View Full Version : I feel used (sniff) and a question on microstock?

05-18-2010, 07:56 PM
SO I hang out on a gimp forum as well as living here, and someone asked how a certain image from a web page could be made using Gimp.

I wrote up a tutorial and attached the result:

The guy comes back three days later and says Thanks for tut and especially thanks for the image, as IStockPhoto wanted $12.00 for it.


Anyway - Does anyone here know how this microstock stuff works, and if you can make money at it? (It took me 5 times longer to write the tutorial than to make the image... grrrr.)

I searched that site for maps compass rose and cartography and there are 1000's of images, most much poorer (IMOO) than the stuff I see posted here...

-Rob A>

05-18-2010, 08:28 PM
Yes, it's possible. You gotta be really lucky or really good AND work hard to make a lot at it, but the nice thing is that once you upload something you might continue to make money on the image for years to come-- though income tappers off. You usually don't make a lot per download, but a popular image can sell dozens or hundreds (if you are lucky) of times a month.

I've been doing microstock on the side for 4 years now. It took about 3 years to make enough to pay for my iMac.

There are a ton of stock photo sites. Most of them aren't worth your trouble. Many sites once they start to get viable on their own get bought up by bigger sites. I'd look into dreamstime (http://www.dreamstime.com/res193721-free-stock-images) and shutterstock (http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=152980) first. (full disclosure: these are referral links-- but i'm only linking to the good sites.) They have some of the best returns. iStock has better returns but they are much pickier about what they accept, and in about every way harder to deal with. Try Dreamstime first, and once you are comfortable with that try shutterstock, or iStock.

* If you do vectors, you tend to get paid a lot more per download.
* For raster images the higher resolution the better.
* Good keywords are very important

You need to be thick-skinned about things. Reviewers will reject images for nonsensical or incomprehensible reasons. Images that you are really proud of won't sell. Your most popular image will probably be one you least expect.

TalkMicro (http://www.talkmicro.com/) is the best forum i've found for finding out about microstock

05-18-2010, 09:12 PM
Yeah, you got hosed Rob. On the flip side, though, upload something and make that twelve bucks :)

05-18-2010, 10:14 PM
Well I've used iStockPhoto as a customer on several occassions - when building websites or needs for other graphics for specific clients. I think I've spent $90+- over the past 5 years: for mud tossing dirtbikes, a baby wrapped in a towel, and a sheep (yes, it was for a local farm co-op.) any kind of specific image I need, but can't cough it up with any other means. I have a digital camera, I know how to take a pro shot, I just don't do it. I prefer created art, like cartography or illustration, even pure digital stuff, but I'm no photographer.

So I've been a customer of microstock. Perhaps not a major spender, but I spent when I needed it. So there's obviously a market.

I would think unless you created maps of real world places, or totally generic maps, fantasy maps of our imagination fall outside a stock art marketplace. Borders, border illustrations, compass roses, celtic knotwork, nautical cartographic devices - that would be where our skills might be more useful.

I prefer maps of fantasy. :P


05-19-2010, 05:06 AM
I've used istockphoto a lot over the years, way past $2000 - easy to use, good prices and I totally agree with GP about what will sell :)
and yes, you earn more on vector since they are more expensive to buy for the customers due to their scalability.

05-19-2010, 05:21 AM
Oh man, what a bummer RobA. Bloody hell, the cheek. One of the things I've been looking into recently is to start making vector images for Istockphoto, thanks for the link to talkmicro, jwbjerk - I'll be checking it out.

05-19-2010, 06:49 AM
I had a friend who was doing a lot of this and he said roughly the same that some unusual photos sell the best and its not really obvious at the start what those type of pictures are. One good idea is to look at news sites and see what photos they attach to news stories. My mate was taking crazy stuff like a pair of football boots propped up with the goal net in the background and pictures of garbage bins etc. I also know that the most popular 3D object sold on the big repositories are baseballs and footballs - i.e. spheres ! They are used to make those cheap animation cuts between shots on scoreboards.

05-19-2010, 11:00 AM
Wait, this person sold your image?? I hope you pointed out that that was wrong.

There are very few people who will make a living wage from microstock, but as I understand it, it can be a way to get a little bit of money out of something you're doing anyway. I have a cadre of other visual effects students I work with, and we've considered trying to fund some of our projects by selling some HD stock footage that we pick up incidentally as we work. Unfortunately, figuring out how to handle the money has been a bit beyond us so far, not to mention actually carrying a project through to completion, so I don't have any actual experience to share yet.

05-19-2010, 11:03 AM
No, he used Robs free image instead of paying the fee to get it from a stock supplier. Still wrong tho.

05-19-2010, 12:00 PM
Ohhhh, not as bad. I thought he had sold it to the microstock people.

05-21-2010, 10:38 AM
Ohhhh, not as bad. I thought he had sold it to the microstock people.

That's what I thought as well. While I feel some relief knowing this person "only used" his image rather than actually selling it himself it is still a really wrong thing to do. Sorry this happened to you RobA :(
It's people like that who can make you hesitant to be so helpful next time. Nobody likes to be taken advantage of. Cartographer's Guild is full of helpful people and that community spirit is one of the beautiful things about it (above and beyond the maps of course). I would be very angry if I found out anyone here was being taken advantage of like this. I guess it's a personal hang up I have about things being just.

I HATE things that are unfair and unfortunately life is full of them. It would be nice if this $12.00 was that worst thing that happens to you but I doubt it. We just got back from vacation where my wife made a $ 3.50 per minute phone call using her credit card. Believe me she was done in under a minute! Yesterday we saw a charge for $ 34.00 and tracked it back to BBG Communications Fraud (http://www.ripoffreport.com/Telephone-Companies/Bbg-Communications/bbg-communications-bbg-communi-b256f.htm). I called the bank and hopefully they will kill it but based on what others have reported I am trying to brace myself.

Thanks for all the links as I will be checking them out as well.