Providing Stock+Resources Part 05: Premium Stock

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kuschelirmel-stock's avatar

This is Part 5 of Providing Stock+Resources - A Beginners Guide. It is aimed at resource providers new and old - I'm trying to give some tips and pointers based on my experience both as a stocker and a photomanipulator. If you have anything to add, feel free to comment, I still feel like I forgot soooo much Sweating a little... Any other comments are of course welcome as well. I hope this helps at least some Heart

>>What you will find in this guide:

  • Part 01: Introduction incl. Note on Copyright
  • Part 02: What should I put online? incl. Subject Choice | Dealing with Abuse | Technical Basics for Stock Images | Lighting setup | Tips and tricks on getting the most out of your camera | Post-processing images
  • Part 03: Stock Rules incl. Where to keep the Stock Rules? | What to put in your Rules | Refining as you go along 
  • Part 04: Uploading your stock to dA incl. Packs or Singles | Making sure people remember it's your stock | Upload choices | The right category | Keywords | Artist's Comment | Organizing your Gallery 
  • Part 05: Premium Content incl. What is Premium Stock? | Tips for successful stock sales on dA [you are reading it]

What is Premium Stock?

Premium stock is stock for sale. There are different ways to do this (though I am only listing the main two that actually involve a deviantArt account), each way with its own pros and cons - keep in mind that sometimes what is a pro for one person can be a con for another.

Option #1 - Using the Premium Content Platform (a service offered by deviantArt)

On dA, the most common way to offer stock for sale these days is via the Premium Content platform: on the submit page, you can upload a file in addition to the preview and set a price - the whole process is described here .
  • dA handles all transactions and the staff also handle complaints should this be necessary. For example, if the system glitches and doesn't let someone download or purchase, dA staff will look at it first and only approach you if they find there's something wrong with your upload - but you don't have to deal with the whole technical side of things. Or with currency conversions etc.
  • The buyer has to actively acknowledge your Terms of Use when they purchase. This may seem like a tiny thing, but it formalizes your agreement in a way that can help drive the point home that what they are buying is not the right to do whatever they like with your stock, but what you both agreed to in that ToU statement.
  • The buyer has instant access by paying with dA points (no one sitting around putting their muse on hold until you check your messages and send them a file via email for example).
  • The buyer has to have a dA account and they can only pay with points.
  •  Purchasable content will be identifiable in your watchers' message centers, each deviation with Premium Content has the tag "Digital Content Available" show up on the thumbnail. As far as I know, there is currently no way to search dA for Premium Content though, so this extra visibility is only in the message center.
  • Of course, this service comes at a price, which is a fee for deviantArt: 20% of the price you set goes to dA, the other 80% are for you. So for example, if you set the price of an item at 100 points, that is 1$ for you and 20 cents for dA. It's easy to figure out what you get, but also easy to forget that people are paying more because of the points system.
  • The payment is released 14 days after a purchase is made and can then be transfered to paypal (instantaneous, no fee), payed out via check (minimum 10$ plus 5$ fee if you have no dA Core Membership*) or as dA points (also instantaneous, no fee - not reversible!).

Option #2 - doing the selling yourself:

The second option is to use dA as a site for the previews only and put information on how to buy in the artist's comment.

  • This leaves you with different options for payment depending on what you prefer (paypal, wire transfer, etc).
  • You need to specify how you are going to identify a payment coming in and connect it to a deviantArt account or email adress - I've often seen this done by asking the buyers to contact the seller via note or email before they pay.
  • This then of course means you need to be online regularly to check if someone wants to buy something. You need to be quick answering notes/emails, checking your paypal (or bank account) for the money and sending out the image(s) to the buyer's email address or using dropbox, or something like that.
  • In this case, you need to rely on people reading your artist's comment to find out how to go about getting the premium stock (or whatever else you want to sell) as there will be no purchase button on the side and they will inevitable have to wait for you  to check your messages and send out the file(s).
  • For some buyers having to wait until they get the images (even if it's just a day or two) is a huge turnoff because they saw your stock and want to do something with it now, not tomorrow or next week. So if you decide to take this route you need to make sure you react fast.
  • If you are present on multiple sites, and maybe your buyers are likely not to have a dA account anyway, doing the selling yourself can be good for costumer retention (especially if they see dA as "one more social media site with kids showing pictures" ;)) and/or your branding.

