even put some decision making into the sequence; imagine asking a question in one of your emails with two links, and having the sequence change depending on which link they click.
You can also “segment” your list so you can send emails to only a particular portion of the list. In my list I have a segment that has signed up for weekly photography emails, so I can send most emails to the whole list but only send the “photo blasts” to the segment.
Email Converts Well
Compared to paid advertising, email converts well.
A “conversion” is an action taken – in general it means the user clicks on a link.
Email conversion rates in “house” mailing lists (that people signed up for) tend to have open rates (person opens the email) around 20-30% with conversion rates from 2-5%, whereas online ads tend to have conversion rates more in the 1-1.5% range (source 1, source 2).
A lot depends on the quality and size of the mailing list. You can basically buy a large mailing list by spending money on ads to get people to join your list, but you won’t get users who are as engaged as those who joined because they believed your list would provide value to them.
My list currently has an open rate of about 50% with a click rate around 35%, but it’s a small list. I expect both of those to drop as the list increases in size.
Email Drives Traffic To Your Site
Through your drip campaigns and other automated emails, you can toss links in to various pages on your sites. For example, my “photo blast” emails often include links to blog posts that tell more about the particular images I am sharing. People do click on them, so that’s more visitors to your sites and potentially more sales.
Email is Everywhere
With the advent of smartphones, you can get email everywhere, any time and it’s easy to engage with it on the spot. If you’re like me at all, you can’t stand that little envelope icon with the number on it – you have to click it!
Go Get Started
It’s time to get started. Go sign up with MailChimp,AWeber or Constant Contact. Start collecting emails with the forms included with your membership, then start helping your members!
Here’s my March progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.
TL;DR> So far, so good.
The numbers are as of March 1, 2016.
I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:
Gross income of $1,200
Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
Net income of $700
2 paid work for hire gigs
Write and publish one eBook
Here we go.
The gross income I’ve received is $185.82. If you look at that as 2/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m pretty close.
I finally received my payment from 500px for selling an image there (this one) after filling out my W8 form. If you’re a Canadian you’ll find that you have to fill one of these out for pretty much any kind of online income now. They declare that you’re not a US citizen and therefore generally not subject to withholding tax.
I also received the last of my calendar sales from Lulu. That’s done until the fall!
Finally, a friend asked me to help him with his web site, so I am hosting it on the same hosting platform (Pair Networks – affiliate link) as my own sites and charging him a low rate. We all benefit!
I have some stock photography money in the pipeline, nowhere near the minimum payouts yet; I sold some images in early March that will be on next month’s payout; and there are a few other pending things that will hopefully land soon.
So, doing well this month.
Score: ON TRACK
Stock Photography Income
My stock income improved – I accumulated USD $10.53 in February 2016. It started out very strong and continued to do pretty well through the month. I’m satisfied with that progress.
I’m still behind on submitting stock photos. I have been trickling some through but not at the rate that I would like. I need to work on that.
Score: ON TRACK
My net income is still negative but I hope to hit positive numbers by the end of this month or maybe April.
Work For Hire Gigs
No luck on the work for hire gigs yet but I’m not going to call it a failure yet.
Score: ON TRACK
Write and Publish eBook
I’ve done a lot of work on my first eBook. I still have a bit of fact checking to do and select some photos and then I can click “publish”. I’m considering this one to be a trial run so I am not putting a lot of income hopes on it… it’s more to learn the ropes and gain some experience.
I was a bit distracted this month because I was writing an article for a Canadian rail magazine. I’ve already submitted one that I hope will come out this month and the second one (just submitted a couple of days ago) will hopefully come out later this year. I’m not getting paid for either one but I think it will be good exposure and look good on my resume / web site.
Since I haven’t actually published the eBook yet, I’ll call this:
Score: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
So far, improving – failing at 1, fair for 1, and on track for 3 of my goals. I’m not too concerned yet but I need to work a bit harder.