When you decide to go
freelance, it will take some time to prepare your portfolio for
You kept all of your rendered footage? Good. You used
PhotoJPEG 95%? Even better. This codec is accepted everywhere I
submit my footage to. This means, no additional rendering, no
additional work. Other codecs will probably work just as well, I am not sure they will work everywhere. Some agencies have file size
limitations, if you footage is close to 30s and full of detail, you
might have to compress it a little bit more.
With my portfolio I had
to re render one file in a hundred.
You kept all the thumbnails?
You'll be needing those only if you decide to work with revostock. At
some agencies you can not choose a thumbnail, at others you do it
online after uploading your file.
What about your keywords? That
is the tricky part. One Young Woman Only does not work exactly well
outside iStock. What about Woman, Girl optimized to Women? This will
not do any good either. Hopefully you backed your metadata up before
optimizing at iStock. If you have, you are pretty much set. If not
you need to redo you keywords. Maybe do not start from scratch as I
tried to do, which is a bad idea. Just unoptimize it if you know what
Now it is time to prepare the csv. You create a
spreadsheet with Excel or open office Calc (which is Free and works
perfectly well) containing all of the metadata in the world. That is
file name, file ID, title, description, keywords, model release name,
thumbnail name, categories etc. The way I do it is, I keep data for
all agencies in one file. Then I export specific agency columns, as a
csv file, upload it, and it is done. No deepmeta, no optimizing, no
wasting time copying and pasting over and over again. I love the
simplicity of this csv solution. With some agencies like shutterstock
you will need to adjust the keywords online but it does not take so
much time as the entire process at iStock takes. If you need help with the metadata, send me a targoszstock gmail. I have a few files you may find useful.
Did it work for me? I think it did. Will it work for you? Well it depends.
Let's start with some general concepts that made me go freelance. If you work with only one agency, you keep all your eggs in one basket. I am sure you have heard it already. Your sales depend on how this agency is doing, not on how the entire microstock market is doing. At times this can be a good thing.
How much you make depends also on where your footage is placed in search results. Every agency has their own ways of determining what goes on top. Hopefully it is your footage. With best match algorithms being one of the most guarded microstock secrets, you have no way of positioning your files. There are some clues on how to do it, but you never know for sure. When working with many agencies you have a greater chance of doing it right at least in one place. For example one of my shutterstock top earners has like 40 views at iStock and no sales and it is sitting there for almost two years.
There may also be a general customer needs profile, different with every agency. I did not want to take any chance with this either.
In one of my previous blog posts you could reed how dropping iStock exclusivity affected my sales at iStock itself. I did not say if the other agencies made up for the loss. With microstock sales varying between the months it is sometimes hard to judge how is your portfolio doing in a bigger picture. The column graphs from my early posts tell the short term, monthly basis story. If you need perspective, my suggestion is to make a spreadsheet with your income for every given month since the beginning of your microstock adventure. Then make the calculation how much did you make for the past year out of each months point of view. This is how it looks for my iStock sales only.
What you do not see in the graph is that my overall income seems to be making up for the iStock loss. It is growing slowly but steadily, just as my portfolio is. This means, that over the last three years I was able to maintain pretty much a steady revenue per image per year. For me this is a good thing.
I hear mixed comments on iStock performance in 2013. I made a tough choice over a year ago. Even though today my portfolio is not doing very well at iStock, I am not bothered. I have others.
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First column features my last years income as an iStock exclusive videographer. Second column features first years income (iStock only) as a non exclusive contributor. Third column takes in to account the royalty rate change (drop from 25% to 16%) and compensates for it. This way you can see how did going freelance affect my sales at iStock, not my income.
The following is based on my own experience. It does not compensate for growth of my portfolio, and it did grew.