Category Archives: Articles

Articles to help you sell your stock photos.

Top ten things you can do to promote your stock photography and vector portfolio and get more sales

Top 10 things you can do to get more views, improve your sales and promote your stock photography and vector portfolio.

1. Take the time to properly keyword your photos and clipart with concise and descriptive words. Use scientific names or exact locations if relevant. In addition, use descriptive titles and unique descriptions for each file. Try not to just cut and paste the metadata. This helps buyers and search engines locate each photo you have in your portfolio.

2. Link to your Cutcaster portfolio from your website, your blog or your email signature on outgoing emails. Create a concise email signature that will be attached to all your outgoing emails and have links to your portfolio in it. Adding a signature to your username is also smart to do if you post in forums or message boards. These links are valuable tools for people to find your photos.

For example, if we used our Cutcaster demo account, we would want to link to this URL.

3. When linking to your portfolio try using anchor text links like “stock photography” or “download photos.” Wikipedia says,
“The anchor text, link label or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text can determine the ranking that the page will receive by search engines.” This will help Google and other search engines know that your studio link is related to whatever text you use in your anchor link.

For example, if we used our Cutcaster demo account, we would want to link to this URL. using the anchor text ” Royalty Free Stock Photos

4. Join our Photography Referral Program and use your referral links to send photo buyers and photo sellers to your photography portfolio to find extra ways to make money while you promote your work.

5. Use the Portfolio “Share” button to add your portfolio and photography to social networks that you belong to. Just click on the “Share” button on your studio page or any page that has an image that you like at Cutcaster and add it to the list of social networks.

6. Submit your portfolio studio and lightbox links to Google. This helps Google find your portfolio and index your content faster. You should submit your unique Cutcaster portfolio link that you can find on your studio page to the the major search engines. In Cutcaster’s case we would submit,

Here is the address to submit those links.

7. Submit your Cutcaster studio page to photography and vector related portfolio sites, directories and forums. You can do Google searches to find the best directories or look at our Photography resource page for good sites to promote your artwork.

8. Create specific photography lightboxes that highlight images around a topic that you know photo buyers are interested in. For example you might want to create a lightbox that relates to Christmas photos and clipart or New Years’ photos with 20 or more of your best photos in it. Or create one that is for Sports photography or Food lightbox related. It is up to you. You can submit these lightboxes to search engines and also send them directly to friends, family and best of all photo buyers.

9. Do your research and create great photos. Look at the information agencies provide you to know what buyers are looking for and where there are under-served, niche markets you can target. Check out what photo agencies are looking for or what is requested by photo buyers in things like ProjectRequest.

10. Use to find out what photos, images or clipart people are searching for or having a hard time finding. Try simple searches like “stock photos” “stock photography” or “find image” and play around with the keywords to find different conversations and searches people are having. Find the buyers and talk to them about what they want and then create it for them. If you have what they are looking for, you can then direct them to your Cutcaster studio page so they can buy it.

Which photo resolution size is big enough for my creative project?

Every photo buyer, like yourself, can choose from multiple resolutions offered at Cutcaster, ranging from XSmall, Small, Medium, Large and all the way up to XXLarge etc. We introduced the tiered pricing earlier this year and answer a lot of emails about what resolution size is large enough to fill a specific creative need.


So how do you go about determining which file size is right for your creative project? We are here to make sure you get the most image for your money.

Do you want to use this stock image for web or digital use, such as your photography blog, website, a banner advertisement or a powerpoint presentation? If this is the case then you may be best off just downloading the smaller file sizes. For example an image resolution that is around 600 x 800 pixels would work well for that.

Internet Blogs Concept

Are you planning to use the stock photo for a print use instead? If your desired print size is approximately 5 inches by 7 inches, i.e. about the size of a greeting card, we would recommend downloading the medium resolution file (~1200 x 1600 pixels). If you also wanted to use that image on your website it would work well for your digital or web needs.

If you want this picture for full-page, A4 size printing, then you will likely need the larger image resolutions (i.e. 2300 x 3000 pixels). You can use this for smaller size print needs, as well as web and digital use.