Personal Note:

For me, the Premium Content option is totally worth it because the other ways to sell stock need a lot of personal involvement: answer messages, send out stock, etc. As I have a full time job and this is just a hobby (that may enable me to hold a contest with points or buy myself a subscription to dA if I'm lucky), I do not want to spend my time doing all of that. I'd rather go take some photos or upload some more (free) stock.  Personally, I also think that doing this the second way only works if you are doing larger packs / premades / etc [things that sell for higher prices] so you have a reasonable price to warrant the effort. On the Premium Content platform, you can sell single images for a dollar each (or whatever price you like) and once uploaded it causes you no extra work. Plus I don't have to worry about transaction fees, conversion of different currencies, etc... but for someone who is a full time artist, that extra time spent may be worth the money saved on dA's share. Everybody needs to think about this for themselves and figure out their way.

Tips for successful stock sales on dA

Of course it always comes down to whether what you are trying to sell is actually wanted -- supply and demand. But as someone who is selling some stock on occassion and also frequently buying some, I wanted to share some dA specific tips, some of which are born from frustation when I am thinking about buying something.

Always remember that the decision to buy your stock and stop looking for something else that is cheaper or free will depend not only on the quality of what you are offering, but also on the presentation, the rules attached, the price etc.

1. Show your customer exactly what they are buying!

This one has had me not buy stuff quite often in the past. I don't want to buy anything blindly, I want to know what I'm about to spend my money on - and so will most of the buyers out there. This can be done on the preview or in the artist's comment (only if it's something you can describe in words of course).
  • Thumbnails/Previews: I want to see the image(s) I'm paying for as thumbnails completely, meaning they can have a watermark, but they should be shown completely in small size so they fit on your preview nicely (unless it's a 20 image series of "more of the same", then you can think about showing less)
  • Quality: I am very much interested to see the quality of the image itself - for that, a detail can be shown at 100%. I find that especially important for premade backgrounds (example: Open Door Premade) to show that my blending is seamless. Adding a detail view can help set you apart from other sellers and drive home the point of quality. 
  • File size: I want to know how big the images are, especially if I want to buy them to create a manip I want to print out later. This means width, length (and resolution) of images; example: images are min. 2000 x 3000 px (at 300 dpi) - This is so easy to add and yet it is forgotten so often!
  • File type: If you are selling images, usually this is going to be a jpg. There's not much need to say anything about that as it is a very common file type. However, if you are selling something else - cut outs in png format, images with Photoshop paths attached, eps files, shapes, brushes, psd files,... - do tell your buyers what they are buying! For example, if you are selling Photoshop Brushes, tell them which version they are compatible with. If you were offering them for free, you can always tell people to "download and see because I don't know". But if they need to pay before they download, this is not an option!

2. Make sure your customer knows what they can and cannot do with the purchased stock!

I cannot stress enough that they need to be clear and concise and not too restrictive if you want to sell your stock.
  • If the rules are too long and unclear, people may shy away from buying because they are unsure if they can use the stock the way they have in mind.
  • If the rules are too restrictive, it is likely that someone who wanted to buy says (for example) "oh well, if I can't sell a print of my manip when I use this stock, I'm not spending the money on it." or "oh well, if I cannot use it with horses, I will look for something else"

Personal Note:

As I said in the earlier articles, I'm a fan of keeping the most important points of my rules (the ones I really, really want followed) on display in various ways: I have those summarized in my artist's comment and on the image itself (in the border) as well as in the Terms of Use that I put in the custom section of the Premium upload AND as a txt file in the zip people will download. I don't have separate rules for my premim and non-premium stock because I don't want to make things complicated. People who have used my stock without trouble in the past should be confident that if they buy something, they get the same deal.

3. Built Trust with your Customers! 

Deliver what you promise. Always, no exceptions.
  • If you are not using the Premium Content Platform, you could for example promise a response time of 3 days maximum - but if you do, make sure you always keep this promise. If you don't, you will have unhappy customers who probably won't come back because they feel cheated (and it doesn't matter if they actually needed that image within three days or not).
  • Obeying copyright is always important, but as I said above, when you demand payment you should be sure you can deliver without a hitch and without causing trouble for your buyer. This means: make triple sure that if you are using other people's resources to create something you are going to sell as stock, you are actually allowed to do so. If you are using your own images, make sure you say so to make sure no one has any doubts about your stock being legitimate.
  • Make sure people know what they get by showing your customers what's inside -- see point 1 & 2 above.

