Friday, December 31, 2010

Best and Worst Sales of the Year

November 2010 had been superb. A large group of vector artists and photographers had claimed that November 2010 was their best month ever (BME). Yes, that include myself. However, for the past 2 weeks, since the middle of December, sales had declined significantly. I noticed that my sales had dropped for nearly 50% since 20th. The obvious reason is because of Christmas celebration, and that means holiday. Holiday is bad for vector artists and photographers because buyers don't buy at this time. October and November are perhaps the best months of the year. I think the reasons being is because of rush. Many companies around the world prefer their backlogs to be finished before the new year, thus they urge graphic designers to complete all the jobs before the new year.

I hope sales will fully recover as early as 5th January 2011. Next year, I plan to concentrate even more on microstock industry as the profit has been significant compare to whatever I am doing right now :)

Ohh yeah, and in case you have not noticed, I have setup a new poll on the left column of the blog. Please cast your vote now :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Strategies in Selling Vector Graphics

Selling vector graphics needs a strategy to win. You cannot simply draw anything you like and upload them without a direction. You need to set yourself a winning strategy to gain in the long term. Yes, this is a long term game, and it is not a get-rich-quick thing. I have seen many strategies used by different artists and I believe most of them have excel in their own ways.

Producing Only Good Quality Vector

Producing good quality vector takes time. One very good vector takes about 3-7 days to produce. You take into consideration of every pixels and make sure everything is perfect before releasing it. Your portfolio will be very much smaller in this case because you can only produce 2 vectors per week. There is a big advantage in this strategy because your vector graphic is likely to sell a lot and for a very long time. A high quality vector can generate about $500 a month and will probably continue to sell for a very long time. Additional to that, you will be branded as a "celebrity" and celebrity has fans.,1290532071,2/stock-vector-vector-set-calligraphic-design-elements-and-page-decoration-lots-of-useful-elements-to-embellish-65754793.jpg
High quality vector.
This is a top seller at Shutterstock.

Producing a Similar Theme of Graphics Everyday

Now, this is a strategy that not many will use because it is hard to produce something similar, over and over again. But if you are a machine and full of ideas about it, this strategy can be applied to you. Producing a similar type of graphic has its advantage of its own. First, buyer who lands on your portfolio will definitely buy something from you because you have got tons of choices to choose. There are high chances that he will buy a few vector graphics from your portfolio in one time. Also, he may come back for you in the future because he knows you have a lot of choices for that particular subject.,1283411048,1/stock-vector-seamless-pattern-60203107.jpg

A beautiful seamless pattern.
This is one of the best seller at Shutterstock.

Producing Single Isolated Cartoon Massively

How much is consider massive? 10000. Yes, there are vector artists who produce isolated cartoon massively. It is not crazy, is just pure hard works and creativity. Take a look at this portfolio by lineartestpilot and Cory Thoman. They have produce tons and tons of beautiful cartoons everyday and I think everybody will love these cartoons. In my personal opinions, single character cartoon don't sell well (perhaps 5 downloads per month) because it is very limited to its usage, but when one need it, they will definitely buy it for whatever price. A huge advantage in this strategy is that you can increase your portfolio size tremendously. Bigger portfolio means higher visibility. Drawing cartoon characters is fun too and you will never get boring with it. Because you are good in drawing cartoon, you can produce a lot of them in a short time. This strategy works and will definitely pay off.,1232570881,5/stock-vector-little-dog-sitting-23672650.jpg

A cartoon dog by Cory Thoman.
This is on sale at Shutterstock.

Getting Out of Competition

You know, whatever things that you can think off now, has most probably been drawn by other artists thousands of time already. Competition is never good. A strategy that some use is to get out of the competition. You research on the thing you had in mind and sees if anyone else have drawn it yet; and if you could do better. Yes, there are still things that hasn't been drawn thousand of time yet and you will definitely land on the first page in the search. Being seen means a sale possibility.

If you search for the keyword "Chinese Chess" vector at Shutterstock you will get less than 10 results. This means almost no competition for this subject and you will definitely being seen. Whereas, if you search for the keyword "icon", you will get more than half a million of such results. Try to avoid competition. Do something new and unique and it will be profitable in the long run.,1274752699,1/stock-vector-chinese-chess-vector-53805082.jpg
Chinese Chess in Vector at Shutterstock.

Drawing According to Seasons

What seasons do we have? We have Christmas, Valentine, Halloween, New Year, Independence Day, and many many more. This has never gone wrong and there will definitely be buyer on this. However, you have to upload your seasonal-theme vector a few months earlier. Clients need to get their stuff ready and graphic designers need your vectors earlier too for the preparation.,1263083679,4/stock-vector-valentine-s-day-type-text-44144614.jpg
Some Valentine Day artwork at Shutterstock.

Packing Everything 

You pack everything into one and sell it cheap. Yes, this basically destroy the microstock industry because you are pulling the price down. But again, if you don't do it, others will. And they will prevail, while you fail. This strategy is proven working, but whether it is worth doing it or not, is not up to me to judge. Packing everything definitely sells better but it is time consuming, and sometimes don't really sell at all.

As a conclusion, there are definitely many type of strategies to sell your vector graphics efficiently. However, it all comes down to hard work and skills. If you are really keen to go into selling vectors to make money, I recommend you to join the below agencies for a start and will it will definitely pay off.

I wish you good luck and remember to share this article to your friends if you love it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 Reasons Why You Should Sell Your Vector Arts Online - For Graphic Designers Only

All graphics designers in this world should sell their artworks online. Below are 10 reasons of why every graphic designers in this world should try and sell their artworks online. If you are new to this, I strongly recommend you to read the FAQ here to understand how everything works.

1. You already have the knowledge to draw artworks, and it is a waste not to use your skills to gain more income for yourself. I started out as a web designers, earnings $3000 a month, and now just after 6 months into microstock industry, I have earn an extra $2000 a month (even without doing anything anymore).

2. You don't have to convince anyone. I understand that the frustration we have as a graphics designers. We feel frustrated when our clients dislike our works and request for changes. However, in this industry, you only need to pass through the agency reviewers (which is always easy). Even amateurs with some simple buttons design can manage to sell their artworks online. Take a look at an artwork I did 6 months ago. Believe it or not, I have manage to made over $300.00 in just 6 months time with it. And the sales is still coming in. For the record, I have only spent 3 hours with the below artwork. This simply means, my 3 hours of work is worth $300.00 and it is still counting.

stock vector : Badge Sticker Set Vector

3. No marketing needed from us. Yes, microstock agencies in this world are huge companies. They are companies that worth over $50 millions. Marketing and advertisement campaign are done by them. They are the hypermarket, and we are the producer of the products inside. Joining these agencies will allow you to concentrate on your work fully and need not worry about no one buying it.

4. Your vector artworks will be on sale forever. Once you have successfully uploaded your works into these stock agencies, you can then sleep well at night and check on your earning the next morning everyday. No business can be better than this for a graphic designers.

5. You don't need a funding to start. This is not a big business whereby you need a significant resources to start. As long as you have a computer, vector illustration softwares, and skills, you can already start generating income. Read this page to learn more on how to start selling your vector online.

6. You don't need a partner. In fact, all vector artists should do this alone simply because you don't need a partner to start. This is all individual work, and you don't want to waste your time in discussion.

7. You work for your hobby. There is no obligations, regulations, or any commitments you need to put into this. Microstock agencies do not force you to do anything. You do it whenever you feel like doing it. For your information, some vector artists produce 1 artwork everyday, while the other... 20 a day depending on the skills and quality of the work.

8. The biggest dilemma of being a graphic designer is to chase for the money. Clients sometimes drag our money to a very long extent and at worst, they never pay at the end of the day. After 6 months into microstock industries, I have to clap my hand and give praise to how efficient they pay my earnings. So far, I have not receive any late payment or delayed earnings at all.

9. The longer you are in the industry, the bigger you are. Buyers love to buy back from you if you can consistently produce good artworks. When your portfolio becomes bigger, your chances of selling is also higher.

10. And lastly, you can work from home :)

For a start, I would recommend you to join the below 6 microstock agencies and get yourself to register as a contributor to them.

They have consistently create sales for my works and best of all, it is in an uptrend. 
I wish you good luck and may all the graphics designers in the world earn more.

Ohh, and before I forget, joining these stock agencies as a contributor is totally FREE.

Register as a contributor now :)
If you have any problem in the registration process, just ask me at this Facebook Discussion Board. I will try my best to help.

Tutorial: How To Draw Glossy Button With Shadow

There are many techniques to draw a glossy button, but I will explain to you the easiest one.

First of all, draw a blue circle with RGB 0, 128, 255.

Blue circle.
RGB 0,128, 255.
Size 90px x 90px.

After that, draw a smaller circle with Linear Gradient from top to bottom with the gradient of RGB 0, 128, 255 and RGB 255, 255, 255.

