16 Reasons why artists designer/photographer should love stock

Now that we covered why you should hate stock photography, let’s not make things worse than they are. There are plenty of reasons why people love to create stock items. Here are 16 reasons, and I am sure people can find a lot more than these. Still I don’t think artists will be happy creating stock, as it offers such a low value for unique work that is not easily recycleable.

  1. It’s easily accessible
    Accessing a stock site is very easy; you just have to pass a simple test and are free to upload your work. It’s even easier for people who want to buy stuff, as they just have to sign up.

  2. Create a portfolio
    A stock site offers you an inexpensive way to create a portfolio where you can already start selling items. You can find potential clients who like your work.

  3. Share your work with the world
    You can simply share your work with the world and make it visible.

  4. Learn how to create high quality pictures
    Stock sites only accept perfect pictures, at least from a quality point of view. This forces you to really work on your output.

  5. Improve your technique
    Improving your technique is a gradual process and you will grow with each picture you upload.

  6. Your work generates sales for itself
    Once you have uploaded your work, there is no need to think about it anymore, as people can buy it from that point on.

  7. You learn how to create items that sell
    Making money is your main choice, and chasing downloads makes you look for things that sell well. You will either develop your own style, or learn how to successfully copy other people’s work, which everyone does when they start out. After a phase of emulating others you will certainly know what works for you and purse those things more.

  8. There is no need to look for clients
    One of the big plus for the creator is that they just have to create their work and have no hustle to find potential clients.

  9. Simply upload your work
    Take the picture or create whatever you are doing and upload it, adding a few good keywords. Then it will be either approved or not, nothing more is involved in that process.

  10. Selling leftovers is no shame
    In case you don’t want to create stuff for stock, but have leftovers from your regular jobs you can recycle them there.

  11. Simple items sell best
    Stock is not sophisticated, it’s actually pretty simple. That’s why generic and simple items sell best- just make a case study yourself and look which items are the best selling items; you are in for a surprise in case you think they have to be artistic. Simple, generic and usable for a wide audience, or of good use for a designer are what sells best.

  12. Create a stream of passive income
    Passive income is what everyone strives for. Creating items that can be sold without having to take care of is great. You can earn a few extra bucks each month when you have a portfolio, when you keep on growing it you can earn more than a few bucks.

  13. Connect with likeminded people
    The communities around those stock sites are usually pretty cool. You can connect with people, ask questions and socialize.

  14. Income will grow with time
    The longer you are in this and the more items you upload, the bigger your income stream can grow.

  15. During a crisis people want to save money
    Pretty simple, when there is no big money to be spend people look for cheap alternatives and stock items are exactly that. Stock is a cheap alternative to a professional and unique product.

  16. It’s a challenge
    Creating stock is a challenge, as there are many obstacles such as search engines, getting files rejected and the images you think will sell like mad not creating a single sale, while others you didn’t think much off sell like crazy.

16 Reasons to hate micro-stock

People love to create stock, I say that’s wrong, just be honest with yourself and you will agree that you should actually hate stock! Here are 16 reasons and I am sure you can find a lot more to hate the micro stock industry.
evilstock

  1. Stock is uncreative compared to artistic work
    You are not free to do anything, even if you think you are. You want to sell your work and therefore you have to create something that people want to buy.

  2. You have to please clients to make sales
    You actually have to please the clients less than when you do contract work, but you still have to create stuff that people want to buy.

  3. Technical perfection is more important than artistic vision
    It pretty much does not matter how great your idea is behind your picture, everything that matters is technical perfection and if there is purple fringe or a bit of noise, you are out.

  4. You have to promote your work to be really productive
    Creating stock is not enough, you have to promote the stuff yourself to create some real sales.

  5. It’s a numbers game
    The more stuff you create the more you can sell. It’s all about having the right item for the right person at the right time.

  6. Your work is judged by others
    And I don’t mean by your customers, rather by amateur artists like yourself. It’s not that most people doing this are professionals. They are professional artists just like most of the people submitting there.

  7. Some topics sell, others don’t
    Some niches are saturated; others are not interesting for commercial purposes. You can’t change that and you are doing spec work.

  8. You have to find trends before others do
    The main thing a contributor has to care about is which thing will be the next big hit and produce according to that.

  9. You devalue your work
    You devalue your work, simple as that. You become a mass producer, nothing more. You can put it as you want to, but this process devalues your work as it flood the market with high quality, cheap images.