4. Remember your Audience

Any Business Economist has that one in his portfolio - but that doesn't mean it's not important. Even though it might sound trite. The first thing I find worth remembering is that stock on dA follows some slightly different rules than other stock sites out there. We offer images to use in manips and as drawing reference, not super polished works that you can stick as a website header image and all is well. And we offer a lot of that.

That being said, would you pay for something that you can get for free?

Well, I wouldn't - I don't actually. Rarely anyone would I'd guess. And it doesn't matter much how low your prices are. Even 10 cents are too much if the next person has the same thing for nothing.

So what does make me want to pay for stock?
  1. Exclusivity: I want something others don't get easily. By paying, I limit the amount of people who use the same stock. That means though that if there are tons of similar images out there for free, that part kinda falls to the wayside. Yes, I may have paid to use this specific image, but my manip's background forest still looks the same as the one of deviant xy who used the free image. So if you have access to places / models / accessories (dresses, jewelery, whatever) / objects that are out of the ordinary, chances are people might be willing to pay to get their hands on this stock.
  2. Quality: that can be anything from a good clean photograph without blurr, grain or other stuff to taking care not to cut off important things (like arms, legs, etc) or to removing people / signs / garbage bins from your images. If you are selling a premade background, make sure the blending etc is well done (and use a preview to show off your skills).
  3. Make your customers' lives easier by offering the object pre-cut. Or by doing a premade background. Or by offering brushes. This will add value to the stock and get rid of the sometimes not-so-nice background some objects have making the stand alone object look nice and clean. That all said, I have some precuts for sale that haven't sold a single time. It's the kind of stuff that is easy to come by, easy to cut out, too. Or sometimes the object in question is just not interesting enough for anyone to actually put it in their archive.
  4. Try to sell stock that tickles the imagination! I imagine, most purchases are actually made when people stumble over your stock (by accident or by searching - see point 5 below) and either go "oh my, this is what I was looking for!" or "this makes me want to open Photoshop and create something with this!".

5. Make sure your customer can FIND your stock!

If your stock is sitting in your gallery untouched even though you know it's the perfect thing and someone should definitely have expressed interest by now... then maybe your customers simply cannot find you.
  • A certain level of exposure is vital so that your name will be one people associate with stock and thus will come back for more. There are countless articles (helpful and not-so-helpful ones) on dA that claim to be able to show you how to get seen and some certainly apply just as well for stock as for art. What they have in common is usually this: you get what you give. Meaning: if you are active and upload regularly, interact regularly, feature others regularly, your chances at becoming visible grow.
  • In that light, you probably will not be able to sell stock without ever giving free stock here on dA. Exposure for stock artists comes not only from the usual suspects above, but largely from the stock being used and linked in other people's manips. If people have to buy all your images, that kind of exposure will decrease to nearly nothing and no amount of regular uploading / interacting / featuring will be able to make up for it.
  • Lastly, this site is f***ing huge. Even if your deviation gets a lot of faves in the beginning, it will drown in the mass of submissions after a short time. The only way to find something that has been submitted a longer time ago, is to search for it and that means you have to use appropriate keywords! For some tips and tricks on choosing keywords, please see Part 04 of this series.

6. Pricing

Ah well, that is always a tough one. All I can really say to that is that it depends largely on what you are trying to sell: is it "just" a stock photo? Is the subject super-unique? Is it a premade background you put lots of effort in? Or something you cut out? These last two give more value because they are not only selling an image, they are selling convenience to an extent.

All in all, I can only say you'll have to test this for yourself. Sorry ^^;

Personal Note:

However, my personal experience is that you cannot sell for too much money on dA. I'd say anything that goes beyond 500 points will have to be either an extensive collection of (similar) model photos you won't get elsewhere or something that is otherwise really attractive. I also find that collections of stock images do not sell as well as single images (where the buyer can pick the one they want and pay for only that one instead of buying a collection). On the other hand, a collection of cut out stock of similar images might have a chance at selling better than individual images... but all of that is mostly theory since it always depends a lot on the subject matter.

In Closing

I hope this article series has been helpful :aww: I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


*all information given as available at the time of writing (March 2016); please check dA's terms and conditions before you use the Premium System!

© 2016 - 2024 kuschelirmel-stock
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WakefieldDesigns's avatar
:la: Thank you Jasmin! I have a friend here who is considering offering their
photography for stock and had a lot of questions that you pretty much answered here. :love: