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This is how you earn 10,000 euros a month with stock photos

Photographer Robert Kneschke markets his pictures himself online

The photographer's profession is not considered to be easy, and the earning potential is not necessarily high. Robert Kneschke from Cologne shows how you can generate a monthly turnover of over 10,000 euros with photos. He has built up and optimized a huge stock photo portfolio over several years - using methods that are also known in classic online marketing.

Success through analysis

The most important success factors for the self-taught person are clearly “Analysis, market observation and research. A lot of people just take photos of everything they think is beautiful, ”he says. As a stock photographer, he tries to find motifs and topics that are currently in vogue. He achieved success above all in the area of ​​people and lifestyle - people in all possible situations are more in demand than landscape photos and sunsets. Kneschke uses the Stock Performer analysis tool to evaluate his work and prepare for new shoots. This makes it possible, for example, to understand which photos sell well at which times of the year. With the help of the monthly evaluations of his sales, he plans further shoots - if necessary, he takes new photos of his bestseller motifs. He also looks at which pictures colleagues were successful with and he analyzes which pictures are placed in which places in magazines.

One week of follow-up

Photographing itself takes relatively little time with an average of four to five hours. For the preparation, i.e. for researching the topics, booking the models and choosing the location, he needs about three to four hours. The follow-up is particularly time-consuming - saving the data, making a selection, editing images, indexing and uploading takes about a week. Initially, Kneschke maintained an average of one hundred keywords per image. Today he indexes his pictures with around 30 to 45 words, as he has found that too many keywords put off customers. In addition, many portals now limit the amount of keywords to 50 words. And of course: the better the keywords, the easier it is to find the images.

With his last annual balance sheet, the photographer caught the attention of the media and many colleagues. He relates his evaluation to his earnings with the five largest players - Fotolia, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, 123rf and iStockphoto, because this is where he generates the greatest sales. Accordingly, from July 2012 to June 2013, he earned an average of 10,524 euros per month, of which 6,423 euros alone with Fotolia. The sheer number of photos marketed by Robert is also impressive: at Fotolia alone, his portfolio now includes over 13,000 photos, of which over 2000 are exclusive material.

It's not worth having your own picture shop

The former hobby photographer originally wanted to use his blog to draw more attention to his work, but the content is more relevant for other people in the field and less for potential customers.

He also tried to sell his photos on his own website including a picture shop. But he lacked the time and energy he would have had to spend on search engine optimization to push the page. After a year and a half, he closed the picture shop. His conclusion: "Anyone looking for stock photos wants to have a certain picture and not a certain photographer".

Fotolia front runner in Germany

The earnings at Fotolia account for the lion's share of sales for Kneschke. While Shutterstock occupies the top position in many other countries, Fotolia is particularly popular in Germany. In his opinion, the advantage of the picture agency lies on the one hand in the possibility of offering 20 percent of its pictures as exclusive photo material and on the other hand in the established German keywording. It is also paid in euros and not in dollars like other microstock agencies. Thus there are no currency effects on Fotolia for German photographers.

At the end of his last annual balance sheet, he set goals: He wanted to achieve 10,000 files per agency, 13,000 files on Fotolia and a monthly turnover of 12,500 euros. When asked whether he had achieved these goals, he replied: “The chances are good. I have not yet made a precise evaluation, but I am satisfied. ”He is now reluctant to give concrete details of his earnings. He does not yet know whether he will publish his current figures again this summer.