Gradient circle.
RGB 0, 128, 255 to 255, 255, 255.
Size 60px x 60px.
Gradient angle 90 degree.

Centered both the circles like the below.

Adjust the height of the Gradient circle and push it to further top. See below for example.

Now you have got a glossy button, and it is time to add some shadow to it. Just draw another circle with the same size as the bigger circle with the gradient of RGB 0, 192, 255 to RGB 255, 255, 255. Adjust the location of the gradient angle to have more white color.

Gradient circle.
RGB 0, 128, 255 to RGB 255, 255, 255.
Size 90px x 90px.
Gradient Angle 90px.
Gradient position: Adjust it to have more white.

Move the new gradient to the bottom of the glossy button and this will be the shadow of your glossy button.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FAQ - For Newbies

I have just complied a list of FAQ for newbies in a special page. If you are new to selling vector, then please read through the FAQ. I am sure it will help.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions for Starters

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shutterstock's Strategy: Boosting Sales For New Stocks

Have you ever wonder why your newly uploaded stocks at Shutterstock gets more downloads compared to other agencies? That is because Shutterstock has a strategy that keeps new stocks get better visibility.

Let's compare the search filtering choices we have.

1. Most Popular
2. Newest
3. Oldest
4. Random

1. Best Match
2. Age
4. Contributor
5. Rating
6. Size
7. Title

1. Best Match
2. Date
3. Price
5. Popularity

1. Relevency - Descending
2. Relevency - Ascending
3. Download - Descending
4. Download - Ascending
5. Upload- Descending
6. Upload- Ascending
7. Resolution- Descending
8. Resolution- Ascending

Shutterstock only has 4 choices (Most Popular, Newest, Oldest, and Random) on the search filter. Let's understanding them better. Oldest filter is pretty much useless because I don't think buyers want to look for old stuff. Random is also useless because it don't return you with good results at all. So, Shutterstock literary forces its buyer to search for Newest and Most Popular. I don't know the actual algorithm behind the Most Popular filter, but from my experience, it is able to give chances for new stocks to appear on it pretty quickly. If your stocks has a few downloads each day after the first few days of upload, it can then be quickly shoot to the top of Most Popular. I believe Most Popular has something to do with number of views, downloads, and age.

Because Shutterstock's search don't have other choices like Number of Downloads and Rating, older stocks don't have the advantage of being grandfathered, thus new stocks have chance.

I believe Number of Downloads or Rating basically kill off new stocks. Simply take a look at other agencies, 3 years old stock will always be on the top of Downloads due to obvious reason. Rating is prone to abuse and I believe that it favors older stocks in some ways as well.

The more search choices an agency has (that does favors new stocks), the less visibility we have for new stocks.

So, if you are a grandfather in stock agency, then you will feel that IStockPhoto, Fotolia, and Dreamstime love you in a constant way. And you may not feel the same for Shutterstock because it doesn't favor your 10000 stocks which is 3 years old now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IStockPhoto Exclusive, or Not?

Should I become an IStockPhoto Exclusive, or not? That is the question, and will always be the question among all stock contributors. I have got the answer today, and it is... "Yes and no, depends".

What is IStockPhoto Exclusive? IStockPhoto Exclusive means that a contributor can only upload his stocks to IStockPhoto and he shall not sell it elsewhere. The advantages and disadvantages of being an IStockPhoto Exclusive are listed below:

  1. Your stocks price will be about 40% higher.
  2. Your royalty percentage is higher as well.
  3. IStockPhoto will rank your stocks higher in its search engine.
  4. The reviewer will review your stocks in a shorter time.
  5. The reviewer will be more lenient in accepting your stocks.
  6. You got a crown icon at your profile, and you will be respected more (at IStockPhoto).
  7. They will help you to fight against infringement.
  1. Very high risk, because IStockPhoto can change to a new plan that does not favor you. They can change this anytime they want.
  2. You cannot sell your stocks elsewhere. This means you may have not maximized your earnings.
Wait. There are 20 other microstock agencies out there. Shouldn't there be no argument at all that my earnings will be maximized if I sell to all of them, instead of IStockPhoto solely? NOT NECESSARY.

Yes, there are 20 other microstock agencies out there, but only 4 of them are making significant earnings. They are ShutterstockDreamstimeFotolia, and GraphicRiver. The rest are almost hopeless at the current state.