If you have any other questions on what size photo file you want to download and whether it will be appropriate for your creative needs please just email,

Resizing your images without quality loss

We get emails now and again from puzzled photo buyers about image resolutions at Cutcaster and what size photos they need for their specific project now that we offer different image resolutions at Cutcaster. Photo resolution has to be one of the most confusing and misunderstood aspects of digital image editing. Photo resolution only matters if you’re going to print the image in a book or magazine for example. If you are only going to use the photo online, you should focus your attention on the pixel dimension. At any resolution, you can measure the pixel widths and heights. It’s important to be very careful though how you change it. In order to best protect yourself, open the Image Size dialog in Photoshop and “uncheck” the Resample Image check-box at the bottom left. This has the effect of locking the pixel data, thus locking in quality. This is where it can be kind of confusing because the onscreen image won’t change at all and you can only see the truth by opening the Image Size dialogue box.

If you have any question about photo resolutions or pixel dimensions, please leave a comment below or email help AT cutcaster DOT com.

Recent survey finds that Designers and creative professionals are using more stock images

Great news for those of you selling your photos and buying photos for your latest project. A new survey released by the International Communications Research (ICR) concluded that more than 40% of designers and creative professionals are using more stock photography and stock vector illustrations to lower their images costs in 2009 than compared to 2008.  Is this shift in buyer’s behavior a response to the economic downturn?

Financial Crisis

The report highlighted that designers and creative professionals could save much more money and time when using stock photo agencies. Microstock photography agencies and royalty free photography agencies price their content cheaper than a traditional stock agency.  Agencies have responded by creating more incentives and deals to attract picture buyers.

At Cutcaster users can set their prices or choose a pricing algorithm to find the correct market price.  On the other hand buyers can purchase content at the price shown or if they have more time or have a smaller budget can bid on content and name their price.  Contributors can negotiate pricing with a buyer and get important market pricing information

Key Survey Statistics Highlighted below:

• 40 percent of art directors or art buyers cite budget decreases compared to a year ago.  Will image buyers be attracted to the bidding option and more advanced search features so they can decrease their costs and still get the best images.

• More than one in five art directors and graphic designers (22 percent) are working on more projects for less profit compared to a year ago.  Can cheaper royalty free images help decrease their licensing costs and increase their bottom line?

• Two-thirds (67 percent) of graphic designers/art directors are doing more in-house production as a cost-saving measure. Other cost-saving measures include using online royalty-free stock photography agencies (51 percent) and using traditional stock photography agencies (18 percent).

• When asked what most influences their decision to use online royalty-free microstock photography, most respondents answered limited budget

Shrinking Dollars

Other top reasons included:

- To combine elements into a new design (41 percent)

- Using images for an indefinite period of time (40 percent)

- Using images in a combination of communications mediums (37 percent)

The Dynamic Duo of Danielle and Frenk- Introducing DNF-Style

DNF-Style is one of Cutcaster’s oldest contributors and stands for Danielle and Frenk who make up the photography team. Below is an excerpt of an interview we did with them last week that helps to educate other photographers and explains their background.

1. In today’s visual language, how do you make images that are authentic to “your” brand?

At DNF-Style, Danielle and I try to avoid acting emotional. Using ‘method acting,’ among other techniques, we try to get our model to experience the emotions we want to convey. ‘Method acting’ is a technique in which actors aim to place in their mindset the thoughts and emotions of the character they are portraying in an effort to create lifelike performances.

2. How do you, in this new media landscape, convey an image that “sells” and seems honest as opposed to the professional imagery of 5 years ago?

I guess not at all. We have always tried to achieve honesty in our work and that hasn’t changed the last 5 years. What has changed is that we have a better view on what sells and what doesn’t in general.

3. What’s changed in your mindset? Are all the images just personal based?

If we look at the last 5 years we got a better view on what is being sought by our buyers. Besides improving our technique, which is an ongoing business, it is mainly Danielle that does a lot of research towards finding examples of what sells best within certain settings. This means analyzing the top 50 sales within a setting and trying to find the common denominator of what sells and so getting an idea of how to approach our own.

4. What is the biggest challenge facing you in today’s market?

Trying to keep the sales up in a down market. After the first two months following the financial crisis, the downturn cost us about 30% of our income. Not only because of the setback in number of sales but also, and in a greater value, because of the devaluation of the dollar which we have to convert into Euro in order to collect.

5. What do you ask yourself when you are shooting an image?

There is one question that is continuously in our minds when shooting; “What will the potential buyer feel?”

