royalty-free stock photos, stock photography, marketing, online sales, online marketing

A New Way to Market Royalty-Free Stock?



With the over-saturated stock photography market that the advent of digital photography and the ever-improving line of digital cameras has created, many of us photo veterans, who date back to the days of film, are having a hard time coming to terms with ultra- low commissions that the microstock houses are paying.

With that in mind, have somewhat limited options when it comes to marketing our work at prices with which we are comfortable.

One route is to build your own online archive and portfolio at places like Photoshelter, where I house an ever-growing collection of rights-managed and royalty-free photography.  One problem with this approach is that it is extremely tough to even get noticed in the sea of photography that is now online, which makes it very difficult to attract enough traffic to build a steady income.

There is another interesting option that has been around for a few years that I have recently discovered.

There are now several sites out there where merchants can sell their digital downloads, with the site proprietor taking a percentage of the sale price. While many people use these sites to market e-books, mp3’s, software, etc, it is also a viable platform from which to sell royalty-free stock photography and royalty-free video clips.

The site with which I am currently experimenting is the German=based Tradebit.com.

There are several things I like about the Tradebit model:

1) Tradebit is highly ranked with Alexa (as of today, 2381st in the US), ensuring a built-in traffic flow. While not all of these visitors will be looking for stock photography, at least you have a chance to get your tagged, keyworded files in front of thousands of potential buyers.

2) Tradebit offers several ways to get the URL of your homepage in front of the visitors to their site.

3) You can set the price for your offerings at whatever you want. If I’m not comfortable accepting the 30 perc ent of $1 sales that many of the microstock sitesw are offering, I can post the same photo at Tradebit at any price I wish. I may not make any sales, but I can always adjust the price as I see fit and don’t have to be frustrated at seeing my work being used while I pocket a 30 cent commission!

4) There are no monthly fees involved in dealing with Tradebit. Amazingly, you do not pay for them to house you uploads, they work only for a percentage any sales.

5) You are your own editor. There is no long curation process, where you are often told that your work is not suitable for sale on a particular site. You decide exactly what you want to post for sale, upload it and it is online, usually within a day and often almost instantly!

6) The offerings on Tradebit show up very quickly and competitively ranked in google searches.

7) Buyers on Tradebit are not required to maintain a user account. They simply find what they are looking for and download it, paying via PayPal. I’ve always felt that the easier it is for someone to buy something, the more likely they are to buy it.

8) You can easily create a variety of embedable widgets from your projects and place them in blog posts, on web pages, etc. (see example below):



So those are a few of the Pros to the Tradebit model. Are there any Cons? Of course. The Tradebit platform is sort of a self-serve process for both buyers and sellers. While the owner, Ralf, is very helpful and responsive to questions, it is often a process of feeling around the site to make things look and work the way you’d like. I’ve discovered a few amazing little hidden perks in my exploring (the ability to insert a clickable-to-my-site banner on my pages, for example).

Tradebit is only one of several options for merchants looking to do business on one of the digital download sites, and I selected it due to its traffic ranking and favorable reviews that I was able to find online.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of marketing royalty-free stock photos on Tradebit, as I’m only about a week into my experiment, but could this be the new wave for photographers to battle the online microstock mega-sites?


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