He tripled his stock income in four months!


Supercharge Your Stock Portfolio

By Jeff Kontur, Stock Photographer

In September I took a good close look at my stock portfolio. After nearly five years doing stock photos and videos, it was the first time I had ever done that.

Between photos and videos, I had a total of 895 assets listed for sale.

Normally I set myself the modest goal of uploading 10 new items per month. With four months left to go in the year, I decided to try and reach 1,000 stock photos and videos for sale. Even then, that only meant uploading about 26 new items per month.

When I discussed this with my daughter, she challenged me to try and get to 1,300 by the end of the year. I would need to upload about 100 images per month to reach this goal.

With a cringe and a deep breath, I resolved to try.

Here’s how I did it, what it did to my sales, and how you can do the same thing to really ramp up your results with stock photography.


I began by looking at stock photo trends, designer requests, and custom photo briefs. Every stock agency offers these, though they may call them by different names.

There are two parts to this and both will help you in your stock photo journey.

The first is to find out what photos and videos people are searching for and buying. It’s much easier to make a sale when you are selling the very thing customers want.

The second reason is perhaps just as important: inspiration. There is such a thing as the photographic equivalent of writer’s block, where you just don’t know what pictures to take.

Seeing dozens of suggestions and ideas will help get you out there taking pictures again.

Deliberate Effort

I also began setting up stock shoots based around specific ideas.

I’d rummage through my house for props. Sometimes I’d go to the fabric store or even the dollar store to pick up some inexpensive items. I staged photo shoots in my living room, on the streets of my neighborhood, and sometimes even inside local businesses. (Be sure you get permission first if you’re going to do this! And always treat the businesses with respect and don’t disrupt their activities.)


Finally, by taking so many photos, I had to streamline my editing and keywording workflow.

Once you’ve chosen the best from each shoot, you can edit just those and leave the others aside. Editing becomes much more focused and efficient.

iStock has a tool that will suggest keywords. They look at the title, description, and will even do a visual scan of the photos themselves!

This tool has prompted me to add lots of keywords I might never have thought of on my own. Check to see if your favorite agency offers something similar.

When I first started with stock, I’d add only a small handful of keywords. Now adding 40 or more highly relevant ones is a breeze.

Making My Goal

The net result of all this effort is that by the end of the year I had 1,480 photos and videos posted for sale. I also saw my monthly income from stock photography more than triple!

Give these tricks a try, set an ambitious but attainable goal, and see if you can’t supercharge your own portfolio.

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