We try to put ourselves into the minds of our viewer. We have to be able to take one step into the future, in order to see the end result of an image rather then the process we are in at that moment if that makes sense. When learning to shoot, this process gets easier and easier, while other attention points happen automatically. When someone first starts out, anyone can feel overwhelmed by how many facets one has to cover. Examining the end result while shooting is one of the final steps of this process.

6. Where do you sell more of your work, Subscription vs. a la carte downloading, and why do you think that is the case? What is your opinion of the different microstock pricing model’s and how they affect your bottom line?

Microstock has become a very big market in which everyone seems to see a lot of bread (cash). Every stock site now tries to find pricing models that will attract buyers of course. The big danger is that agencies price each other out of a market that is slowly reaching it’s saturation point. The bad I see at the moment is that Microstock sites, in order to survive, go towards a very low pricing model, damaging not only their contributors but also taking down other agencies, forcing them to follow their low pricing in order not to loose their buyers. In the end, the new microstocks do not survive but the ones that went down with their prices in order to keep in a competitive position can’t go up with their pricing tables to their old level without losing the buyers they tried not to lose in the first place. This results in an ongoing price battle in which only the one with the best quality images survives. As a photographer you feel like you are giving away your images for free and after uploading thousands of images it is not so easy to stop investing in the hope it will all get better. Bottom line for us is we also have to try to be the ones that can hold our breath the longest as we wait for this to play out.

7. What are some techniques you have learned over the years to help you get your images seen and sold?

Networking seems to be the key. However this is a kind of networking that can only be influenced by ones imagery. There is no contact with the buyer, no one to build your network on. You only hope that buyers see the quality of your work and start looking into your portfolio before doing a general search. There are many tools, like building lightboxes at Cutcaster. If one is an exclusive with one site it is easy to spend all time and effort on building these lightboxes and using all other promotional possibilities on the site to connect with customers. In our case, being involved in over 10 different agencies, makes that almost impossible. The time that takes in addition to our shoots, makes it so hard to complete everything. We strive towards high and solid quality and are considering thinning out our portfolio’s deleting all the older stuff which we feel does not reflect our quality standard we are upholding today.

8. How was studio started and who is involved in the business?

I have been photographing for 5 years now. Danielle has been modeling and photographing for 6 years now. When we became romantically involved we decided it was time to combine our strengths and start selling our work. Up until that point we both felt we still had stuff to learn (we still do but feel we are at an acceptable level). At the time we met, photography was not our job but our passion. When I got laid off February last year I took the opportunity to start taking photogs as a business. Sadly enough, a few months later, the crisis started. For those of you just starting off in the business, you will need to fight 10 times as hard to keep your head above water. After 18 months of fighting we managed to stand for 50% on our own legs but that is not enough. It seems the crisis is catching up with us now our reserves are almost dried out.

But that wasn’t really the question was it?

When we started it seemed like everything fell in place and all signs indicated we were doing as we were always supposed to. Almost at the same time I lost my job we got a great studio room offered for very little money. Of course we took this opportunity with both hands and started working building up a new network. This time a network of business people. The point we are at now is very frustrating. Everyone is telling us how good our work is but no one is buying or handing out assignments.

Our name, DNF-Style is a business name owned by me but I needed Danielle backing me up. Danielle works during the day at a photo laboratory where she has to correct and print thousands of photo’s. Therefore she has a very good eye for colors and is the one directing our processing. In her free time she is also continuously working on stock, finding ideas, processing shoots and of course organizing and shooting them.

9. You shoot a lot of people shots. How do you find your models and what do you look for in a model?

We are connected with a few major online meeting points were models, photographers and make-up artist are getting together, discussing each others work and answering each others questions.
We are happy to say that our work is up to a specific standard in which we do not have to search for models very actively. They offer themselves to us and are happy to work with us, getting our material in return for their own portfolio.
What we look for in a model is spontaneity and involvement. We are fed up with models that feel that being pretty is enough effort to get us working with them. If we can choose between a spontaneous model that knows what she wants, has her own ideas and is willing to actively search with us to build an idea towards an end result and a very pretty model who is just that, very pretty, then the first model has far better chance of us working with him or her then the last one. Of course any model has to be up to a sellable standards that is dictated by the market that purchases our pictures and the magazines they are in. There is no changing that.

