Stock Photo Ideas that you should NOT work on

June 12, 2021 / by Taras Kushnir


How to use the data

This is an example of data presented in the newsletters: (1K = 1,000; 456K = 456,000)

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 example query 123 456k 789k

green - highlighted as “better” option
red - highlighted as “worse” option
neutral - not highlighted
- good potential

Search: What customer enters into the search field.

Shutterstock Traffic: (Higher number is better) Estimate of average organic search traffic per month generated by this page on Shutterstock. Calculated as estimated search volume of Search multiplied by the Click-through Rate (CTR) of the URL/website with search results. This allows to estimate how many customers are truly interested in the topic.

Existing Results: (Lower number is better) Amount of results of Search on Shutterstock (already created content) also known as “existing competition” or “niche saturation”. The more results - the harder for new content to get noticed.

Google Volume: (Higher number is better) Estimate of monthly search volume of the same Search phrase in Google. This shows total public interest in the Search (for example, on other microstocks too).

Note: data presented in the queries is not the exact data (which is available only inside Shutterstock or other microstocks), but an estimate received after analyzing ClickStream databases. While it does not show exact number, it is very useful for relative comparison inside each niche.

Black Friday

Although every public holiday in US is nowadays a good reason for sales in every business, the Black Friday is the king of them all. A Friday that follows Thanksgiving is the busiest and most marketed sale event of the year. European businesses have also picked this tradition to make sales on that day so amount of customers who will need fresh content is huge. It is closely followed by Cybermonday. Cybermonday is a Monday following Thanksgiving that in 2020 has taken over Black Friday on total dollars spent shopping online.

Ideas from Shutterstock suggestions

Black Friday is the rush hour on microstocks too, but few months in advance, when brands are building their own promo materials. Lets see what Shutterstock suggests us as popular customer searches.

Shutterstock suggestions
The most popular customer Black Friday queries in Shutterstock

Knowing that these are what customers need is great, but it would be even better to know how many of them need it. Lets pull some Stock Photo Ideas data (see how to use this data explanation to better understand the table):

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 black friday sale 33 310K 250
2 black friday sales 0.1 < 310K 40
3 black friday crowd 0.63 2.8K 20
4 black friday people 0.1 < 42K 80

If you were to look at a sibling topic “Cybermonday”, Shutterstock only suggest us top-level query:

Shutterstock suggestions


Not many Cybermonday queries in Shutterstock

The data suggests that some Cybermonday queries do not get relevant Shutterstock traffic at all, while having more than 50,000 existing results. The reason is probably due to people actually searching deals instead of stock content.

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 cyber monday sale 1 < 50.5K 200
1 cybermonday 100 58.5K 200


More bad ideas

Black Friday price tag
There's no need for price tag content

Black Friday has lots of subtopics and majority of them are overflowed with some content. If you will be working on some content, make sure to not work on these topics, as it will be waste of time:

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 black friday logo 89 21.1K 150
2 black friday specials 0.75 163.2K 40
3 black friday tag 0.98 127K 30
4 black friday sale tag 1.7 125.5K 90
5 black friday vintage 1.2 38.3K 150
6 black friday sale signs 4 165.4K 150
7 black friday price tag 3 112K 100
8 black friday girl 4 38.5K 40
9 black friday icon 6 83.2K 70
10 black friday background 12 278.5K 70
11 happy black friday 12 65.8K 80
12 black friday wallpaper 18 37.7K 150

These content ideas are even worse since they have virtually no Shutterstock Traffic and still huge competition, drawn from adjacent topics. The worst ones - “backgrounds” and “sale sign”, being overwhelmed with existing artworks and seeing no significant traffic. Make sure not to spend your time on them.

Christmas

Christmas is one of the largest family-centered holidays in the whole world. A time of decorating the Christmas tree, cosy lights in the mostly dark time of the year and winter magic (if you’re lucky to have snow). Also a time when lots of companies need fresh microstock content for their social media campaigns and website banners. It is wise to prepare in advance so let’s see what ideas can we get.

Ideas from Shutterstock suggestions

The easiest place to get ideas about what customers want is Shutterstock suggestion.

Shutterstock suggestions
The most popular customer Christmas queries in Shutterstock

Knowing that these are what customers need is great, but it would be even better to know how many of them need it. Lets pull some Stock Photo Ideas data (see how to use this data explanation to better understand the table):

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 christmas tree 903 4.6M 310
2 christmas background 4.8K 11.9M 578
3 christmas lights 40 5.1M 18
4 christmas decoration 97 9.1M 23
5 christmas pattern 449 3.8M 36
6 christmas card 306 4.6M 276
7 christmas ornaments 1K 3.3M 1.5K
8 christmas vector 65 3.8M 68
9 christmas party 146 9.4M 35

You can see that there’s a huge amount of competition in all of these queries. All amounts of existing content is measured in Millions! Even though “christmas background” has almost 5K monthly traffic, which is outstanding, you will still be facing 12 million existing artworks to compete with.

All of these niches are bad, but if I were to select the one to work on (if I did not have other data), it would probably be “christmas ornaments” which sees a lot of traffic and “only” 3 millions of existing photos and vectors.

