As a keen photographer, I take lots of photos. It's not uncommon for me to shoot upwards of 500-600 photos in a weeks' holiday, and sometimes I like to feel that I've come home with some pretty good shots. I've tried my hand at submitting shots to the bigger stock libraries, but the process always seemed very complex, and the returns were never in your favour and also preferred top quality silly expensive hardware produced images. Canon 5D Quality, thousands of pixels by thousands of pixels, and shot with expensive prime lenses. Not that these requirements are unrealistic, they do charge top rate for their images, and they're all very high quality, but this meant my "hobbyist" shots were out of the running.
Then along came a UK startup Picfair.
How it works
Picfair is by far the simplest photo stock site out there right now. As a buyer, there is a fairly comprehensive search as well as editors picks that help filter the great shots from the ordinary. However, the primary discovery channel is the home page Trending feed. As far as I can tell, this is mostly page view driven, the more views your photos get, the better your chances of climbing the trending feed. Although this appears to work great for the current levels of traffic, I do wonder how sustainable this is longer term. It does mean that you can get quiet a good idea of how well certain photos do in attracting interest. Some of my photos that I thought were great, have only received average interest, whereas other photos have faired much better.
Purchasing photos is also very simple. There are no complex 'token' systems, you buy photos with real money via Stripe Payments. As a developer who has used stripe, I cannot recommend any other payment provider over them. There is also only one, very simple, license. As long as you don't use the images for corporate branding, you're pretty much good to go.
As Seller, Picfair is brilliant. There is no complex audition process as with other stock sites. There are no required Image quality or size requirements. You just sign up for an account, upload your photos free of charge, provide some basic metadata, and set your prices. That's it. Picfair will then advertise your price to buyers, and then add their own commission fee of 20% (as well as a small transaction fee) during checkout. This is a world away from other photo stock sites, where you as the photographer would expect to receive 15-45% of the sale price. With Picfair, you receive closer to 80%. I guess the clue is in the name!
There's a very big aspect to social media to help adversities your photographs. Tweeting about your photos will help generate page views, although how many of these are automated twitter bots is hard to tell. You'll often get a retweet from the picfair account, which then boosts page views even more, as well as bringing you photos to the attention of the picfair team, which If you're luck could then get you featured on the Picfair blog.
As I've mentioned earlier, apart from actual sales, page views is the only metric the site provides that allows you see how popular your shot are. This is defiantly an area that could be improved upon, but it's not a deal breaker.
I found with the majority of my photos, most will happily generate approximately 10-20 page views within their first few weeks, depending on the subject of the photo. You can significantly increase your page views by using the built in "Share on Twitter" feature. With my fairly small Twitter followers count, this usually gets me an extra 40-50 page views. If the Picfair then retweet you, you can expect another 50-100 page views. Getting featured on the Picfair blog has generated 400+ page views me, so It's always a good idea to aim for this. So far, my personal sales have been far to low to draw any conclusions as to whether these kinds of page views actually help sell you photos.
My Personal Experience
So far to date, I have been able to sell a few of my shots, to many, and certainly not enough to quit my day job at Kyan!
As a hobby photographer, I'm not in it to make money, but selling a few shots here and there is a massive boost to your personal well being. I've also only uploaded a handful of what I consider to be my better shots, But I try to spend about 30 minutes a week picking more photos, tagging them up and uploading them. I suspect, as with most stock photo sites, this is a numbers game. If you manage to build a large library of good quality photos, with good tagging and good descriptions, then the sales will slowly start to build up.
Please feel free to check out my profile at picfair.com/maniacalrobot