10. Where do you see the microstock industry 5 years in the future?

Thinned out, like I tried to explain in question 6. Hopefully, we will then still be involved as well. But I’m afraid prices will not go up again when the survivors (agencies) are known.

To see more of Danielle and Frenk’s images at Cutcaster and see their DNF-Style check out their Cutcaster studio.

Selling photos that do well as stock – How to correct 22 photography mistakes?

Getting images accepted to stock agencies shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience for contributors or image reviewers. Creating and selling photos that do well as stock takes time and a keen understanding of some of these more basic photography mistakes. Here are reasons why some images might not be a great fit for Cutcaster.

1. Artifacting/Digital noise in Photos

Artifacting and digital noise means that your image has traces of what looks like “snow” on your buddies TV if he hasn’t paid his bills. Sometimes the compression on a camera causes areas of an image to contain artifacting, which is the pixelated areas usually found in darker areas and in skylines of pictures.

example of artifacting digital noise photography

This can be caused by over-processing or by improper exposure. Remember only to manipulate your images, when they are shot at the appropriate exposure. If not this will increase the digital noise and hurts its commercial viability. Try to shoot in RAW mode to avoid artifacting due to your camera compressing the image.

2. Out of focus

Make sure you subject is in focus when you submit images to stock photo agencies. Most likely, the main subject of the image was pretty out of focus and would hurt your overall portfolio more than it helps. Below are some examples of photos that are out of focus.

example out of focus stock photo

3. Missing Model/Property Release

In almost all cases, a photo with recognizable people or private property, that want to be sold to stock photography users, needs a signed model or property release before the image can be accepted. For editorial use, some photos don’t require a release if they are newsworthy as one example. For your convenience we provide photography model releases or photography property releases or you can upload your own and submit your images with the releases attached. Here is an explanation of when you need a signed model or property release.

4. Camera Shake

Sometimes confused with being out of focus, camera shake comes from shooting at a slower shutter speed then is needed. Usually this means that the image was taken at a shutter speed slower than 1/60 of a second. Here is an example of what we mean…

Example of camera shake photography

Example of camera shake photography

Example of camera shake closeup

Example of camera shake closeup

Example no shake camera

Example no shake camera

Example of no camera shake closeup

Example of no camera shake closeup

5. Poor composition

Don’t crop the main subject of an image too much or in such a way that your image is unappealing to the eye. Being creative is one thing but cropping to the point that your photo becomes “pointless” isn’t good either. Using the rule of thirds when composing your next shoot can be very helpful!

example subject not emphasized photography

6. Blown-out highlights

This simply means that the lighter areas of an image were too light which created a loss of detail. This could be caused by your light source being too close to the subject or simply not exposing the right part of the subject.

7. Poor lighting

Great lighting is essential to taking top selling photos that do well as stock. An image that is not well lit will display a dull coloring and a grayish background. Be careful of harsh shadows, which can affect the quality of the lighting in some cases.

example poor lighting photography

8. Sensor spots

Sensor spots are caused by small dust particles gathering on your camera’s sensor when changing your lenses. Typical places on photos where you see sensor spots are witin blue skies. Make sure to go through and clean them off before submitting to make them higher quality and sell more.

sensor spots in photos

9. Under/Over-exposed

a) Under exposure is when you don’t leave the camera’s shutter open long enough. Giving you a very dark, not sharp image.
photo under exposed

b) If you leave the camera’s shutter open too long, letting in too much light, your image will become overexposed. You get a thin, white, almost clear looking image.
over exposed stock photo example

10. Over Processed/Over Filtered

This can be caused by playing with an image too much or maybe by your camera, when using jpg mode. Always shoot in RAW. Keep in mind, when tweaking your images in Photoshop, that it also can damage your images. Make sure that when doing post processing to not overdue it. Here are a few examples of what we mean…

photography explain over-processed

11. Submitting virtually the same image repeatedly

Most stock photo agencies and image libraries don’t really need 20 shots of practically the same thing taken from a few steps back or cropped slightly different. Upload the best pictures in your shoot and put forth the best, most diverse portfolio that if you were an image buyer, you would want to look at.