Let me get you straight to the fact. One top vector can make you about $5000 a year at a combined sales of all other stock agencies, while a decent vector at IStockPhoto can make you about $20000 a year. There is no secret that a vector can has the biggest revenue at IStockPhoto if it sells.

Below are some examples of IStockPhoto Exclusive's work that has generated a revenue of over $40000 in 1-2 years.

2400 downloads to date since March 2008.
Each download is 20 credits.
Per credit is about $1.30.

6900 downloads to date since June 2009.
Each download is 14 credits.
Per credit is about $1.30.

Now, is there any Independent Contributor (Independent Contributors means you are not exclusive anywhere) has made that much with a single vector? Not very possible.

So, why the hell are we still being Independent Contributors? The reason is simply because many of our best sellers (elsewhere) are not being accepted by IStockPhoto. There are many type of vectors that IStockPhoto don't accept. Here is an example of one of my best seller elsewhere.

stock vector : Kitchen Utensils Set Vector

The above kitchen set utensils is one of my bestseller (elsewhere) because I have combined all of these fine looking tools together and they look worthy by "being together". However, IStockPhoto rejected it because they think knife, cutlery, spatula, and scissor should not be group together, and they should be split into smaller groups. Ohh, ok... so let's split them up since there will be more artworks for me to sell, right? But no, my style of artworks don't work this way. When I split them up, they will look less-worthy and nobody will want to buy it anymore. See the below and you will feel it.

Click on thumbnail to zoom in.
2 sales since May 2010 at IStockPhoto.
10 credits per download.

Fortunately, the big group below is accepted by IStockPhoto, and they didn't say that ruler, protractor, and compass do not belong together. So, I have got a better sales :)

Click on thumbnail to zoom in.
17 sales since May 2010 at IStockPhoto.
15 credits per download.

Imagine, if I were to split the above mathematical instruments into smaller group, how will they look like? And will it look worthy anymore? I guess no, because this aren't great artwork. They only look good by being together. Imagine if the 3 compasses below were to be an artwork of its own, it will look awfully cheap.

Now, let's go back to the original question. To be, or not to be an IStockPhoto Exclusive?

If you are very good at producing super super super vector, then you should be an IStockPhoto Exclusive. If you are an average-skilled illustrator like me, then you should not become an IStockPhoto Exclusive because most of your work will go down to drain. IStockPhoto rejection rate is very high. Below are some of my bestseller (elsewhere) that IStockPhoto will not accept for sure.

stock vector : Barbecue BBQ Silhouette Set Vector
1st rejection reason: Split them up and resubmit, please.
(After you split them up and resubmit)
2nd rejection reason: We don't accept silhouette anymore.
(What a waste of time to have asked me to resubmit)

stock vector : Web Design Element Frame Template
1st Rejection reason: Delete the text and resubmit, please.
(After you delete the text and resubmit)
2nd Rejection reason: We don't think it is suitable for our stock.
(What a waste of time to have asked me to resubmit)

So, why don't I produce artwork that IStockPhoto can accept? Yes, I can, but with my current skills, I am not able to produce super super super vector, and thus there will be no sale on my stock. Moreover, I like to produce easy stuff like abstract, web design elements, silhouette, and etc, and the buyers at other agency are still buying them although they are not top in quality.

That is why whether you should become an IStockPhoto Exclusive or not is highly depend on your skills. If you are super good, IStockPhoto Exclusive is your route to millionaire. If you are not that good, you may want to consider joining the other agencies below:

Until then, good bye for today.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tutorial: How to Create Stunning Background Effect with Gradient using Adobe Illustrator

Creating an artwork on a plain white background is boring. To make your artwork looks more stunning and expensive, you can add an intriguing background to it. This trick is very simple. All you will need to do is to create 4 squares with the same size and arrange it accordingly like the below example.

After you have arranged the 4 squares, pick the bottom left square and add a Gradient to it. Set the Gradient to Linear, 45 Degree angle, and Location 20. Remember not to have any Stroke Fill on it.

Repeat the above steps for rest of the squares. You will need to rotate the 3 other squares accordingly in order to achieve the effect below.

Now you are done. Go ahead and put some of your artwork on it, and you will realize that your artwork's value has increases :)

An example of a washing machine silhouette
on this stunning background effect.

Please share this tutorial if you love it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

7 Reasons Not to Hire People to do Vector Stock For You

1. Return of investment. 

You may not get back what you have invested from the person you hired. The reason being is because a stock vector may not sell at the end of the day or at worst, gets rejected. Here is an example of what you will get per vector depending on the quality of the vector. Bear in mind all of the figures below are just estimations and may not be accurate at all.

