You probably keep hearing the terms keywords, keywording and the like. But what on earth is keywording all about? You’re a photographer right, not some data entry chimp. The idea of sitting in front of your computer pounding at keys all day almost certainly doesn’t appeal. However consider this – how will your photograph be found amongst the millions upon millions of other images? The answer lies in good keywording. The fact is good keywording is CRUCIAL to your success in microstock photography.
Simple answer: It’s how a buyer finds your photo amongst millions of other photos.
When a buyer goes to a microstock site and wants an image of a Kangaroo for instance, they can’t spend hours trawling through random of images of other animals. So instead of just looking in the ‘Animals’ category they will search for the keyword ‘kangaroo’ and then get a much better set of images to choose from.
So let’s say you’ve got an awesome image that you know will sell. If you leave out the most likely keywords that a buyer will search for, then you may as well have taken the world’s worst photo, because no one will find it, thus no one will buy it. Good keywording equals good sales.
All microstock sites require you to submit your images in JPG format, the most standard compressed picture format around. This file type (like most others, but not all) can also hold reams of additional data that you may not have known even existed in your photos.
If you use Adobe Photoshop, the way to access this is by going File > File Info. Here you’ll be presented with a wealth of information that tells you everything from what aperture you used to take the photo, or even the GPS location of where it was taken!
But the ‘Description’ tab is what we are really interested in. Here you will want to fill in 3 fields of data: “Document Title”, “Description” and “Keywords”.
Document Title – This is what your picture will be called, and sometimes, what it will show up as on microstock sites. Some stock agencies use this field in their search algorithm, so it is important to use a relevant, succinct title that will help your file be found. From my personal experience I have concluded that sometimes more generic titles are better. For instance, instead of using the technical Latin name for an animal, try the common form instead. Eg: Kangaroo and Joey
Description – A brief description of what your image contains. Think logically – include main colours, man/woman, where they are, country, object, proper name (for plants & animals), what concept it represents (eg: “love” or “time flies”). This field can also be used by some microstock agencies to help with searching, so check your spelling, be accurate and relatively brief – no novels. Eg: For my “Kangaroo with Joey” image, the description is “Australian kangaroo with a joey in its pouch at sunset in the wild”.
Keywords – Here is where you can enter up to (as a suggestion) 50 keywords that are relevant to your photo. You can enter more, but most sites accept 50 as their maximum.
So now you know how to add keywords, you’ll need to know which keywords to add. Remember, the more accurate your keywording, the better chance you have of making some money from your your photographs.
Good keywords - Think about adding keywords that describe the main objects, colours, concepts, feelings, lighting, people, proper names for plants & animals, location, etc. Basically anything relevant to the image that a buyer would search for.
Bad keywords – Do not get out your thesaurus and add anything you find. Buyers will search for ‘man’, not ‘chap’ or ‘fellow’. Never include your camera brand, your own name, or keywords that have no relevance to your image. In some cases, less is more with keywording (as long as you have a minimum of about 10-15) as lots of irrelevant keywords will just dilute your image showing up in search results.
Ok so you’ve slogged it out and added all those pesky keywords to your amazing images. Keywording complete! Now comes the last part – actually getting them onto the stock library’s web sites.
3 - Keywording Images,