12. Poor Isolation

This means that the image was not properly cut out from its background and there are still bits and pieces of the background still visible or too much area was cut off the subject. It can also mean the subjects’ edges were too feathered or rough. An example of this is…

example of poor isolation photo

13. Image Subject not emphasized

The subject of the image is not emphasized enough possibly due to the composition of the image or not zooming in enough.


14. Low commercial value

Images like these speak for themselves most times. They aren’t what repeat customers are looking for.

15. Image Copyright/Trademark Issues

This means that your image contains subject matter, which is subject to copyright and if used as commercial stock photography would require a property release from the creator or the owner of that image.

copyright-issues in photography istock

16. Copyright/Trademark issues (Removal Option)

An image that contains copyrighted items can’t be sold as commercial stock unless it had a signed property release from the creator or the owner of that item. However in some cases, copyrighted logos or products can be removed with a program like Photoshop and could then be accepted as commercial stock.

Remove copyright trademarks and sell photos

Remove copyright trademarks and sell photos

17. Chromatic aberration

Sometimes a colored halo (often purple) will creep up behind your subject. This is often cause by a large contrast in lighting and when your subject is back lit.


18. Uneven horizon line

Uneven horizon line means that the tilting of your image was not necessary and has created a horizon line that isn’t straight across.

photo with uneven horizon line

correct example of photo with uneven horizon line

19. Poor Color Balance

This means that the tint of the image is off and usually has to do with the color temperature of the lights you are using.

example of photo with correct color balance

Example of photo with correct color balance

example of photo with incorrect color balance

Example of incorrect photo color balance

20. Upsizing an image

Don’t upsize your pictures just to get them through the door if photo agencies have minimum file size requirements. Keep the image in it’s native size and leave it to the client to upsize or downsize the image afterwards.

Border around image not required

We don’t need borders around any images that you upload. This means that your image has a border (perhaps non apparent) which we will need to be removed in order to put your image up for sale. It is very possible that a small white border was put on accidentally while rotating or cropping your image. Please remove, then resubmit.

image example with border

image example borderless

21. Remove all text from images

Let a buyer decide what words they want to use with your pictures. Text becomes almost unnecessary and makes more work for a picture buyer if they have to remove it. It’s wiser to remove text before uploading. Personal watermarks need to be removed as well.

example image with text

example image without text

22. Poor Title, Description or Keywords – Metadata

Putting in the right metadata when describing your image’s title, description and keywords is the first step to getting your image found. If you don’t put in accurate and relevant keywords then it puts off potential buyers when they search your image portfolio.

Having trouble making your website?

Having trouble designing your very own website….fear not my brave friends, we have some nice links for you to make your website building experience fun instead of frustrating!


But first, if you just don’t have the time or don’t really care to know how to build your own and just want an easy, ready to go platform to display your lovely photo’s…we suggest you look into…


Jalbum – With this fun and free software, you will have many different themes and designs to choose from to display your own photo lovin’ website (these are called skins).  Jalbum boasts free software, free hosting and a friendly community.  So if you don’t feel like starting from scratch, you should dive in and give them a try.


Now, some helpful links for those that want a more personal approach for their website…the brave builders with their own design in mind.


We’ll start off this venture with HTML and CSS help:


Having trouble keeping your code clean…does it look unkept and messy?  Well, there is a great article called 12 Principles for Keeping Your Code Clean by Chris Coyier for cleaning up that mess!  This article provides screen shots of how to clean it up and some before and after shots of what looks clean.


I know what your thinking, yes I want clean code, but how can I streamline this never ending process!  You can stop pulling out your hair now, because Megan McDermott has created a wonderful article on 21 Ways to Streamline Your CSS.  Or if you would like a little more information about streamlining and keeping your code clean, there is also this nifty little article by Jacob Gube: Resetting Your Styles with CSS Reset.  So now that you have learned how to keep the code clean, you can breeze through the process.  What more could you ask for???


How about when you run into problems and you just don’t know how to fix them or even how to avoid them?  Slamming your keyboard and cursing at your monitor is just not fixing the problem, huh? Well maybe you should look into this blog post – Using CCS to Fix Anything: 20+ Common Bugs and Fixes.  This is only the first part of a series, so if your problem isn’t on there…it could be in the future.


Finally, you’re probably wondering what could make life a little easier…how about some cheat sheets!  Here is a comprehensive list of cheat sheets ready to print Cheat Sheets for Front-end Web Developers.  Don’t spend grueling hours trying to remember the code when you can just look it up on your cheat sheet.




