As we’ve been out speaking with different groups, we’ve started to see some of the same questions being asked. Here are three most often asked:
- Can I submit images of any size and format?
- Should I upload to one site or multiple sites?
- Should I crop my photos before submitting to my microstock agency?
Read on for the answers.
1. Can I submit images of any size and format?
Each agency has different guidelines for image size and other criteria. In general, your goal should be to upload the largest size you can get out of your camera, since larger dimension images usually sell for higher prices. But be careful, artificially upsizing an image using editing software is not permitted, and will likely cause your image to be rejected. Minimum size requirements are usually stated in total megapixels, with some agencies also specifying megapixel dimension requirements. Here are minimum size requirements for 10 of the top sites:
|Microstock Agency||Minimum File Size
|Bigstock Photo||.6 mp|
|Canstock Photo||3 mp|
The most commonly accepted file format for photos is .jpg. (Note: We’re only talking about image file formats here. Agencies that sell vector illustrations, videos, and audio, accept a variety of other formats that support those media types.) Use the above chart as a guideline, and be sure to check the specific image requirements and acceptance criteria at your agency before uploading your photos.
2. Should I upload to one site or multiple sites?
We recommend that when you’re first getting started, you should upload to just one agency. This allows you to focus your time and efforts on getting comfortable with your agency’s guidelines, and develop a workflow process that works well for you.
After you have been contributing to your initial site for 6 months, or when you have uploaded 200 photos to your portfolio, then you might want to consider whether to sell your photos on other sites as well, or stay with one agency and apply for exclusivity when eligible.
There are many successful microstockers who sell on multiple sites, and an equally large number who sell on only one site. Selling on multiple sites offers more diversity in your earnings possibilities by not “putting all your eggs in one basket”. But, it also adds a layer of complexity to your workflow, as you would have to separately update, track, and manage your portfolio with each agency.
On the other hand, the advantage of staying with just one agency is that after you reach a certain milestone (usually a specific number of sales), you may qualify for their exclusivity program. Many agencies offer exclusivity programs as an incentive to artists to sell only on their site. In exchange for not selling your artwork on other sites, they offer special benefits to exclusive artists, including charging higher prices for your artwork and paying higher commission rates.
So by starting off with selling only on one site, it makes it easier for you to go exclusive with your agency if you decide you want to. This is because you won’t have images at other agencies that you would need to remove.
The decision to sell on one or many sites is a personal one which really requires you to carefully review the number of views and number of sales of each of your images. You’ll want to do some detailed analysis to compare how you feel your income would be affected by selling images on multiple sites at non-exclusive commissions, vs being exclusive on one site and earning exclusive commissions.
3. Should I crop my photos before submitting to my microstock agency?
Of course it’s always best to try to frame the image in camera so that the resulting photo is composed the way you want it. But often you’ll want to do some cropping get it just right.
We recommend cropping only to remove distractions or areas that detract from your subject. But don’t try to crop tightly in order to create a stylized image. Let the buyer do this. It’s best to leave the buyer the flexibility to crop the image to fit the needs of their project.
Leaving blank space for text is a style that many buyers find useful. If you aim to create this type of image, compose the photo at the time of the shoot to intentionally create that blank area. Whenever possible, it’s best to get your image framed right in the camera, and reduce the need to use photo editing software to crop.
Remember, you always want to upload the largest image dimensions possible to take advantage of higher selling prices at your agency. So crop smartly and sparingly. Well that’s it for the top three questions. We’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg here, so we’ll be covering these and other similar topics in more detail in future blog posts.
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer in a future blog post? If so, please let us know by leaving a comment below.