Finally you passed the microstock exam and your account is created. But what to do now? Obviously you need to create some content to sell, but what should you create?
This article is not just for beginner illustrators, but also for people who have not found themselves on microstoks yet. It’s important to know how to move forward when you just start, how to choose a direction and how to get a benefit from it. So here are 5 tips for stock illustrators which I would recommend to myself on the beginning:
1. Draw what you like to draw
It’s simple advice but a very powerful one. Do what you like to do and you will enjoy your work and your life and be happy - that’s really important. Don’t you think?
Buyers will like your illustrations because they are done with love and responsibility. It wouldn’t be products called “Whatever, just anything to sell” and people will see that! And that’s what will make you different from the crowd.
You are a multifunctional illustrator but you enjoy creating icons, logos or any other symbols. And you have an experience in this niche. But recently the new trend came - scene illustrations with people characters! After Slack updated their website with nice scene people illustrations it became a trend and all customers wanted it for their product! So why not to follow this trend? You can do this, you can draw many other things. And you did it! You spent weeks creating these complicated illustrations. But somehow your works are not sold at microstocks to compare with your icons sets! Why?
Because you are not enjoying creating this kind of illustration. Your people don’t look interesting or emotional - they are boring, because you were bored during the process. There is no original idea or something that will stand out from others’ works and to attract attention.
It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to experiment, it means to do what you like and don’t do what you don’t like. Because you will spend your time poorly and will not get the desired result. It isn’t worth it.
2. Find your own niche
With time you will notice that some of your work sells much better than the others. I’m not talking about single cases, I’m talking about themes! Some things are given to you better than others. And it’s good if your theme is in the niche that is not so popular between microstock illustrators. It gives you an opportunity to shine!
You can search what is trending, what people are looking for and create your content based on that information. But many people do this. And in the end you will find yourself creating content that exists in many other versions. Microstoks will be full with millions and millions of flower images and just a few (thousand) images for the “404” error page.
In the beginning you have to experiment a lot with topics and styles. But when you find your niche - keep working there and you will see the result fast. You can work in more than one niche and that is how you will diversify your work. Don’t be someone else’s copy - be your own original!
3. Find your own voice
Be consistent in your style. This is a moot opinion but I will try to explain my point. The style has something in common with niche - you have to experiment and define it! Keep your account consistent and fill your niche with consistent content. It’s not a similar content, don’t spam! The content with the same style.
Why is it important? When you will have your own tone of voice, like companies have their own brand, you will stand out from the other contributors. And what is even more important, the customers will visit your account to find the similar content to one of your work.
Your style is a graphic line illustration drawn by hand. You have a few topics which you like to illustrate - food, drinks, herbs and birds. A customer bought a pizza illustration from you, for his menu cover. But he also needs tomato and mushrooms illustrations for the same menu. We can guess that it should be in the same style as the pizza image done:). What is the first thing a person will do? Yep, search images in your account. Probably the customer will find more than he is looking for and will buy more images for his menu from you in the same style!
What would happen if you would draw a pizza in a line style, tomato in a polygonal style and mushrooms in watercolor? Most likely that customer would not buy even one image from you, because he needs more than one item in the same style.
There are many studios producing different varieties of content for microstoks, but they are creating a lot of images! A lot! So this is a different strategy. But if you are a single illustrator and want to succeed in this niche, my suggestion is - find your own style!
4. Think like a customer
I think it’s very important to know how your work can be used in the real world. When you start to create some artwork - think a bit how other customers, maybe designers like you, can use it? It will give you an understanding in which direction to move and how you have to design your image from scratch. Does it work for the web, for printing, for full screen, small space etc. Don’t create useless content for microstoks. Because useless things are not a design - it’s art in the best case!
You like to draw vector landscape illustrations. Where they can be used? For packaging of some dried meals for hikers; for notebooks; for hero images on websites etc. In most cases there would be a text on your illustrations and it needs a room!
Considering that, you choose the right sizes and orientation. Also sketching a composition with a place for imaginary text. Your image should have the right tone and colors - dark or light, subtle or vibrant. But it should not be noise - the text on top has to be readable. You can place a text as an example to see if it stands out, but you don’t have to sell it with an image.
5. Share your work on social media
Post your work everywhere you can, even if you are a beginner and your style is not defined yet. It’s very important to promote your illustrations at relevant platforms - Behance, Dribbble, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc. The more you promote your account then more customers you will have.
Many microstoks have a referral program - you help them to promote their platform, they are paying you for that. It is very beneficial for beginners. You share your work and get money from this! Sounds cool, right?
Also by sharing your work you can attract customers to create some custom projects for them. That’s how you can get extra money and perhaps some interesting offers or relationships!
Hope these tips will help you in your career as a microstock illustrator. Remember that it’s better to be yourself and do what you like and then everything will fall into the right place.