Now that you have the coding in check, what about the Design of your website?



Are those creative juices letting you down?  Do you have too many ideas to narrow them down?  Or is it just taking your forever to accomplish your design?


If it’s taking you forever to accomplish your design, what you need to know are the 48+ Greatest Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts provided by Dainis Graveris.  So stop all the mousing around and go faster with your keyboard!


Still wondering how to get things done in Photoshop?  Have an idea, but not sure how to apply it?  Well, what you need are some tutorials and Dainis Graveris is helping in that area too with 45 Photoshop Tutorial Sites.  Learning Photoshop doesn’t require a 4 year college degree when you can learn from others tutorials….so save yourself those college years.


Looking for some structure?  Not sure how to make your design strategy?  Look no further as Kathy McShea has an intriguing post Web Design Strategy Step-by-Step.  This post will give you the questions to ask yourself on how and what you want out of your design.  It will help you get organized and provide a structure for your website.


Looking for a dark website design but unsure how dark?  Need some inspiration to see what others dark websites look like?  We all need inspiration and Jacob Gube has provided and excellent blog post to help you see what dark can do: 50 Beautifully Dark Web Designs.  So check it out and watch how a dark background on your website can make your colors pop!



Wanting to check your websites usability without is costing you your first born child?


Checking your sites usability can be an expensive task, so let’s look into some cheaper options:


To help your users navigate your website without expensive testing, there is 10 Usability Tips for Web Designers.  This blog post helps you remember important components that should be added into your website for your visitors.


Wondering about your interface and how easy it is for your visitors?  Where should I put my buttons, how should I space me text, and what colors should I use?  Well, all these questions and much more are answered in 10 Useful Techniques to Improve Your User Interface Designs. 



Now you may be wondering about your hyperlinks and how to make them stand out from the rest of the information on your website.  David Hamills blog post Let your hyperlinks shine not only tells you why to have hyperlinks, but also how to make them get noticed on your website.


Wondering why people are ditching your site once they are on it?  Don’t understand what is wrong?  Then you should probably read 14 free tools that reveal why people abandon your website.  These tools will help you realize where you have gone wrong and why people are leaving.  Having a better understanding of why people are leaving your website will help you get a better understanding on how to make them stay!



Don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you hanging here…let’s get some finishing touches on that website of yours!


Times New Roman just not your style?  Looking for something a little more eye catching or wild and crazy?  You might want to check out 40+ Excellent Freefonts For Professional Design to feed your need for exciting font.


Another question that might be looming in your head is what about the color? What colors should I use and how will they affect my visitors?  Good question and Colourlovers is here to help you. They even provide color trends!  But if you’re looking for something a little more color basic, you should take a peak at this Colorchart.


In conclusion, we hope you find all this information helpful – so now it’s time to get to work!

The 12 Commandments of Keywording success according to Cutcaster

The 12 Commandments of Keywording success according to Cutcaster ;-)

1. You only need between five to fifteen (5-15) keywords. Twenty (20) is the highest. Better tagging means better search results, bringing in more users, which means more sales for your images at higher prices then other sites. We would rather have fewer files that have better keywords than more files with plenty of irrelevant keywords

2. Keywords need to be separated by a comma. Compound phrases need to be separated by a space and then surround by commas. You can remove any quotation marks.

3. You can add ONE SET of location tags. Avoid using locations as tags unless there is something in the photo that makes its location recognizable. Not a seagull in the blue sky.

4. Remove all the keywords that are obviously not in the images

5. Remove tags that could be tangentially related, but aren’t really illustrated well by the photo. i.e. picture of cat, adding in “mouse”

6. Remove tags that are related to the photo, but so vague that no one would ever use them to search.

7. Take a few of the choice words and make them far better by turning them into a phrase

8. Don’t “stretch” your tags into irrelevancy, in order to generate more hits for an image. This can be very frustrating for our users, who tend to search literally.

9. Figures of speech, nicknames, slang, metaphors and metonyms can create a ton of problems in a search engine. Please don’t use them. The reviewers will add them in if necessary.

10. Proper Names and Catch Phrases — Don’t Break Them Up. If you have a keyword that is either a very common set of two words, or is a proper name, enter it as is. The search engine has the ability to recognize many phrases that operate as a common term but contain more than one word, such as “hard drive,” “hot dog,” or “White House.” It also recognizes the names of many public and historical figures.

