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Less IT – Submit Your Images to Multiple Microstock Sites

In this post, I will be giving you a few insights into the workflow I use to get my pictures successfully uploaded to microstock sites.

There are essentially three stages to the process and my objective is to balance ease and speed with results. After all, no one wants to spend hours preparing and submitting images to each microstock site and then adding keywords and a caption – better to spend your time out walking and capturing some great pictures along the way.

Getting Started

Let’s start by assuming that you have taken some great photos and catalogued/processed them with something like Adobe Lightroom – indeed I would recommend Adobe Lightroom and I will discuss the merits of this software and why I have now plumped for the Creative Cloud version (in a package with Photoshop) in my next post. If that is the case we are ready to go.

Stage 1: Getting the image ready 

Before starting the process of submitting an image to a microstock site I ask myself three questions.

  1. Is this the sort of picture that will sell on microstock sites and will I be able to describe it?
  2. Have I finished cropping the image and managing exposure, balance, tone, vibrancy, etc?
  3. Have I checked for noise and reduced it to an acceptable level?

If the answer is yes to all of the above, then you are ready to get into the core of the submission process.

Stage 2: Creating your metadata – caption/description and keywords

I will add some tips about how to write a good caption and keywords – but to be honest I would not say that I am good at this and I am always looking for better results. But I do know a trick that will help with keywords – it results in a good set of keywords and is fast and simple.

All you do is pop along to Shutterstock, login and visit the Keywords Suggestions page. Add a couple of words that describe your photo, such as a location, into the search box and you will see other pictures that have been submitted and approved for sale. Click on a few of these and go through the process to collect the keywords. You can add some new keywords into the box too so that you have a full set of words that will help people find your great picture.

This feature on Shutterstock is also great if you want to take a quick look at what others have been photographing before you go shooting. It is not advisable to just copy a particular viewpoint, but it is good to see what others have achieved on their shoots.

Stage 3: Uploading the images to the microstock sites

As I mentioned in another post, whist I have tried and used about 10 microstock sites, I have three favourites; ShutterstockDreamstime and Fotolia (now Adobe stock). I have given up on other sites for a combination of reasons including poor sales, difficult submission processes or too many rejections

Whether you want to upload to three or ten sites you can, of course, upload your images to the microstock sites by logging into each site and visiting their upload pages. But, the good news is that there is a simpler and faster method using the apps/websites such as picWorkFlow and Microstock Plus. Or using and FTP program.

PicWorkFlow

The beauty of picWorkFlow is that it allows you to add your image to a single depositary, where you can easily add the caption (description) and keywords (that you put together in Stage 2) and then uploaded your image to more than 20 microstock sites all in one go.

There is a little bit of preparation work but it’s all worthwhile. Once you have set up your picWorkFlow account and managed the logins for your chosen microstock sites (they are not always your login details, so you need to do a little work here to make sure that you have them right), the process is fast and robust. Low volume distribution is free (you get some free credits added to your account every month). You can also employ picWorkFlow to create a set of keywords for you and store your images on its servers should you wish.

The ease of using picWorkFlow does not stop there. If you are using Adobe Lightroom to catalogue your photos, you can use the free picWorkFlow plugin to export your images directly from Lightroom to picWorkFlow – there’s no requirement to store your processed images on your hard drive.

So, there we have it, a three-stage process to simplify and speed up the submission of your photos to multiple microstock sites. You will, of course, now need to visit each microstock site and finish off the process. This normally involves adding the category, checking that all the keywords and the caption are correct and press the Submit button. Then all you need to do is sit back and wait to celebrate when the microstock sites approve your images for sale. There is a little bit of preparation work but it’s all worthwhile. Once you have set up your picWorkFlow account and managed the logins for your chosen microstock sites (they are not always your login details, so you need to do a little work here to make sure that you have them right), the process is fast and robust. Low volume distribution is free (you get some free credits added to your account every month). You can also employ picWorkFlow to create a set of keywords for you and store your images on its servers should you wish.

The ease of using picWorkFlow does not stop there. If you are using Adobe Lightroom to catalogue your photos, you can use the free picWorkFlow plugin to export your images directly from Lightroom to picWorkFlow – there’s no requirement to store your processed images on your hard drive.

