Last week, I have published my thoughts on the past year as well as the look out to 2015 in the stock photo business and my place within it. What I have not written about is how this blog fits into the picture. And actually there are some thoughts about this blog that I want to share.
Running this blog
In the past two years, I published 124 articles on this blog. Slightly more than one per week on average. However, the distribution was pretty uneven. There were months with almost a dozen of new articles, and some months in between with none at all.
It just happened because I don’t have a major plan for this blog. I just write when I find time and interesting topics to talk about. In the second half of the year, I also became more involved writing content for MyStockPhoto.org which is an independent and neutral source of information for microstock contributors. My friend Amos Struck (who also runs StockPhotoSecrets for buyers and two German blogs) took over the site when it was abandoned.
And that’s also what keeps me writing here: It seems that a few years ago, there was a bunch of hobbyist microstock contributors who were posting about their successes selling image licenses online. With the decline in revenues per image and the growing amount of work it takes to make progress in selling stock imagery, many of those contributors gave up – either just writing about it or stock in general. In my opinion, today there is a lack of information sources. Jim Pickerell’s stock photography news obviously is still around but you have to pay to stay up to date. I enjoy the posts by Paul Melcher who broadly talks about the photo industry and also covers a lot of stock topics. There is the blog of Henrik Lehnerer who also still publishes some of his sales numbers but his sales are distributed oddly different than the rest of the market.
While I’m at it, you should also follow Cobaltstock on Facebook and read Sean Locke’s blog for some more industry relevant news and information. And if you are able to read German (or use Google or Bing translation) pro stock photographer and book author Robert Kneschke is always worth a read as well.
Beyond that, a lot of blogs have stopped publishing or only keep it up to write an article every couple of months. This is somewhat sad, and I believe we still need sources of information and opinions. The latter is what I am doing – while I try to summarize the important market news as good as I can, I am also always opinionated. This is going to stay that way. I do not have plans to run a neutral blog. Sometimes I am angry about a decision or change, and I will say so. Sometimes I really love a new features somewhere, and I will say so. I know that sometimes I can be harsh, and sometimes I can be overly excited. I hope you’ll understand that all information in this blog is personal in nature, and therefore do not take anything you read here as the “absolute truth”.
How to run a blog as a professional
When I started this blog, I still was more of a hobbyist microstocker, trying to make a few steps into the more professional direction. But I still had income sources outside of photography.
Today, two years later, my life has changed in many aspects. Some things just happened and I had to react. Some things I decided myself. I ended up trying to become a full time stock photographer finally. I feel like I am an apprentice in this business right now, about in the second year. I will have to earn my degree within the next year or so to make it work, and I am quite confident that it will work out indeed.
Besides the photography (and some tries in vector illustrations as well as video and 3D renderings), I happened to pick up some contract work related to the stock photography business, and sometimes in general photography outside of stock. Within the last six months, I had a couple of great opportunities and I took them to broaden my range of income sources.
In this environment, this blog always comes last. This is unfortunate because I like to write and share my opinions. However, it is a business consequence. I have tried to monetize this blog with mediocre success: The Google Ads showing on these pages are not really making a decent return, the industry probably is too small to generate a significant number of page views. It pays for the web hosting, though, so I’ll leave them online and I hope you understand.
I also make some money from the referral codes that stock agencies are handing out – Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Depositphotos and 123RF are paying me some money for contributors I referred to them. It’s not really a significant part of my income but it’s a nice bonus making me remember the work I have invested in this blog for the last two years. So I really appreciate everyone who signs up to either of these agencies who clicks on my links to do so.
In addition, I have decided that I will look out for additional possibilities to monetize this blog. I hope you will understand that it is something I have to do in order to justify the work I am putting into writing articles (which sometimes is just a matter of minutes but often requires some hours of research and collecting information and opinions). I would appreciate if you share with me whenever you come up with an idea or see an opportunity that might help me do so. And in the mean time, I hope you continue enjoying my articles and share them with your friends and colleagues. This is also a way that helps me generate more pageviews, more clicks on my links and maybe a few dollars every now and then. Thanks a lot.