11. You do not need to type in ‘car, cars’ to cover the singular and plural versions of a noun. Type in only the one that is more accurate for your photo. If there is only one car, type in “car.” Your image will come up in a search for both car and cars, but it will be ranked higher if the plurality matches what the buyer searched for.

12. Be as literal as possible. Describe just what is in the images.

Read Dan Heller’s blog article on the reasons why keywording your images correctly is so important.

Digital Noise – What to look for?

(click on the image to see a larger preview version of the digital noise.)

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(click on the image to see a larger preview version of the digital noise.)

Digital noise mainly happens from lack of light. It will be apparent in the shadows of your images when viewed at 100%. Setting you ISO too high will also cause digital noise while your camera is trying to compensate for lack of light. In some instances, where the noise is not too bad, you can use certain software programs (Neat Image, Noise Ninja, etc.) to correct the problem – although over-correction can cause your image to become blurry. Photoshop has despeckle and Lightroom has noise reduction also.

Below is the same photo that I have reduced the noise on.

(click on the image to see a larger preview version of the digital noise.)

I personally find the best place to look for noise is:

In the shadows under objects

If your picture is has a blue sky – look in the blue of the sky at 100%. It should be a smooth blue without little dots or other visible imperfections.

If the photo is a mug shot type image, look under the models chin, where the chin casts a shadow on the neck.

Rejections are frustrating and have a tendency to make people lose motivation. I’m hoping this little guide here helps with less rejections for happy contributors and buyers.

Quality Content = Happy Buyers = Repeat Buyers = More Downloads = Greater Royalties.

It’s a win / win situation.

Choose your words wisely- Keywording Help

Why do we say that at Cutcaster ;-)

So, you’ve got that shot. Everything is perfect. You’ve nailed the exposure and focus. The composition couldn’t be better and you burned the midnight oil at your computer in your digital “darkroom,” preening and fluffing that shot or your clip to perfection. The only thing that is left before you send it out to the world of buyers and viewers is to make sure your keywording correctly describes your hard work so it doesn’t fall into the content abyss.

Keywording your content is important for many reasons due to the technological impairments we encounter when identifying and trying to search for content online. No great solutions have popped up to help us with this and we must rely on human input of keywords/metadata to make it easier for us to search for what we are looking for. We have talked at lengths about this search and cataloging problem.

All too often clips and photos which are poorly keyworded are lost into this content abyss and out of site for interested parties. It does you no good if you have that great shot and no one can find it. For selling content, keywording is one of the most important steps towards making sure you content is found.

Here are a few ethical tips to help you with keywording your valuable content either to sell it or make it easier to find on other sites. If you know any others please add them in the comments.

1. Know the point or concept behind the clip or photo you have shot. You should always be thinking about your target audience and what they would be interested in or how they would search for it.

2. All your keywords have to be relevant. We have had countless conversations or seen many community threads started by angry searchers who say they find many irrelevant keywords and content in their searches because uploaders spam the keyword section. This may help your contents chances of being seen but can irritate and completely turn off a buyer or viewer if it is totally off base.

3. You should not turn keywording into a word association game. Don’t try to take your concept six steps down the road and turn it into something it isn’t. I.E. mouse –> hole –> cheese –> cat –> pet. This doesn’t help anyone.

4. Don’t include keywords that are not in the shot. Some common repeat offenders are sex, sexy, woman, babe. We can only guess what they are looking for.

5. A thesaurus can be great if you run out of ideas or if English is your second language. You can find help online or in your Microsoft Word.

6. Using antonyms are useful but only when describing certain clips or images. A good example is “go” and then using the opposite “stop” for a traffic light. Or “hot” and “cold” when describing a thermometer.

7. When English is your first language, one must always be aware that their can be different meanings to the same words. There are some subtle differences between American English which you would learn in Japan, the Philippines and Russia and British English which is taught in India, Pakistan, Australia and much of Africa. Our advice is to cater to both forms of English when keywording as buyers and viewers are able to find it from all over the world.

These little tips should help you with your keywording. When all else fails it may be time to call your 7th grade English teacher for a little help.

There are keywording programs available. Ask us at info at for more information regarding keywording services.