Friday, August 26, 2016

My Alamy experience - part the fourth

31 months in since I uploaded my first four test submissions to Alamy and I think it's time for another update.  The bare facts are:

  • 132 image sales to date
  • 52 sales in 2015
  • 66 so far in 2016
  • $3467 in total gross sales
  • 252 uploads without a single QC failure
  • 3275 images on sale
  • 275 different images zoomed since I started with Alamy
  • Sales to 12 different countries (excluding UK and Worldwide)
  • Average CTR over the last rolling year of 1.42
I no longer worry about passing QC or whether my images are commercially viable.  Although fairly niche as far as content goes the quality is obviously good enough and the images themselves attractive to a wide range of buyers within my niche.  I may not be getting vast amounts of money for each sale but it's satisfying to be paid something for the work and expense that goes into creating files for stock photography.  Having said that, it's perfectly possible to cut down on actual costs. My top selling image (4 sales to date) was photographed 7ft / 2.2m from my back door.

One of the most satisfying aspects is seeing the licensing of an image that's a personal favourite.

Rosa 'Summer Song'
I photographed this cluster of three blooms of Rosa 'Summer Song' in my garden a couple of years ago.  I loved the arrangement of it.  I took a number of different shots but that was the one I uploaded to Alamy.  And, earlier this month, it sold to a distributor client in the Russian Federation.  Ok, I only get 30% of the not very large fee - but it's my first sale in that market and it's one of my favourite shots.  Two for the price of one.

Which brings me to an important point.  One of the things that drives sales is a good Alamy ranking. You achieve that by number and value of sales, by your ratio of zooms to views (CTR) and other factors not known to we contributors.  Suffice it to say, your individual ranking depends on how good you are in attracting buyer interest and then converting that to sales.  The better your ranking the further up the order your images are pushed when the results of a buyer search are presented.  The higher your ranking the more likely are sales.  It's a virtuous spiral.  One kiss of death is to upload masses of the same subject.  They may all look different but, assuming the keywording is similar or even the same, they'll potentially all come up in a search.  If you don't get a zoom your CTR can go way down.  Which impacts your ranking.  Which impacts your sales.  The virtuous spiral becomes a vicious circle.

In my 3275 images I've got about 1800 different subjects.  Oh, I occasionally get caught out.  I've got a lot of different Camellias and Rhododendrons in my portfolio and a customer search just on either of those two keywords can throw up dozens of views.  Fortunately, buyers within my niche tend to go with Latin and cultivar names as their search terms so I'm not penalised that often.  Hence that 1.42 CTR average.

The biggest problem comes with breaking out of the niche.  I upload plant and garden shots and they sell.  It helps that I have my own garden as a resource, I'm a volunteer at one of the best gardens in the UK, and, increasingly, I'm getting invitations to photograph in other gardens.  If I wasn't past pension age I might even be able to make a living at this.  But what I haven't done is sold many of the other shots I've taken and uploaded.  Maybe things are changing.  I've just sold an image I took a few years back of boats mooring on the River Yealm at Newton Ferrers.

That's only my second sale of an image that isn't a plant portrait or garden view.  Maybe it's better to be a specialist!

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