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The “Newbie Syndrome” – Microstockers

The “Newbie Syndrome” – Microstockers

We experienced it ourselves, as many newcomers to Microstockers do. It is the most apparent with Shutterstock and less with other agencies. Once you get your application approved you are likely to see your first sale within hours or a couple of days maximum. You upload the rest of your portfolio that you have at the moment and – bingo! Your first weeks surprise you with nice sales. If you’ve read earning reports of other people before, you may feel you’re lucky to be well above the average in terms of all those RPIs, etc. You may get twice as much dollars as images you have uploaded for a couple of weeks.


The numbers may be different, but the trends of different people have much in common. When we were accepted at Shutterstock a couple of years ago, we started earning the same day and in our first month, we’ve got an income of about 135$. Having a bit less than 100 photographs uploaded, we were quite motivated by the results to go on. In a second month, we managed to get 170$ (including our first extended license sale for 20$).

7-The-Photography-of-Modernist-Cuisine-Collage1But be careful not to draw too optimistic scenarios for your future as a Microstock contributor, based solely on this first few weeks experience. As you see from the graph, after a period of rapid growth, downturn may come. And it happens for quite a few people. Then it takes time and effort to go back to your incomes of first few weeks.

There’s really such a nonsense, which I call the “newbie syndrome”. But what stands behind it? Is it only luck that all beginners are said to have? Or is there a better explanation? What should we do to to keep such a positive trend as much as possible throughout our Microstock career?

Reasons for the Newbie Syndrome

microstock_strategyApparently, it is not only your good guiding star, which helps you start off well. There are technical and logical explanations to it: Search engines and algorithms of most microstock agencies take into account the novelty (i.e. the upload date) of the images one way or the other. I’m quite sure this parameter matters for all Microstocks, but Shutterstock is known to be putting most stress on new images. In other words, the newer the image is, the higher in search results it is likely to appear => there’s bigger chance is will be sold. It really works like this. Many buyers don’t scroll more than a few pages of the results.

8225934732_2018b1e5dd_zAlthough there’s no proof of that, I’m quite sure some Microstocks also program in a bit higher priority to new Photographers to their search algorithms. It means not only your images will appear higher in search results because they have been uploaded recently, but also even a bit higher due to the fact that you are a new photographer. It sounds logical though to give such incentives to new contributors in order to show that Microstocks can make them some money.

To conclude, I think it’s really good we can have pretty good start with Microstocks. But it’s important to realize how it works and make the correct use of it.