  10. Other people can simply look what sells and copy your work
    Create an awesome piece, you better get the word out before someone else rips off your style and creates stuff like you did.

  11. You lose a lot rights for very little money
    You give away a lot of your rights for very little money. Giving stuff away for free is great, but selling stuff for less than it’s worth is simply stupid. Big names save a lot money and you are not even making a name with it.

  12. Stock sites are like a factory producing a high output
    Ever wondered why hand-crafted items are more expensive than machine work? It takes time and dedication to produce them, they are unique and people value them far more. How much is a 20$ stock item really worth?

  13. You earn less than 50% of a sale
    This is what should everyone really piss off… you earn less than the company, which is ok, but you should earn at least as much as they do. They are not the only ones having costs running servers and people working in the company, you are working your time creating items, you are the one building their content, you should be worth at least 50%.

  14. You lose artistic freedom
    You sacrifice your freedom over some cheap work, as you have to create stuff that sells or you can simply stop contributing.

  15. You compete with amateurs
    You compete with amateurs who do this for fun and don’t care about the money.

  16. You have to be lucky
    You can be skilled, but you have to be a bit lucky, just like everywhere else. Unless you don’t get lucky it’s hard to create top selling items. You have to rank well in the search; otherwise you won’t sell much in high trafficked niches.

More than enough Reasons you should turn your computer off and call it a day

Get up stand up for your right, the Beastie Boys got it right, you don’t even have to stand up for your right to party, just get your butt up out of that chair you have been sitting on for more hours than you needed… need reasons to get out? Here are plenty…

It’s good for your health, ok you already know that, so why are you still sitting there?

10 Reasons for your health

  1. You will exercise your muscles, the muscles you once had when you were moving like a human is supposed to. Running, jumping and having fun, just look at what kids love to do and you know what humans are supposed to do.

  2. Stretch your back, you will grow at least two meters.

  3. Relax your eyes, our society today is extremely visual and in case you are sitting all day long in front of a computer you are prone to visual overload, headaches and burnout.

  4. Relax your ears, just as our eyes the ears are put to constant stress… noise, music, stress, traffic… we are pushing our body to it’s limit by simply sitting down. Pretty sick.

  5. Train other muscles besides your fingers and forearms, no matter what you do, everything is better than sitting 12 hours in front of your computer and will exercise your body better than that chair that grows out of your butt.

  6. By putting on those running shoes lying around in the corner and going for that jog you have been prolonging for ages you actually do something for your concentration and cardiovascular system. Or you could pick up that ball, and go to a playground and just have some fun.

  7. Muscles burn fat, in case you feel fat and fluffy, just turn the electronics off for 2 hours per day and get moving. We are living in a society where we have the luxury of getting things done without moving, it put a toll on your body.

  8. No matter if you are in a relationship or are single, the people around you will find you more attractive if you are active. There is nothing more boring than a bummer on the couch or in front of the computer. Have some interesting times, go to an amusement park, sailing, surfing, racecar driving, do what you always wanted to do, no excuses allowed.

  9. When was the last time you went to bed early? Turn off the electronics two hours before you want to go to bed, just to make sure you will go at the planned time. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the interwebs. Sleep ain’t the cousin of death; it’s a small resurrection every morning.

  10. Meeting people outside is vital for our health. Social interaction proves to be one of those things that can’t be supplemented by electronics. Christopher Ross recently had some interesting thoughts on how to change your life when you are stuck in work.

One of those myths is that everything you do online will save you time, that’s utter bullshit. Good old, premium bullshit. Sorry for those words, but it needs to be said!

Things you don’t need an online application for

Online applications are time reaper, just like my social media reaper. They offer you stuff where you have to sign up for and are told that you will save a lot time, but actually when you use all those services you wonder where all your time has gone, besides that you store all of your personal information in places that you don’t have in control.
An online timer can be handy, but actually it’s useless, we are so tech obsessed that we really want to do everything with some nice little gadget. Just grab a pen and paper and see how good it actually feels to cross things out. The first thing with all those online applications is to look through them and make sure that those things are actually useful and not only a time killer. There are great and time saving services, no need to argue about that, but be honest to yourself and pick what saves you time, not what offers you to spend more time online while twitter and facebook is running in the background.