More bad ideas

Blue banners
Blue banners: there're enough of them

Shutterstock suggestions were not the only bad ideas to work on. Check out this list, which is related to Christmas and, while being flooded with content, sees almost no traffic. Make sure not to spend time on these:

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 holiday graphics 0.18 6M 20
2 winter holiday 0.29 7.9M 30
3 festive season 0.24 3.7M 20
4 winter wallpaper 0.61 1.9M 1K
5 technology holiday card 0.55 202K 30
6 winter background 0.91 11.7M 20
7 winter holiday background 1.8 6.3M 150
8 winter scene 4 1.5M 80
9 holiday pine border 3 169K 30
10 christmas blue banner 5 398.5K 70


Halloween

Halloween is one of the most awaited holidays around the world. Also known as All Saint’s Eve, it’s famous for “trick-or-treat” custom where kids travel from house to house, asking for treats. It’s a party of costumes, pumpkin carving, lighting bonfires and watching horror movies.

Ideas from Shutterstock suggestions

Obviously, it has a HUGE customer interest so it must be a great topic for content creation. Lets take a look what Shutterstock suggests us as popular customer searches.

Shutterstock suggestions
The most popular customer queries in Shutterstock

Knowing that these are what customers need is great, but it would be even better to know how many of them need it. Lets grab some Stock Photo Ideas data (see how to use this data explanation to better understand the table):

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 halloween background 1K 1.6M 3.4K
2 halloween party 157 660K 450
3 halloween vector 21 847K 300
4 halloween pumpkin 841 923K 450
5 halloween kids 121 186K 150
6 halloween candy 54 124K 90
7 halloween costume 172 386K 400
8 halloween icons 27 450K 500
9 halloween pattern 32 330K 80
10 halloween cat 404 112K 300

You can immediately notice that there are three queries, related to Halloween, that have more or less significant traffic: “backgrounds”, “pumpkin” and “cat”. First two have around one million (!) existing results. “Cat” query has “only” 112 thousands, so if you would like to choose “the best” content idea from Shutterstock suggestions, it’s better to go after a “cat”.

The lowest competition can be found for “halloween candy” and “halloween cat”, both counting around 100,000 existing results. In order to compete with this number of pictures, you have to poses truly outstanding skills and promote your content very well.

More bad ideas

Hand content
Halloween Hand - an unexpectedly bad content idea

Of course, Halloween theme is not limited by the Shutterstock suggestions and in reality there are many more content opportunities. And many of them are not great:

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 october halloween 3 802.9K 20
2 spooky background halloween 3 574K 900
3 halloween party background 3 481.6K 250
4 halloween graphic design 3 390.7K 70
5 halloween hand 2.5 383.3K 80
6 scary halloween faces 3 351.2K 40
7 halloween trick or treat 3 299.4K 30
8 pumpkin halloween vector 3 289.8K 300
9 halloween pumpkin vector 3 289.8K 100
10 pumpkin cartoon 2.8 255.9K 200

These content ideas are even worse since they have virtually no Shutterstock Traffic and still huge competition, drawn from adjacent topics. The worst ones - “halloween hand” and “pumpkin cartoon”, being overwhelmed with existing artworks and seeing no traffic. Make sure not to spend your time on them.

Memorial day

Memorial day is one of the biggest May holidays in US originally observed for honoring the militaries who have died while performing their duties. Today it is also a reason for sales and promotions on social media, which need stock pictures or clip-art to create their campaigns. Which, in it’s turn, is good opportunity for microstock contributors to create the content, needed by customers. We will look into what content was useless to create, accordingly to Stock Photo Ideas.

Ideas from stock website suggestions

If you’re a savvy contributor, you might have tried to create content based on what customers search, instead of just what you like. The easiest way to get this information is to go to some popular microstock and check the search suggestion.

Let’s see what Shutterstock has for us.

Shutterstock suggestions
The most popular customer queries in Shutterstock

Let’s take a detailed look at some of these queries (see how to use this data explanation to better understand the table)

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 memorial day background 91 236k 1.8k
2 memorial day sale 24 11.8k 60
3 memorial day flag 78 253k 1.3k
4 memorial day banner 62 132k 600
5 memorial day bbq 7 1.8k 40
6 memorial day parade 1.6 12k 20
7 memorial day picnic 3.9 2.9k 20
8 veteran memorial day 0.25 119k 20

You can notice that few themes that have high public interest (Google Traffic), like “memorial day background” and “memorial day flag” already have 236,000 and 253,000 of existing content created. You must poses a truly unique skills and be very lucky if you want to get to the top of this search results.

Two of the less dominated niches “memorial day bbq” and “memorial day picnic” (which are pretty much the same), that have less than 2,000 existing results, get very small Shutterstock Traffic, comparatively to other queries. This is also reflected in the very low Google Search Volume of these phrases.

There are two queries that have relatively low, but not the lowest traffic, having moderately high, but not the highest, competition: “memorial day sale” and “memorial day parade”. From all the bad options, these were probably your best bet, but only if your content truly stands out from the rest 12,000 results.

More bad ideas

Shutterstock suggestions
Do you think creating content for niche 'memorial day statue' is a good idea?

Queries, suggested by Shutterstock are not the exhaustive list of what you should not have worked on. Check out these:

# Search Shutterstock Traffic Existing Results Google Volume
1 happy memorial day 62 92k 1.6k
2 black and white memorial day 12 11k 70
3 memorial day star pattern 9 18k 60
4 memorial day statue 6 34k 40
5 retro memorial day 4.1 21k 250

Apparently there’s enough of “happy content” and “statues” for Memorial day, with 92,000 and 34,000 search results respectively. Also you probably were wasting time creating retro pictures or star patterns that, while having “only” about 20,000 existing competitors, see small public interest both in Google and Shutterstock traffic.

See also

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