An antique abacus vector.
Skills required: Average.
Production time: 3 hours.
Earning after first 6 months: $1.00
Hiring a freelance to create: $50.00.

100 road sign vector.
Skills required: Average
Production time: 10 days.
Earning after 6 months: $50.00.
Hiring  a freelance to create: $500.00

2. Management.

Hiring someone means you have to look into his work to ensure that there is quality control. You also need to have discussion (waste of time) with him and sometimes you have to look at his angry face when you comment on his works. This is called management. And managements means more investment.

3. Potential of infringement.

How do you know that a vector he produced are not stolen from somewhere else? Will you check? There are millions of vector out there and most are free. Bear in mind that this is a very serious offend if your portfolio contains a copied of others people work. You may get your whole account banned for just 1 vector.

4. He may become your competitor.

Now, isn't that something common and shouldn't be a concern? Yes, it is common if you are in car repair industry, hair dressing, or software house, but vector stock industry is different. Imagine your portfolio is popular with seamless pattern design, and this guy who has been working for you has learned all the necessary skills to produce back the similar, but better vectors. He may soon start a new portfolio that competes with you on the same category. You have to understand that you have no advantage in this because buyers don't really care much about your reputation, nor do they have emotional attachment with you.

5. He can do it too.

When you are making a lot of money from him, he will sooner or later realize that he can do this on his own. This will happen a lot sooner than you can expect.You must understand that anyone with illustration skills can do this on his own. All he need is a computer, a software, and some keywording skills. Nothing more, right? This is not an industry whereby you need a lot of resources to start.

6. He may moonlight from you.

What's stopping him from producing higher quality vector for his own portfolio, and producing lower quality one for you? 

7. You learn less.

On a technical side, you will be spending a lot of time managing your workers. Will you still have time sharpening your skills on illustration? Afterall, the most important aspect in this industry is your illustration skills.

The above reasons make sense if you applied it on vector stock. However, if you are in stock photography, then the above 7 reasons do not applied anymore. The overhead to become a big and successful stock photography contributor is very high. You need cameras, models, studio, photography equipments, and travelling expenses.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tutorial: How to Create a Banner Scroll Vector Using Adobe Illustrator

Have you ever been wondering by how vector artist able to come out with unique banner that curved so perfectly? Here is a step by step guide on how you can do it with Adobe Illustrator.

1. Use your Adobe Illustrator and draw the below examples. I guess you have no problem drawing the following, right? In order to make all your points overlap accurately, you can use the Grid Tools (View -> Snap To Grid).

2. Select one of the rectangle and use Warp (Effect -> Warp -> Flag) just like the below.

3. Repeat the above step for the rests of the objects until you are satisfied.

4. Group the whole banner and use the Warp tool again. This time use Warp -> Arc, and you will get a perfected scrolling banner like the below.

I am also selling this banner scroll at IStockPhoto.

If you love this tutorial, please share to your friends and colleagues.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Much Money I can Make from Shutterstock, IStockPhoto, Fotolia, and Dreamstime?

That is a question that everyone will ask. There is no straight answer on this, but I can give some ideas on how much you can make from the below vectors:

A Combination Padlock
Shutterstock = $1.50/month
IStockPhoto = $4.00/month
Fotolia = $0.10/month
Dreamstime = $0.10/month
GraphicRiver = $0.50/month

Green Environment Icons Set
Shutterstock = $8.00/month
IStockPhoto = $5.00/month
Fotolia = $0.50/month
Dreamstime = $0.20/month
GraphicRiver = $5.00/month

Looking at the two example above, you can see that a good vector can make about 10x times more than an average one.

Shutterstock, IStockPhoto, and GraphicRiver can make some worthy earnings, whereas Fotolia and Dreamstime are almost hopeless. However, this does not mean you should forget about Fotolia and Dreamstime because the above are only two small examples. Sometimes, Fotolia and Dreamstime can make even more profit from a single item, but the chances are low.

As for photos (not vector), I could not give you a good example as I do not upload photos. But earnings from photos are normally 10x times lower than a vector, unless you have a very good photo which can sometimes make $5/day.

Today is the Day

Today is the day that I will start a blog about stock vectors (graphics and illustration), and perhaps a bit of stock photography.

I am a vector illustrator myself and you can view my portfolio at Shutterstock.

I am also buying photos and selling vectors at


This will be the start of a new journey in my life.