Cutting back online time

There are so many people telling you how to save time and cut back your online time, the easiest time is to set hours for your social media consumption. I think I read at skelliewag that she has two different computers, one simply used for her offline writing so she can get things done and leave the distractions outside. I think this is a great idea to cut down your internet time.
Other ways to cut down your internet consumption is to simply do things offline. The more things you do online, the more time you will spend in front of your computer. Going paperless might be a very noble decision, but actually doing all that online is nothing for me.
You have to be very strong to resist all that temptations and it is very easy to be caught up in a flow effect when you are spending time online, so why not simply cut back the time you make the internet accessible? Just plug out the internet for a certain time and see if you still spend so much time in front of the computer.
Another way to cut back the online time is to set you hours and make appointments with friends or even just with yourself. I am allowed to work for a 5 hours, then I have to go out and drink a coffee at that place and flirt with the waiter/waitress, go for a walk to the post office to send out those letters, print out flyers for my business and ask to place them in a coffee shop or local malls, go shopping for food or visit local stores to market your services.

Why we are wasting so much time online

Actually wasting time may sound harsh, but most of the generation internet is wasting their life!… people have hundreds of friends in facebook and twitter, but rarely leave their home. It’s easy to get stuck, especially when you work from home or spend most of your free-time in front of the computer. It does not matter if you are a designer, coder, blogger, poker player, marketer or whatever… the antisocial so called social media takes up so much time that there is not much left for real social interaction. Turning off the computer for a few hours each day might be the best decision you can make to improve your life, health and social contacts. You might even use time away from the computer to build your business locally. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck, get your life moving.

Search Engine Optimisation for Creative People

You should love search engine traffic! Rinse and repeat…
I love search engine traffic!
I love search engine traffic!
Ok… enough of that, I guess you got this message, why should you love search engine traffic you ask? That’s a good question! A lot of people would be too scared to ask why…

Too make a long story short: Search engine traffic delivers traffic to your site from people who are looking for something that your site seems to provide. It’s usually better than traffic from social media as those people are actively looking for something that they need and probably will spend money on.

A real life example

Someone searches a photographer in Tokyo, a gallery in Houston or a designer in St. Tropez through a search engine, you know exactly what he is looking for and you fit one of the 3 searches. You want that person to come to your site! You want him to find you! So your goal is to be on the first page of the search results.

How do you rank on page one?

You have a website, but don’t do search engine optimisation at all. Your website has loads of java and flash, almost no text, no keyword relevant domain, your text is written in the graphics and people don’t link to you with a good anchor text. This is probably the worst case scenario.

  • You have a domain with the keywords that fit his search…tokyophotographer.com, houstongallery.com or sttropezdesigner.com. This alone will usually help you to rank pretty high for a term in case your domain name matches the search.
  • You have a website with your portfolio, added something like a blog with text and keywords that fit the search terms and location. As a bonus you are active within your community and a lot people link to your website. In case you get people to have the right anchor text for the search term… for example Tokyo photographer, and those pages are relevant to your site, you can rank pretty high as well.
  • You have a domain with good keywords and a lot of on and offsite search engine optimisation… This means you have your profession within your domain, get people to link to your site and have a site where you write about what you do and write articles with the right keywords for a search engine.

What do creative people do wrong?

They emphasize the gadget parts of their site too much. Search engines still have troubles to read Flash, JavaScript or images with text. If your goal is to rank well in a search engine to rank well for a certain term there are a lot things to consider, it’s almost a science and there are companies who make real good money offering their services.
Usually you don’t need one of those companies if you are not into credit cards, make money or little blue pills. You can do a lot on your own!

  • Get a good domain name, they are really cheap. Maybe you get a few more domain names and test out which one works best.
  • You should always have a blog on your site, it helps you to update your site regularly (search engines love that) and in case you have a lot of graphics in your portfolio it will help you to get more text that search spiders can crawl.
  • In case you are into design, don’t just showcase your work, add text to it. Describe what you have done and write short articles. Or even offer a tutorial about your speciality, even if you don’t give away all your secrets.
  • Give away a few things for free and people will link to you, which will usually improve your ranking as it shows that your site has value to others.
    A killer portfolio will help you to get more links to your site as well. People love to share cool stuff.
  • Oh and a last tip, add your business to local directories, you can even add it to Google maps if you didn’t already do that.

Viral Marketing vs Word of Mouth

Viral Marketing, a brief history

Viral Marketing is pretty cool, it pretty much started with the web and fake advertisements where people thought that something was cool, even though it was more or less just a way to put out the word. Sure there have been campaigns like the campaign of the united colors, that were really controversial and spread like a virus, but it’s nothing compared to a real viral marketing campaign that takes off online. Simple said, you are spreading an idea to a massive community, but what is it worth after all? I think Viral Marketing is a great way to kick-start your business, you will get plenty of viewers and a lot of those will stick to your site, you will even make people aware of your brand, but what do you do after the initial start? There is so much Viral Marketing these days that the people seem to be immunized to it. Look at it, send it to friends and forget it, unless it’s a real killer.

Word of Mouth, a brief history

Word of Mouth exists for ages. Just think of Romans recommending that public bath to someone else. It’s marketing and selling made easy, as it spreads the word within a smaller, but far more targeted group. You deliver a service or product that is helpful and people start talkin to it to their friends. People might even ask for such a service, as it is far more helpful than some random Virus you might catch. Usually the circles of this are far smaller, but sustain.
These thoughts open the stage for an interesting fight…
viral_vs_word_web

What do you have to offer?

What do you have to offer? Are you someone like me, who is just starting out in the bitter need of any advertisement he can get? Or are you a settled brand that wants to revive the company. Do you want more sales or brand recognition over someone else? Let’s think of viral marketing first, you really want a spike of traffic, you want to get the word out as you are relatively new to this whole game of the online world.
Here are some ways to viral market your website:

  • Writing popular lists that people send their friends.
  • Creating a test where the results can be copied and pasted into a blog easily with a link to your site.
  • Hitting the front page of Digg.
  • Creating a really cool graphic that illustrates a popular topic.
  • Create video that loads of people watch and connect it with your franchise.

There are a few things that will help you to make your campaign a success, make it easy to share, make sure that you have a few people who help you to jump-start it and pick a service that will be available in case you really make it big.

Word of Mouth is actually a lot simpler. Here are a few tips that will help you to get people started recommending your website and service. It’s a longer process and will usually build momentum over time.

  • Write tutorials on things people need. Graphics, programming, web-design… whatever fits your profession.
  • Offer small things for free, such as a wordpress theme, some graphics, desktop wallpaper, a few texture photos…
  • Write an ebook and give it away for free when people sign up for your service.
  • Build a forum where people can share their experiences concerning the niche you are in.
  • Build a small community to connect with people in the same niche.
  • Write a guide on how you are making your living in case you have a fun way to earn your money. Loads of people hate their jobs and look for a way out.

Case Studies & examples

Actually it is pretty easy with the Internet available, just think of something like the Hamster on a Piano, it’s irresistible for people to watch it. The best viral marketing campaigns are a result of an online and offline effort. When you create something that people can talk about with their real life friends, you have won the whole game. The greatest campaign of the last years from my point of view has been Improv Everywhere, a group of performance artist “causing scenes”. Don’t know them yet? Here is one of their video’s.

Now this is what I call successful Viral Marketing, this group of artists got people from all around the globe to form their own Flash Mob groups and create events similar to their concept, causing scenes all over the world. How did they succeed with this?

  • Viral Marketing Online, they could easily publish their idea’s that were loved by a large audience.
  • People talked about it to their friends, spreading the word, thinking about ways to do this at home.
  • The oldschool media picked it up, and it even hit the television screens.
  • The people who talked about it with their friends created groups of their own and started events on the whole wide world.

Another great example for primary word of mouth advertisement is the whole franchise of envato. Those guys really pulled one great stunt from going with psd tuts all the way to where they are now. Those guys did not pull off one of those great viral marketing stunts, at least not that I know, and managed to build their whole empire around word of mouth strategy. Sure they will probably make some sort of advertisement, but that’s the nature of the beast. Just watch the traffic charts in Collis great breakdown of the traffic to psdtuts and be amazed how giving will result in a growing traffic.
Psdtuts is about:

  • Photoshop
  • Great Tutorials about Photoshop that people try themselves.
  • Interviews with Photoshop Artists, so it’s related to their community and gives insight to professionals.
  • They help the help people within every skill range.
  • They offer a monthly roundup of the best of the web sharing other great tutorials, interviews and free stuff with their community.
  • There is a membership system that will allow you to access a few more features making it something like a magazine.

You can see how their marketing strategy of delivering useful content lead to a constant stream of traffic growing over the time. There might be spikes, but those spikes are what happens when there is the occasional viral marketing when a site hits digg, and guess what, those spikes back down, they don’t last forever. Their goal, as with the membership system, is a constant growth. They don’t need to pull of marketing stunts as most of their tutorials and articles turn out to be tiny viral marketing themselves.
The more content they created, the more popular the whole site became through recommendations within the community, people sharing great tutorial and writing round ups of the web that people care about. As you can see in his article this strategy will lead to some serious, sustainable traffic.

Conclusion

What can you learn from this? The Internet is powerful. But compare the viral marketing efforts of improv everywhere with the hamster on a piano, which efforts do you think will last longer? Not to speak of the extremely useful Psdtuts. Success comes from sharing, investing and moreover people wanting to become a part of what you are doing. People who think that viral marketing and simple advertisement still works best are utterly wrong, if you want to build your brand make sure people want to be part of it. The more they can related to what you are doing, the more they will be willing to share with you.

The Soundtrack to Creativity

Music is extremely important to me, no matter where I go I always carry something to listen to music, ever since the days when I had a Walkman.
I always hated listening to the radio, as it forced me to listen to music that I did not handpick myself, and most often simply hated. This habit stayed with me all the years since my childhood. My taste in music might have changed every now and then, still there is different music for different occasions.

Finding inspiration through Music

I guess we all listen to music, but some people use it just for entertainment, others use it as a supplement for their work-flow. Music is a source of inspiration and power, you just have to watch Rocky, how his training is underlined by the music, and how you want to hit the gym yourself. Now let’s take this to our desk! Music touches our emotions, makes us happy or sad, energizes, takes pain away, moves your hips, makes you want to dance, relaxes strained nerves. It’s such a powerful tool and so many people just treat it as something in the background that is running all the time. Elevator music is greeting.

My Soundtrack to Inspiration

For different occasions I prefer different kind of music, I am not one of those I only listen to one single genre, my taste varies from Jazz to Hiphop, Rock, Soul, Metal, Reggae or ska and sometimes even classic. Even though I like a lot of different stuff, there is plenty of music I dislike, even hate! The question is not what I like, it’s what is working for me when I am working?

  • First of all, no lyrics! Lyrics are a pain in the ass when you want to concentrate on a something.
  • High on energy, smooth music.
  • Low on energy, I need fast music.

Thinking about this, actually my mood drives my music completely. I know a few people who can only work when they listen to speed or death metal, that’s not working for me. Sometimes I am plain irritated by the music or the music drives me away from my work and I don’t even recognize it. It’s always great to monitor yourself and see what is working. Right now, after hitting the weights pretty hard and having an intense workout I really need some music that drives my energy, so I am listening to good old power metal, which is usually a no go for working as it contains lyrics and can be very distracting, but it is working for me right now!

What’s your soundtrack of life?

Do you have music you listen to special music when you are working? Did you ever monitor yourself, or do you just turn on the radio? Do you have other rituals to increase your work-flow that involve your senses such as sound or smell? Working and productivity is not only about a clean and uncluttered workspace, there are far more subtle things that can increase your creative output. I even watched an interview with a popular writer, whose name I forgot :D, but who is listening to some sort of white noise to shut of the world surrounding him.

13 ways to a popular blog

A blog is an outlet for your voice, want to be popular? Go for a blog. A few examples what you can write about…

  1. Tell other people how to blog, even if your blog is just 5 hours old.

  2. Write Tutorials about photoshop, or even better get people to write for you for 50$.

  3. Write about politics, the Internet is no pub.

  4. Write about celebrities, as you are none yet and no one wants to read about you.

  5. Write how you make money online, even if you don’t.

  6. Tell others how great affiliate marketing is, even if you don’t know how to sell

  7. Give others the chance to showcase their skills when you don’t have skills yourself.

  8. Write about how you can write better with an F in creative writing.

  9. Write about cars, even if you don’t have your drivers license.

  10. Write cute and nifty lists with at least 25 items so you turn into a social media rockstar.

  11. Create a blog where you list everything for free, most people are cheapstakes nowadays.

  12. Create a blog where people can list their contests, people love to talk about themselves.

  13. Create a cool application where you can upload your picture and alter it, people love to change and show it to their friends.

The Conclusion

This list shows one thing, it does not matter what you know, it’s all about what people want and what you can give them. Don’t be intimidated to write about something you care about, in case you don’t have the uber skillz yet, you can develop them on the way. Just get something started, thinking about it won’t bring you any further.