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In this episode I talk about:

  • A stock footage producer that mines Bitcoin and has launched his podcast
  • A couple of listeners who wrote books and launched digital tools for microstock contributors
  • Getty Images buying a site where they give away photos
  • How to create two producer accounts in the same agency
  • Why stock images are sometimes accepted by a microstock and rejected by another one
  • How convenient it is to keep detailed track of sales statistics
  • A contributor who gave me an alternative review of iStockphoto

The stock footage producer who became a Bitcoin miner and podcaster

Hi, Daniele. I haven't heard from you for a long time. How are you?

Things are fine for me; I can't complain. I continue to produce stock footage, even if I'm focusing on something else (but the microstock production continues).

For a few months now, I have been creating a small mining farm which creates Bitcoins, which seems to be doing very well for now.

I also started a podcast in Italian.

I am writing this because if it had not been for you and your site, I would not have had the means to be living with my girlfriend and creating these other two projects with a professional mindset that you taught me and which I believe will remain with me forever.

It may seem exaggerated to you, but often when I’m about to launch something, I wonder: 

Would Daniele do that? And maybe I spend time thinking about the long term in a professional way instead of thinking about making money immediately.

The words with which I started are those of a listener of this podcast. Actually, the version in Italian. His name is Domenico Fornas, and you can find his story written in English on microstockguru.com.

He started his journey in the world of digital business thanks to microstock, especially stock footage.

We will talk about microstock later since it is the main topic of my podcast Sell Your Photos and Videos Online (listen to the other episodes of the podcast), while the show of Domenico and his co-host Giulia is called Inside Joke:

and talks about:

  • TV series
  • movies
  • video games

I started with his story after my long absence, because Domenico's words should be the starting point for anyone who wants to do business on the web;

microstock is the best starting point for all the video makers and photographers who want to make money with the internet.

From microstock, he drew not only earnings and inspiration, but also experience to do other things, which is a bit like what I did.

I started with stock images, which I soon abandoned to move on to stock footage: I did it for economic reasons and because I like taking pictures as much as shooting videos.

Then I moved on to teaching how to become a microstock contributor without ever abandoning the stock footage production and today I do a thousand things:

  • I restore historical films (take a look at my archive)
  • I teach how to sell stock images and stock footage
  • I have services dedicated to contributors such as writing titles and keywords of photos and videos
  • I write books

and every day I always have a new project that maybe I don't have the time to carry on. But for that there is outsourcing, and we will certainly talk about this too in this episode or in the next ones.

Why I've been away for such a long time

The second news I want to talk about is perhaps the one that has been buzzing in your head since the beginning of this 14th episode of Sell Your Photos and Videos Online:

Where have you been in all these months?

I answer this question by inviting those guys who are watching me on YouTube to take a look at my background where there is my brand new scanner for 8 and 16 mm films—an investment that required my total commitment on the production of archive footage to be repaid. In other words: it’s a matter of money.

In the last 10 months, I have stayed in my home office producing from morning to evening. I could:

  1. produce
  2. teach

both badly, or I could decide which of the two to do better. So I opted for production because it could give me immediate earnings and I needed the money.

I'm venal, I know, but if I weren't, I would be lying on the sofa scrolling the smartphone screen desperately looking for someone to tell me I'm right when I complain about something. 

Do you want to be like that?

If so, don't listen to this podcast.

Listeners who write books and create digital tools for contributors

More than talking about me, I would like to talk about you, listeners: two of you have done something I’m proud of. 

On the one hand, two books on microstock written by Alessandro Grandini, a very Italian name who made the English version of these two books:

  1. Niches: Earn money with images in microstock photography
  2. Microstock: Earn Money by Selling your Photographs

On the other hand, a digital tool that can help you sell more made by Pier Paolo Mansueto. You can find his story in English too.

This tool gets data from Pond5’s search bar and gives you some advice to understand what subjects help you earn more.

What about creating your own podcast?

Let me add something more about Domenico’s idea of creating a podcast. He and his co-author did not do things by chance, because they started with excellent sound quality and a very professional host. 

It’s not that difficult if you want to start your own podcast, so…

Why not?

You just need:

  • a 100 euros microphone like the Blue Yeti
  • 50 euros for sound-absorbing panels

like those that surround me in this room. With this, you are already a step ahead of all improvisers who believe that it is enough to record audio with the smartphone, tell their story and wait for the viral wave to arrive to make you rich and famous. Sure it is!

Then if you want to:

  • save time
  • get to a higher level of quality

you also need a subscription to professional music and sounds, such as the one you can buy on Storyblocks and a subscription to services like Spreaker that helps you distribute the podcast on different platforms. So it does what you could do for free, but instead of wasting an hour per episode, it does it in a second.

But this comes after you have started. Otherwise, it becomes too difficult, and you may not start at all.

You must learn how to optimize your time through:

  • outsourcing
  • procedures

because you always have time to make money, but you will never recover the time you are about to waste.

What gives me the most in Domenico's message is the confirmation that microstock is not only a source of income, but it is the easiest way for a photographer or videomaker to enter the world of digital business, understand how it works, and earn in a thousand other ways with the internet.

Like it happens with podcasts. Beyond the immediate earnings, which is something difficult as monetizing with advertising is not easy, you have to think not about tomorrow, but about what can happen in two years. Podcasts are the new radio, and already today:

  • Spotify
  • Twitch
  • Audible
  • Storytel

pay the best hosts for an exclusive or for setting up new projects. Creating a good show takes time, and there are no magic formulas to make it faster.

I don't know about you guys, but this world gives me so much business inspiration as much as it makes me sad for so many other reasons such as watching teenagers walking on the streets scrolling down their smartphones like in zombie movies. 

Talking about podcasts, a couple of years ago Shutterstock (read my guide on Shutterstock) contacted me to ask if I was going to restart this show in English. Had it been a regular program, I probably would have been able to reach an economic agreement or at least a sponsorship, but since I was so busy with other projects in that period, I just had to say “no thanks”.

This is the world of digital business. Thousands of opportunities if you study and work hard. If you commit and you’re good enough, you don't have to find new opportunities—you have to be good at rejecting the less convenient ones they offer you.

Good luck, Domenico.

Why Getty Images bought Unsplash

In all these months, a lot of things have happened, and I will not mention many of them because there is no time to do it.

However, I want to tell you about what is the most inexplicable news at first sight, and I chose it precisely to explain why in reality it is not at all inexplicable.

Getty Images bought Unsplash.

You all know that Getty Images is one of the main microstocks, while Unsplash, along with Pexels and Pixabay, is one of the most used sites to download photos and videos for free.

You may ask yourself:

Why does a company that sells content, directly or through Istockphoto owned by it start giving away the same type of content?

A slightly naïve person might say: "To put who is making it lose sales out of the market."

This would be true if only Getty Images were selling content and if only Unsplash were giving it away. Neither thing, you know, is like that.

So if Unsplash closed, the free content hunters would download from Pexels, which is one click away. In addition, it is not convenient for Getty to pay to put  what is also a competitor of its competitors (like Adobe Stock) out of business.

Operations of this kind are done for traffic. Please take a look at this document released by Shutterstock.

In the year 2020, they grossed 666 million dollars, a third of which was spent on advertising. So they paid a lot of money to Google and Facebook to find new customers. Such high advertising costs should be considered when we complain about the low percentages that agencies give us.

It’s not true that Shutterstock gives us 16% and keeps 84% for it, because it also gives 33% to Google and Facebook for advertising.

Please complain only after looking for the information that allows you to express a reasoned opinion. 

By acquiring Unsplash, Getty Images is betting on the fact that the banners it will display on that site to visitors looking for photos to download for free will cost less than those that once were displayed on the same site by paying for Google Adsense.

So, the key to understanding whether or not this operation is convenient will be in seeing how many sales those banners generate and how much to keep a site like Unsplash up and running will cost Getty Images, as well as how much they paid to acquire it, a figure that unfortunately has not been disclosed.

I also said it in my first book: Sell Your Photos and Videos Online: 

Setting up a project is cheap and simple, be that an app or a website.

Let me explain: now I'm launching my own historical stock footage direct selling site. In these years of work on the web, I have gained a lot of experience, so I know the tools I need and I know how to hire the right people to do the things I can't do, either because I'm not capable of or because I don’t want to invest my time to do it.