So, there we have it, a three-stage process to simplify and speed up the submission of your photos to multiple microstock sites. You will, of course, now need to visit each microstock site and finish off the process. This normally involves adding the category, checking that all the keywords and the caption are correct and press the Submit button. Then all you need to do is sit back and wait to celebrate when the microstock sites approve your images for sale.

Microstock Plus

Microstock Plus (or MicroStock+ or M+) is a cloud service that allows you to upload images to multiple Microstock sites. You don’t need to install it, it works on any OS and on any device, including tablets and smartphones. The uploading and submission process is performed by the M+ servers and it doesn’t require you to participate or keep your device on. It doesn’t matter if your internet is slow. Once the files are uploaded to the M+ storage, all work will be done by our servers, which saves a lot of your time and energy.

Microstock Plus Screenshot

I have been using it for some months now and it is my go-to platform replacing PicWorkFlow for me. I have now moved over to M+ and have found it easy and rewarding to use.

Advantages:

  • There is a fully functional free version. You can pay a small fee to upload more images a month.
  • The cloud store allows you to easily see what you have already uploaded.
  • There is a great keyword (IMS Keyworder) tool and you can tag images as editorial
  • There is a good list of sites to upload to including my favourites – Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Dreamstime and DepositPhotos.
  • There is access to 200GB of cloud storage.
  • You can see how much you have earned from most stock sites that you upload to and they are flagged green when the payment threshold has been met.
  • I successfully upload straight to M+ from Lightroom using the FTP process.
  • It’s fast….

Areas for improvement:

  • It would be great if you could add new sites via an FTP. I would like to upload to my own Microstock Site – Photo Walk UK
  • Sometimes M+ uploads an image more than once. There is some help on this one and you can tag as uploaded to stop the process. I have found this a particular problem with 500px.

All in all M+ is a great way to upload images to multiple Microstock sites.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol

Most microstock sites allow you to upload images via FTP programs. It can take quite a long time to set up but unlike PicWorkFlow and M+ you have full control over your stock site credentials. You do not have to pass them to a third party. There is no limit to how many sites you can upload, etc. And there are no costs unless you buy the FTP program. I use FileZilla on my Mac (also available for Windows) to upload to my site Photo Walk UK. It is certainly a little more technical but there is no doubt that it works.

Dropstock

Dropstock.io is a service that allows you to upload images, videos and vectors to multiple microstock agencies using Dropbox in a similar to M+. One advantage, although I understand that M+ may offer this is the future, is that you can add your own FTP Credentials. This means that you can upload to your own sites and too smaller microstock sites that are not in Dropstock’s expansive list.

It looks like Dropstock will also work well with Lightroom as you will be able to export to your Dropbox that is linked to Dropstock. Once the files are uploaded to your microstock agencies you will be able to delete them from your Dropbox account to save space. There is even a checkbox to help with this.

No data is being stored on their server as usernames and passwords are stored as part of the process within the folder kept in the user’s private Dropbox folder. The free plan provides 1GB of storage and

Wirestock

Wirestock is an agency that will make your stock photography workflow easier by keywording and uploading to multiple content marketplaces, including Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Pond5, Yayimages and Alamy. This is all done via a single sign-on

Instead of opening accounts on each and every site, the creator opens one account and submits all their images to all the largest marketplaces from one place (also possible to opt-out of specific agencies). With Wirestock, it becomes irrelevant debating about the best place to sell photos as it aggregates all of them.

Getting paid

Wirestock provides the ability to track and collect all of your earnings from a single site. Wirestock provides a single dashboard for tracking all sales from all agencies and allows withdrawing all their royalties from all sites with a single request ($30 minimum threshold).

Is there a Catch?

The first thing to say is that you no longer have control over your portfolio as you would with our own account. There is a 15% commission on paid royalties.

Lightroom

It is possible to use the export function on Lightroom to export to microstock sites. But you will need to export to each site in turn. This is quite an involved process.

Conclusion

There are at least three third-party apps that can be used to upload your images to your favourite microstock sites all in one go. My favourite used to be PicWorkFlow but now I am using M+ and I am happy with the result. As Dropstock allows users to upload to a non-standard FTP then this may be what I move to next so that I can upload to a larger range of stock sites as well as Photo Walk UK. If you have any further apps to recommend or tips, then please leave a reply in the comments below.

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Keyword, Meta and Upload Tools

Stock and Microstock Sites

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RW Jemmett Photography Directory

Keyword and Meta Upload Tools

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