To go online costs little, much less than 1000 euros, considering that I already have a subscription to many tools that I need:

  • the professional version of Vimeo to play the 10 thousand videos I want to sell
  • the internet hosting (so I only have to pay the domain name which costs 15 euros per year)
  • the unlimited cloud drive where I store the files that customers buy.

Then the platform to sell is simple to use—and free in the case of WooCommerce or with little costs in the case of Shopify.

The big problem, as I've been saying for years since my first book, is traffic. Because if I or any of you put a site online, no one will ever visit it unless we pay for advertising.

And here we return to what I said about Unsplash and Getty Images.

Advertising on the internet today is very expensive, unlike just 5 years ago, and only the big microstocks can afford it because they can also get customers by losing money. Just an example: they can pay 50 euros to get a customer who spends 40 euros the first time on the assumption that statistically that customer is likely to buy from them again in the future without going through advertising.

When you have a catalog with hundreds of millions of photos and videos like Shutterstock has, you can think that way; when you are just Daniele Carrer, you can't. If your aim is earning.

If you want to brag to friends that you are one step ahead of everyone because you have had a great idea or because you advertise on Facebook without having understood how to do it well, go ahead. But it's a waste of money if you don't commit to studying, or if you're not good at selecting someone you have to pay to do it for you.

You may wonder now:

Why are you launching your microstock in this scenario?

Because I have a free traffic source.

Let me say, not exactly free: it cost me a lot of work that was necessary, but today it brings continuous traffic to my projects.

Alongside the traffic generated by advertising, there is also organic traffic: generated by other sites, especially search engines. The second most used search engine in the world is YouTube, and my channel had over a million views last month.

By putting a link in the description of the videos, I can drive traffic to my websites, especially if I sell something that is tightly connected to my YouTube channel as I sell exactly the videos of the channel.

For the last 5 minutes, I've just been teaching you the basics of making money with the internet, not just with microstock. Please, don’t say that in podcasts they all say the same.

The listeners' questions

Is it possible to have two different accounts in the various microstocks? If so, is it convenient or are there any contraindications?

How to open two accounts in the same microstock

It depends on the microstock. Many allow you to do it. Pond5, for example, allows you to do this in case you want to sell only a part of your collection in exclusivity, earning 60% instead of 40%.

You have to consider that many agencies ask you for a copy of your identity document when you sign up, so if they don’t allow you to open a second account, you need someone who opens it for you. And hopefully pay you the royalties that your photos and videos generate. So it all becomes risky as well as complicated.

I do not see any convenience or contraindications in doing so, except, in the latter case, that you waste time, and since there are no advantages in my opinion, it makes no sense to open a second account.

This was kind of the typical question of those who have time to waste. Sorry to say it, but this is a new era of Daniele’s politically incorrect communication.

Photos accepted by one microstock and rejected by another

I've been following you for a while. I discovered microstock thanks to you, and I am getting into it because I would like it to become more and more my main job. For now I have only uploaded 40 stock images and 6 videos. I'm not really scary as a competitor.

I learned with great pleasure that you wrote a book and I have already bought it!

I am "hungry" for knowledge. I have not yet purchased your course, not because I do not believe it is valid—indeed, I am sure it is—but because at the moment my budget is limited; I have a boring job as a permanent employee that doesn't satisfy me at all, but it pays the bills and the rent.

I am writing to you because questions arise and perhaps they can become a starting point for your podcast.

The question is:

Is it possible that the same images sent to various agencies are accepted by some and rejected by others?

I uploaded some images to Pond5 and Shutterstock, and while the first rejected them, because you could see a logo on a backpack in the distance, the second accepted them (even with commercial license).

It is absolutely possible; indeed, I would dare to say that it is the rule.

I also go beyond your doubt: I know people who have photos or videos rejected by an agency, submit them again, and the agency accepts and even sells them. It all depends on the guy who judges your photo when you send it.

It is quite obvious that some microstock can accept your content and others do not.

You said you have a boring job. I don’t think you can go to Google and claim to be hired just because another company has already hired you.

Is it worth it to track sales in microstocks?

I wanted to ask you for advice on how to manage and keep track of the various contents I upload: I ask you because I would like to have a sort of "list", perhaps done with Excel, to get the statistics of my stock images and my stock footage.

Maybe a column to know where they have been uploaded, one for the keywords, etc.

I don't know if it's just a waste of time, but I would like to set the job right from the start.

It is an immense job to do what you want to do. It certainly has advantages, but the time you waste doing so it is by far poorly spent considering the extra data you can have.

You now have little content uploaded. Try to see things from my point of view, which is perhaps something you can achieve: I have more than 10 thousand clips online. If I had set up a system like the one you have in your mind, it would have taken years to fill in the Excel sheets and maybe I would have half of the clips uploaded with far less earnings.

At the most, you can use the dashboards of the various agencies to get an idea of your best-selling content, so you can work on that data when planning what to photograph and shoot. That of Pond5 is fine, for example. 

And then you can also use an earnings trackers when the money starts coming in, like Microstockr.

Your competitors' sales statistics

Is there an opportunity to see how much competitors' photos are selling?

No; fortunately, your data and those of any other contributor belong to you. I say “fortunately” because I love my privacy. That’s why I hate social networks, but we’ll talk about this in a later episode if you like.

Only the contributor himself and the individual agencies on which he has uploaded his stock footage or stock images know the selling statistics.

However, you can find which contents have the most sales without seeing the amount or earnings they correspond to.

Go to Shutterstock, for example, put a keyword in the search bar and sort the results by what they call Most Relevant.

In this way, the list that comes out sorts the photos or videos not based on the total number of sales, but on the basis of an algorithm that combines the sales and trends of the last period. 

As a result, you can draw inspiration from there to produce new content that can help you earn more money.

A contributor who loves iStockphoto

In this last part of the episode, let's talk about Istockphoto.

I’m about to read the opinion about that agency of a kind listener. He may say things you will hardly agree on, at least I think so:

As for Istock, I must tell you that it is the agency with the highest earnings for my portfolio: the first on video sales (I sell about 10 videos per month). So it is a small but steady income for me.

I only have 190 clips posted. It is true that you earn little on each video, but Istock sells very consistently. Even if in my case we are talking about a few tens of dollars per month, we need to consider the small size of my portfolio.

Many do not accept small changes. I can understand them, but if you think about your final earnings, Istock is an addition to your monthly income.

If you think in terms of individual agencies you should only upload to Adobe Stock, where the clips generate at least 20 euros per sale.

As for the photos on Istock... forget about it. That's less than 10 cents a sale, but I know of people who add another 30 or 40 dollars a month with their photos sold on it.

In the end, if one complains about Getty/Istock, then one must also complain about Shutterstock, Freepik, etc..

What to produce to sell more on iStockphoto

I'll give you some examples of clips that I would like to produce. I usually do new things which could be successful because they are news related to today's trends:

  • telemedicine, given that with the coronavirus this new way of visiting people online is emerging;
  • the cook and hairdresser at home.

These subjects are interesting because there aren't many clips published yet. This way, they can bring a lot of income, even if perhaps with the end of the pandemic they will no longer make sense.

Most likely, the best way to make money with microstock is to film people, but even with time-lapses, there is very little competition.

I start from the bottom: I disagree with this last statement, because time-lapses are certainly less present in the collections of microstocks than real-time videos, but now they are no longer something new.

You always have to evaluate how much a video or photo costs you as well as how much it makes you earn. With time-lapses, you earn more, but they are also more expensive because it takes you more time to shoot them and post-produce them.

For the rest, I have not attended iStock for years. Getty Images occasionally sends me a PayPal transfer for the videos I last uploaded more than 5 years ago, but for some time, it's been an agency in a decadent phase as far as I'm concerned.

Let me know what you think about it, dear listeners, so that those who do not use iStock can have concrete data to study, avoiding falling into the classic web mantra "the world is cruel and I am a victim and a misunderstood genius".

Study and work hard—that’s the only way to make money in a very competitive world.

The podcast will be consistent now

Guys, I made it again with this podcast. You will tell me how I was. I should be consistent in publishing new episodes from now on.

In recent months, many of you have written to me. I answered everyone. But there were a couple of listeners who didn't get my message because the spam filter was bouncing my replies, so please know that I tried to answer.

That said, the 14th episode of "sell your photos and videos online" ends here, and I remind you that the important thing in life is not having fun, but being happy.

It took me more than a day to create this content for you. Why don't you help me and share this page on Social Networks? You will help your friends who love photography to make money.